Brian Horton, Game Director of the acclaimed Rise of the Tomb Raider, got his start with the franchise as Senior Art Director for the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. He and the team at Crystal Dynamics took a character who was once a punchline about how women were depicted in games, and crafted what was considered by many to be the top game of 2015.
Recently, however, Crystal Dynamics posted a farewell to Horton on the official Tomb Raider blog. Horton is returning to southern California to embark on a “new adventure,” which according to his LinkedIn account is at Activision’s Infinity Ward studio.
According to his profile, Horton is now the Studio Art Director at Infinity Ward, the developer behind Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Ghosts games. Infinity Ward is rumored to have a new Call of Duty game in development for release later this year, following the release of Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III last year and Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014. Given how Horton is just coming on board with Infinity Ward, however, he’s unlikely to have much (if anything) to do with this release.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Horton has switched studios, having previously worked with Disney Interactive, Dreamworks Interactive, EA and others. His previous credits have largely been in the art field, working as an artist, 3D artist or lead artist on games such as Medal of Honor, Clive Barker’s Undying and Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb. Rise of the Tomb Raider was the first game that he took the Game Director role for, though given how well it was received it’s unlikely to be the last.
This is the second major departure from Crystal Dynamics recently. Studio head Darrell Gallagher left the company in December after working with Square Enix (Crystal Dynamics’ parent company) for 10 years and being head of the studio itself since 2009. Rise of the Tomb Raider executive producer Scot Amos and director of production Ron Rosenberg were promoted to co-lead Crystal Dynamics following Gallagher’s departure.
Given the animosity that some gamers have toward the Call of Duty series, they may feel that this is a step backwards for Horton. His work as an artist has helped to bring a number of games to life, including the Tomb Raider reboot, so a move to Infinity Ward will help to ensure that future CoD games shine graphically. It’s also possible that he’ll take more game direction roles in the future and help to shape the direction of the Call of Duty franchise itself.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is currently available for the Xbox One and Xbox 360. It is scheduled for release on the PC on January 28, and a PlayStation 4 release is planned for later in the year.
Source: Official Tomb Raider blog