Because so much about the game remains a mystery, it’s difficult to discern how this year’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is being thus far received. Activision and the team at Infinity Ward are taking the franchise in a different direction, focusing more heavily on narrative, which has reportedly driven some playtesters to tears. This upcoming entry in the series will be far more grounded with a different kind of grit to it, a realism that trends toward a certain level of discomfort. But is a mainstream game of Call of Duty’s caliber ready for such an experience? Are we? Even former Call of Duty developer and Sledgerhammer Games Co-founder Michael Condrey doesn’t seem so sure.
Activision’s intentions with Modern Warfare became a topic of discussion for Condrey in a recent interview with VentureBeat. Upon being questioned about his thoughts on some reporters referring to Modern Warfare’s E3 behind-closed-doors demo as “pretty disturbing,” Condrey said,
I maintain that video games are the most important art form of our time. I respect every developer who strives to deliver their work as an extension or reflection of their artistic vision. That said, MW seems like a tough challenge for any studio, especially if they are being pushed by publishing to be more controversial and “darker” for the sake of headlines.
When pressed further on his thoughts about the Modern Warfare news that’s been circulating, Condrey explained how much times have changed since his work on Modern Warfare entries. These tumultuous and heartbreaking changes leave Condrey “torn,” he admitted in the interview.
I absolutely loved the original Modern Warfare series, and working on MW3, at the height of the franchise’s popularity, was a special opportunity. I also believe in creative freedom and artistic expression in our medium. Our efforts on MW3 were focused on storytelling in a universe that dealt with intense conflict but was also very clearly fictional. And with WWII our team strived to pay tribute to a conflict like no other. But the world has changed a lot in the last decade and events like Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and Christchurch are real and heartbreaking. So, I’m torn Dean, to be totally honest.
Condrey then went on to address Modern Warfare’s setting in the Middle East, speaking of the complexities likely involved in conveying the atrocities of war in such a narrative.
With Advanced Warfare we created a relatable yet fictional antagonist threat with the rise of the PMC (Private Military Company). And with WWII we honored a historical conflict that told the stories of common men and women fighting for freedom against an incredible force of tyranny. The creative challenges of realistic “modern warfare” are complex. Western “heroes” killing “villains” in the Middle East simply isn’t good enough.
Equally, I hope the game’s stated goal to depict the realism of war was an unfortunate choice of words, rather than the actual intent to depicting the unspeakable atrocities that are the reality of today’s modern conflicts.
Hopefully, all of this and more will become clearer when Infinity Ward finally shows off Modern Warfare’s gameplay. The full package can be judged later this year, once it hit the PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One on October 25th.