Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Dev Comments on Controversy Surrounding White Phosphorus Killstreak

Infinity Ward has opened up about the use of White Phosphorus in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and just how it functions in multiplayer.

Earlier this week, Infinity Ward announced that the upcoming release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare would reintroduce killstreaks. While this announcement landed differently amongst some longtime fans, another aspect of the announcement that landed differently with some dealt with one of the killstreak rewards in particular.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will give players the option to use White Phosphorus as one of the game’s multiplayer killstreak rewards. For the uninitiated, White Phosphorus is often used to hinder vision upon battlefields. That said, the substance can also ignite and greatly burn those that it comes into contact with. The substance’s use has been criticized in real-life over the years due to how unpredictable it is and how damaging it can be when deployed in regions near civilians. There are multiple laws internationally that are meant to regulate the substance’s use.

For some, White Phosphorus has been controversial enough that they have insisted it doesn’t belong in Call of Duty, especially an entry with Modern Warfare that Infinity Ward has continually tried to stress focuses on the horrors of war–at least with single-player. To then use a substance like White Phosphorus in multiplayer almost flippantly somewhat flies in the face of this consistency.

Speaking to VG247, developers on Modern Warfare have now talked a bit more about the killstreak and why it’s included. Multiplayer design director Geoff Smith explained that the substance’s use in multiplayer hinders the vision of other players primarily. “For us it really kinda came out of the old EMP killstreak. It’s really hard to convey this electromagnetic pulse that disrupts maybe your HUD. So it wasn’t like a set change or a mood change, the stakes had changed for us,” he said. White Phosphorus also will slightly damage your playable character and will cause them to cough.

As for whether or not the use of White Phosphorus could be inconsistent with Modern Warfare’s focus on the brutality of war, Smith said that the multiplayer portion of the game essentially isn’t meant to reflect what is being done in the single-player realm. He also pointed out that past games in the series featured nuclear bombs of all things, and even those didn’t generate the same controversy that now surrounds the use of White Phosphorus. “Maybe people are reacting to the photogrammetry, the more realistic visuals. Maybe if it was more cartoony would that be more acceptable?” Smith guessed as to why this would be more bothersome to people nowadays.

Personally, I find the controversy surrounding this to be a bit odd. While I understand where some are coming from, I guess I just find it weird that people would have an issue with one specific weapon used in war. Isn’t it a little bit messed up that we’ve turned war altogether into a playable piece of entertainment? That’s not to say I’m bothered by the violence in Call of Duty, but to take issue with only White Phosphorus and not also simultaneously take issue with any other weapons used in the game seems inconsistent. But, again, I do get it to a degree.

Anywho, you’ll be able to drop White Phosphorus, nukes, and all other horrors of war on your friends when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launches later this year on October 25 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Ahead of that time, there will be an open beta for the game next month.

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