Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is apparently so well-written that at least one emotional scene made several playtesters cry. The news comes from an interview with studio art director Joel Emslie and campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff, where both Infinity Ward employees noted that the game is actively embracing uncomfortable subject matter.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare won't be the first game to do so, but it's aiming to be the first to do it well. Previous attempts, such as the infamous "No Russian" level in 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 incited widespread controversy and negative backlash over the title's decision to accurately and realistically depict an instance of airport terrorism, including the murder of unarmed civilians. Since then, the series has scaled back its attempts at engaging with that realistic subject matter, but recent reports that confirmed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has a playable child soldier section have stirred up uncomfortable memories regarding the franchise.
To their credit, both Emslie and Minkoff seem keenly aware of the fact that Infinity Ward is playing with fire in its depiction of uncomfortable subject matter. During the interview, conducted with PCGamesN, both employees made reference to the way that emotion plays into the player experience during the newest Call of Duty. The pair also reveal that there are some scenes that are apparently so emotionally gripping that the people testing them outright cried in response to what they saw:
"Minkoff: We've had multiple playtesters cry.
Emslie: I thought it was a joke when they told me, and then I watched a video of it. It was a real human moment, and now I'm like, 'I worked on a game that made someone cry.'"
Naturally, neither employee disclosed what the scene consisted of, likely to both preserve its emotional impact and to avoid potentially generating anymore controversy surrounding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The game sorely needs to duck the spotlight on its more uncomfortable elements prior to their execution in-game, which might actually be adeptly done—fans simply haven't forgotten "No Russian," a level that will live on in infamy for the history of video games, and one that caused many young gamers to be banned from playing any future Call of Duty titles until they were much older.
A lot of work has gone into the image that's being built of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game that apparently has no qualms dealing with some of the most grim depictions of modern war available. Beyond the child solider scene, there is also at least one instance where a player was able to gun down enemies who had surrendered, too. While Infinity Ward remains confident it has struck the right balance between uncomfortable and appropriate, many fans will be holding their breath until they actually get to play the games themselves before they're assured that's actually the case.