Activision and Infinity Ward recently gave us a look at the next-gen capabilities of Call of Duty: Ghosts. We also got some tidbits about new gameplay that will involve canine soldier units. We spoke more about these furred companions in an interview with Infinity Ward executive producer, Mark Rubin. We touched on film and real-life inspiration for the new dog companion in Ghosts.
“One of our production guys got in contact with a Navy Seal from San Diego who was retired and had a retired service dog,” says Rubin. “We invited him to the studio, and they came by the studio and he told us some of the most amazing stories. I still have a hard time believing some of the things that those guys would do together. Not just the action they’ve been in, but the equipment and technology they use. Those stories and that time we spent with them, we came away from that meeting saying “We have to have this dog in the game.” Some of the stuff he would say is how the dog is a teammate. He’d take a bullet for that dog. I was floored by that statement. You could see that emotional attachment he had with this dog and how integral that dog was with the team he was on.”
On the top of emotional attachments, I brought up the film I Am Legend as an example of audiences forming a closer bond with a dog character than they do with most human characters. Rubin responded to this example with recognition.
“One of things in the office, we’ve always done this where movies have always been our biggest inspiration.” Says Rubin. “Never other games. We have some TVs in office and we put up movie clips from different scenes and stuff that impact us. I Am Legend was up there quite often.”
Rubins says the game inspired by other famous film dogs, but decided not to share more examples.
(Above) Warner Bros. Pictures' I Am Legend, starring Will Smith and an awesome dog in a post-apocalyptic world
Infinity Ward isn’t implementing a dog into the story just to tug at your heart strings. The developer is enthusiastic about the military tech that soldiers use to interact with these dogs. Could these hint at potential new gameplay features for Ghosts?
“[The retired Navy Seal] was talking about some of the tech and the tech was amazing,” says Rubin. “You saw in some of those pictures he’s wearing body armor, he’s like a jugger-dog. That’s real. That’s real equipment that he brought into the studio and we got capture. It has a parascope on the back with a camera on it. Basically he’s got a TV screen on his arm and can see whatever the dog sees through that parascope, basically. The dog can be maneuvering around and he can see it on his screen. The dog is also wearing an earpiece. So this dog has a little clip-on earpiece and the Seal can give the dog directions. If they need to be really quiet he’s also got these vibrating devices on his neck. So if the Seal pushes the button on the right, the device on the right shakes and the dog knows he needs to go to the right. Push the left one, and he’ll go over to the left. It’s like video-gaming a dog.”
Rubin left me with an story about the retired Navy Seal and his dog companion’ fateful standoff against a group of enemy forces.
“The Seal told us about this thing that happened with the dog,” says Rubin. “They were trapped in a house. His Seal team and the dog were trapped in the house. I can’t say where. He wouldn’t tell us where. They were trapped in this house and surrounded by somebody, he wouldn’t tell us who. They were getting fired on, rockets were hitting the walls. They were really holding on. I think they were there for like 18 hours just holding them off. The roof was caved in on them and they were taking explosive cuts and bruises from shrapnel. He was saying that in this difficult time he would just look over at the dog and it kind of had that “I’m here, I’m happy, we’re good”, and it sort of reinforced the team as a whole. It really boosted morale.”
The Call of Duty series has always done a great job of implementing memorable, impactful moments into the battlefield. These moments are usually emphasized with cut audio and dramatic slow-motion action, and we can see this new four-legged friend adding to that cinematic feel. We’re also excited by the possibility of remote controlling a dog. Call of Duty: Ghosts is heading to Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC.