Reader FraidOfTheLight pointed out an interesting article over at Terra Nova, Dynamic Narrative Difficulty Adjustment: “It would be neat to get a choice when starting a game: Do you want the bare-bones Good v. Evil plot, or do you want Dostoyevsky?”
It seems that someone at Activision read the same piece, as we’ve just fabricated a document that details how Call of Duty 19: Modern Warfare 7 will feature selectable story difficulty, and what effect that will have on the opening scene.
At the normal difficulty level (or “McNab”):
The player and four other troopers are seated behind desks in a hut. The walls are covered in detailed maps and charts. SERGEANT STAN “ICEBALLS” JOHNSON enters and delivers a briefing:
JOHNSON: “All right, listen up. As you know we’ve been pursuing Abdullah Aziz Al-genericterrorist since the squad led by Major “Sperple” Mann foiled his assassination attempt on President McGann earlier this month. At 0400 Zulu, Bravo troop visually confirmed that he’s holed up in a compound in South Khorasan. We need to find out what his links to the North Korean government are so we’re mounting a cross-border snatch operation, obviously it has to be completely deniable so make sure you’re carrying absolutely nothing that might identify you. Let’s go.”
Some players might not want to worry about the narrative and focus more on shooting people with guns, so they can crank the story difficulty down to easy, or “Seuss”:
The player is seated behind a desk in a hut. The walls are covered in brightly coloured posters; A is for ASSAULT RIFLE, B is for BAYONET etc. A human-sized FELINE enters, wearing red and white striped HEADGEAR, and narrates as SERGEANT STAN “ICEBALLS” JOHNSON briefs the player:
Said Sergeant Stan “there is a man
A wicked man, a bad, bad man
The man was in Afghanistan
And had a plan, an evil plan
To poison President McGann
With pecan flan
(McGann is a fan of pecan flan)
But Sergeant Stan and Major Mann
They stopped the man with the pecan flan
And chased him all the way to Iran
Where he’s hiding, under a divan
So you must shoot him if you can.”
If the player really wants a challenge, though, they can ratchet the story difficulty right up to maximum, codenamed ULTRA-BECKETT:
SCENE I. The player is alone in a plain white room with no doors, window or furniture.
From nowhere, SERGEANT STAN “ICEBALLS” JOHNSON appears. He removes his left shoe and places it on his head.
DIRECTOR (OFFSTAGE): No, no, no! A hat, most certainly, not at all!
JOHNSON removes the shoe from his head and hurls it to one side.
JOHNSON: Nothing to be done, nothing to be done.
FADE to BLACK.
SCENE II. A ROADSIDE, with two TREES and a STATUE. MAJOR ARTHUR “SPERPLE” MANN stands behind the statue.
MANN: The buzzing, the notion of buzzing, the notion. (Pause) The notion. (Pause) The buzzing. (Pause) I cannot possibly and yet!
ENTER SERGEANT STAN “ICEBALLS” JOHNSON, STAGE LEFT. He wears no right shoe, only the left.
MANN: Well here’s a fine thing.
JOHNSON: (Violently) What is beyond?
MANN: Infinite, but why not a cupboard? (Pause) Perhaps it is still green. (Wearily) And what of the terrorist cell tracked down to South Khorasan?
JOHNSON: (Mumbles) And you’ll give me a sugar-plum?
MANN: (Screams) A sugar-plum? A sugar-plum? A sugar-plum? The very devil!
SCENE III. BARE INTERIOR. ENTER JOHNSON, STAGE RIGHT. He turns to the player. He turns away from the player. EXIT JOHNSON, STAGE RIGHT. ENTER JOHNSON, STAGE LEFT. He turns away from the player. ENTER MANN, STAGE LEFT. He turns to the player. JOHNSON’S TROUSERS fall down. MANN POINTS to something unseen in the distance.