Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Was Almost a Sci-Fi Game

The revolutionary Call of Duty 4 was almost a "Halo Killer."

Call of Duty 4 Halo

In an interview with Game Informer, members of the Call of Duty team recalled their time working on 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Specifically, they remember how the game’s design direction was influenced by the success of Halo

“All my friends were playing Halo, and I couldn’t convince them to give CoD 2 a try,” says Infinity Ward multiplayer design director Geoff Smith. “I was like, ‘Well, you’re this really cool spaceman who’s shooting stuff. It’s really hard for me to convince them to be cool with, like, a wooden gun with, like, a pot on your head.'”

For those who don’t recall or never knew, the term “Halo Killer” was tossed around quite a bit in the early-to-mid 2000s. The incredible success of Halo had every studio dreaming of the next big sci-fi shooter. It’s a big part of the reason why we got games like Killzone. For Infinity Ward, the pursuit of the next Halo was further encouraged by the fact that the team didn’t know if they would even be allowed to create a game set in the modern era

“We didn’t know if we were going to be able to do a modern game,” says studio art director Joel Emslie. “It was a moment where we really wanted to take down Halo really bad, and we wanted to create a Halo killer. Part of the studio went off and was working on another game to do that.”

Ad – content continues below

So, half of the team began working on the sci-fi project and half of the team started working on a new World War 2 Call of Duty game. The studio carried on like that for a while until they started to realize the considerable downsides of splitting the team into two. 

“The whole Infinity Ward experience is what we make is the sum of the parts, like all the components work together,” says Emslie. “When you had components missing, it threw the whole thing off balance, and that’s why it was realized pretty quickly, thank God, and they brought everybody back together, and then we dug into Modern Warfare.”

And so, the team eventually created Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare which, funnily enough, did go on to outsell Halo 3. Whatever happened to that sci-fi game, though? Well, the team doesn’t seem to have kept many of its original assets, and they claim that the design of that game didn’t really influence the direction of the sci-fi installment in the franchise, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. However, some members of the team claim that the Crytpid aliens featured in Call of Duty: Ghosts Extinction mode were inspired by some of the early work done on that canceled sci-fi project. 

Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

Read and download the Den of Geek SDCC 2019 Special Edition Magazine right here!