So, the rumors are already beginning to ring true; another Modern Warfare title is coming. I can’t say I’m surprised, given how well the franchise continues to sell, with each entry in the series repeatedly breaking the sales record established by the last.
Nobody can deny that the franchise has already become stale in recent years, but I also think I can speak for many when I say that Black Ops II has breathed some new life into the series, and it has introduced gameplay and storytelling elements that can be expanded upon in future installments.
With that said, here are five things that whoever’s in charge of Modern Warfare 4, be it Neversoft, Infinity Ward, Raven, or whoever, should keep in mind when creating the game so that they continue the innovation that Black Ops II has sparked and keep the franchise fresh.
Create a more fluid, tightly constructed narrative
Let’s not kid ourselves: MW3’s plot was a mess. The characters jumped from random nation to random nation with poorly justified reasons, and all of it was clumsily tied together via loading screens that desperately tried to pat some cement-like exposition over the narrative’s cracks in order for it make some semblance of sense. A short development cycle and design-by-committee philosophy is guaranteed to provide you with disconnected levels, but another part of it has to do with the overambitious scope. I’m sorry, but the effects and intensity of World War III interspersed with a covert team’s behind-the-line operations cannot be properly conveyed in a 5-6 hour campaign that only took about a year to make. For MW4, I highly suggest toning down the game’s scope and planning out the progressions of the plot beforehand. It’ll do wonders, trust me.
Make an interesting protagonist that ISN’T SILENT
I never much liked silent protagonists, and I think a lot of CoD fans actually agree with me. We all remember Price, Shepard, and Ghost, but who remembers Gary “Roach” Johnson? I’m also pretty sure Soap would have never been as popular as he is now if he didn’t become a voiced character. There’s a good reason Alex Mason has become most fans’ favorite CoD protagonist and why Black Ops had been considered the best story in the series until this point: he speaks. He has some semblance of emotion and personality which we can latch onto and relate to. We’re also more emotionally involved because he has personal goals and motivations established. We want to help this guy.
So far, it looks like MW4 may actually have this covered. The protagonist is rumored as being “a battle hardened veteran in his mid-thirties with a nihilistic point of view.” (Siliconera) I don’t know about you, but he sounds a lot more intriguing and edgy than any silent protagonist whose shoes I’ve slogged through. Whoever’s developing MW4, hear me out: break the silent hero cliché. Give us a well-developed protagonist with strengths and weaknesses, and one that we’ll remember long after we shut off our consoles.
Expand upon the strikeforce missions
The strikeforce missions are a welcome new feature in Black Ops II and I’m not afraid to say that the next Call of Duty simply must continue to include and expand upon them if it wants to survive the annual release cycle. They’re not perfect at the moment, as they’re a bit simplistic and easy, but it’s a solid first start to a unique gameplay feature. For MW4, I suggest including more complex objectives, enemies with more diverse strengths and weaknesses that encourage you to switch units, and a revamped control scheme that makes it easier to switch to said units.
Make a fresh, unique visual style
Black Ops II’s vision of the future is remarkably inspired thanks to the creative freedom the timeline allows, but the missions that take place in the past look just as appealing. Why is this? Two words: art style. The colors are vibrant and well chosen, not to mention the architecture itself is interesting and windy, breaking the mold of straightforward halls and streets. It’s something Modern Warfare 3 was seriously lacking, choosing instead to feature boring cityscapes dressed in grey, green, and white. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that a realistic modern setting is no excuse for dull visuals. Modern Warfare 2’s levels were colorful and creatively laid out; let’s see that return.
More interactivity, please
The series is often described as being suffocatingly linear, with scripted events that restrict freedom and first-person cutscenes that demolish it altogether. It’s surprising to see that Black Ops II has actually improved in this area; the stealth segments are less a game of ‘Simon Says’ this time around, and being able to freely drive and steer a car is liberating to say the least. I’d like to see more of this in Modern Warfare 4. With enough thought and effort, no set piece has to be totally scripted and overly restrict the player’s actions. Just look at Uncharted. Basically, let us play more and watch less.
That about does it for the moment. Do you agree with me? Disagree? Do you just wanna call me a ponce for the heck of it? Sound off in the comments section below and let us know what you think!
Make sure to stay tuned for more news on Modern Warfare 4, and look out for my review of Black Ops II, which hits tomorrow.