Call of Duty: Roman Wars Was a 2008 Game Pitch That Activision Passed On (Update)
In a statement to Game Informer, an Activision spokesperson commented on the Call of Duty: Roman Wars news:
The game concept was proposed by a former employee while working at the studio, but was not seriously considered nor requested to move to prototype.
Back in 2008, Activision was looking to expand the popular Call of Duty franchise, and entertained pitches from various developers. One of these pitches was Call of Duty: Roman Wars, which featured first-person sword combat, a playable Julius Caesar, an ancient Rome setting, and elephants trampling soldiers.
While Activision liked the original idea, eventually putting it in front of CEO Bobby Kotick, worries of Call of Duty over-saturation led them to reject the idea, a new GamesRadar feature reveals.
Speaking with sources involved with development, GamesRadar reports that Call of Duty: Roman Wars’ prototype was made by a small team at Vicarious Visions (Skylanders, Crash Bandicoot remasters) called Fireteam. One of the developers, who goes by the name Polemus, explained that Roman Wars would’ve followed Julius Caesar’s Tenth Legion:
I really thought an ancient warfare game would do well, re-skinned with the Call of Duty engine. Basically we were following Julius Caesar’s Tenth Legion – his special forces during those times – and we were doing a one level prototype based on the Battle of Alesia. So we built the one mission based on that. We had everything from riding horses, to riding an elephant, to working with catapults. All done in the Unreal Engine for rapid prototyping.
Roman Wars would’ve featured a third-person Gears of War-style camera, but certain missions, including one in the Coliseum, would take place in first-person. As Polemus adds, you wouldn’t have been playing as just one character:
You were going to fight against the Germans and the Germanic Tribes and really stay true to the history of Julius’ conquests during the Gallic Wars. You were going to jump around from officers to low grunts to Caesar and get a little variety of all of those little battles, so you’d play an archer here, you’d play a cavalry over in this phase. And it was going to stay true to the Call of Duty franchise in that jumping around, playing those different characters and getting a whole feel of the overall battle during those times.
Discussing why Activision passed on it, Polemus admits, “I at the time was being sort of… I was being stiff in that area. I was huge on Call of Duty myself so I was like, ‘I really want to keep it on the Call of Duty level.'” And their response was, “‘That’s not going to fly with Activision – they’re already looking at a different version and they don’t want to over-saturate the market.'”
Call of Duty: Roman Wars was set to be developed for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 for release in 2013, and could’ve eventually come to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at launch.
Instead of Roman Wars, Activision went with the Call of Duty pitch that eventually became Advanced Warfare.