Sledgehammer Games' third-person, action-adventure Call of Duty title would have been set in the Vietnam War, said Sledgehammer co-founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey in an interview with Game Informer.
It has been widely reported that Sledgehammer was working on an action-adventure entry in the Call of Duty series prior to joining Infinity Ward in developing 2011's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. According to Schofield, the studio spent six to eight months on a prototype that introduced new combat mechanics and unique moments to the Call of Duty franchise, all of which were made possible by the third-person perspective. The action took place during the Vietnam War in Cambodia, a setting that presented new gameplay opportunities as well as some marketing challenges.
"We had the underground tunnels," Schofield told Game Informer. "We were definitely getting some Dead Space moments. I don't mean that from sci-fi, I mean that was a war that was scary for the [American soldiers]. They didn't know if in the jungle there was a booby trap, or what was in those tunnels." Both Schofield and Condrey worked at Dead Space developer Visceral Games prior to founding Sledgehammer.
"We were definitely getting some Dead Space moments"
According to Condrey and Schofield, something else contributed in their decision to shelve the Vietnam title: Nearly forty years after the end of that war, it remains a controversial conflict around the world, especially because it is known as "America's war" — not Vietnam's — outside the U.S.
"It's kind of unpopular. And we didn't really understand the marketing aspect of that," said Schofield.
During that six- to eight-month span, Sledgehammer created a 15-minute demo that eventually led to Activision reaching out to the studio when Infinity Ward needed help to finish Modern Warfare 3. That game did well enough to convince Sledgehammer to put off the third-person project and instead move on to what would become this year's Call of Duty title, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. But Schofield noted that if Activision ever wanted to take the franchise in a third-person direction, Sledgehammer would want to return to its prototype.