‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ wows Xbox One unveiling with a dog

May 23, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.
Swim with sharks in the latest "Call of Duty" game. (Infinity Ward / Activision)

Swim with sharks in the latest “Call of Duty” game. (Infinity Ward / Activision)

“Call of Duty: Ghosts,” the latest iteration of the first-person-shooter franchise, is due out in the winter but was shown at Tuesday’s Xbox One launch event. Surprisingly, it wasn’t new weapons and exotic, war-torn locales that dominated the grand unveiling of the sure-to-be blockbuster game.

It was a dog. Mark Rubin, executive producer for Infinity Ward (the developer of “Call of Duty: Ghosts”), says the dog will key into how players strategize throughout the game.

A promo video shown Tuesday noted that the dog is “someone you care about, a squad member, who does everything from sniffing out explosives to protecting the team.”  “Ghosts” is due Nov. 5 for the Xbox 360, PC and PS3. No release date has been set for the Xbox One and other next-gen consoles.

The dog is just one of many advances in “Ghosts,” the first “Call of Duty” game heading to next-gen systems. “Ghosts” restarts the franchise with new teams and what publisher Activision promised would be an emotional script from “Traffic” and “Syriana” writer Stephen Gaghan.

“What the guys at Infinity Ward wanted to do this time was tell a much more crafted story around your squad, and the tensions that exist within the world of ‘Ghost’,” Rubin said last week at an Activision press event in Santa Monica. “Gaghan came in and entrenched himself with the team.”

Don’t expect any patriotic cheerleading in this “Call of Duty,” or at least not nearly as much. The story begins after an “event” that Rubin says “put the idea of America as a superpower to rest.” It supposedly allowed Gaghan to write a more personal story, touching on relationships with the dog, as well as other squad members, one of whom will be the protagonist’s brother.

“That’s all new for ‘Call of Duty,’” Rubin said. “It’s typically been jingoistic, ‘Yeah! Way to go!’ Now you’re the underdog. If you’re pinned down you can’t call in an air strike to get you out of situations. You have to be a little more ingenious. You have to be more stealthy in how you approach situations.”

The latest "Call of Duty" promises a more emotional story. (Infinity Ward / Activision)

The latest “Call of Duty” promises a more emotional story. (Infinity Ward / Activision)

It wasn’t, Rubin said, designed necessarily to bring in new players to the “Call of Duty” universe so much as revamp the franchise for next-gen consoles. But unlike 2012’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” penned by “The Dark Knight Rises” co-writer David S. Goyer, “Ghosts” deals less with real-life situations and characters. The “Black Ops” sequel even made overtures to current events and the debate surrounding unmanned drones, as well as housing digital interpretations of the likes of David Petraeus and Oliver North.

“‘Call of Duty’ gets criticized for certain things,” Rubin said. ” A lot of people go, ‘It’s a jingoistic game.’ I think this is the first time we’ve turned the tables on that. When you play the game, you’re immersed in this situation where you cannot call in a huge armada to support you. It creates a sense of, ‘Oh, I’m a little vulnerable here. Those guys have better stuff than I do.’ It’s not outwardly told to you, but you get the sense from playing.”

Scenes shown last week in Santa Monica focused on a tense underwater sequence, in which guns were used to stealthily shoot at enemies. Players were forced to swim and sneak around expansive coral reefs, and fish in “Ghosts” move with the current and will get out of the way of any soldier. A few blasts and one disaster later had players scrambling to swim to safety while ship parts came careening into the water. No actual hands-on time with the game was offered.

Microsoft and Infinity Ward were largely showcasing graphical capabilities that allow for more rounded weapons, more bones in a person’s facial structure and “dynamic maps,” in which the multiplayer worlds can be forever destroyed by earthquakes and floods. Rubin said compared to “Black Ops II,” the new “Ghosts” will boast three times the number of polygons on a character’s face alone, “which will allow more emotion and a better connection with the player.”

"Call of Duty: Ghosts" was included as part of the Xbox One launch event. (Infinity Ward / Activision)

“Call of Duty: Ghosts” was included as part of the Xbox One launch event. (Infinity Ward / Activision)

Rubin was asked if more photo-realism and emotion meant more care, responsibility and time must be spent in a crafting a story. “We are making an entertainment project first and foremost,” he said. “We know we’re making a maturer game, and we expect that when people look at our game and play our game they will play a fictional game experience. But that doesn’t change the way we approach our creativity or how our developers approach it.”

The graphics of the Xbox One will also allow you to see the scratches on the dog’s nose and the tattoo in the dog’s ear. But there was one nagging question at the end of the presentation.

The dog doesn’t die, does he? Rubin was silent. Then he said, “PETA would probably be mad,” referring to how the digital dog is portrayed in the game, “but we don’t know yet.”

He did calm some fears when he said this: “I don’t think we’re going to be compared to ‘Old Yeller.’”

– Todd Martens

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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23 Responses to ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ wows Xbox One unveiling with a dog

  1. dwd says:

    I hope they've figured out something for the extreme lag that bo,mw3 and bo2 all have.

  2. Totally_NOT_A_Tumor says:

    meh, the reveal trailer doesn't really look like this is a next-gen game. I don't think there's gonna be much difference between the X360 and XOne versions.

  3. It seems Mark Rubin doesn't know what jingoistic means.

  4. Russ says:

    Why are people already talking about lag and multiplayer. I’m honestly more pumped to play the singleplayer at the moment. It looks like it will keep my attention with the emotion, connection to characters and those intense cinematic moments.

  5. Argon says:

    Extreme lag? Try getting a better internet connection and direct connecting your router to your xbox rather than using a WiFi connection. I've only got a 15 MB/sec connection which is pretty mild considering some of the connections available now a days, and Google's Gigabit connection in Kansas City, and I rarely ever have to deal with a lag issue in MW3 or Black Ops 2 and I play them regularly.

    Also check your security settings on your router. Too many firewall settings built into the router/modem (if they are one in the same device like mine), can slow down an internet connection by unnecessarily bottle-necking it. Be sure you know what you're doing though before you start playing with the settings..

    On another note, I don't expect the 360 and X1 versions to be different gameplay wise but I think the X1 will be much more visually spectacular, whereas the 360 will have to sacrifice polygon count to maintain playability. Im confused though, because supposedly the Wii U got passed up because of its inability to play on the new graphics engine for many next gen games, and the Wii U is SUPPOSED to be better than the 360 hardware wise… not by much but still better supposedly. So, keeping that in mind, it makes me wonder from a developer's standpoint if they next gen versions were built side by side or if one version is ported.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Only" 15 megs, huh? If you live out in the countryside or in more underdeveloped parts of the world, you will see significantly lower speeds. I'm lucky if I get a few hundred kilobytes per second where I am, and there's nothing I can do to change it thanks to local infrastructure being unable to support anything more than a few megs, tops.

      And the graphics still look like they did in MW2, or even MW1. This is no "new" engine or if it is, then the "increased polygons" aren't showing much. The lighting's still crappy, the textures look like they're from '07, and I'll believe in CoD having a good story when I see it.

      • DFF says:

        Are u serious!? This games graphics blow all othe cods out the water, this game looks amazing.

      • Nick says:

        And, in reference to the 'other cods' bit, It looks pretty much the same as MW3, MW2 and COD4…
        the arms are different. Yay.

  6. Hritik says:

    The trailer dosen't show graphics like next-Gen But Their Tec demo was amazingly detailed and looks like an extremely awesom Next gen graphics…

  7. Drewsuf says:

    I don’t think that man knows what jingoistic means… Next time he should check out a dictionary before attempting to use a four syllable in an interview.

  8. PS4evahfanboiyo says:

    wow, and how much does MS pay you to run their publicity stories? Did I watch the same reveal as you did? Because all I saw was a 360 (no pun intended) static view of a rendered dog. Didn't see the dog in action, or maybe I missed that because the only thing I saw in the COD reveal were cinematics that looked more like cut scenes than game play. And they didn't look all that impressive. Hey, fish swim away from you!!!! isn't that exciting………………………………….

  9. Bozo says:

    This game will be full of noobs and campers.

    • Guus says:

      Still less campers than in Battlefield 3, Red Orchestra 2 and Rising Storm.

      • Nick says:

        Are you saying RO2 is bad? Camping in that game is a legit strategy, that is necessary for survival, most times.

      • Greg says:

        Your allowed to camp in bf3. Anything goes in war right, and the game plays out in a way where its more defending or pushing forward then camping.

  10. ralogam3r says:

    Same game, different gen…don't be fooled, people. This is the same game. During the Xbox reveal conference, IW/Activision claimed that they created a "new" engine for the series, but in reality, it's nothing more than an upgrade of the current engine they're using now. Google it if you don't believe me. Crysis 3 on PC looked better than this "new next gen" engine.

  11. grinth1337 says:

    In reference to the dog, I hope it dies. Not because I want the dog to die; I love dogs. Thing is they wanted to make you become emotionally connected to all characters and the dog shouldn't be any different. Who better to trigger an emotional response then to have a loyal friend die. I think it would be a good move on IW to do that. If PETA gets their nickers in a twist because of a game, they really need to reevaluate their priorities.

  12. Jon says:

    Battlefield=Best thing ever

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