Why CoD: Ghosts Riley is set to become gaming's most realistic dog
So, Activision wanted Riley to take a bigger role in COD: Ghosts and to be as real as possible. Let’s look at how this came about.
Firstly, when choosing what breed of dog Riley should be, Activision decided to make him a German Shepherd dog. This reflects the modern military dog as this breed is favoured by the armed forces because of their high intelligence, rigid obedience and ease of training.
Now, in the real world a dog as experienced as Riley would have taken at least ninety days and thousands of dollars to train for its duties, which include sniffing out explosives, guarding its handlers or detecting the enemy. This level of investment means that when dogs go into combat they need as much protection as their handlers. So, Activision decided Riley would wear canine body armour just like his real world counterparts; these suits specially designed for dogs go by the fitting name of K9 storm armour and can cost up to twenty thousand dollars, showing how valuable a dog on the battlefield is.
But, Activision didn't stop there with the level of realism. As a combat zone is a noisy environment, handlers need to be able to make sure their dog can hear them. So just like real military dogs, Riley has been fitted with an earpiece to enable this. But Activision didn't just stop there, Riley is also equipped with a wireless camera so his operators can see what he sees and guide him effectively, yet again something real military dogs also employ.
The only real-life upgrade the military fit on their dogs which Activision hasn't confirmed for Riley is titanium teeth. Real world military dogs have this ferocious dentistry to make sure their bite is a deadly weapon; though the footage of Riley savaging the enemy in COD: Ghosts shows he might be just as efficient without them.
So apart from the teeth, Riley really is just like a real-life military dog who can be given commands via a headset and use a remote camera to sniff out and engage the enemy. Overall, this makes Riley a ferocious ally of players in COD: Ghosts as they seek to defend the decimated USA.
While engaged in battle, gamers will be placing their life in Riley’s paws just as real-life military handlers do with their dogs, and hopefully Activision will be able to emulate this bond in COD: Ghosts. Maybe players will even get so attached to Riley that they will grow feelings for their side-kick, just as military dog handlers do. The high level of emotion handlers feel is best typified by this quote, again from Activision's IGN interview.
"The bond between dog and trainer was extraordinary. One of the guys told us he would take a bullet for his dog without hesitation."
So, it seems there is little fiction in the use of Riley in COD: Ghosts, from his role in combat to his equipment, and with military dogs being used widely in the real world, including taking part in the mission that took down Bin Laden, it’s no surprise to see one in a game. When COD: Ghosts is released in November, with the detailed research Activision has used to create Riley, he just might become gaming’s most realistic, best behaved and fan-favourite gaming dog ever.