Passion. This was probably the word we heard most when, at Infinity Ward earlier this month, we met the developers of this year's Call of Duty. People at the LA-based studio speak of a "seminal moment in the history of video games" when referring to the time when a game called Call of Duty first invaded our consoles. And even if since then the series has alternated between highs and lows, in the process polarising the community, nobody can deny the importance of the series, nor the impact it has made on the first-person shooter space.
In all of this, Infinity Ward has played an extraordinary role; this studio developed the very first Call of Duty and gave life to the Modern Warfare series, and then later found themselves producing Ghosts and Infinite Warfare, two of the more forgettable entries in the franchise. Thus, in the last two-and-a-half years, the studio has returned to work on its strongest brand, taking up the reins of the Modern Warfare saga that ended in 2011 with Makarov's death and the grand conclusion of a trilogy.
With things left as they were we weren't particularly surprised when we were told that this new game won't be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4. Instead, we are getting a reboot of the original Modern Warfare saga, hence why it is called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - almost like the 2007 original - and comes armed with the same themes and most of the same characters that fans know all too well from past adventures.
Let's make things clear right away; this is not a remake of the first Modern Warfare, but a completely new game. The ambition of this new Modern Warfare is to tell a contemporary war story, something immersed in geopolitical plausibility. The world has changed since 2007, and the ways that we wage war have changed too. In order to create a Modern Warfare that feels contemporary and of its time, a new script was required. In much the same way, today's video games are profoundly different from those of twelve years ago, and therefore some radical changes we required to keep things fresh.
The developer's first mission was to create a coherent experience. Almost all Call of Duty games in the past have been presented with a "two games in one" structure, where multiplayer and single-player coexist yet are ostensibly separate entities. The new Modern Warfare will try to overcome this dichotomy by introducing elements that will push players to happily move between solo play and multiplayer and to perceive the game as a unique product, wherein each element has a context. The details of what this will entail, however, have not yet been revealed.
The second challenge concerns the veracity of what actually happens in the game. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare wants to explore a contemporary war scenario, and war is a terrible thing. Too often in the world of gaming, the horror of war is staged by resorting to brutal violence and gore. In this case, the aim is more to show the tension and personal drama of those who live through these experiences. To make the point, a developer told us that they were inspired by the fear generated by a masterpiece like "Jaws" rather than by the gruesome brutality of "Saw".
Finally, an attempt is being made to instil in the characters a sense of truthfulness. The devs are trying to dodge the banality of having an immaculate hero take on a bad-to-the-bone antagonist. Each character is complex: one side is driven by understandable motivations and the other side aren't superheroes or pillars of morality.
It's clear, then, that bringing the Modern Warfare sub-series up-to-date was possible only with a reboot and the creation of narrative circumstances that better reflect the world in which we live in 2019. A grown-up, more mature game where good and evil is only a matter of perspective. We will still have the American and Russian superpowers facing off against each other on the battlefield, but the events that led to the destruction of New York City in the third episode of the old saga have not yet occurred.
With regards to the two superpowers at war, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a game in which both professionals (Tier 1 operators) and rebel militias coexist in both factions, where operators and rebels fight side by side, however, in many cases they will find themselves facing their opponents alone. Operators travel in small numbers and are equipped with advanced technology that allows them to cope with large rebel groups. Conversely, the rebels must count on their larger numbers, or opt for a stealthier approach when faced with better-equipped opponents. These differences should give rise to intricate tactics that determine how you behave on the battlefield.