Last night’s world premiere unveiling of Call of Duty: Black Ops II confirmed video game’s worst kept secret, but perhaps its best kept secret as well. We all knew Black Ops 2 was coming after its predecessor broke world records and offered a unique and compelling story, but we didn’t know what it would be bringing to the table in terms new gameplay features, game design, and a future-based setting.
Along with the return of fan-fave Sgt. Woods to narrate, the Black Ops 2 announcement trailer gave fans their first look at the style and designs of the future, as well as the game’s graphics and visuals. And they look dated. According to Treyarch however, Black Ops 2 is receiving a ‘visual overhaul.’ Confused?
Via the OneOfSwords blog, Activision’s Dan Amrich shed light on a ton details for the next Call of Duty, shared by Treyarch at their preview event. One of the topics which caught our eye was the talk of improved graphics, something not at all evident in the gameplay trailer.
Treyarch’s Director of Online Dan Bunting, while explaining that the developer has been working on a combination of “tech and technique” to overhaul the sequel’s graphical prowess, confirmed a few important details so here are the highlights from the limited info shared thus far:
- All versions run at 60FPS.
- Treyarch will not trade frame rate for visual details.
- PC version will utilize DirectX 11.
- Build previewed was on Xbox 360. Before/after comparisons reportedly indicated significant improvements.
- Environments given more unique details – helps with player communication to call out specific areas.
- Socotra Island in Yemen and ‘Aftermath’ were the levels/areas shown.
- New texture technique called “reveal mapping.”
Although not evident in the trailer, lighting was name-dropped in previews as an important improvement: HDR lighting, bounce lighting, self-shadowing were highlighted during the presentation. “Lighting is what does most of the work when it comes to visual fidelity,” says Bunting.
One of the big complaints about the last few Call of Duty releases, most notably with Modern Warfare 3 is how the games and their annualized release schedule have resulted in a lack of innovation, features and visual improvements, made more noticable by the release of games such as Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 and the latest CryENGINE and Frostbite Engine builds.
To bring up the inevitable EA vs. Activision, [insert shooter franchise here] vs. Call of Duty debates, the gameplay trailer did look noticably dated (strictly speaking, from a graphical standpoint) compared to any of the Battlefield 3 gameplay trailers – take a look at latest DLC trailer as an example, and compare to the Black Ops 2 trailer.
Graphics are secondary to gameplay and story however, and from the newness showcased so far from the trailer and previews, it won’t matter come release. Props to Treyarch for doing something different in each of their games.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II releases November 13, 2012 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
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