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The Multiple Universes of Call of Duty

"Left-Trigger, Right-Trigger Across The Multiverse"

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was released recently and you can read my review right here. The simple answer is: I had a ton of fun with the game and I also started to think about an aspect of Call of Duty I never gave much thought to before. Advanced Warfare is set in 2054ish and is not connected to any previous Call of Duty games in the franchise, at least I couldn’t find any connections. Which means its another fictional universe in the ever growing multiverse of Call of Duty.

So let’s break down the different Call of Duty universes. Heads up it’s about to get a little complicated.

COD 1 logo

The first two games are connected and make up what I’ll call the “Infinity Ward WW2 Universe”. After Call of Duty 2, Treyarch made Call of Duty 3 which has some connections to the previous games and is also part of the “Infinity Ward WW2 Universe”. Why the “Infinity Ward WW2 Universe” and not just WW2 universe? Because there are more than one version of WW2 in the Call of Duty mulitverse.

CoD Big Red One logo

While we’re talking about World War II in Call of Duty let’s talk about the PSP game Roads to Victory and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One for PS2. These two games each take place in non-connected universes and neither take place in the “Infinity War WW2 universe” so technically they make up the “Big Red One Universe” and the “Roads to Victory Universe”. Moving on.

Next we have Modern Warfare which kicks off a trilogy of games, MW1, 2 and 3. All of these take place in the same universe. The issue is do these games ALSO take place in the “Infinity Ward WW2 Universe.”You see in Call of Duty 1 and 2 there is a character called Price who seems to be a past relative of John Price, one of the main characters in the Modern Warfare Trilogy.

Cpt_Price_CoD2
Captain Price in Call of Duty 2

This issue gets even muddier due to some emblems and achievements in the MW Trilogy which directly reference the CoD 1 and 2 Price. Personally I think of Price as an easter egg but others don’t and contend MW and Call of Duty 1 and 2 are in the same universe. For our purposes I’m going to separate them. So we have the “Modern Warfare Trilogy Universe,” which contains Modern Warfare 1, 2 and 3. 

Alright now let’s talk about Call of Duty: World at War which came out between MW1 and 2. This is going to seem weird if you don’t know a lot about Call of Duty lore, but World at War is part of the “Black Ops Universe.” Why is World at War, a WW2 game, not part of the “Infinity Ward WW2 Universe?” Because it has no connections to those games and instead is the beginning of what will become the “Black Ops Universe.” Like I said, it gets a bit confusing.

CoD Blops 2 logo

World at War, Black Ops  and Black Ops 2 all take place in the same universe. This isn’t an easter egg or little nod. Straight up characters from WaW appear in Black Ops. And Black Ops 2 is a direct sequel to Black Ops so therefore they are all connected in one large timeline/universe. Hence why World at War is part of the “Black Ops Universe” along with the two Black Ops games.

But, we’re not done with World at War or Black Ops yet. You see we now have the even messier issue of Zombies. You could easily just pretend Zombies doesn’t exist or treat it as a weird bonus thing, but instead we’re going to give the zombie stuff its own universe. My reasoning is because there is a story told in the zombie modes and that story is completely separate from the actual campaigns of World at War, Black Ops and Black Ops 2. The “Treyarch Zombie Universe” has the zombie modes from WaW, Blops1 and Blops2. And if you wish you can read the crazy amount of story and lore those modes have. There is a lot of it…

Dedicated Servers Announced for Call of Duty: Ghosts

Now we get to Call of Duty: Ghosts which isn’t connected in any meaningful way to any previous games. You can get a mulitplayer Price skin, but that’s not enough to connect them together. Ghosts introduces us to ANOTHER future in the Call of Duty mulitverse and like Black Ops 2 and the Modern Warfare games, it also has the US being attacked. Anyways Ghosts gets its own universe the “Ghosts Universe.”

But Ghosts also has Extinction Mode. Similar to zombies, it has its own story and is about Earth being invaded by aliens/creature things/it’s weird. This mode has its own universe the “Ghosts Alien Invasion Universe”.

Finally we have Advanced Warfare which has ANOTHER future and like the previous futures it includes the US being attacked. The amount of different futures the Call of Duty games have shown us is pretty bonkers. You have the slightly in the future world of MW2/3. You have the farther in the future world of Ghosts and Black Ops 2 and the even farther in the future universe of Advanced Warfare. The one thing all futures in Call of Duty have in in common? Soldiers, guns and the USA being attacked. Not a lot of optimistic or happy futures in Call of Duty.

CoD AW logo

Now, The Advanced Warfare universe is not connected to any other games and is part of its own universe, the “Advanced Warfare Universe.” And with a tease of zombies in the game and news of Zombies maps it seems we will soon have a “Sledgehammer Zombies Universe” to add to the list.

So now let us take a look at all the universes in the Call of Duty multiverse. Below is an image I made and a text list of the different universes.

Call of Duty LOGOs universe

-Infinity Ward WW2 Universe

-Big Red One Universe

-Roads to Victory Universe

-Modern Warfare Trilogy Universe

-Black Ops Universe

-Treyarch Zombies Universe

-Ghosts Universe

-Ghosts Alien Invasion Universe

-Advanced Warfare Universe

(Probably soon..) Advanced Warfare Zombie Universe

For their part, Activision hasn’t really commented on the different universes too much. When Ghosts was released they clarified it wasn’t connected to the Modern Warfare games and I remember Treyarch and Activision confirming World at War was not related to Call of Duty 3. But for the most part it seems most people understand the basic rules of Call of Duty fiction. New name, probably a new universe unless they explicitly show you otherwise. Of course most people probably don’t CARE about the Call of Duty mulitverse and canon. Which is a great way to handle this. Just don’t think about it. Don’t be like me.

Activision Reveals Massive Mulitplayer Overhaul for Call of Duty: Ghosts
Pictured: People not thinking about it, probably having fun.

Also I will fully admit I might of miss some hidden connection between one of these games, but it’s hard to figure out sometimes. Some games are set in the same time period, but make no connections to the other games. Then you have easter eggs and bonus stuff which starts to make this even more confusing. It’s a mess honestly. But I find it to be a beautiful mess. In the same way the Marvel Universe is so big and complex, I find it fascinating to lay it all out and just try to piece it all together and figure out what goes where and what is what.

So many studios and people have worked on the Call of Duty franchise its no surprise that there are so many different universes in the franchise. And honestly I wouldn’t want it to change. I like the messy Call of Duty Multiverse.

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