In this day and age when leaks are so common that barely anything in the video game industry is a secret anymore, it's an outright victory that the John McClane and Rambo skins coming to Call of Duty leaked immediately after the announcement, not before - but the fan reaction wasn't what Activision had hoped for.
Announced via the official Activision Twitter feed, the 80s Action Heroes update is bringing the first set of external IP crossover operators to Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Warzone and Call of Duty Mobile simultaneously. The update will drop on the 20th of May, so there's still a week until we get to step into the shoes of the Die Hard and First Blood stars, but images of the actual in-game operators are already circulating.
Some heroes Die Hard. Others draw First Blood.
The action begins May 20th. pic.twitter.com/8Rr3c7g26u
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) May 13, 2021
This is the first time characters from pop-culture properties outside the Call of Duty franchise pop up in the current generation of the series, but might be a model of things to come. Crossovers like this have become more and more common in the biggest AAA multiplayer games, especially battle royales, with Fortnite sporting all sorts of licenses for characters from movies, comics or cartoons and even featuring the likeness of real-life artists and celebrities.
Instead of nicking some hyped up musician or a superhero prancing around in spandex, Activision opted for pop-culture characters that are a bit closer to home: gun toting 80's action heroes. John McClane and John Rambo are both well known icons of the action genre, and should feel right at home in the cutthroat battlefield of Warzone. It is a bit funny how First Blood's underlying anti-war message has been seemingly forgotten, but hey, the Rambo franchise went on to forget it too.
The update itself was announced only with a piece of key art, showing off some regular Call of Duty operators on the bottom with the damaged Nakatomi Plaza building in the background and Rambo looming in a jungle environment. We wonder if Nakatomi Plaza will appear in some capacity, either as a multiplayer map in Cold War or as a temporary addition to the new 80's styled skyline of Season 3 Verdansk.
What's guaranteed to arrive in the May 20 update are the two new operators. In fact, their in-game models are already complete and pre-loaded in the game files, which has naturally led to them getting leaked - and something is not quite right. Both character models wonky faces, but at least they are recognizable. No, the offenders are their lean, thin bodies which hardly lend themselves to the buff 80s action hero archetype.
Fans have swiftly expressed criticism over the appearance of the two operators, using comparisons to make their point ant voice their displeasure. The John McClane operator has been compared with Half Life's G-Man, while critics have dubbed the other "Vegan Rambo". We don't doubt that these two are just the first of many crossover guest stars, and the 80s Action Heroes update is bound to be a learning experience for the devs - don't expect them to alter the models this close to launch.
We're curious what else will be included in the update, so stay tuned for more news.