Interview with CoD 5’s Rich Farrelly


All About CoDWaW

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.

Gareth Von Kallenbach is a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of entertainment site "Skewed and Reviewed".