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Interview: Infinity Ward's Taylor Kurosaki and Jacob Minkoff Talk Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 01:47pm 31/05/16 | Comments
We had a chance to chat to Infinity Ward's Taylor Kurosaki (Narrative Director) and Jacob Minkoff (Design Director) about what will actually separate Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare from all other entries in the series. Read on for what they had to say...

AusGamers: Why Infinite Warfare? Ghosts left us with a bit of a cliffhanger and an obvious nod to a true sequel. Are the games tied together at all?

Taylore Kurosaki: We wanted to tell a completely new story with Infinite Warfare. Our story is original and a brand new entry in the Call of Duty series. There is no connection to any previous Call of Duty games, so a new setting obviously and new cast of characters. With all that new, there are certainly some compelling narrative themes that we think players are really going to love. One of those themes is the weight of leadership. As Lt. Reyes, you begin the game with a mentality of ‘no man left behind’, or ‘you fight for the guy next to you’, as is a common theme in stories about war, as seen through the eyes of a grunt.

Through the course of the game, you are field promoted to a position of leadership. At that point, you are now the Captain -- the Commander of thousands of personnel. You will learn what it means to be a true leader first-hand, while your character learns to truly understand the ‘mission comes first’ mentality.

AusGamers: Modern Warfare was obviously not only a massive leap for the series, but it changed the shooter landscape forever. Year on year iterations, however, can tire people and franchises out. Is there a greater emphasis on the studio to look at these two factors, and if so, were they catalysts for such a bold leap into the future?

Taylor: Our studio charter is always innovation, and that led us to take the series in a bold, new direction. Our setting is one where a realistic military conflict extends beyond our planet. We’ve taken the classic Call of Duty feel, which comes with visceral combat and grand-scale war, and transposed it to gameplay that takes place in our solar system. This narrative and design decision has opened up some unique gameplay possibilities.

AusGamers: Speaking of bold leaps, the trailer goes so far as to show us a vista of Saturn, leaving us to believe components of the game will take place on one of Saturn's moons (Titan? Enceladus?), just how far-reaching is the space component?

Jacob Minkoff: It’s a pretty beautiful vista, right? We definitely wanted to explore that territory and Titan is one of places where Reyes and his team see combat. Beyond that, we can say that Infinite Warfare is set firmly within our solar system. You are defending the people of Earth in places that you’ve never been in the series. To us, that creates a greater connection for the player, but also allows us to go to places never before seen in the series. It is Call of Duty combat, on Earth, in your Jackal, in zero-g, on enemy warships and other locations in space. It’s exciting for us as game developers to imagine, and then create combat scenarios in numerous off-Earth settings. We think our fans will love it too, as we retain the gameplay and the firefights that our community has become accustomed to, while adding innovative new gameplay experiences that we know will be a blast to play.

AusGamers: Adding to bold, there's a challenge to consider where the space combat element exists when you play to both the freedom of 360 degree movement and the vastness of space, while we're certainly not expecting an open-universe game a la No Man's Sky, can you expand on how much of the space expanse players will be able to move freely in?

Jacob: The Jackal, which is your fighter vehicle, is where the bulk of the black sky space combat will happen. In the Jackal, you’ll travel to and from multiple in-atmosphere and space free-flying combat segments against your enemy. You’ll be able to dogfight Settlement Defense Front fighters, carefully pilot your way through debris fields, or launch an offensive against enemy warships. You’ll call in Jackal air strikes while simultaneously fighting enemies on the ground. We are tailoring the experience to fit within the bounds of the classic war story you are embarking upon in Infinite Warfare.

AusGamers: Ghosts dabbled with zero-g, can we expect this to be highly expanded in Infinite Warfare?

Taylor: While there was some quick zero-g combat in Ghosts, the way the story and setting impacts gameplay has allowed for an all-new zero-g combat system in Infinite Warfare. We have RCS thrusters and a grapple, which both allow the player to close gaps and get to cover in a zero-g environment. ‘Up’ is a relative direction when no gravity exists, which the player can use to their strategic advantage against the enemy, flanking them on every axis. It’s been an exciting part of the development process to create the visceral combat that’s hallmark to the series, and bring it to space. It’s been an important challenge we’ve undertaken. And it all fits in the variety of gameplay in Infinite Warfare, in space, in zero-g, on the ground on Earth, other planets and more.

AusGamers: Obviously we're going to learn more about multiplayer at a later date, but can you confirm if we'll be at least dogfighting in space?

Jacob: I cannot speak to the multiplayer, as Taylor and I are focused on the single-player campaign. But I CAN tell you that we have a great multiplayer team here at IW and they’ve got some really exciting stuff to show you soon.

AusGamers: You've also mentioned a Zombies mode. Zombies is certainly a popular and synonymous part of Call of Duty now, but with Ghosts you dabbled in your own expanded mode with Extinction. Given Extinction revolved around Aliens, and Infinite Warfare is set in space, was there any reason you chose not to expand on your own creation and instead go with zombies?

Jacob: Wish I could tell you more now, but the Zombies team wouldn’t be too happy if I divulged too much.

AusGamers: The Call of Duty single-player experience usually centres around large set-pieces with a relatively linear path, can we expect larger playspaces with various gameplay approaches for players with such a grand new direction as this?

Taylor: Playing as the Commanding Officer of a carrier, it was fitting to give the player the ability to issue orders, and choose which missions his ship and crew would undertake. To that end, we’ve included many opportunities in the campaign for Captain Reyes to choose what enemy target the Retribution goes after and to enjoy the spoils he may win. Narratively, we made the decision to create a linear story designed to be played solo as a single-player experience. This allows us to create an immersive storytelling experience through the eyes of a deeply layered and complex single protagonist. We want players to feel the weight of command as they occupy the boots of Captain Reyes.

AusGamers: Finally, is this the same game-engine we're used to playing on, or has there been a shift in the tech? If so, can you tell us what's different?

Jacob: In the last three years, we have made continual improvements to our tech. We have overhauled our animation engine, physics, AI system, NPC behaviors and more. We are doing a lot that has never been done in the series before, like seamless, streaming level transition, for instance, that allow us to go from ground combat to space and then inside our hub as a continual experience, so we needed to re-engineer our systems to deliver on that vision.

We’re also using physically-based rendering, which means more detailed lighting and improved shading across the board. Surfaces in our game, from the hallway of a warship to the wrinkles on a character’s forehead will be seen more realistically and naturally than ever before. We’ve built a new performance capture stage too. Our tech really lets us bring the actors’ performances to life in a really cool way. We can't wait for fans to play the game for themselves.

AusGamers: Thanks for your time guys!

Read more about Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

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