Hilton Collins writes for Bleeding Cool…
Explosions and warships and gunfire, oh my! Military-style action was fast, furious, and frenetic in the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare footage that debuted in the first person shooter’s hour-long panel at San Diego Comic-Con Thursday afternoon. Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller hosted the session, where Activision and the Infinity Ward showcased in-game footage.
Panelists included Taylor Kurosaki, Infinity Ward’s narrative director; Jeff Negus, Infinity Ward’s director of photography, and actors Brian Bloom (Wolfenstein: The New Order, Dragon Age: Inquisition); David Harewood (Supergirl); Jamie Gray Hyder; and Jeffrey Nordling.
Multiple clips revealed dogfights in space and on land. Events on the ground featured the signature hardened, soldiers-at-war tone that’s synonymous with the Call of Duty franchise, but the galactic shootouts exemplified a futuristic, sci-fi tone that’s been growing stronger in the later games. Infinite Warfare, with its battling space crafts and planetary colonies, will be the most futuristic game in the series so far.
In the first clip, airborne ships launch a surprise attack against a city. They fly through the sky, shooting at other ships and buildings and deploying soldiers who fire at targets on the ground. Ground troops respond in defense from the other side, and there’s heavy gunfire, bombs, collateral damage and people threatened by falling wreckage.
Later on, defense forces mobilize, launch into space, and press an attack on the Settlement Defense Front (SDF), among the stars. Successive cuts show fighting in various space faring locations, like giant space carriers, rocky asteroid terrain, floating space debris, and automatons fighting tanks.
In the story, gamers play as fighters in the Special Combat Air Recon (SCAR) unit who defend the Solar System against the SDF, a hostile organization that wants to take over system colonies. SCAR’s a division of the Solar Associated Treaty Organization (SATO), the military unit of the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA). This war will span diverse locations throughout space.
Game of Thrones star Kit Harington plays Admiral Salen Kotch, the game’s main villain and the SDF’s leader. Infinity Ward’s narrative director Taylor Kurosaki, said in a previous interview that Kotch is a skilled space sailor who’s completely opposed to the UNSA’s way of life. The Olympus Mons, a massive SDF ship in Kotch’s command, hunts you throughout the game, and you eventually face the ship in a final confrontation at the end.
Infinity Ward’s team traveled to London to film Harington’s scenes in motion capture. Harington, who’s from London, was in the city filming a play at the time and recorded his scenes over a week.
Via video chat during the panel, Harington said that he liked playing a villain because he never gets to do so in his other work. Kotch is a psychopath who doesn’t fear death, which makes him incredibly dangerous, and he’s a natural dictator. Harington also said he was a “space freak” and enjoyed acting in that kind of storyline.
Actor Brian Bloom plays Captain Nick Reyes, SCAR’s leader. According to a company press release, Reyes spearheads a fragile coalition against the SDF. Bloom, who’s also one of Infinity War’s writers, also wrote the movie A-Team (2010).
Early in the panel, Bloom, Kurosaki, and Negus explained how human nature and isolation gave rise to Kotch’s movement and a war over resources. When there’s a group of people who reside high up in space, away from the day-to-day activities of Earth, it causes a disconnect and differing point of view. And thanks to human greed, people will fight over resources being mined in space.
In brand new cinematics released during the panel, footage revealed how Reyes becomes promoted during the course of the action. In the wake of the SDF’s attack on Geneva, the UNSF’s home city that was ravaged in the initial footage, the old leader is killed. As the highest ranking available officer on-hand, Reyes is suddenly promoted and forced to lead SCAR’S fight against the SDF.
During the panel discussion, the cast explained that his promotion causes friction with Gray’s character, Lt. Salter. Previously, the two colleagues were even in rank, but once he is given command over her, it’s a huge shift, since she’s not used to taking orders from him.
Harewood’s character, Sgt. Omar, is an old-fashioned, hardened soldier who’s always ready to do his duty and dive into a fight. Harewood himself is a huge gamer who’s bought every Call of Duty game, so was thrilled when he discovered he was cast.
Nordling plays Ethan, a robot who struggles to fit into the team. Bloom commented that the game will touch a bit of robot racism as Ethan tries to fit in with his human teammates in the heat of battle. According to Nordling, Ethan has a wry sense of humor and will make comments to catch his teammates unawares, and he’ll have to become even more human than the other characters in order to prove his place in the group.
The final chunk of footage shown during the panel was playable footage showing the player, along with supporting NPCs, responding to the SDF’s Geneva attack. Reyes, Ethan, Salter, and Omar press the attack against the war-torn area. They face enemy robots and humans in futuristic armor, including jet packs, and assault them with energy weapons and bombs. At the end of the playable footage, the characters mount their warships, called Jackals, and pursue enemy forces into space. The SCAR team have a dog fight with enemy ships and eventually blow up one of the huge bad guy spacecrafts.
The space fight had loud explosions and gunfire, which is unusual for battling among the stars. There’s no air in space, so there are no sound waves, so soldiers shouldn’t be able to hear anything when they’re in battle. However, Kurosaki said that, in the game, they use laser technology, modeled after modern technology in real world of 2016, that uses light to scan the atmosphere to approximate sound waves, which is similar to techniques that are used in surveillance operations today.
Kurosaki said in an earlier interview that the core of the gameplay involves ducking for cover and shooting enemies, as one would expect, with variations here and there. Players operate Jackals in aerial combat, but they’ll also leave their planes to fight in Zero-G combat in space, using grapples and thrusters on their suits. Game development took about two years to complete.
At the end of the panel, Kurosaki and Negus announced that the popular multiplayer map mode Terminal from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is coming back in Infinite Warfare as a new, modified bonus map that’s a shuttle port on the moon.
Call of Duty: Infinity War, is scheduled for release on Nov. 4, 2016 PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Windows operating system.