There was a fair bit of backlash when Infinity Ward revealed that White Phosphorous will be available in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare as a killstreak attack in the game’s multiplayer mode. Of course, the Call Of Duty franchise is already known for its harrowing moments, and it’s no secret that the upcoming game has already attracted controversy among playtesters due to its edgy content.
But still, the inclusion of White Phosphorus in the game came as something of a surprise. The chemical weapon is used to create smokescreens in real-life, but it can also severely burn those that come too close to it. Misuse of White Phosphorus in battle can be classed a war crime, with the damage it can cause to innocent civilians making it a very controversial weapon.
At a preview event for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, VG247 asked two members of the Infinity Ward team about their decision to include this attack. Multiplayer design director Geoff Smith explained that the idea stemmed from “the old EMP killstreak,” because “It’s really hard to convey this electromagnetic pulse that disrupts maybe your HUD.” And so, White Phosphorous was introduced as another way to disorient players.
Smith explained that the White Phosphorous killstreak in the game “does a strip of damage, the smoke plumes come out, and there are just little hotspots of burning embers.” The game’s animation director Mark Gribbsy also explained how it will affect the player: “When you’re in it you cough and you’re at half health, so it’s like a softener of things.” He also confirmed that there weren’t any specific burning animations made to go with the attack.
Speaking about the goal of Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer mode, Smith notes that it’s less about making a statement on modern weaponry and more about providing a playground for gamers that it is separate to the hard-hitting single-player campaign. “Our game is more about two sides, that there is no good guy or bad guy, you play on either one. We’re just creating this playground to play on,” he stressed.
Smith also pointed out that harrowing weapons, including nuclear weapons, have featured in the franchise before without courting controversy. As for why White Phosphorous became a controversial point, then, Smith offered these thoughts: “Maybe people are reacting to the photogrammetry, the more realistic visuals. Maybe if it was more cartoony would that be more acceptable?”
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