Activision wants Call of Duty to be talked about as much as Game of Thrones
"Our goal as entertainers is to deliver a Red Wedding scene through interactive entertainment," Sledgehammer says.
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Upcoming action-shooter Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is really going to focus on story, studio heads Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield said in a new interview. Speaking with Game Informer, studio cofounder Michael Condrey said his ambition for the Call of Duty series overall is for it to permeate popular culture in a similar way to Game of Thrones.
"Our goal as entertainers is to deliver a Red Wedding scene through interactive entertainment, and have people talk about Call of Duty on that sort of level one day," Condrey said. Other cofounder Glen Schofield added: "I want people to go 'crap, it's over'. 'Wow…There was a great story in a video game. It can be done.' And that's a big deal."
Schofield went on to say that while Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will have large-scale set-piece moments, including a scene where San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge comes crashing down, the game will also focus on more subtle emotional scenes.
"It's not just about the big moments; it's about the emotional moments," Schofield said. "And they can still be big and bold, but it's to me, right now...at this point in our career and I think in video games, with the new consoles and the amount of fidelity you get with the characters, it's about emotional connections. Narrative is extremely important to us. Not that it isn't to others, but we pay an awful lot of attention to that."
"It's not just a military story; this is about family, and camaraderie, and pain, and loss" -- Glen Schofield
"I just feel that video games is the next medium to be talking about a story," he added. "We need to be telling a story."
Condrey echoed Schofield's comments, saying it's been a "core focus" for Sledgehammer Games to create a "rich narrative." Sledgehammer isn't yet saying much about the story Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will tell, but unlike past entries in the series, there will only be one protagonist, a soldier named Private Mitchell.
"It's not just a military story; this is about family, and camaraderie, and pain, and loss," Schofield said. Mitchell is described as a "normal" guy, an "anybody." He is voiced by prolific and celebrated voice actor Troy Baker (The Last of Us, BioShock: Infinite), but Mitchell only speaks during cinematics, never during gameplay.
Could that be jarring for players, not hearing the protagonist talk during gameplay?
"We've talked an awful lot about it. And it just feels like once we're in game, we want you to feel like you're Mitchell," Schofield said. If you hear someone else's voice as your character during gameplay, you might lose a feeling of immersion, Schofield says.
Finally, Schofield explained that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's dramatic new gameplay features, including the super-ability EXO suit that players can use to climb walls and dodge with great speed, are not going to make the game feel any less like the Call of Duty fans have grown accustomed to.
"Maybe we change it up as much as possible but there's something in it that people can say 'Ah, it's still Call of Duty,'" Schofield said. "Because we know there's still millions of people who play it and they don't want a completely different game; they want Call of Duty, but better, different, innovative."
"This is Call of Duty from the spirit of everything you loved about it, but it is a different Call of Duty and we think that's going to be pretty fun for the fans," Condrey said.