As you might have seen, we’ve got The Haunting event going on across Call of Duty for Halloween. In Warzone and Black Ops Cold War there are ghosts, ghouls, specters, and of course zombies out and about. The 80s Action Heroes event set the bar pretty damn high. This time around we have a more modern horror icon joining the fray as an operator and then we have a character from… Donnie Darko? Frank the Rabbit? Really?
Somehow we get an “icon” from a movie that isn’t necessarily horror, and they’re going around with machine guns in a Call of Duty game. Now, that’s a pretty funny operator on face value, but after we’ve gotten Jigsaw and Leatherface as operators, how was this the best they can do?
Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Candyman, or even Pumpkinhead weren’t available? I know the licensing costs are probably a pretty penny, but there’s no universe where Frank the Rabbit outsells those in the shop. So you have a Halloween event that already has a strike against it, and then you add into the fact that both Warzone and Black Ops Cold War are in holding patterns. The games have a shelf life on the horizon. Call of Duty: Vanguard is coming. A new map for Warzone is coming. This is the last hurrah for both games and they could have gone out with a huge bang. Change up Verdansk drastically, give it a Halloween coat of paint. Making Nuketown into Halloween-themed is nice, but the Black Ops Cold War Nuketown is among the worst versions of that classic map.
Call of Duty As A Whole Has To Adapt Or Die
Now, this won’t be an entry into what bigger issues that Call of Duty has, but one of the biggest one that plagues the game is its need to remain “realistic”. Give us some alternate history, take us into the depths of hell for Call of Duty and Halloween. The Zombies modes already lean into this pretty hard, but take the campaign and multiplayer that direction. A happy medium between Wolfenstein and the current tone of Call of Duty would be a godsend.
The “Fear” meter in the new Ghosts of Verdansk mode is a nice new addition that goes a long way to change fundamentally how people play. No more camping for long-periods of time, it actually adds to the feeling of fright when playing the game. Why do we only get this for the last week-ish of October? Why not the whole month? We all know that a new game is coming, how do you get people to keep playing after a whole year of one game? Change, variety, new game modes.
It’s a bigger issue with Black Ops Cold War and Warzone over the past year. I get it, 2020 sucked hard. These games had horrendous development cycles that were plagued with a pandemic and other changes. But they could have been so much more. Things like not going the full distance with this Halloween event are microcosms of bigger issues plaguing the series.
But Do Go Check Out The Event If You Haven’t
There might be a fair bit of complaints about the execution and length of this event, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go check it out as a fan of the games. It offers stupid fun and some legit frights for the next week of gameplay. If you want a different experience Ghosts of Verdansk and Scream Deathmatch are truly awesome. It’s bittersweet because it shows what we COULD get out of Call of Duty multiplayer. We get a sneak peek at what innovation and actual different game modes would look like if put in the game. We’ve had the same basic multiplayer since Modern Warfare, albeit with smaller and larger changes depending on the game.
The Haunting is a glimpse into an alternate Call of Duty that prioritizes creativity and innovation, instead of “realism”.
For more on horror, check out Fright-A-Thon, the month-plus long Halloween marathon, or stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.