Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Writer David S. Goyer Talks About Giving Players Choices
David S. Goyer has gone over his process of returning to Black Ops with the latest game, Cold War.
David S. Goyer has been attached to some major films over the last 20 years--including the Dark Knight trilogy, Batman v Superman, and Terminator: Dark Fate--but in games, he's best known for his work on the Call of Duty: Black Ops series. Goyer has story credits on Black Ops and Black Ops II, and he was brought back for Black Ops Cold War, the latest game in the series. Now, in an interview on the official Call of Duty blog, Goyer has explained some of the philosophy behind his work on the series.
Reflecting on the first two Black Ops games, Goyer said that he had been excited to move into games when he was invited to do a script polish for the original. "I think the game was about two thirds of the way finished at that point, and I punched up the script and I made some other suggestions," he recalls. "It was fascinating for me--it was just a different medium in the way that you convey exposition is entirely different."
After that, he was asked to be involved in Black Ops II "from the ground up," and he was able to get some interesting storytelling choices through. "I love the idea that there are multiple endings that can be achieved, depending on the moral choices that I make throughout the game," "he says. It was something that I was really pleased to see that Treyarch and Raven were continuing on with this new game. I liked the idea that actions have consequences."
Black Ops II and Black Ops Cold War ended up having the most variable plots in the series, and Cold War is the first time the series has let players create their own protagonist. Goyer says this presented some new challenges. "Every time someone plays, it’s going to be a little different because of that, and characters respond in a slightly different way," he says. "When we were working on the scripts, we needed to come up with six different responses to something, but that’s part of the fun."
He believes that letting players make choices like this is one of the things that sets the Black Ops series apart--and also that it allows players to kill or save certain characters depending on their choices. "Yes, we brought back some of the greatest hits characters like Mason and Woods and Hudson, but I think one of the other hallmarks of the franchise is that it’s uncompromising," he says. "A lot of the missions are rooted in real, deniable operations or things that were exposed with the Freedom of Information Act, and we don’t pull any punches."
Goyer also looked to real life Black Ops teams and operations for inspiration, and wanted to highlight the diversity of people involved. "There are men and women, agents and assets, from every country and every race that get involved in these operations," he says. "That was something that we worked hard on in this; to really broaden the palette and broaden the story. So you got characters that have had backgrounds in the Mossad and other kinds of intelligence agencies that are getting involved in the story that, again, bring their own level of authenticity and specificity to the characters."
The full interview is full of insights, and is worth a read.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is now available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The game's campaign earned praise in GameSpot's 7/10 review. "It's overall a fun action-movie story that absolutely delivers on the quintessential Black Ops twists and turns, but it ultimately walks back its more interesting and relevant questions--though I was completely invested in the story for the entire duration," wrote reviewer Kallie Plagge.
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