Since its debut back in 2003, Call Of Duty has received widespread acclaim for its increasingly ambitious portrayals of the battlefield experience. In fact, in recent years the series has felt more and more like playing through a blockbuster action movie. But in an interview yesterday, the game’s creators confirmed that they’re taking the series back to its gritty roots in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare by using the main campaign to explore the horrifying reality of life as a touring USO magician.

When the developers promised to step up their game for this reboot of Modern Warfare, they weren’t kidding!

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Modern Warfare’s USO Magician campaign takes the series’ hard-hitting approach to combat to the next level by bringing players on a tour through Afghanistan as Jimmy Easton, a professional magician who’s forced to make difficult split-second decisions to pull off card and coin-vanishing tricks in front of a crowd of restless, often-traumatized GIs,” explained Jacob Minkoff, Modern Warfare’s single-player design director, adding that the campaign’s first level “Hocus Pocus” would immerse players in the grim reality of sitting backstage and packing up their trunk of scarves and other props after bombing in front of a dwindling crowd. “We wanted to capture the emotional strain of sawing your assistant in half onstage when many of the troops just watched their fellow soldiers get mowed down, and we think Modern Warfare really succeeds at that.”

Activision confirmed that in the USO Magician campaign, players will contend with the bleak horror of being forced to share a stage with past-their-prime singers and stand-up comedians while the PA system repeatedly cuts out and explosions sound in the distance. The game also reportedly features stylized flashbacks to the point in Easton’s life when he made the agonizing decision to take the USO gig after Vegas stopped calling and his wife left him.

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“Our overhauled graphics engine really makes the gamer feel like they’re in Jimmy’s shoes as he struggles to maintain focus during a sword suspension illusion while wondering what he’s doing out here half-way across the world,” Minkoff said, noting that the engine would render factors such as sandstorms and jet lag in real-time during your magic performances. “We’re really proud of the sequence where the player has to pull off a hidden-ball trick after one of the soldiers start sobbing.”

Well, it definitely sounds like Modern Warfare is kicking things up a notch—This storyline might be the franchise’s darkest and most disturbing one yet!

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