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Lost footage shows Call of Duty game set in ancient Rome

Activision seem intent on firing the Call of Duty franchise into the far flung future, but the series almost went in the opposite direction thanks to Skylanders developer, Vicarious Visions.

Activision seem intent on firing the Call of Duty franchise into the far flung future, but the series almost went in the opposite direction thanks to Skylanders developer, Vicarious Visions. 

Back in 2005 the studio pitched a very different type of game to Activision after the publisher cast out the net in search of fresh ways to use its popular IP. 

Call of Duty: Roman Wars was what came back, with Vicarious even going as far as to create a prototype level based on the idea of a Call of Duty set in ancient Rome.

It might sound far-fetched, but anonymous sources speaking to GamesRadar have served up plenty of evidence, including early, and very rough, prototype footage. 

Unlike traditional Call of Duty titles, Roman Wars wouldn’t have been a first-person shooter. Instead, Vicarious wanted to mix things up using a blend of third and first-person hand-to-hand combat that did away with guns in favor of swords, shields, spears, and bows. 

As for the vehicles? Tanks were, naturally, replaced with elephants. 

“I really thought an ancient warfare game would do well, re-skinned with the Call of Duty engine,” said Polemus, GamesRadar's anonymous source.

“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”

The idea impressed Activision, and eventually ended up in the hands of company CEO Bobby Kotick. Yet, despite positive talks, the game was ultimately vetoed in favor of a pitch that would become Advanced Warfare

Fears of over saturating the market and contaminating the Call of Duty brand sealed Roman Wars fate. The game would later be pitched to Ubisoft in a reworked format, who also passed on the project. 

Check out GamesRadar’s video (above) for a glimpse of Roman Wars in action.

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