Electronic Arts’ upcoming Medal of Honor is in many ways like the typical video-game shooter.
It features a high-tech, glossy graphics engine that will realistically render explosions, smoke and gunfire. Its multiplayer component, usually the most popular part of any shooter video game, pits groups of players against each other in various game modes.
But Medal of Honor is different in one crucial aspect. It’s set in present-day Afghanistan.
Most video games shy away from representations of real-world conflict, sticking to generic World War II-era stories or settling for vague, ambiguous geopolitical themes. Medal of Honor itself is a long-running series of video games known for the accuracy of its World War II (WW II) setting, and will follow the stories of several soldiers in the current Afghanistan conflict.
The series reboot, due for release in October, drew attention first for its real-world setting, then for its controversial decision to allow players to play as the Taliban in the game’s multiplayer mode.
In an email interview, Greg Goodrich, Medal of Honor’s executive producer, told us about the game’s vision and setting. Edited excerpts: What, in your opinion, has been the core strength of the series? How will this new iteration carry forward that legacy?
The core strength of the Medal of Honor franchise has always been its tone and intent. The series has always told the soldier’s story in an authentic and respectful way. And although the franchise has moved out of WW II and into the current fight in Afghanistan, these fundamental elements remain.
The decision to set the game in modern-day Afghanistan—is it a challenge to situate a game around a continuing real-world conflict? We saw, for example, the controversy surrounding ‘Six Days in Fallujah’—how are you approaching the game’s depiction of the conflict?
We focus on the soldier instead of the war. We tell a story of the individuals who are in the fight instead of the fight itself. We allow the player to take part as a member of a brotherhood of warriors. Afghanistan is the backdrop and the narrative is inspired by actual events, but the story is a historical fiction told through the lens of fictional characters.
What does this reboot bring to the ‘war’ shooter? It’s a pretty crowded field already, with the ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Bad Company’ games, among others.
We’ve set out to deliver a game of quality with strong execution of the content. We’ve focused on creating a compelling game with interesting characters that the player will care about. Most importantly, we want to re-establish Medal of Honor as a world-class shooter.