Infinity Ward are doing some incredible things with Ghosts”
The queues leading from the Activision stand at E3 were some of the longest in the entire expo, across all three days. Because we're media (whoop!), we managed to bypass them - but I spoke to a member of the public who had waited in line for nearly three hours, just to see a twenty minute preview of the latest Call of Duty. Afterward, he said it was completely worth the wait.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is the 10th title in the series and will be available on current-gen consoles early November, but it's also coming to Xbox One and PS4 at a later unconfirmed date. Our presentation opened up with a short, pre-recorded video clip detailing all of the graphical improvements in the game.
The game has been given an overhaul in the visual department and Ghosts revolves around a new engine that employs 'Sub D', or subdivision surfaces. What this does, as the name implies, is subdivide polygons as the camera draws closer to an object, creating almost perfectly curved surfaces - all in real-time.
The engine is also capable of displacement mapping, which involves elevating points on an originally flat texture surface to create a more three dimensional model. For example on a cliff, this displacement mapping mathematically adds geometric data to create authentic ledges and fissures.
If you look past all the technical jargon of volumetric lighting, tessellation, and geometry fidelity, all you need to know is that this game looks good. Damn good. It is without a doubt, the best looking Call of Duty to date and will look exceptionally amazing on the next-gen consoles to boot. The lighting and particle effects seen here will really help immerse players in the story.
Speaking of which, Ghosts includes a whole new saga with new characters that intertwine within it. The story opens with an undisclosed 'mass event' that leaves America crippled and defenceless. Their military forces are devastated, the government is in disarray, and entire cities are crumbling into ruin. A new unit, known as Ghosts, are formed from the remnants of various US special forces outfits. This elite fighting force is the last bastion of hope for a post-apocalyptic USA and you will get to experience what it's like to be a part of it.
As in earlier titles, the game travels the globe and the two missions we witnessed were vastly different in locale. The first mission we got a live gameplay demonstration for was "No-Man's Land" which took place in a devastated San Diego. This is where Riley, the German Shepherd, makes an appearance.
A lot of fuss has been made out of the inclusion of man's best friend, but while he is visually impressive in terms of his movement and texture mapping, it's his actions and effect on the gameplay that really caught my attention.
Riley has been modelled off high-resolution scans of an actual SEAL team German shepherd and the attention to detail is incredible. Zooming in you'll see scars on its nose and a military-standard tattoo inside his oversized furry ear. In the single-player campaign, your canine companion will be controlled by AI, staying faithfully by your side, but always eager to play scout, sniff out explosives and even attack enemies.
But what I wasn't prepared for however, was the fact that players can actually take full control of Riley, in first-person mode. We watched as our demonstrator switched view-points to 'muzzle cam' and snuck Riley into an enemy camp via a small opening before launching himself at enemy guards with a ferocious lunge. After each attack, the dog's camera is splattered with blood and the sheer power and speed of Riley is a thrilling ride. Switching back to normal first-person view, your canine companion goes back to being intelligently controlled by the computer and you can still issue him orders.
The last level in the demo was "Into the Deep" which showcased some incredible underwater combat. Here, in the oceans of South America, the graphics engine was put to stunning effect in completely different conditions, with amazing particle effects and an altered gravity to give the level a unique feel.
There was a distinct claustrophobic atmosphere, with danger (and wonder) around every corner. The mission ended with a climatic assault on a boat as enemy units in matching scuba gear open fire in the watery depths. It felt completely different to earlier sneak peaks of Call of Duty: Ghosts and shows the diverse nature this game should offer.
It's still early days, but just know that Infinity Ward are doing some incredible things with Ghosts, especially in the visuals. We'll bring you more detail once we get some solid hands-on time with it before November this year.
The Good: Beautiful and diverse environments
The Bad: Can it change up the same old CoD formula?z
The Ugly: Seeing Riley get shot