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EA's long-awaited return to Medal of Honor is finally on the horizon, with Respawn Entertainment, developers of Titanfall and Apex Legends, announced to be working on Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond. The founders of the studio, and many people working on the game, worked on the series back in the '90s and '00s, too, so it really is a revival. What is unexpected is that the shooter is coming back as a virtual reality game. Though, that wasn't always the case.
According to Peter Hirschmann, game director on Above and Beyond, and someone who worked on the original Medal of Honor, Medal of Honor: Underground, and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the team at Respawn Entertainment were talking with EA about making a new Medal of Honor before Oculus spoke to them.
"It was one of those things that 'God wouldn't be great to bring back Medal of Honor'," Hirschmann tells me in a meeting at the Oculus Connect conference. "Take everything we've learned over the last 20 years, all the modern tools, and do a new Medal of Honor game." The team was in the early days of this - "conceptualising the narrative, the structure, and all that" - when the VR company got in touch.
"Oculus had been pinging [Respawn Entertainment CEO] Vince [Zampella], for a while about them wanting Respawn to do a game for the Rift," Hirschmann says. "They came in and pitched and it was like 'We want, you want AAA developers to make AAA games for this platform'." Respawn realised though that a game like that for virtual reality would "require a huge budget" and a massive team because you have "design and build every square inch" of the world.
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Respawn knew Oculus had "Facebook's resources" but on top of funding, a game like this would take time. "It's years," Hirschmann explains. "It's not 'Okay, let's get to work on it, in the 18 months you'll have something.' This will be years, two to three years. Does Oculus even know where the platform is going to be then?".
The team took their plans for Medal of Honor and all their caveats about cost and time and pitched the project to Oculus. "They bought it in the room," Hirschmann says. "They say 'Yeah, you just described what we want to do'. And we're like 'Oh, my God, this is great'."
So there was a time when Respawn was thinking of making a non-VR version of Medal of Honor, but it wasn't a confirmed project. It's with the support of Oculus that the game was confirmed and went into production. Still, I do hope after Above and Beyond is out, Respawn has the chance to make a Medal of Honor game that doesn't require VR.
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