Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will likely bring to mind the unknowing silence and darkness of space for future players. But the people behind the game had another environment in mind when creating this science-future take on the war shooter.
"Space is like a deep black ocean," Infinite Warfare narrative director Taylor Kurosaki said in an interview with Polygon. "So we are taking a lot of information from and drawing a lot of metaphors with the current naval technology."
The game, officially announced this morning, has players taking on the role of the commander of what amounts to an aircraft carrier in space. In developing the title, Infinity Ward worked with a collection of former Naval officers and sailors including a two star admiral, Navy SEALs and a Naval bridge officer.
"We work with these guys daily," said Jacob Minkoff, design director on the game. "The militarization of space is foremost on their mind as the next frontier."
In the game’s narrative, set in a future time that neither Kurosaki nor Minkoff would nail down, players take on the role of Commander Nick Reyes, a Tier 1 Special Operations pilot who helms the Retribution, one of Earth's last remaining warships.
In this future setting, the Settlement Defense Front, which is an insurgent group that broke away from the United Nations Space Alliance during a war of secession years ago, begins to take control of the space colonies which supply the depleted Earth with much-needed resources.
Kurosaki stressed that while the game takes place in a future that includes humans living on other planets in our solar system and what appears to be more routine space flight, the game is designed to still feel grounded.
"This story is occurring in our solar system with human versus human combat, is a grounded, military, plausible, realistic experience," he said. "We truly believe we are going to give our hardcore Call of Duty fans a boots-on-the-ground gritty experience.
"I don’t think anyone will mistake this with anything but a Call of Duty game."
This time around, the game’s single-player campaign, which is written by Brian Bloom (who also voices Reyes), Kurosaki and Minkoff, is designed to thematically explore the weight of command.
"We want to put the players into the shoes of Commander Nick Reyes who is facing terrible extenuating circumstances," Kurosaki said. "He is the captain of the UNSA Retribution and he has a crew of thousands under his watch. He chooses to take it to hit various targets of opportunity. But by the same token he also gets orders from command and he must then pilot his ship to hit these other targets that commend dictates he attack."
While the game is telling a linear story, there are moments in the game when the player will be able to decide if they want to take on various missions, going out and hunting for enemy ships in whatever order they want.
"The story is not one of grunts, it’s one of the leader," Kurosaki said. "It’s more akin to Saving Private Ryan."
Minkoff said one of the big reasons that the team decided to push the game further into the future and into space was because of the environments and technology that afforded the team.
"Call of Duty has spent all of its time on Earth in pretty much every environment you can be in," he said. "There was a desire to experiment."
The team was able to explore what it would be like to fight in zero gravity and what you would need to do tactically to cover and cross distances in space, for instance. That’s what lead the team in that example to include reaction control system thrusters and grappling hooks, Minkoff said.
He added that another big push for this next Call of Duty, due out on Nov. 4, was to rid the game of loading screens.
"You can be on the surface of Earth and you can launch up through the atmosphere into orbit, engage in combat in space, land on the flight deck of the Retribution, go inside the ship, go up to the bridge and order your ship to the next target of opportunity," Minkoff said. "All of that completely seamlessly."