Sledgehammer Divulges More on Canceled Vietnam Call of Duty
Sledgehammer Games let the world in on the Vietnam War idea it had before doing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
In a recent trip to Sledgehammer Games, Game Informer found out about the studio’s cancelled spin-off project that was meant to be a third-person action-adventure set during the Vietnam War. Sledgehammer founders Michael Conrey and Glen Schofield made the studio after their success with launching the first Dead Space title with Visceral Games. As more Visceral members also jumped ship to join Sledgehammer Games, Conrey and Schofield started working on a new Call of Duty spin-off that was pulled back from its traditional first-person perspective.
“We had spent at least six to eight months on it,” Schofield says. “I was really getting into the story. We had some really cool mechanics.”
Taking place in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, this unreleased Call of Duty was actually going to be done from a third-person perspective. Given Schofield and Conrey’s tremendous success with Dead Space’s third-person camera, Activision knew that Sledgehammer was going to provide a unique and fun experience. This would have opened up a lot of moments in the game that couldn’t have been done from the first-person perspective (think of when the giant tentacle grabbed Isaac in Dead Space).
“We had the underground tunnels. We were definitely getting some Dead Space moments. I don’t mean that from sci-fi, I mean that was a war that was scary,” Schofield said. “They didn’t know if in the jungle there was a booby trap, or what was in those tunnels. And there were thousands of miles of tunnel underground. It was a hidden war, right? Everybody thought the war was in Vietnam, but it was in Cambodia and Laos. So we were telling a cool story.”
With Dead Space’s sense of isolation, claustrophobia and unpredictability, the underground tunnels of the Cambodian jungles and exploring would-be camps hidden inside peaceful villages (that could have instantly sparked into a massive firefight). Fortunate for Sledgehammer, but bad for this innovative, third-person game, the studio was called upon to take up the massive gap Infinity Ward faced as Modern Warfare creators Vince Zampella and Jason West both departed from Activision. 38 out of the 46 other Infinity Ward employees also resigned from Infinity Ward immediately after West and Zampella quit. Wes, Zampella and these former members would go on to create Respawn Entertainment and, eventually, Titanfall.
“When [Activision] needed help on Modern Warfare 3 we were the first ones to get it because we had already proven ourselves within six months that we could dive in, learn the lore of the game, understand the rules, and build something that was different,” Schofield says.
Eventually, Schofield and Conrey decided to abandon the third-person Call of Duty spin-off in order to assist Infinity Ward (or what was left of it) with the development of Modern Warfare 3. The financial success of the game was so overwhelming that Sledgehammer had to keep the development of its Cambodian Call of Duty on an indefinite hiatus in order to work right on Advanced Warfare now that they entered a three year rotation plan of COD development with Infinity Ward.
“If they ever asked us to a make a third-person Call of Duty game I’d go back to what we were doing,” Schofield says.