Even with a leap to the next generation Call of Duty hasn’t escaped the criticisms of complacency that accompany its annual release. When last week’s Call of Duty: Ghosts trailer debuted at Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal, it didn’t take long for audiences to recognize the game by its many war-shooter tropes and grandiose set pieces.
Now, alone that’s no indictment — underwater sub assaults still have a few more Call of Dutys to go before becoming prosaic — but developer Infinity Ward didn’t help its case by explaining days later that Call of Duty: Ghosts’s “new” graphics engine wasn’t entirely built from the ground up.
But at the end of the day, Infinity Ward’s and Activision’s pitch is simple: Beyond dogs, beyond dynamic multiplayer earthquakes, beyond fish that scatter whenever you swim by (actually, that one probably could have gone without mentioning), Call of Duty: Ghosts is a brand new universe. New story. New characters. A new framework for the franchise even if the picture inside looks somewhat the same.
So how did the development team arrive at Ghosts after capping off Modern Warfare 3? Speaking to MCV recently, Infinity Ward executive producer Mark Rubin says the shift was “not a hard decision, but a long decision.” The game was conceived after “weeks” of post-Modern Warfare 3 brainstorming:
“We all really knew we wanted to continue making Call of Duty. We could have done something else. But we wanted to make Call of Duty and we wanted to create a new universe, or a new story at least. We wanted new characters and new experiences.
“The easy thing would have been — as we had finished the arc of Modern Warfare 1, 2 and 3 — to start a new arc within that same universe. That was the first step. But due to a lot of the changes we wanted to make with this new world, it really dictated out that we needed to make something that wasn’t Modern Warfare.”
With Activision only giving audiences glimpses of its gameplay and briefly skimming over elements of its campaign (penned by Traffic and Syriana writer and director Stephen Gaghan) and multiplayer (character — not just weapon! — customization), it’s far too early to judge whether Call of Duty: Ghosts will revolutionize/reinvent/incrementally improve/stagnate/setback the franchise. The series has defied rumors of its sales demise for years, and its main competition, Battlefield 4, faces the same challenges of transitioning to the technology of next-generation hardware.
Expect the forecast for both shooters to become a lot clearer when they bring their visions of next-generation warfare to E3 2013, beginning on June 11.
Call of Duty: Ghosts releases November 5, 2013 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
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