Call of Duty is not a franchise known for easing back on something because of its edgy nature. In fact, the game has flirted with controversy several times. So we’ve picked out eight of the most controversial Call of Duty missions and moments in its storied history.
The various developers of the Call of Duty games have always incorporated what’s best for their games. If that means making the audience uneasy, then so be it. A momentary feeling of unsteadiness is all it takes to reassure people that these scenes are there for a reason.
The franchise has certainly featured a few instances that could be filed under this category. Whether it was controversial in terms of its simulated depiction of graphic warfare or a controversial moment that upset fans with the nature of its content – Call of Duty’s Infinity Ward and Treyarch are very good at creating conversation.
So here are nine of the most controversial Call of Duty missions to ever grace our screens.
1. No Russian
Unquestionably the moment that put COD under the microscope. Subject to much intense scrutiny, it has long been debated whether or not No Russian was necessary. But its impact is a non-starter as it garnered a lot of mainstream media coverage. Giving the player the ability to gun down hundreds of innocent civilians in an airport was always going to be a touchy subject.
2. London attacked…Twice
For some reason, London is a hotbed for terrorist activity in COD games. Modern Warfare 3 made players bear witness to a gruesome bombing that took the life of a small child. Furthermore, the recent Call of Duty reboot also has a bomb going off in Piccadilly Circus – causing bedlam.
3. Modern Warfare (2019) shows a dead child
Carrying on with the Call of Duty reboot, its promises of graphic, harrowing depictions of war were true. In the game’s “Hometown” mission, Farah and Hadir are trying to escape town after an attack on their village. As they crawl through a hole in a wall, they arrive at the body of a dead child. The sight of the child’s lifeless, open eyes is quite chilling and upsetting.
4. Call of Duty 4 nuclear weapon
Something that people don’t wish to discuss is the constant threat of nuclear warfare. All major nations have access to deadly arms that could launch at any second – causing mass destruction. So it was shocking when COD4 not only featured a simulated explosion, but put you in it. You feel it, the helpless realization that you’re watching a man slowly succumb to lethal radiation.
5. Shepherd’s betrayal
10 years later and this still annoys people to this day. General Shepherd came across as a stern, disciplined war general – but a trustworthy one. So it’s jaw-dropping when he shoots both you and Ghost in a shocking turn of events. He proceeds to heinously burn both of you alive and you’re powerless to do a single thing about it.
6. Killing Fidel Castro
Needless to say, this created some hostilities between the makers and Cuba. It’s quite well-documented that there had been over 600 real-life attempts to kill former Cuban dictator – Fidel Castro. But in Call of Duty: Black Ops, this was quite possible, as you do kill him. But it actually turns out to be a double in the end. It still incited a fierce reaction from a Cuban website condemning the insinuation.
7. Al-Fulani execution scene
Outrageous acts of terrorism in games are now commonplace. But back in 2008, this wasn’t as heard of. So it’s quite a rip-roaring beginning to see the President of Saudi Arabia being executed on live TV. Watching him plead for his life and seeing the barrel aimed squarely at your face is jarring. It was a precursor of things to come for the COD franchise.
8. Soap dies
A final horrible moment for long-time fans of the games that essentially watched Soap grow. From being a Sgt. in COD4 to a Captain and Commander of his own field in Modern Warfare 2 and 3. It’s devastating to see him fall in Modern Warfare 3. It incites everybody – and even Captain Price who’s understandably furious. It’s a cold reminder that absolutely no one is invincible.
So there you go, that’s our 8 most controversial Call of Duty missions and moments. Did we leave any out?