Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!.

Nine years ago, we could have played Call of Duty completely different from the rest of the series. In Call of Duty Roman Wars, we could ride an elephant to stomp on enemy soldiers, we’d have Julius Caesar as a playable character, and we’d have first-person sword fighting.

Activision liked the idea, the demo of Call of Duty: Roman Wars impressed the superiors so much that it even got to the desk of CEO Bobby Kotick himself. Everything was starting to fall into place until the publishers became afraid of oversaturation of the brand, so the project eventually went down in (ironically) history.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

The beginnings of the game

Around 2008, Activision began coming up with designs for a new “Call of Duty” title to expand its franchise due to its growing popularity at the time. One of these projects was really unique and was called “Roman Wars”, in which we could direct the actions of a soldier belonging to Julius Caesar’s 10th Legion (in short, this unit was the Black Ops of the time).

One of the people who had contact with the project agreed to comment on it, but asked to use the pseudonym Polemos (Spirit of War and Struggle). Polemos explained that the prototype came from Vicarious Visions, a studio that Activision bought in 2005, and since 2010 it has mainly been working on the Skylanders franchise.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

Previously, however, the studio was working on Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, an RPG with a slightly isometric camera angle and superheroes from the Marvel universe.

We were asked to do some prototypes for the new Call of Duty, so we put together a whole team that was working on just that prototype, which we called Fireteam. It was a brand new Call of Duty with an overhead camera like in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

As Polemos further explains, the success of the brand meant that Activision even demanded experiments to expand the series and add another layer to the game.

No matter what we put in Call of Duty, it sold great anyway, so Activision gave a couple of studios a chance to test their abilities with the series, and the best idea won and could take on that IP.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

Game mechanics

Polemos goes on to add:

I really thought ancient warfare would be great transformed by the Call of Duty engine. We were basically going to follow Julius Caesar’s 10th Legion – his elite unit at the time – and we were doing a one-tier prototype focusing on the Battle of Alesia. So we did one mission based on that premise. We had everything from horseback riding to elephant riding to catapult fights. All of this was done on the Unreal Engine as part of a quick test.

While the game was made with a third-person camera in mind, there were also parts with a first-person camera. One of the missions was called “Mission of Spartacus” where we were placed in a gladiatorial arena.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

We liked the perspective from the character’s eyes, but we were definitely doing a third-person game. Something like Gears of War and its slight camera shake, so we gave our producers two different perspectives to present.

The third-person mode was heavily focused on the “Gears of War style; full ahead with hand-to-hand combat and light strafing of the enemy.”

We put real work into the hand-to-hand combat system. This system focused only on shield and sword, block and parry, which worked out quite well; it was quite a fun mechanic.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

Other possibilities included bows, axes and spears, and at one point the team thought about throwing sand in the eyes of an opponent to temporarily blind them.

The plot of the game

The full plan for the game was to take into account the multitude of perspectives and characters.

You were supposed to play as a centurion leader, you were supposed to play as a common soldier, and then straight up to the possibility of playing as Julius Caesar himself.

The plot was loosely based on “Commentarii de Bello Gallico”, which is known in Poland as “On the Gallic War”, a personal list of battles and Julius Caesar’s diary. Call of Duty Roman Wars main character Titus Pullo is indeed listed as a historical figure in this memoir.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

You were to fight the Germans and the Germanic tribes. In addition, this would be true of Julius’s history of conquests during the war in Gaul.

He further explains:

You were supposed to jump between officers, infantry and the emperor to get some variety. You would play here as an archer at one point, then as a cavalry in this phase. It was a perfect fit for Call of Duty and their character-changing section and variety of perspectives.

Call of Duty Roman Wars – Removed CoD in Ancient Rome!

Why didn’t Call of Duty Roman Wars finally release?

Unfortunately for us, the game never went further than a test demo for presentation.

They sent it to Activision, and they wanted to know a little more about the background to the whole story…

Despite the fact that the prototype was received quite warmly, there were problems with assigning it to the Call of Duty brand.

I was a huge Call of Duty fan myself, so I wanted it to live up to the level of Call of Duty. Later they said that “this will not go further with Activision” – they are now interested in another game prototype and do not intend to saturate the market too much with their brand.

It’s funny that now we have a new CoD every year, right?

What do you think about Call of Duty Roman Wars? Would you like to play this type of installment of the series? Share your opinion in the comments, and I will be happy to read it.