Before releasing 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision studio Neversoft had been working on a sci-fi spin-off in the everlasting FPS franchise. Called either Future Warfare or NX1, footage of the unreleased shooter leaked online over the weekend—first spotted by CharlieIntel—revealing both cinematics and in-engine gameplay. This footage was confirmed as real by former Neversoft developer, Brian Bright.
It should be law that ten years after a game’s official cancellation, even if it was never announced, that all footage created be released for our collective nosey interests. Instead, we have to rely on leaks, and then the tiresome attempts by publishers to get them all hushed up and back in their dusty old box, because of the… The Reason!
Fortunately, footage of Neversoft’s neverreleased Call of Duty project, Future Warfare, remains online for now, offering a fascinating insight into a franchise direction that never was. Following the abbreviated version that appeared on Twitter, this full first mission was uploaded to YouTube.
This doesn’t look like scrappy early prototype footage, but lit, textured, detailed opening scene stuff. It also really looks like what you’d immediately imagine if someone said, “Call of Duty, but on the moon.”
Brian Bright, a producer and sound designer at Neversoft, replied to the original tweets leaking the footage, explaining what was being shown. “This was NX1,” he replied to the leaker, referring to the game’s internal development name. He went on to explain it was being developed in the wake of the 2010 implosion of Infinity Ward, when Call of Duty head honchos Jason West and Vince Zampella got spectacularly screwed over by Activision, and the publisher drafted in many of its studios to help pick up the pieces. Rather depressingly, as was the fate of all Activision studios, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater developers Neversoft were dragged in, and tasked with making “a futuristic COD game.”
“This mission was on the moon,” continued Bright, “some experiments with low-G and was really about the team learning the engine.” This was necessary, Bright explained, because previously the developers had been making Guitar Hero games on their Tony Hawk engine.
Those paying attention will remember that 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts featured a whole sequence set in space, and there are clearly some overlaps in the footage. But the far more Normandy Beach landing vibes of the freshly leaked footage suggests something much more akin to the franchise’s origins.People would have to wait until 2016 for a fully sci-fi Call of Duty, with Infinite Warfare, and oh boy were the fanboys delighted!
In response to the first leaked footage, another Twitter user sprang forth with some multiplayer footage.
Now this looks much more primitive, and, well, on Earth. Bright again replied, suggesting the map was called Sandstorm, and noting that the studio “didn’t have much of an art team on MP at the time, so the level designer used mainly MW2 assets.” It would have been an Escort map, “where teams would push a large UGV [unmanned ground vehicle] through the map’s checkpoints. The UGV had a trophy system on it.”
Neversoft would go on to work on Modern Warfare 3, Ghosts and 2014’s Advanced Warfare, before going the way of so many Activision acquisitions, dissolved into Infinity Ward in 2014.