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World War II still rich with potential - Pitchford

Plenty more stories to tell.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford has told Eurogamer that the Second World War remains a rich vein of material for videogames - but he also believes that moving to a different era was the right decision for Infinity Ward's Call of Duty series.

The third game in Gearbox's Brothers In Arms series, Hell's Highway, is nearing completion and is due to launch next year. It will cover the pivotal Operation Market Garden period of World War 2 - and speaking with Eurogamer, Pitchford hinted broadly that this will not be the developer's last fling with the conflict.

"We have to sit down and think about what we're doing next," he cautioned, "but I'm really interested in World War II, and I expect to spend a lot of time there." (You can make up your own hilarious time machine pun, I'm sure.)

As to our suggestion that gamers might be experiencing a touch of World War II fatigue in the wake of so many games focused on the war in the past five years, Pitchford was having none of it.

"I'm pretty sure that there's going to be another game where I'm a space marine and I save the world from aliens," he admonished. "I'm pretty sure there's going to be another game where I'm a wizard or a knight and I'm fighting dragons and orcs... And I'm pretty sure that there are going to be more games where we're soldiers in wars."

"Some of them might be fictional wars, and many of them will be real, historical wars. In terms of historical wars, there are a lot of great ones - going back to the Romans and the Greeks, all the way to modern day, but in current history there are few as significant as World War II. In fact, there are none. If World War II went a different way, the whole world would be different. It's very significant, and it means a lot to us."

"It's also a great backdrop for gameplay. This is man to man fighting here. The stories are dramatic - we could make an infinite number of games in the World War II space and still have material to cover."

Brothers In Arms' tight focus on individual battles and specific characters also helps to ensure that there'll be a rich vein of material to tap into for a long time to come, Pitchford explains.

"Because our stories are focused, we're not burning through the material. I mean, it's like when you watch Saving Private Ryan, and it's about a squad of guys in a particular time and place. It's not a survey of the war, it's focused, and by giving that focus there's a depth there that we're not accustomed to with other games. There's also an opportunity to get into that depth with other stories."

Not all developers feel the same, obviously - with Call of Duty 4 being the most obvious defector from the World War II camp in recent months. However, Pitchford says that he believes Infinity Ward's move to modern times is a "brilliant decision".

"I think those guys view themselves as really good first-person shooter developers - not as World War II developers," he explained. "They just like making shooters. I mean, I think those guys could be really comfortable and great at making a Halo type of game, and I think they'd give Bungie a run for their money if they did that. Whereas I - and a lot of us - are pretty invested in this particular material that we're covering here."

Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway is due out next year, so we'll be taking an early hands-on look at the game in the coming weeks.

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