Call of Duty: Roman Wars was almost a thing

Activision's Call of Duty franchise, despite being split into two relatively distinct branches—the future and the past—is very deeply rooted on a familiar premise: Guys with guns shooting at other guys with guns. But as GamesRadar reports, there was a time when Activision toyed with bolder visions for its famous military FPS, including a Call of Duty game set in ancient Rome. 

Call of Duty: Roman Wars was prototyped in the Unreal Engine by Vicarious Visions, a studio that has spent the past half-decade working primarily on Skylanders, after Activision put out a call for pitches for new Call of Duty games. It featured a third-person view similar to Gears of Wars, although there were first-person segments as well. Players would have stepped into the boots of front-line Roman soldiers, as well as officers and even Julius Caesar himself, while fighting on horseback, from atop siege towers, and even while riding a war elephant. 

Alas, it was not to be. Activision liked the idea but got iffy on giving it the Call of Duty brand, ironically because it was concerned about oversaturating the market. That, for the eagle-eyed among you who noticed them, is why those Ubisoft flags are flying in the video: The gameplay scene in the video was taken from a build that was “repurposed and pitched to Ubisoft, as just Roman Wars,” after Activision turned it down.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.