Modern Warfare 3: Rob Bowling Interview
Last week, NowGamer was on site at Call of Duty: XP, the inaugural expo for the series. It was a huge spectacle on the show floor as around 1000 gamers got to play Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer for the first time.
However, in a dark and bustling press room tucked away in the bowels of the Call of Duty Compound in Los Angeles, we sat down with Infinity Ward’s Creative Strategist Rob Bowling, to get the inside scoop on what will be one of the biggest multiplayer events of the decade.
What’s your take on the feedback received on Call of Duty: XP so far?
It’s been phenomenal. I mean, getting out there and seeing the guys right when they get off Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer for the first time, and getting that feedback is so great, because it’s so raw.
It’s such a gut check for us, and it’s been great – especially when people get off Spec Ops Survival mode, because some of these guys had no clue what to expect. To see their reaction to it has been extremely positive.
What are the key things people are saying to you when they get off the game for the first time?
People love it, especially our more objective-based players. They love the new point streaks, love the new Strike Packages, and things that are finally rewarding them for playing the way they play the game. That’s something they never had the luxury of having before.
I’d agree with them there, and also that the balancing is superb now. We’ve been playing multiplayer a lot these past few days, and I have to ask how difficult it was to achieve this level of balance.
You know, balancing is the most challenging thing you do. It’s something you’re always tweaking, always iterating on, and when the game comes out, it never ends. You’re always listening to feedback and seeing how you can further tweak and change the settings.
Set in Paris, ‘Resistance’ is map-design at its very finest.
And to get a strong balance, what key areas did you feel needed addressing most?
Well, we focused a lot on bringing things back to that gun-on-gun gameplay, so making all the guns and your ability with them very high power, high damage, high speed.
As well as reducing killstreak dominance, making it much easier to take down killstreaks, making them not-so overwhelming, and lowering damage on explosives. All of this as a whole again focuses Modern Warfare 3 back on the gun-on-gun gameplay.
With the Strike Packages; it’s almost like people are not able to play a more specific role within their team. In what ways was this geared towards instilling more teamwork in multiplayer?
Yeah exactly, and this was all about giving you the option and the incentive to play as a team. Before, you could go lone wolf, and just be an assault guy, but you never had an incentive to play as a team, other than to try and win the match.
So now we’re rewarding all the different players, and that philosophy of encouraging teamwork goes into the Strike Packages, into the point streaks – which now, you get points for completing objectives – into the gear that we give you. Before, we always had lethal-focused gear like grenades, claymores and frags.
But now we give you tactical gear, like portable radar and stuff. So giving you more options, tools and incentives to be a team player, as well as new game modes that are much more focused on teamwork, allows us to focus beyond simply killing.
Turrets and other tactical support devices play a pivotal role in matches this time.
How closely will you be moderating all of these new additions and mechanics from day of launch, as well as patching in reaction to imbalance? I mean that’s really when part of your job begins isn’t it?
Yeah pretty much. You transition after launch into a totally different role of just soaking in all the feedback, and you start planning out and strategising how we can make that have a positive impact on the game.
And how much of an impact will community feedback have on the content within new patches, updates, or even future DLC?
It will have a huge impact. I mean that community feedback is what drives most of our decision-making for post-launch support especially. Because we want to see what they want more of, what they want tweaks on – be it more Spec Ops Survival, more multiplayer maps, new weapons, new game modes.
In listening to all of that and crafting it, Call of Duty: Elite is going be a massive help for us, because now, since you can create your own game modes in private match, you can share those on Elite. We’re going to be seeing the ones that are voted the highest, and we’ll see if we want to incorporate them into the public playlist.
Elite is clearly a big deal as well. What has been the feedback on your announced pricing, and do you see many people paying for the service well beyond their first year?
Yeah I think they will. I was stoked when people responded so positively to the pricing, especially once they realised that you get every DLC, every add-on, every update for the game as long as you’re subscribed. I mean these are hardcore guys who buy all the DLC anyway, so to them they’re saving money by doing that, and getting lots of extra features too.
This time, whoever has the better aim wins, not who has the most chopper killstreaks.
That’s great, and finally, we’ve had hands-on with a wide range of the new Modern Warfare 3 weapon set. In Black Ops, the majority of players spam the FAMAS rifle, so what one Modern Warfare 3 weapon have you seen people leaning towards the most throughout Call of Duty: XP?
In the assault class it seems to be the ACR. That seems to be a really popular one.