By now most Call of Duty fans know that when it comes to story, the franchise typically plays fast and loose with its concepts. The game may be set in a believable setting, but oftentimes the scenarios that the title presents are far from realistic. At the same time, though, there are undertones to every Call of Duty title that echo our current political or geopolitical climate.
With Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, developers Sledgehammer Games hoped to take those players' preconceived notions about story and dig a little deeper. They wanted to create a world state that, although it is fiction, feels believable and real.
To that end, Sledgehammer's Glen Schofield tells CVG about the story's roots in reality. As he explains, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare isn't trying to take liberties with history, but if it can challenge the player's thinking then that may be worth it.
"But I like the idea of sentimental redemption. I don't have an agenda and I'd never be so bold as to try and ram one down the throats of our fans. But if we can present some questions or some thoughts or some facts and have the player walk away thinking about those things - I'm really into that!"
PMCs, for example, are a big part of the Advanced Warfare story and an always-controversial topic in politics. However, Sledgehammer hopes to put a new spin on PMCs with the character of Jonathan Irons (voiced by Kevin Spacey). It's weighty material, to say the least.
"A big part of what Irons says is based on the Arab Spring. Everybody wanted democracy. Does it really work everywhere? Irons says that everyone wants protection and support," he says, "and I had a friend who escaped from Iraq. Her uncle had been sentenced to death by Saddam Hussein four years earlier. He had this tradition where he released a number of prisoners every year and that year her uncle was one of them."
That being said, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is still a piece of fiction. The game takes players to a near-future setting that has mechs, walking tanks, and EXO suits capable of amplifying the abilities of a normal human. These are all elements that are seemingly impossible in today's time, but even then the developers tried to construct them in a believable way. To hear more about how Sledgehammer Games developed the game's near future tech check out the video below:
No matter how players might feel about the future tech in Advanced Warfare, it's interesting to hear Condrey and Schofield talk about their inspirations for the game. It's true that most pop culture items paint the future on the back of sci-fi concepts, which most have posed a challenge for the development team. However, Black Ops 2 showed that it is possible to take Call of Duty into the future, and do so in a seemingly believable way.
Overall, it sounds as if Advanced Warfare has a lot deeper narrative than the average Call of Duty game – and that's on top of new twists for multiplayer and a new cooperative mode. Whether or not that will be enough for the franchise to course correct sales-wise is yet to be determined.
What do you think of Advanced Warfare's story? Do you find its near-future setting to be believable?
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare releases November 4, 2014 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.