Call of Duty Modern Warfare will be Infinity Ward’s most ambitious game ever
Back in 2007, Infinity Ward released Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It went down a treat.
Now, twelve years later, Infinity Ward is back with its most ambitious project to date – a welcome return to the world of Modern Warfare.
At the time, Modern Warfare was celebrated as a game for our times. The storyline spanned battlegrounds that were now familiar to the world; places such as the deserts of the Middle East, and featured a sociopolitical storyline on a grand scale.
The single-player game especially delighted fans, so going back to the world of Modern Warfare was not without its challenges.
“War has always been incredibly complex,” said Taylor Kurosaki, Infinity Ward’s Narrative Director. “In our more complex world that we live in today,” he continued, “we realize that there are no clear-cut good guys and clear-cut bad guys.”
“We are all shades of gray, and we have to rely on our own conscience to take us through and navigate these complex scenarios. That’s what Modern Warfare is; we don’t say that there are good guys and bad guys. Everybody is the hero of their own story.”
So began the challenge of re-creating the world of Modern Warfare to better relate to the world of 2019. And you can’t do that without some of the series’ best-loved characters.
“What's great about games is, rather than just seeing a protagonist on screen and empathizing with someone else that's external to us, we get to be that person,” Kurosaki said. “We get to walk a mile in their shoes and grow and evolve and actually inhabit them as they-as they figure out how they're going to overcome these obstacles.”
To do that, Infinity Ward cast a set of characters – fully-blown actors – instead of using CGI or virtual characters in the game. And it used state-of-the-art motion capture to ensure each performance was as authentic as possible.
“We have full performance capture where you're not only capturing the actor's movements,” Kurosaki explained, “you're capturing their facial expressions and their voices all simultaneously. We can have a level of fidelity and realism that we couldn’t have achieved before. And that allows us, if we're willing to, to tell these deeper, richer, more immersive stories.”
But the authenticity didn’t end with the storyline and actors. To help ensure Infinity Ward wrote a campaign that fit the very definition of ‘Modern Warfare’ the team consulted with Steve Sanders and Mitch Hall, two retired Navy Seals with more than four decades of military experience.
“I started scuba diving as a sophomore,” Sanders said. “Most of my friends in high school said I was never going to make it, which made it even better when I did.” He laughed.
“Call of Duty is so big that it's not just one experience; it's a platform, right?” Sanders argued. “It gives you a wide variety of different experiences. And if you want some of the best military-themed experiences that you can have in video games, you play Call of Duty.”
“So, personally, I see it like subscribing to a particular video service where I know it’s going to be this amazing experience of a certain caliber and it's going to be artists performing at their highest quality.”
According to Hall, Call of Duty stays true to real life battlefield situations. Mainly in the fact that as war changed, what soldiers have to deal with changed as well.
“A lot of things we thought we knew, we had to re-learn and re-craft because it was just different than what we expected,” said Hall, “and it morphed and changed very quickly from year to year… I would say the battlefield changed every 18 months.”
Modern Warfare features one level in the campaign that takes place inside a Townhouse. Both seals were fit-out head-to-toe in mo-cap suits, and the entire level was mapped onto a motion capture stage.
“The townhouse is a perfect example of what Mitch and Steve always talk about, which is being told to go with imperfect intel and execute your job perfectly,” said Jacob Minkoff, Single Player Design Director. “And players are going to be presented with situations that will challenge them to identify targets, threats, and unknowns, and make the right decisions.”
According to Sanders, while both Seals never had a mission exactly like the Townhouse – it certainly drew from their experiences in combat.
“As a soldier, you’re constantly processing all the contingencies,” Sanders explained. “You’re constantly evaluating and just gaming it in a sense. So, if we’re going down a road or patrolling into a target, you constantly have to be thinking about – okay, what if this happens right now? The same thing applies inside a building; you move in being prepared for anything to happen.”
“Some of the first things you're going to notice are how we cover down on a window,” Hall said of what players will see in that part of the Campaign. “We froze down a window before we went in. Instead of just kicking the door in, you know, we used a ladder, we climbed up, and had guys use that window to clear space before we actually put lots of bodies into it.”
Yes, Call of Duty looks to be shaping up as one of the most exciting and authentic gaming experiences in recent memory. The best bit? The game launches on Friday (October 25).