Black Ops Cold War Brings Back Batman Writer; Story Isn't Trying To Be Political
Raven Software's Dan Vondrak explains why they brought back David Goyer and what he brought to the table.
Treyarch's 2010 shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops was written in part by none other than Batman: The Dark Knight's David Goyer, and he came back to help with this year's new game, Black Ops Cold War. A direct sequel to the original game set in 1981, Cold War tells a story of international politics and turmoil as the US and the USSR faced off in what some feared might become World War III. But the game itself isn't attempting to be political, according to its developer.
Raven Software's Dan Vondrak told GameSpot that Goyer was enthusiastic about returning for Cold War, and that he challenged the developer's ideas about how to best tell a story.
"David Goyer is an incredible ball of energy," Vondrak said. "The very first phone call we had, he was pulling up every fact he could think of from Black Ops 1. And he was just ... his mind works in a different way. He was throwing out these different theories that we could try. And we were writing all these ideas down with him. He was great. He makes you question what you think can't be changed. He would come to us with these ideas and say, 'I know you think this is your story but what if the bad guy was doing this, what if one of your allies instead was doing this, why can't you make that happen?' He would just make you question everything you thought couldn't change, and that's what was so great about him."
Goyer also helped the developers to focus their ideas and to not be afraid to be too obvious. If you remember the line, "The numbers, Mason!" from the original Black Ops, that's because Goyer made a specific point to have the story repeat this line and idea again and again so it stuck in your head and made an impact. He's hoping to achieve something similar with Cold War.
"One of his driving points to us was don't be afraid to drive story points home," he said. "Don't be afraid to be too obvious. When you play a game, it can be easy to miss things. So if you want the player to know something, tell them five times. Don't just have one dramatic scene. Reinforce it five different times. Then find ways to reinforce it after that."
Vondrak added: "His creative energy was great. And really driving the story points home. He was a great sounding board for us."
Vondrak also stressed that the developers at Raven and Treyarch are not trying to make a political statement with Cold War. "We are making a fictionalized piece of entertainment. So we're not trying to make any political statement of any kind," he said.
The idea for Cold War's story is to shine a light on the gray areas of the Cold War. The game won't make a call about who is right and who is wrong, and instead tell a story that shows both sides as getting their hands dirty.
The game is of course grounded in real events--it features Ronald Reagan, after all--but Cold War is telling a story that is more about conspiracy theories that may or may not be true. Vondrak added that Raven Software got its hands on recently declassified US government documents regarding the Cold War, and there will be specific missions and locations that are based on these documents.
Black Ops Cold War releases on November 13 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The game will also launch on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X later in the year when those consoles arrive. This upgrade will not be free for the standard version of the game.
While Activision is focusing on discussing the single-play campaign for now, Cold War will also bring back Treyarch's fan-favorite Zombies mode, as well as standard multiplayer. The game will also integrate with the free-to-play Warzone, instead of Blackout 2.
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