The rebooted Tomb Raider franchise lost a key figure in its development on Friday. Game Director Brian Horton announced his departure for a “new adventure” over the weekend. That adventure turns out to be with one the three studios responsible for developing the Call of Duty franchise, Infinity Ward.
Rise of the Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics announced Horton’s departure via its Tumblr page with the following note from the director.
“It’s been a huge honor to be a part of the Tomb Raider franchise and the team at Crystal Dynamics,” Horton wrote to fans of the franchise. “I’ve met fans from all over the world, both in person and online, to share in our love for the franchise and Lara Croft. After working on two amazing games, my family and I have decided to return to Southern California and start a new adventure. As sad as I am to leave the team at Crystal, I’m excited to play their future games as a fan. Thanks again for the years of support and feedback and I hope to stay in touch with you all online.”
Horton served as the senior art director on the Tomb Raider reboot released to PlayStation and Xbox consoles, plus the PC, in 2013. He stepped into the role as Game Director for last year’s Xbox One release of Rise of the Tomb Raider, which will be released to PC at the end of January and the PS4 later this year.
The work done on Rise of the Tomb Raider has been well received as the Xbox One release sits at a Metacritic score of 86. Additionally, the title has been nominated for more than 21 different awards. This includes Game of the Year and Game Direction awards from the annual D.I.C.E. Awards, among several, that will be announced at the D.I.C.E. Summit event scheduled to take place in Las Vegas on February 16-18.
Horton updated his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles following the departure announcement to reveal he is now the Studio Art Director at Infinity Ward. While he doesn’t mention it in his work history, this puts him in charge of the art direction and artists on Call of Duty.
Call of Duty is currently on a three-year development cycle with Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games, and Infinity Ward all taking turns releasing a new entry. This year is Infinity Ward’s turn up at the plate, though Activision will not make any official announcements for the game until later in the spring.
Infinity Ward’s last effort was the ill-received Call of Duty: Ghosts. The release was plagued with issues long before it was released as studio founders Vince Zampella and Jason West left to found Respawn Entertainment and release Titanfall with many of the studio’s development team in tow. This was also a cross-gen release for the PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360 that taxed Infinity Ward’s resources and required a good bit of help from other studios.
This will mark the studio’s first effort solely focused on current-gen consoles and it will have the benefit of taking the lessons learned from Sledgehammer’s Advanced Warfare and Treyarch’s Black Ops III.
However, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact Horton will have with less than a year before release. The character animations and overall look of Rise of the Tomb Raider are truly superb, but much of the direction of the next Call of Duty title is already set. Horton’s full impact is not likely to be seen until Infinity Ward’s next release in 2019.
Horton is not the only person associated with Tomb Raider to be leaving for Activision. GameSpot reports Darrell Gallagher, former Square Enix Head of Product Development and Studios, is moving into a similar role at Activision as Senior Vice President, Head of Development.
[Image via Square Enix]