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Here’s the first image from the next Call of Duty - and a hint about its setting

Sledgehammer Games join Treyarch and Infinity Ward in the infinite cycle of CoDs.

It’s telling that even with the litany of bugs that continue to be uncovered every week in Battlefield 4, DICE won the 2013 shooter wars by default. Call of Duty: Ghosts was a shonky, shortcut-ridden shitstorm that proved you can’t build a AAA blockbuster for six platforms in two years. Not anymore.

Rather than slow the pace, Activision have since thrown another studio at the series’ release cycle. Sledgehammer have joined Treyarch and Infinity Ward, allowing each team three years – minus DLC – to build geopolitical thrillers starring guns.

Here are the first fruits of that generosity: a picture of two men in hats, from Sledgehammer’s new CoD.

The image below comes courtesy of IGN. It features “actual in-game characters”, and first appeared in Sledgehammer’s catchily-titled GDC panel – Quest for Quality: Maximizing the Relationship Between Creative and Production.

The buckle places the new CoD firmly within the last century of helmets – and the background beanie belongs only in the most modern of warfares.

Sorry, gang: it doesn’t look like we’ll be revisiting CoD’s historical roots anytime soon. Does that bother you?

Sledgehammer Games were founded by Dead Space directors Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey in 2009, and got six months into development on a third-person CoD before they were hauled in to sort out the struggling Modern Warfare 3.

Their next-gen console first CoD will be released this year, which likely means Treyarch’s will follow in 2015, and Infinity Ward’s in 2016. And so it goes on.

Thanks, OXM.