TIME Video Games

New Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Trailer Tells the Story of Its Story

In the new trailer, Sledgehammer Games' creative director explains that the game's future setting is firmly grounded in the present.

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It’s short and splashy and won’t tell you any more about Kevin Spacey’s heavily hyped role in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but Sledgehammer creative director Bret Robbins does clarify a few details about the futuristic arsenal you’ll be wielding in the game. That’s actually kind of important to understand for the following reason.

When I spoke with Sledgehammer co-founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey at E3 last week, they were keen to point out that Advanced Warfare isn’t a science fiction game. I told them that in fact it was, and that they’d stumbled into a debate that’s been raging for years over whether science fiction equals speculative fiction, say novels like Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or the file drawer that Kurt Vonnegut quipped “so many serious critics regularly mistake … for a urinal.” Advanced Warfare takes place 40 years in the future and employs tech extrapolated from existing and near-future military concepts. That makes it the epitome of science fiction in my book.

I’m not sure what to make of Advanced Warfare‘s story at this point. Sledgehammer wasn’t talking at E3, and I didn’t really want to know. I know I haven’t enjoyed a Call of Duty story-wise for…well, maybe ever. But I did get the sense while watching the stealth demo at the show (you haven’t seen it, but when you do, you’ll understand), that the interactive narrative — the one you’ll create on the fly as you creep through the world in your tricked out exoskeletal suit — was much more than just the multiplayer tutorial these campaigns too often become.

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