Sledgehammer Games boss Glen Schofield has dismissed the suggestion of any rivalry between Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, insisting: "My competition has been Modern Warfare 2."
The founder of the MW3 co-developer, which is making the game in collaboration with Infinity Ward, also hit out at the public war of words between publishing executives over the titles, telling Eurogamer TV: "I don't particularly like all the stuff that's going on - but I tune it out."
Schofield, himself an ex-EA studio manager, distanced his team from the slanging match - which has seen EA boss John Riccitiello claim he wished to see Call of Duty "rot from the core".
"There's definitely a mutual respect at the development level," he said. "The guys at DICE are great, they've made great games over the years and I think they have the same respect for us. We need to make a better game for the fans."
Following the high-profile sacking of former Infinity Ward chiefs Jason West and Vince Zampella, and subsequent (and ongoing) legal action, the status of Modern Warfare 3 was thrown into uncertainty.
Schofield revealed that "none" of the game's concept had been finalised before Sledgehammer was brought on board to collaborate. "[Infinity Ward] were going through some turmoil there so they hadn't really worked on the game," he said.
"I think the hardest thing at that point was wondering if other people were going to leave, from their point of view."
He added: "Everybody had some ideas left over from the last game or how they wanted to see it. There was no rhyme or reason for how it was split up. We've worked together since day one."
With Battlefield 3's beta out in the wild and on the receiving end of sharp criticism from some users, Schofield explained Activision's decision not to hold one for its game, acknowledging that "sometimes it does backfire on you".
He explained: "Personally I don't like to show a painting in progress, I don't like to show anything in progress, because you know as the artist what it's going to look like when it's done and you're looking at it now and don't feel right about it, because it's not finished."
Had he played the Battlefield 3 beta? "I may have..." Schofield reluctantly admitted, despite earlier claiming: "I haven't had a chance to play it so I don't know much about it."
And what did he think? "I like Modern Warfare 3".
Schofield was speaking to Eurogamer at a press event in London late last week, where a new single-player mission was demoed. Set in central Paris, 'Iron Lady' highlighted rapid switching between first-person ground combat and aerial bombing, offering dramatically different perspectives on the battle as it raged.
"The reworked engine", and the verticality it enables, "changes the way we fight," said Schofield.
For more from Schofield, including whether Sledgehammer will make the next Call of Duty game and what the next generation will mean for first-person shooters, check out Eurogamer TV's video interview below.
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