“The Ghosts Are Real” - New Cast, New Engine, Next-Gen Call of Duty
And now for the announcement that surprised no one today: Activision has officially revealed Call of Duty: Ghosts, this year’s entry into the military shooter franchise, releasing November 5th and headed up series creator Infinity Ward. That much anyone without internet access knew already thanks to some critical leaks.
What we didn’t already know is sure to excite fans, especially those growing tired of the series’ baby step amount of “innovations.” Ghosts is slated for release on both existing consoles as well as Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s soon-to-be-unveiled Next-Box. Because of this, Infinity Ward is using an entirely new engine for the game, finally retiring the one powering the last seven hundred Call of Duty’s.
Despite Infinity Ward’s involvement, Ghosts isn’t a follow up to Modern Warfare 3. The game features an all new cast of characters within a brand new setting. “Everyone was expecting us to make Modern Warfare 4, which would have been the safe thing to do,” said IW executive producer Mark Rubin. “But we’re not resting on our laurels.” Rubin explains that the transition to newer hardware was the perfect opportunity to reintroduce the world to Call of Duty through a new branding with new ideas.
Just what those new ideas are is up in the air. The first official trailer for the game is a live action teaser featuring precisely zero gameplay. But Activision promises way more, including actual gameplay, will be shown off right alongside Microsoft’s Next-Gen reveal event taking place on May 21st. Till then, here’s a corporate byline to make you feel all fuzzy on the inside:
“Infinity Ward is going all-in to create the next generation of Call of Duty worthy of the world’s greatest fans.”
Well, then. I guess this is Activision’s version of a confirmation.
Call of Duty: Ghosts Confirmed and, Better Yet, Dated
New promotional art circulating stores the likes of GameStop (I’ve never heard of ‘em; must be small time) has outed the latest installment of Activision’s annualized FPS breadwinner.
Once again under developer Infinity Ward’s reigns, Call of Duty: Ghosts, which is more than likely to have an official May 1st reveal, was also dated by the retailer art for November 5th of this year, falling in line with the release dates of the umpteen titles before it.
Not just an exceptionally badass subtitle, Ghosts is rumored to improve on the aging shooter’s formula through the addition of destructible environments (‘bout time), increased mobility options such as a new slide n’ shoot maneuver, and tweaks to smaller components like loading segments becoming playable.
The promotional art keenly fails to name which consoles this seeming Modern Warfare offshoot is coming to, but initial reports heavily suggest Activision is taking a multi-generational stance and launching Ghosts on both current and forthcoming systems. Personally, I’ll be watching closely how Acti looks to handle the shaky bridge between now and the next-gen, especially considering one of their first ventures will be their biggest franchise. More to come, folks, as this one develops.
Is Call of Duty: Ghosts Taking the Franchise Next-Gen?
Of all the places on the internet you could catch a leak, today’s big, ponderous rumor comes from Youtube by way of user Drift0r, a man that busies himself with uploading everything Call of Duty. Stressing (over and over) his source — supposedly someone close to development at Infinity Ward — was too legitimate not to quote, Drift0r quickly put together a video that may just out this Fall’s expected but unannounced installment of Activision’s yearly breadwinner.
Calling the game Call of Duty: Ghosts, it’s claimed this new sequel relates to the Modern Warfare universe but branches off on its own. Though Ghosts’ setting is the future, much like Black Ops II, a major plot device makes it so players have to use archaic — or “modern” — weaponry instead of arsenals augmented with x-ray sights and other attachments twelve-year-old’s use to piss me off online.
Changes to gameplay touched on involve increased mobility including the ability to “slide and shoot” instead of simply diving to prone as well as players being able to peek around corners. Apparently rolling while prone is also being implemented (I can only envision players rolling around on the ground like they’re being wrapped up in invisible carpets — hilarious to watch and shoot at).
Destructible environments are also being toyed with. The feature doesn’t sound locked down yet — single-player might see more breakable geometry than multiplayer — but one example given was a killstreak chopper caving in a building after being shot out of the sky. Loading times, oddly but awesomely enough, are said to be replaced by “mini-games” that have players breaching or repelling onto a map instead of simply watching a countdown before a match. Modern Warfare’s Spec Ops mode is also seeing the boot, usurped by a “new mode.”
The video’s uploader posits we may see an official announcement of Ghosts on or around May 1st, going on to report that the title might be a next-gen exclusive, gracing the PC, PS4, and “NeXt-Box” and not the current slew of established consoles what with their installed user base of millions (extremely far-fetched and yet…an insidiously great ploy to get people to buy up the new consoles). That last bit falls in line with rumoring ‘round the net that Infinity Ward was developing an unnamed title on next-gen hardware.
Until we hear otherwise, though, chase the entirety of this rumor down with a helping of salt. Then swallow the shaker. Grab pepper. Repeat.
Black Ops II Scores Half a Million in Its First Day on Sale
To the absolute surprise of no one, Call of Duty: Black Ops II earned just over $500 million bucks worldwide within its first twenty-four hours on sale. Following a sales one-upping trend started by Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops II has toppled last year’s MW3 launch numbers which totaled in $400 million.
Activision immediately patted themselves on the shoulder for doling out another annual blockbuster. Acti’s own CEO, Bobby Kotick, heralded the Call of Duty license as “the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row,” adding that life-to-date sales far exceed even the number of box office ticket sales amassed for cultural smash hits like Star Wars and Harry Potter. Black Ops II’s earnings aren’t staggering for lack of industry competition, either. Just last week Microsoft’s gaming juggernaut, Halo 4, saw an impressive launch day gross of $220 million.
One has to wonder how different these launch numbers would look if Halo weren’t limited to the Xbox, but as it stands, both titles seem poised to outsell their way to Holiday supremacy this year and, more importantly, allow Activision to remodel its corporate headquarters into a flying fortress above the clouds. (At the time of this writing, Microsoft has not announced any plans for flying cities; we’ll keep you posted as we hear word).
Closer to CoD: Trent Reznor Composes Black Ops II Main Theme
There’s news and then there’s news that gives me a sexless, excitement-spurned rager. Unluckily for the people around me, this news falls in the later category. Nine Inch Nails’ frontman (and, often, only man), Trent Reznor, has been tapped by Treyarch to compose Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s main theme song. Don’t expect a patriotic call to arms, though, according to Reznor. Spanning the duration of the very real Cold War and its fictional re-ignition in the future of 2025, Reznor hopes the aggressive, guitar-driven sound of the theme will fit comfortably with the game’s somber tone.
“There is a lot of reservation and angst and sense of loss and regret and anger bubbling under the surface. So it didn’t make sense to have a gung-ho patriotic feeling kind of theme song. It has to feel weighty.” Sounds like familiar territory for the musician whose first breakout album, Pretty Hate Machine, covered those subjects with electronic despair and pulsing, rhythmic beats.
Composing duties are nothing new to Reznor, either, having won an Academy Award for his work on the Social Network soundtrack with longtime compatriot Atticus Ross, as well as earning a Golden Globe nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s score. The gaming scene also hasn’t eluded Reznor who not only identifies as a gamer himself but has also contributed music and sound design for both id Software’s Quake and Doom 3 (although his work on Doom 3 was eventually scrapped, his music is featured prominently in Quake and ammo crates in the game are marked as “NIN” in homage to Trent’s band). He’s even got a soft spot for Call of Duty, “I have always looked to that franchise as the cutting edge of what seemingly unlimited budgets and full-on not cutting any corners can do in the current day and age.”
The rest of Black Ops II will be scored by video game veteran Jack Wall (you may be acquainted with his brilliant Mass Effect 2 score). As for Reznor, 2012 will see him press forward with a new How to Destroy Angels album (a collaboration with his fellow musically inclined wife, Mariqueen, and Atticus Ross) and, while early in its “gestation period,” the better part of the year will be focused on creating new music for Nine Inch Nails, which will be the first full helping of anything from the outfit since 2008.
Sledgehammer Games Tackling Call of Duty 2013
Prepare to be savagely unsurprised: Activision plans to release yet another annual increment of Call of Duty in 2013. Unlike the Infinity Ward/Treyarch development house trade off that’s been routine practice the last four years or so, a recent job listing on Sledgehammer’s website points to the Modern Warfare 3 collaborators as the next in line to handle the franchise instead.
Their ad for a Senior FX Artist (which has since been filled) also requested the candidate have professional experience with the inner workings of “current generation hardware.” Murmurs suggest this may be the last Call of Duty to come out during this console cycle and Infinity Ward’s assignment on an unnamed next-gen shooter reinforces that rumor.
Why even waste the resources, Activision? The manpower, the advertising, the plastic you print the games on — save all that shit. The way I see it, you don’t need to make a new CoD every year. Just make one game that, every November, renders my system completely useless until I feed it $59.99. For Elite Subscribers, they can have the additional incentive of a small fire emitting from the disc tray that can only be put out with a credit card. I get to shoot virtual people, my family’s out of danger, and Acti makes more money — everyone’s happy.
Vince Zampella: They say that Modern Warfare 3 would have been a much better game and would have made 700 million more dollars for them and they want us to pay that.
Jason West: We deprived them of our services by being fired and therefore we owe them money.
Referring to Game Informer’s interview with former Infinity Ward heads and Call of Duty creators West and Zampella as candid is a pure understatement. The tiffs and backstabbing that escalated into the duo’s termination and, appallingly enough, their ensuing legal onslaught with Activision are exposed and laid out simply for anyone willing to spend the time reading the article.
It’s absolutely amazing to see a huge company like Activision fall back on ruthless bullying tactics to get what they want. The interview reveals that the publisher withheld employees pay in order to guarantee a commitment from Infinity Ward that Modern Warfare 3 would fast line into development. This was one of several attacks on the studio, done with the intent on wresting control from IW’s heads — effectively planting complete ownership of the Call of Duty IP in Activision’s hands.
Sometimes even my stoney layer of cynicism can’t protect me from the world’s fucked up injustices. Again, hear West and Zampella’s story out.
Black Ops II: The Zombies Are Coming
Take a look at our first official, well, anything about the new Zombies Campaign in the next Black Ops. I’m referring to it as a campaign because evidently the feature returns from the grave with a host of new modes. If only we knew what the hell they were. Treyarch is touting this Zombies 2.0 as bigger, better, and ravenous.
I can only hope that means the mode has evolved into something more substantial than the tiresome endurance trials from Treyarch’s last two efforts. They’re fun, for sure, but after two games of the same thing, I need something meatier to sink my teeth into (hey-ho! See what I did there?).
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PC/PS3/360 - November 13th)
In a surefire bid to reinvigorate a quickly stagnating property, Activision and Treyarch are embracing something rather uncommon in the Call of Duty series: change. The biggest retooling would be the developer’s use of choice-oriented tactical missions that are spread throughout the story campaign. These Strike Force missions are more than interesting distractions, as their outcomes and your performance in them changes the overarching story, even down to who makes it through the war alive. There’s several different branches to take during a Strike Force mission, finally promoting single-player replay.
Co-written by one of Hollywood’s favorite genre screenwriters, David S. Goyer, the narrative pushes forward with the events of the 2010 original, bringing back familiar faces Mason and Woods (Sam Worthington and James Burns reprising their roles respectively) in covert ops taking place in the ‘80’s, while the bulk of the campaign sees Mason’s offspring, David, fending off the escalating conflict between the U.S. and China in the year 2025 (where you will fight literal fuck tons of enemy robot drones).
Mum’s the word on multiplayer, although it has been mentioned that Treyarch is shaking the cobwebs out of the totem feature in order to liven up the joint. It should be noted combat online will take place solely in the future, not the ‘80’s, so as to avoid time collapsing in on itself.
Oh, and by the by, they’re fleshing out zombies mode. Running on the multiplayer engine and decked with dedicated matchmaking, Zombies returns with its own set of unspecified modes (yeah, plural), and more than we’ve ever experienced from what once started as an Easter Egg.