The Call of Duty series is going "back to its roots" in 2017 with a return to "traditional combat", following the negative response to last year's science-fiction bonanza in Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
An Activision executive made the comments during a recent investor call, not saying, but certainly heavily implying, that the enormously-popular series will be returning to the past or the modern day in its next iteration, being developed by Sledgehammer Games.
Following a few years in the near and slightly-further-ahead future, there has been an increasing desire to see Call of Duty address subject matter more historical or contemporary. More specifically, people want the series to return to World War 2, where we'll start our rundown of possibilities for the new game.
World War 2
For the first four years of the series' existence, Call of Duty games all took place during the Second World War. After six games and an expansion pack it was certainly time for change when Infinity Ward brought the series into the 21st Century with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Modern Warfare brought Call of Duty its biggest success and set it up for bigger things to come. It also marked the end of the game industry's obsession with World War 2, which it's safe to say most were growing tired of.
Other WW2 games followed, including Call of Duty: World at War the following year, but that was the last game in the series set during the conflict. Now however, fans would certainly welcome a return.
With advances in technology and in how games approach story, there's huge potential for another game depicting the devastating conflict. Everyone remembers storming Normandy beach in Medal of Honor, or Stalingrad in Call of Duty 2. A modern equivalent may be spectacular.
World War 1
Depicting wars in entertainment is always a tricky thing. There's value in retelling history if those retelling it are dutiful and respect historical accuracy, but these were also times of incredible hardship and horror, which is why the thought of making them fun doesn't sit with some people.
The Second World War is a better fit for entertainment because it was a more "just" (a problematic word in this context) conflict against a threat as grave and evil as the Nazis. The First World War is considered the most pointless of wars, and so its horrors run deeper.
EA ran the gauntlet of this problem with Battlefield 1. The game itself was admirably, if not entirely successfully, respectful to the war and its human cost, but the marketing was certainly not – at times being outright disgusting.
Battlefield 1 was successful however, and that success will have encouraged Sledgehammer Games if they are indeed taking Call of Duty back in time. It's unlikely however, that World War 1 will be the destination.
In October, a rumour from IGN Spain (via GameRant) reported that the next Call of Duty game would be set some time between 1955 and 1975, suggesting its basis will be the Vietnam War. It's somewhere the series has been before, briefly, in the original Black Ops.
That was just one of several settings in the game, and not its focus. Vietnam would be an interesting war to depict because it's a war that America lost, and for the Call of Duty series and its famously very 'America, F**k Yeah!' attitude, that would be interesting to approach. If indeed, they actually approached it.
The Vietnam also has a rich history on the big screen that could inspire a fresh take for a video game. If Apocalypse Now can become a video game, why can't Call of Duty take inspiration from the Francis Ford Coppola classic?
The second Iraq war is now recent history. When Call of Duty last visited the Middle East, or at least its thinly-veiled approximation of the Middle East, it told a fictional war set in Israel. When it previously did so in the Modern Warfare trilogy, it evoked the early-noughties conflict, but wasn't set during it.
A new Call of Duty game set during the war that took on the catastrophic decision to invade and take down Saddam Hussein's regime, perhaps one that even spanned the war from its beginning to its end and beyond into the fallout that is still being felt today – that would be incredibly interesting.
It's unlikely a game of Call of Duty's commercial stature would dare get as political as that, but there's still a lot to be said of a modern Call of Duty set during the conflict.
Whatever the next game ends up being, it'll likely be announced in April or May ahead of a launch in November for PS4, Xbox One and PC.