Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s child soldier level raises eyebrows

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Child Soldier

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will include a level in which you play as a child soldier, which has caused controversy among some of those who have played through it.

Eurogamer’s Emma Kent has described the level, explaining that in it, you play a young girl called Farrah caught in a Russian bombing campaign in a Middle Eastern city. The level starts with Farrah seeing her dead mother, before being carried away screaming by her father; before long, Farrah and her brother are held hostage by a Russian soldier, whom Farrah and her brother must stab repeatedly and finish off with a gun.

Kent said: “If Infinity Ward wanted me to be uncomfortable, it succeeded – but only because this scene felt so jarring and awkward. The reason for this, I feel, is because the child soldier level snaps from on-the-rails cinematic scenes to a weirdly cliché, very video games boss fight. Despite Infinity Ward’s continued emphasis on achieving realism, this level didn’t feel real at all. The use of tired video game grammar was so obvious that it shattered any suspension of disbelief, trivialised the situation, and cut through what should have been an intense and harrowing moment.”

Sure, her criticisms represent personal preference – but at least the existence of the level shows that developer Infinity Ward is trying to create a narrative for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare which is thought-provoking and different.

Speaking to Variety, Taylor Kurosaki, narrative director at Infinity Ward, explained what the developer aims to achieve with Modern Warfare’s storyline: “When we set out to make this project, we made it very simple for ourselves: what do the words modern warfare represent? What defines modern warfare for us, or what do we believe defines it in the world we live in in 2019? You are inherently taking on these sensitive topics today more than any other time. The battle lines are not really clearly defined. The warzone is not over there, somewhere in some remote corner of the world, it’s all around us. A busy city center can become a combat zone in a blink of an eye.”

Kurosaki implied that the hands-on demos showed only a part of the child soldier level: “We had a very short runway to show you some things. We couldn’t show you the entire campaign in its entirety and in context, so we wanted to make sure what you saw was representative of how different it is from previous titles.

“We showed you Farrah’s origin story, where her life was turned upside down, and we showed you that to express how we want to delve into the backstory of these characters to explain their perspective. We weren’t showing you those assets to show how provocative we can be. We were showing you those assets to show that modern war isn’t always pleasant, it’s serious business and it can be kind of messy.”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a reimagined version of 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, is due to be released on October 25 for Xbox One, PlayStation and PC. For further information, visit the game’s website.