The tug-of-war between gameplay and narrative in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

After working on games like The Last of Us, Taylor Kurosaki became the narrative director at Infinity Ward and set his sights on elevating Call of Duty's campaign to new heights.

“You have a certain number of ways to express yourself as a player. Big, broad action moments, often with a gun in your hand, those are the core mechanics of the game. To have that in a cinematic isn’t using the right tool for the job. Also, it takes away the jeopardy. You know you’re going to live through a cutscene. You don’t feel any sense of urgency, any sense of peril, if we have an action moment in a cinematic.”

-Infinity Ward’s narrative director Taylor Kurosaki in an interview with VentureBeat. 

Call of Duty games have become a staple in the first-person shooter genre, thanks in no small part to their widely popular multiplayer modes. With Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, former Naughty Dog design lead Taylor Kurosaki wanted to craft a campaign mode that helped players feel more invested in the universe.

The full interview over at VentureBeat says a lot about the value a quality narrative can add to even a multiplayer-focused game. In it, Kurosaki explained how he used narrative design to elevate Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare above the gameplay-first focus the series had maintained with past games.

"[Gameplay and narrative] work hand in hand," he said. "The narrative supports the gameplay and the gameplay supports the narrative."

Kurosaki added, “One of the reasons I came here to work on Call of Duty is I’d always admired how well they did those big blockbuster action-movie set-pieces. But my feeling was—if the guys that specialize in doing that stuff just do that again, they don’t have to outdo themselves."

“They just do the thing they do so well, and we can infuse context and characters you care about. You could have two equivalent set-pieces, and the one involving characters you care about is going to feel far more spectacular.”

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