We recently had an opportunity to ask som questions about Call of Duty: World at War directly from Rich Farrelly, Creative Director.
OCMS: What is the background and setting for the game?
The game is set in World War 2 during the final brutal days of conflict. It covers the stories of two squads, one from the Russian Red Army and one from the US Marines as they close in on the final objectives of the war.
OCMS: What can you tell us about the A.I. in the game? I have heard that they will hide in the grass, set ambushes, and do suicide attacks?
They will certainly do all of those things and more. When we were designing the gameplay for the new Pacific Theater content, we realized that the existing Call of Duty AI just didn’t feel right in the new environments. After a quite bit of research we learned that the Imperial Japanese Army fought in a completely different way than their European counterparts. We spent a great deal of effort integrating these new tactics into the existing AI. The results were great, it completely changed the way the game felt and how players approached it.
OCMS: What are some of the locales gamers will see in the game?
We have two campaigns. One takes the player from the edge of Germany and on into Berlin with the Russian Red Army, the other starts on a small Pacific Island called Peleliu and moves into Okinawa with the US Marines. The settings offer a wide range of visuals from swampy jungles to bombed out cities. Using the well seasoned Call of Duty 4 engine as a foundation, we have been able to build upon it to continue to push the hardware to new limits, creating some incredibly stunning environments.
OCMS: What are some of the weapons we will see and will they change between locales?
There are way too many to list especially when you count in the diversity we have in the multiplayer game. Players will see the usual suspects like the Garand rifle or the MG-42, but the new Pacific campaign introduces a whole range of new Imperial Japanese weaponry. One type we are particularly excited about is the flame based weaponry. This ranges from the venerable flamethrower to flame tanks and Molotov cocktails. All of these will effect the environment and characters as players burn their way through the levels.
OCMS: How will vehicles be used in game and what will players be able to ride in?
There are vehicles in both the Single Player, Co-Op, and Multiplayer modes of the game. Players will be able to drive different tracked vehicles, including the awesome Russian T-34 flame tank.
OCMS: What forms of multiplay does the game include and will players be able to play both sides of the conflicts?
We recognized early on that the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare multiplayer experience was amazing and beloved by many players. We made it our aim to build upon that model rather than re-invent the wheel. You’ll see a similar perks and experience system and some familiar game modes along with some new modes including specific vehicle based levels. Players will be able to play as anyone of the four nations depicted in the game.
OCMS: After 3 games and 2 add on packs in the series set during W.W.II how do you keep it fresh and was it tempting to move away from W.W. II entirely as COD 4 successfully did?
It was a very tall order, and something we took very seriously from the outset of the project. We knew we couldn’t come to market with the same old World War 2 game. We looked at every aspect of the game and asked the question “How can we make this different?”. One of the first things was to take on a grittier more serious tone rather than the usual “Go get ’em boys” approach. This permeates everything from the graphics though dialogue and even the music has an edgier more contemporary feel.
OCMS: Blending action with a detailed plot can always be tricky. How have you attempted to create this element, and will scripted events be a part of the game?
As with every Call of Duty title we always try to have a strong story and cinematic presentation. Call of Duty: World at War is no exception to this. One goal we did have however, was to eliminate in-game 3rd person cuts-scenes and dry documentary style campaign movies The loading movies are very different from anything else presented to players before and all of the storytelling in game is in first person.
OCMS: What is the scope of the game, and how many new maps will players get for multiplayer?
The game offers a lot of variety and consists of a Single Player campaign, Co-Op modes of gameplay, and competitive Multiplayer (13 maps) with persistent stats and rankings. Additionally in the Co-Op, you play through friendly or compete online for points for added replayability. There will also be modifiers that players can set up when playing through co-operative mode that will vary the experience.
OCMS: How has the gaming engine been enhanced since COD 4 and what can gamers look forward to?
Players can expect to see all of the great features that were present in Call of Duty4: Modern Warfare along with a few enhancements made by the Treyarch team. Some of these include realistic fire and water elements that behave as you would expect. Fire spreads and burns objects and foliage based on wind direction. Water reflects the environment in real-time and deforms when disturbed by explosion or contact with physics objects which incidentally, have realistic buoyancy.
OCMS: What are some of the biggest obstacles you faced in creating the game and the biggest successes?
Making the new Pacific Theater a fresh gameplay experience was definitely our toughest task. When we were prototyping, we took some great looking Imperial Japanese Army character models and put them in a Pacific environment with standard Call of Duty AI. It just didn’t work for us. It looked great, but the enemy didn’t “fit” and the scenarios didn’t feel like they should. We realized that to create the unique gameplay feel we wanted, we needed to focus on developing tactics that were specific to the Imperial Japanese Army – banzai charges, spider holes, flanking maneuvers, tree snipers, ambushes, etc. It took months for this to come together, but when it finally did it crystallized the game. This new enemy is very real and very aggressive.
OCMS: With such a successful series and a very loyal fan base, how much pressure is there with each new game in the series not only to please yourselves but the fans as well?
The pressure was immense, not only to follow up the great game that is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but also to meet our own standards. We all knew that coming to the table with a new Call of Duty set in World War 2, that we had to craft a game that was both fresh and AAA on every level. To that end, everything that went in was heavily scrutinized and if it didn’t pass muster then it was cut. With World at War, this team has set out to make the best game of our careers.