Whether you love the futuristic, space setting of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare or long for a return to the battles of the past, there’s no denying that Infinity Ward are striving to bring new ideas to the long running series’ single player campaigns.
Check out our preview from Gamescom last week, where we also spoke to Taylor Kurosaki, the Narrative Director at Infinity Ward, about the game and the new things that the team are bringing to the series.
TSA: The first thing I want to ask is the awkward question about the YouTube likes and dislikes. How do react to that in the studio? Do you simply have to put it to one side and move past it?
Taylor Kurosaki: You know, this has been a project that the studio and the team at the studio has wanted to make for quite some time, and these are the guys that have been working on Call of Duty for over a decade.
So I think that the team has been incredibly smart to identify what the core gameplay loop of Call of Duty is and what it is that people love about it. Infinite Warfare is set to build upon it and extend it in some really interesting ways, while retaining the kind of meat and potatoes of it at the same time.
We just have this sort of North Star that leads us, and we’ve had this idea for this game, and we just keep focussing on the game and working hard on it every day. We’re getting really close to the finish line and we can’t wait for people to actually get the game itself in their hands.
TSA: Another fairly old topic, but why did you decide to do something new in the form of Infinite Warfare, instead of continuing on from the end of Ghosts? It did end on a bit of a cliffhanger!
Taylor: I mean, again, I think that the setting and the backdrop for this game really allows us to extend that gameplay in some really interesting ways that you couldn’t do in any other setting.
I’ve been a fan of the franchise for a really long time, and I think the thing that keeps me coming back, the thing that makes me go “Oh yeah, this is it!” when I get a new version of it in my hands – and I’ve had that same moment when I’m working on the game! – it’s coming into a new battle zone, assessing where my enemy is, picking a path, picking weaponry that suits my playstyle, and ultimate moving from cover to cover to try and flank them. That’s really the gameplay loop!
What this new setting has allowed us to do is to, not only have that boots on the ground loop I just described – and in this case, that ground can be the ground in Geneva or of a moon of Saturn – but also have a combat zone in a zero-G environment.
We’ve spoken to Navy SEALs and asked them what they would do in a zero-G environment…
TSA: Flail around, probably?
Taylor: Well that’s the problem, right? You don’t want to flail around, you still want to be strategic and still move very purposefully from cover to cover. That was the jumping off point for the grapple mechanic that we’ve shown at E3, for example. You’re still assessing this area, you’re still assessing where the enemy is and you’re still purposefully identifying a new piece of cover and moving to it using that grapple. Of course, that grapple can pull enemies toward you and all that sort of stuff, but again, it’s that same loop, just an expansion of it.
I think it’s going to be really cool for the players. We’re showing a demo here at Gamescom where an asteroid has gone off its orbit, and it’s now rotating very, very close to the Sun, and its day-night cycle is about a minute long…
TSA: Yeah, and you have those stages where you have to sprint between shade and buildings.
Taylor: Yeah! You’ve not only got to take cover from enemies in front of you, you’ve got to take cover from the Sun! We’re just taking that whole thing and adding some new spices to it, and I think that’s what’s going to be really fun and interesting for the players.
TSA: In terms of the story, there’s elements of being able to decide what you want to do, playing as Captain Reyes. I think that’s a little tricky to get across when you’re just showing off a single section or level from the game, so how does that work? And how has that affected creating those big set piece moments we know from Call of Duty?
Taylor: You know, we have a player base who have been playing this game for many years, and so we thought it would be a nice change up [to have you in command]. Rather than saying you’re the recruit and it’s your first day on the job, or whatever, and we’re gonna order you to stack up on that door or shout “follow me” at you, we thought it would be really interesting to say what if you were a seasoned veteran?
You’re a warrior that has a lot of experience under his belt, and now the growth and the arc for you is coming from being a seasoned warrior, where you are the leader of a squad and fighting for the guy next to you, to becoming a commander, the captain of a 1000-strong crew.
TSA: But, like Captain Kirk, you still head straight for the bullets and head down to the surface.
Taylor: Oh, yeah! I mean, the thing is that you are not expecting this attack. You were squadron commander at the start of this particular day, and now you’ve been field promoted to captain. You didn’t have a chance to resupply and reinforce, you’re the best pilot that you have – you’re a SCAR, a Special Combat Air Recon, so a Tier 1 Navy SEAL operative meets Top Gun pilot – so you can’t afford to be back on the bridge and just issuing orders. You need to use every asset to give you a fighting chance of winning this war.
So we thought that was a really interesting way to change things up. Call of Duty’s always kind of had this slogan of “No one fights alone,” and that’s still true, but what if it’s that you’re not just fighting for the guy next to you, but if you’re fighting for the success of the overall mission, that it comes first, and what that would mean in terms of the burden of leadership.
TSA: So how does that actually work in the game? You’re picking the missions that you take, and so maybe you don’t actually play this asteroid mission? Or can it happen within levels as well?
Taylor: So it’s both, and you’re pushing the action. Instead of someone saying, “Hey, new guy, come here!” it’s something more like “Captain is moving up!” It’s more like you are deciding to lead and push the action forward.
That’s on a moment to moment basis, but in a more macro sense, you couldn’t really be a captain of a carrier if you didn’t have the autonomy to order your carrier to assault different targets. You’re not the head of this armed force, but you’re still the head of this ship. So you get commands and orders from above that you have to do, but you also have some intel about the movements of the enemy fleet, you can act on that intel and choose to take your carrier to assault a vessel, maybe there’s a leadership conference and attacking that would deal a really big blow to their forces.
TSA: Finally, just quickly about the new Zombies mode in Infinite Warfare. One of my favourite things about Ghosts was the Extinction mode and made for a nice change of pace, and so I’m wondering what it is about Zombies that you’re featuring it in different ways every year now?
Taylor: I mean, I think people love Zombies too. It’s been a mode that has an endearing fanbase and people really love it. I think it’s going to be exciting to see Infinity Ward’s take on that mode, which should be really interesting.
TSA: Is there maybe a bit of competition with Treyarch and Sledgehammer?
Taylor: We’re all friends. We all work together and know each other, and we’re all trying to extend this franchise in new and meaningful ways. So yeah, there’s no rivalry, it’s all fun.
We’re like comrades in arms, like a big fighting force ourselves, and the mission comes first!
TSA: [laughs] And on that incredibly cheesy note, thank you!
Thanks to Taylor for taking the time to chat with us about Infinite Warfare and the new directions Infinity Ward are exploring. Check out our preview from earlier today for more on would could be a defining new entry in the Call of Duty series.