'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare' Can't Decide Whether War Is Bad or Badass

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has a crisis of identity.

This was the clearest takeaway I could find while sitting in a dark theater after a long presentation about Infinity Ward’s reboot of the FPS franchise, which is due this October 25 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and which I got to see during a press event earlier this month.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7xgemq/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-cant-decide-whether-war-is-bad-or-badass-preview
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ah. i see. 15 chars

e: actually i’ll go more in on it.

we already know that arms companies and the US military have significant influence over entertainment and while i’m not going to endorse Russia’s military operations, this smells heavily of deflection.

“can’t decide” feels very generous to me. this is more likely a calculated PR exercise against a rising anti-war sentiment. people who love call of duty are gonna buy this shit no matter what, just like people who buy EA’s sports games every year. this feels like a concerted effort to tap into people who will fall for "it’s a shooter… with a twist war is bad, unless we the Good GuysTM do it, and you’re having fun

anyway there are a bunch of ~~~ progressive ~~~ journalists who are gonna fall for it hook line and sinker and i’m already tired

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God, playing as a child for shock value is pinnacle Call of Duty. What a shame.

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Is it finally time to put this thing on ice for a while? Please? Jesus.

My favorite line from the developers:

[War] isn’t black and white. It’s morally grey.

mindblown emoji

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God fuckin damn this is a good piece

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At the start of this story I thought, “well I dont really care about the campaign just show me the multiplayer” but now, after seeing child soldier, I can’t do this. Unless something huge changes, which it won’t, I’m done here. I don’t need this. Fuck

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as bad as the child soldier thing is i feel like the moral threshold for giving these people money was crossed years ago

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ViDeO GaMEs ArE aRT

maybe this will be one of Call of Duty’s accidental stack overflow to where they end up providing meaningful critique of exactly the kinds of games the rest of the series is, but i really doubt it

I find it so funny how they just spouted a bunch of ‘deep’ “war is hell” quotes as if they were saying something really profound.

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Really well done preview breakdown, it made me uncomfortable to read as I’m sure it must’ve been to sit in the room and hear them elaborate on detail in guns and “feeling badass” while wielding them.

Call of Duty is about as corporate AAA as you get beyond big name sports games, it’s the last place I expect a deep commentary on the horrors of war beyond spectacle and shock value, like the nuke scene in the original MW or the mentioned “No Russian” vignette in MW2.
Doesn’t do them any favours that they still need to sell this as a cool-guy-gun-warrior-with-a-weed-emblem that the series’ demographic expect, you can’t be both.

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CoD will never be a framework through which to tell challenging, human stories about the true cost of war, no matter how hard they try. It is a franchise necessarily focused on the fetishization of miltech and the swift violence one is increasingly capable of dealing, due in large part to its foundational multiplayer component.

They would need to make a fundamentally different game with different mechanics to tell the stories they seem to think they want to tell without incidentally shitting on their own themes through showcasing their sick guns and wild centerpiece action sequences.

A thoughtful campaign that bolsters a twitch arcade shooter will never happen with this franchise, and the longer they spend trying to think their way through this conundrum, the more thoughtless they look.

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yes this, although I will stand by my Spicy Call of Duty Take that CoD 4: Modern Warfare was, probably accidentally, a fairly trenchant critique of basically every game that followed it, and the series as a whole.

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A line from Price at the end of the trailer made me sigh hard: “We get dirty and the world stays clean. That’s the mission.” That feels like a thesis statement from the mouth of the series protagonist, and it’s also the justification of war criminals everywhere, that they’re doing what they need to to protect everyone back home who are too sheltered to understand the tough choices of war. If that’s their take on Gritty And Morally Gray Modern Warfare, I can’t even. Yeah, it’s a trailer, no time for nuance, it’s still disheartening.

I guess my question right now, pending release of the actual game, is how cozy are IW and the US military right now? Call of Duty has had some support from the military in the past, such as interviews with soldiers and Pentagon advisors to help make the details authentic. The Army has even used the games as a recruiting tool in the past, and they’ve generally been ideologically aligned with US military policy. Is “it’s not pretty, but we’re doing what we must” the new line to sustain support (or suppress opposition) for endless awful wars? My gut says that’s morally even worse than the hoo-rah spread freedom of the 2000s, because it’s looking straight at the damage done and saying it was worth it.

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Imagine them actually trying to deal with the mounds of absolute bullshit loaded into that statement from Price.

"We get dirty and the world stays clean.

Well, we don’t actually get that dirty because this is a power fantasy with no real stakes, but you see what I mean.

I was actually talking about real soldiers, who are, you know, still apparently doing something to stop terror twenty years later? We must be keeping something clean, right? Like, uh…South Korea seems nice? That’s probably because we station people there? Right?"

This whole “war is hell, we get it mannnnn, some deep shit” was always going to be on a pit stop on the endless wheel of renivention for this series, but like its such an insidious one. And jesus people are just eating it up. i’ve seen a lot of “I haven’t bought a CoD in years but i’m totally getting this!” Tired, so tired all the time.

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COD has the same problem as Far Cry 5 did, it sits on the fence, and thinks that is enough.

If COD committed fully to Big Strong Boi Power Fantasy then fine, whatever. But don’t bullshit and tease serious themes that people have to deal with on the daily. If you are going to address the most basic “War is hell” theme, dont have your mythic super murdere… I mean

spouting bullshit about keeping the world clean.

@dogsarecool I fixed my post, thanks for the correction

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it’s important to remember that Captain Price is a zombie who was resurrected by Winston Churchill personally in late 1944 after the semi-botch of the sabotage of the Tirpitz, and at this point in his advanced decay Price is rather confused about who he is fighting and why.

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And god i hate the fucking Call of Duty hype cycle where every god damn year people are just like “Wow this looks so different, they are really doing something new” NO THEY FUCKING AREN’T ITS THE SAME DAMN GAME STRUCTURE STOP. Like if you love the multiplayer fine, that was me 10 years ago too, but just like jesus christ.

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I firmly believe that journalistic ethics require us to be factually correct when critiquing even such fucked up pieces of media as Call of Duty Still Modern Warfare Forever 2.

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was the first Call of Duty game to feature the explicitly-advertised work of Naughty Dog alumni*, and subtle though that influence was, it showed. Even the snarky robot sidekick felt like a fleshed-out character. Kit Harrington spent most of the game brooding and yelling (behold his range), but the game really wasn’t about him.

The first pitch Austin got sounds like that sensibility applied to a modern (Modern?) setting. It’s not exactly a groundbreaking pitch, but it’s novel by Call of Duty’s standards.

And then they screwed it up. Again.

*EDIT: Meant to include that Respawn, Naughty Dog, Infinity War, and Sony Santa Monica are all in Santa Monica, in case you’re wondering how all of these developers change hands so often.