Partly due to the amount of first-person shooters on the market and partly because of the franchise’s annual releases, sales of the Call of Duty games have been declining for quite some time. While the popular series is still on top, regularly outselling its competitors, publisher Activision and the series’ three development teams are still having to constantly reinvent the games, doing something bigger and bolder each year to hold fans’ attention.
With this year’s outing, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, developer Treyarch has completely ripped up the CoD rulebook. The last game, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, introduced super soldiers with ‘exo’ suits that gave them extra abilities (such as the ability to jump higher) but Black Ops 3 features soldiers who have all of these abilities built-in. Furthermore, the game’s story campaign can also be played co-operatively with up to three other players, and so Black Ops 3‘s levels have been designed on a larger scale, to accommodate new play styles and tactics that will work with four people.
It’s understandable, then, for fans to assume that all of this new gameplay would require a new game engine in order for it to run smoothly, but according to Black Ops 3‘s multiplayer director Dan Bunting, that isn’t the case. Speaking to GamesRadar, Bunting explained that the upcoming game is using a modified version of an old engine (Quake 3 Arena id Tech 3):
“People used to talk about game engines as if it was a singular product that the game’s built on. But engines are really collections of tech that have some very basic, fundamental architecture to them. The core architecture of [Black Ops 3] is still based on the technologies that it’s been built off of. [But] most engines in the game industry, for large scale games, have all come from a lineage back to an earlier game engine.
Engines these days, especially for games of this kind of scope, are very varied, so that each component of the game has its own engine in a lot of ways. The engine itself, what the people refer to the as the engine, is the technology the studio develops along the way”.
Furthermore, back in May, Treyarch’s director of development tweeted that Black Ops 3‘s engine is a “heavily modified” version of Black Ops 2‘s, with that game being released back in 2012 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Bunting explains that “there was a lot of tech work for the transition to the next-gen platforms to really capitalise on the power” and that the developer re-engineered their graphics and AI systems.
Despite Bunting’s words and the game’s three-year development cycle, some fans are still concerned that the game won’t be up to scratch at launch or that the game will struggle under the scope of its new gameplay. Many have pointed out that with Advanced Warfare, developer Sledgehammer Games modified its engine so much that it referred to it as “Sledgehammer’s new COD engine”, noting that it built most of its code from scratch – with the game having all new “rendering, animation, physics and audio systems”.
Advanced Warfare was better for it, being praised for its gameplay and technological advancements, so it makes sense that fans are cautious to see if the same can be said about Black Ops 3 when the game is released in November.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be released on November 6, 2015 on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.