‘Black Ops 2′ Doesn’t Need New Engine, Says Treyarch

Published 3 years ago by , Updated May 16th, 2012 at 10:53 am,

Black Ops 2 Uses Old Engine

It’s no secret that graphical prowess is one of the most potent means through which to gain hype on PCs and next-gen consoles. With the futuristic setting of Black Ops 2, it might have been assumed that the developers at Treyarch would be taking this chance to launch a groundbreaking game engine. Despite the ground being gained by the most advanced studios in the industry, the team’s lead doesn’t feel that Black Ops 2 will be held back by its use of the same engine as its predecessor.

The news doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, since the same argument of developing a new engine being counter-productive was used for Modern Warfare 3. Both leading studios behind the Call of Duty series obviously place great faith into the IW Engine, since it’s been the foundation of gameplay from 2007 to present.

The engine has received plenty of upgrades and improvements since then, but every year that passes without a new engine unveiling leads to more critics crying complacency. Activision’s Dan Amrich, owner of the OneOfSwords blog, previously gave some details about the graphical improvements and new lighting.

Black Ops 2 No Need New Engine

When speaking with Treyarch’s head Mark Lamia, the topic of a new engine once again resurfaced. Lamia explained that the question comes up frequently, and while it’s fair of fans to desire better technology, a brand new engine just isn’t needed:

“People always ask me, “Is this a new engine?” I liken it to people who live in an older house that has been remodeled. Just because you’re remodeling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don’t tear out the foundation, or break out some of the framing. You might even go as hardcore as replacing the plumbing, and we will do that sort of thing, as an analogy. It’s a gross simplification, but it’s one way to say that.

“I think what people are asking for is for us to push. They want us to make a better-looking game; they want things. I don’t think those are things people can’t ask for. We asked ourselves that very same question – we wanted to advance the graphics. I think the questions are valid. The answer may not need to be an entirely new engine, but you might need to do an entire overhaul of your entire lighting system. The trick is, we’re not willing to do that if we can’t keep it running at 60 frames per second – but we did that this time. So this is the Black Ops II engine.”

The concepts expressed by Lamia are certainly fair, since Valve has slowly but surely pulled the Source engine through more than one technological generation. But as far as the announcement trailer goes, there’s no denying that the engine is starting to show its age, to put it nicely. Compared with Battlefield 3‘s outstanding facial and character animations, the chunky fingers and wooden faces shown stick out like… sore thumbs.

Obviously the gameplay shown hasn’t slowed the franchise’s annual buzz, with pre-orders already setting records. And as much as the team intends to “shake things up” in the game’s multiplayer, at this point a graphical leap is starting to seem long overdue. Whether the studios want to call it a brand new engine or simply an updated version of their in-house tools is up to them. But with the series pulling in more money than any entertainment franchise in human history, there’s no real reason that they shouldn’t be leading the industry in nearly every field.

What’s your take on Treyarch’s justifications for using the same engine? Would you like to see some of those record-breaking profits be put back into developing cutting-edge visuals?

Call of Duty: Black Ops II releases November 13, 2012 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: OneOfSwords

TAGS: Activision, Black Ops, Black Ops 2, Call of Duty, PC, PS3, Treyarch

  • HelghastUser

    “Would you like to see some of those record-breaking profits be put back into developing cutting-edge visuals?”

    -He’s right. They(Devs & Publisher) are being smart money wise. New engine or old it will still make a profit so there is no need or urgency for change regardless of what critics say. Their track record(Sales) is a clear testament to this….

    • ATG

      Finally, someone with a brain. There’s reasons why the engine can wait. And there’s a clear reason why so many people want it.

    • Ken J

      I agree, as long as the consumers are dumb enough to keep giving them their money without any improvement in their product, they shouldn’t be complaining that they are not improving it. What is their motivation if no matter what they’ll be making the profit?? It’s business…

      • ATG

        I would hardly call them dumb, Ken. If this is what someone enjoys, just let them have it.

        • Ken J


          Well, I guess I didn’t say that right, I don’t mean everyone who enjoys those games, I mean the ones that buy the game, then complain about it. Just do what I do, I don’t waste my money on it, so I don’t complain, in fact, I do more laughing, so I actually get enjoyment out of it. They should do the same if they are really dissatisfied with what’s happening…

          That’s like people who complain about the country they live in, I don’t understand it. My family hated the country we were from, so we moved… What’s the point in bitching and whining about something and being unhappy about it???

          • ATG

            I was thinking about buying it used. I get 25% off that way.

  • RED

    I have been buying and playing all COD games since COD1, but the thing about the games being released after MW2 is that they are not even trying to find new ways to make COD better. I get it that games from NES or SNES didnt have great graphics and they were awesome, but that is because Mario and Super Mario were entirely different games, that is what we want. I don’t care about graphics as long as the we see something new, not only new maps and story (BTW I loved the Modern Warfare Campaigns).
    Oh I almost forgot, Battlefield SUX! o/

    • luvwrapper

      fps games? arent they all the same. play some Twisted Metal once in ur life for god’s sakes

      • RED

        Yeah, Wolfenstein 3D and Modern Warfare 3 are the same.

        Yep, you sure are smart bro. o/

      • lee bow

        twisted metals terrible you cant even get out your car. grand theft auto any day of the week.

        • AmazonKendall

          Trolls trolling trolls.

  • Gazman333

    Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

    • JohnnyBoi

      That is what I thought too, until they came up with their shitty console-like system and now we pay for maps and multiplayer is as broken as the last one.

    • lee bow

      they use this same philosophy when talking about your face only it is BROKEN ya wuggy!

  • luvwrapper

    too bakc BlackOPs II engine still looks like a ruber duck compared to the Unreal engine’s submarine, Frostibes destroyer, and Crytech’s Dreadnaughts

  • Chris

    As long as multiplayer isn’t hard as frick anymore

    • AmazonKendall

      Maybe you just suck?

      • Chris

        No, I’m actually pretty good. But that’s the difference between knowledge and maturity. Maturity doesn’t troll the page, but knowledge lets me know that the CoD multiplayer IS in fact difficult at times.

        True story.

      • sporeboy100

        over powering weapons are the possible cause for him being unable to kill, he aint bad, it is just that activision adds over powering weapons and mega weak starting weapons

  • Bob

    Not only do they need a new engine soon but they really need to switch up the formula. Its getting very stale at this point and it plain out isnt fun anymore. I do have to say that atleast treyarch tries to innovate and add depth using the current formula compared to infinity ward who to me just isnt intrested in seeing where they could possibly go with the formula. Imo mw3 was a complete flop. Easy campaign on veteran, step back in multiplayer compared to black ops and spec ops is.boring unless its survival mode. I guess thats the reason that consumers voted bf3 better than mw3. I tend to agree. I can have a good time anytime with bf3 and still feel like its a new fresh experince anytime

    • lee bow

      wheres jay?

    • sporeboy100

      and the worst part: NO ZOMBIES!

  • Raihan

    well a new engine is obviously needed. quite sure next years COD will use new engine. but for this year it can be taken in consideration. I hope it looks better than its predecessors. but they seriously need to change it next year as console devs will probably showing up their new consoles and by the end of 2013 they may release. so a change is needed next year for sure. and yeah for current Gen Acti will stick with its current engine. well next year COD will combat with crysis 3 graphics I hope.

    finally I will say, I will consider for this year only. but the next COD should need to change really. coz in 2013 there will be a huge amount of game that will be graphically improved. at least a good leap over 2012.

    • lee bow

      your names weird ya big harry hoofter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • sporeboy100

      no one challenges Crysis’s graphics

  • donald cartwright

    i eat my own jobbies when playing halo. this game is definetly not jobbie eating worthy.

  • 10Lives

    Same engine since 2007? Yeah right, more like since Call of Duty 2.

  • Tay

    I see no reason to update the engine when the new consoles are around the corner. That’ll just be another huge selling point for the COD title on the next gen console.

    • HelghastUser

      Smart man. Upping their engine now would be a waste of time and resources, Especially since they have such a strong following this gen with little to no change. An engine update will have all the fans waving their money as soon as the announcement is made..

      Activision and the devs know what they are doing folks. No change is needed…

      • afro man

        but if they don’t come up with a new engine soon, then on the new consoles, their games will look like duke nukem with a better story line and more guns. they say they listen and respond to the community’s questions and requests, so why not get a jump on being so called better than everyone else? seems that’s what they think anyway right? “we’re obviously better since we don’t have to make a new engine like other gaming industries.” right?

    • ATG

      Another person with a brain!

  • spuntron

    They’re scared to do a significant graphics upgrade because of the impact it’d have on gameplay considering the peer to peer types of hosting used. If they had dedicated servers, they’d have more wiggle room for improvement. But alas, why pay for servers for an optimal online experience when they can keep shoveling out the same outdated graphics and keep breaking records?

    • HelghastUser

      Well played. Well played….

  • Matt

    “Just because you’re remodeling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don’t tear out the foundation, or break out some of the framing.”

    True, but many people also MOVE OUT of their houses, especially if they need to be remodeled. Why continually remodel your house (which is what Treyarch and IW are doing) when you can buy a new one? In CoD’s case, its house looks awful and needs a lot of work. So instead of working a lot on the same engine, they should create a new one. CoD is one of the only franchises that doesn’t create new engines.

    • jwalka

      or doesn’t care about a new engine, as long as kotich makes money he doesn’t care for anything besides marketing the hell out of his trashy arcadey style games. this game franchise is just like guitar hero – once they bleed it dry it will die out hard and cost them a ton of cash forcing the douche to rethink the way he does ‘business’.

  • jwalka

    how does his comment make sense when his game doesn’t look new or good. let me remind you fanboys that not to long ago one of the jokes at treyarch announced that they’d either be updating or revamping the current engine, but now they say they dont need anew engine (indirectly saying they dont need an update or it either).

    it’s all a load of bs and you know what ? you fans will still buy activisions bs even though you know its basically the same garbage but with different looking guns. treyarch sucks at patching their games… well they suck in general and only a fanboy would be ignorant enough to say no to that.

  • Ken J

    My friend rented MW3 and we were playing some of the coop missions. Oh man, there were so many times that in the middle of a gunfight, one of us would be like “OMG, look at this!” and we would literally ignore the enemies to look at some of the terrible looking things in the game and laugh our asses off. Such as some REALLY super low-res textures on things, so they look like they are out of a NES game, or things like them being too lazy to model an actual hole in a wall so they just pasted a super blurry low-res image of a big hole in a completely smooth and flat wall, lol!!! The game was pretty dumb, gunfights were repetitive, nothing was exciting, but at least we got some entertainment by how dated the game looks and the amazement that there are idiots out there that think that game is awesome, lol.

  • ZephanUnbnd

    Well, if you’re the type that listens to rumors, rumor has it that Infinity Ward is indeed making a new engine for their next CoD. Supposedly it will be a launch title for the next-gen Xbox and Playstation, which are rumored to be releasing in the Holiday 2013 season.

  • Gooch

    I might agree with Lamia if the game looked even marginally better, but it doesn’t, if anything this is a big step backwards. I agree with Matt, sometimes it’s cheaper and easier to just move into a new house instead of remodeling the current one over and over

    • ATG

      How does it look worse than the previous CODs? Am I the only one that sees it’s the same lol I think the only reason ya’ll say it looks worse is because it looks dated, otherwise it’s the same. And people didn’t start complaining about graphics or a new engine until Battlefield 3 was revealed, now suddenly COD looks like Wii or PS2? lol

      My point is, GRAPHICALLY, COD isn’t going backwards but it’ll never go forward either. New engine or not, they want to keep 60 fps. A new engine won’t give them better graphics with 60 frames, not on this hardware.

      I think it’d be better for them to wait until next-gen. They push a new engine now then the game’ll change, even more people will complain, and nobody will care by the time next gen arrives. They gotta spread those interest-grabbing details thin, to extend COD’s life span. Think about it. They’ve added branching story lines, 8-player zombies, a new setting this year. Next year will be something different, interest level drops, BOOM new engine on next-gen revealed and sale go right back up!

      And besides, why change it if people love it? That’s what I don’t get, gamers feel the need to complain like COD is being shoved down their throats. Nobody complains about Team Fortress, IMO that game is straight garbage, but I won’t go to it’s articles and call the players dumb and the developers lazy because those cartoony graphics suck. Arma is a great simulator but controls are as clunky as rock em sock em robots.

      • Ken J


        Team Fortress also didn’t ever cost $60. In fact, it came with The Orange Box which had Half like 2, Episode 1, Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2, all for the price of one game… It’s just a silly multiplayer game. Not a huge fan of it myself, but I can see how it can be popular. I think if they tried to sell that for $60 by itself, it will not be so popular…

  • JACK

    Not to be critical, but people don’t seem to get the fact that it’s US who made COD what it is right now by buying the game every year, then the developer will think this is what gamers are constantly interested in so they’ll keep doing it.

    • Ken J



  • Defcon422

    This is exactly what is wrong with Treyarch and Infinity Ward. “Let’s make the same game, change the name, and add new maps and slightly change features!” It’s just IW and Treyarch’s way of milking the title. At least try something new. I’d rather deal with a buggy new engine that can be tweaked than paying $60+ for the same one over 6 or 7 games.