Considering the success of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty it was inevitable that an add-on for the World War II first-person shooter would follow. United Offensive was officially unveiled by Activision in the middle of last month, Return to Castle Wolfenstein developer Gray Matter given responsibility for taking us back to the front and immersing us once again in an experience of intense and atmospheric combat so expertly captured in the original, award-winning game.
New missions, new firepower and new and important gameplay tweaks are just some of what to expect from United Offensive. We recently caught up with Gray Matter senior producer Robb Alvey to find out exactly what's in store.
So how did you guys score the gig for developing United Offensive?
Alvey: We won a round of rock, paper, scissors with the Activision execs! Seriously though, working on Call of Duty: United Offensive was a great opportunity for us and a really good fit.
Activision approached us around the time that the original Call of Duty was in beta, pitched the idea to us, and we were instantly onboard! We love Call of Duty, and to be a part of this franchise is something that really excites all of us.
We're assuming that once again we'll be playing through the game as US, British and Russian soldiers. Could we get more details on the main characters, the battles covered (e.g. the importance of the actual battles and what they entailed) and the number of levels in each section/campaign?
Alvey: Like in the original game, Call of Duty: United Offensive focuses on three campaigns - American, British, and Russian. We found that there are still so many untold WWII stories, and this was the perfect opportunity for us to highlight those epic battles as an intense and historically accurate game.
For example, the "Battle of Kursk," of which our Russian campaign is based around, was the largest tank battle in history up until the Gulf War, and we're putting players right in the middle of that epic battle.
What are a couple of your favourite missions in the expansion so far, and why?
Alvey: One of the unique missions in Call of Duty: United Offensive is when players find themselves on board a B-17 bomber blasting enemy fighters out of the sky. I can't say too much more about this, but I will say that I'm positive this is one of our standout missions in the game.
We weren't actually ever fighting in World War II, of course, but we'll say that Infinity Ward did an excellent job of capturing the intensity and atmosphere of the conflict in many of Call of Duty's levels. How are you building on this in the expansion?
Alvey: Infinity Ward raised the bar very high with the original Call of Duty, and meeting and surpassing that level of expectation has been very challenging, yet fulfilling at the same time - that's also part of the fun of game development! Being challenged really helps push a game to the next level.
For example, we took the particle system, and improved all the weapon and pyrotechnic effects, and even added weather effects like rain and snow. Pacing is also very important to us. So, like a good rollercoaster ride, we want there to be moments of intensity and excitement, and then moments where players can take a breather or two and soak in the atmosphere (but not too long before the next mortar shell almost takes them out). All of our maps capture that epic, "blockbuster movie" type of feel.
Activision's press release for United Offensive mentions new character abilities - what's that all about?