To this point, the developers of the Call of Duty series haven’t exactly restricted themselves to stories based purely on realism. Sure, modern weaponry and prototypes have been introduced, but with evil, power-hungry generals, nuclear launches on a weekly basis, and an all-out robotic apocalypse, they’ve played in fiction as often as fact.
So when fans heard that Call of Duty: Ghosts would once again be set in the rubble of America’s near-future, another dose of sci-fi was expected – a fact confirmed when the first trailer for the game featured soldiers in space and sabotaged orbital bombardments. But it turns out that although Infinity Ward may be crafting an outlandish story, the actual science behind Ghosts‘ ‘catastrophe’ is already being explored by the American military.
The American soldiers donning spacesuits and assault rifles may still be years away (sadly), and the ‘Odin’ satellite revealed to be the cause of the game’s devastation – brought about by massive “rods” fired into the Earth – sounds like a typical sci-fi plot device. But according to Activision community manager Dan Amrich, they’ve based their fiction on actual science.
On his OneofSwords blog, Amrich points to the US military’s ‘Project Thor,’ a proposed system for ‘kinetic bombardment’ – firing inert objects from Earth’s orbit. Specifically, 9-ton tungsten poles accelerated to Mach 10 before impact. The system is based on the principle of kinetic energy: a 9-ton pole striking the ground at over 7,000 mph would be equal to a detonation of over 100 tons of TNT.
Although the government has yet to implement Project Thor (officially, anyway) there’s reason to believe it could become a reality before long. The tungsten poles would be hard to detect on radar, would destroy a target with the same impact of a nuclear bomb without the fallout, and since it’s a conventional weapon, wouldn’t break any international treaties on orbital weapon deployment.
It’s that uniquely plausible take on future warfare that the developers of Ghosts chose to succeed the Modern Warfare setting, but when word of Project Thor surfaced on Reddit back in May, the team apparently feared that their fans would connect the dots between the potentially devastating technology and their game’s catastrophe. Few ultimately did, and IW and Activision now look like the ultimate forward-thinkers.
It’s too early to tell if Ghosts will stretch reality throughout the rest of the campaign, but at least players won’t have radiation poisoning, nuclear fallout or the plot holes they tend to bring to worry about.
We’d like to think that Infinity Ward has just as much insider information behind the notion of space combat in general, but we won’t be holding our breath.
Call of Duty: Ghosts releases November 5, 2013 for the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360. PS4 and Xbox One release dates have not been announced.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.