Playing the newest Call of Duty game every year is like being served your favorite meal every day on a different-colored plate.
There's no denying that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare revolutionized first-person shooter multiplayer in 2007. Six years and five more games later, the formula still works, as told by the millions of players who buy each game.
But despite the annual updates, tweaks, and new weapons and modes, the core gameplay is always the same — you pick weapons, shoot bad guys and collect rewards.
Three of the Manifesto's Call of Duty faithful think it's time for the developers to redesign some of the core gameplay mechanics and bring back more innovation.
Here's what we thought:
Josh Kegley: I was playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II the other day, and a player on the other team threw a hatchet that hit my character in the butt. I died instantly.
I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't really work that way. That fit of silliness got me thinking — it's time to change the way damage is dealt and received.
It works like this now: head shots do more damage than chest shots, and chest shots do more damage than arm or leg shots. (Some weapons, like the hatchet, are instant kills no matter what.)
When your character takes enough damage, he dies. The game makes no distinction between lethal and nonlethal wounds. I think it should.
For example, if your character gets shot in the arm, he should drop his primary weapon and switch to a pistol or knife. If he gets shot in the gut, he should get a chance to take cover or return fire before bleeding out.
No mainstream first-person shooter has ever implemented a system like that.
My second suggestion was borne from a more minor gripe: Why can't I use a variety of weapons from different eras? Call of Duty lets you use weapons only from eras specific to each game. If I wanted to take a World War II-era Thompson submachine gun up against a character wielding a modern, bullpup assault rifle, that's my prerogative.
Delano Massey: I realize it's a touchy subject for some Call of Duty diehards, but count me among those who want to see the return of land-based vehicles — jeeps, motorbikes and, dare I say, tanks — in multiplayer.
Perhaps there is a way to appease both sides by adding vehicles as yet another option on the menu. It's all about choices these days, and while I (a huge fan of The Walking Dead) find the zombie mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops II to be rather obnoxious, there are thousands of others who apparently like it.
Speaking of options, why can't I customize my character's appearance? You mean to tell me I can make a gold assault-rifle with a diamond bezel, a Yin Yang laser sight with a nameplate, but I am at the mercy of the Activision gods to decide what my character looks like? That is just plain dumb.
And since we're talking about dumb, it is beyond time for them to address spawn camps. My character dies and I respawn only to get killed by someone who happens upon my reincarnation. There is no doubt I will die eventually, but please give me a five- to 10-second period of respawn invincibility, so I can be among the living just a little longer.
Pablo Alcalá: It's been almost three months since I bought Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and I haven't made it halfway through the story-driven single-player campaign mode.
And that's because it's single-player.
Every time I start to play more, I get an invite from friends for online multiplayer, which has no story but is more fun.
Other major shooter series like Halo and Gears of War have created fun, compelling and, most importantly, multiplayer campaign modes. The newest Call of Duty needs the same.
Also, while you're at it, bring back the tactical nuke killing streak in multiplayer. If that was selected in Modern Warfare 2, you would win a game, no matter the score, if you could manage to get 25 kills in a row.
It added another element of strategy. If you had a good player on your team, you could defend him while he went for 25 in a row. Or if you saw a member of an opposing team raising his kill streak, you had to forget your objectives and shut him down.
Most people hated it, but when it worked in your favor, it was a beautiful thing.