Street battle in Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Above: Street battle in Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Image Credit: Activision

GamesBeat: Advanced Warfare has a multiplayer game mode that specifically wouldn’t work without the exo abilities, the Uplink mode. Do you have any plans for modes that wouldn’t work without the movement in this game?

Bunting: We’re not really ready to talk about the game modes yet, but it’s definitely something we’re working on and considering as we move forward in development. We’ll probably start talking about that later in the year.

Lamia: We like to iterate on game modes quite a bit. There are the fan favorites people can expect to return, but you can always expect something else we’ll be bringing as well. We’ll be taking into account the movement and the other game systems.

Bunting: Uplink’s a super fun mode, by the way. It was an epic Call of Duty world championship tournament with Uplink a couple of weeks ago. It’s a lot of fun.

GamesBeat: David mentioned that this isn’t an exo-suit. Are you explaining what it is right now?

Bunting: We’ve talked about the game’s fiction, the DNI and the cyber-augmentations. With multiplayer, every player has that thruster pack. The thruster is what allows them to jump and sustain their verticality, especially with wall-runs. It works as a stabilizer when they’re moving on the wall. Exoskeletons are already becoming a part of even modern-day military technology, so it’s not something that isn’t going to pervade military operations in the future.

treyarch lamia 3

Above: Treyarch boss Mark Lamia. Look closely and you can see some old-school Activision PC game boxes in the shelves.

Lamia: It’s important to get this right. When people say “exos,” they’re talking about a movement system that’s specifically developed for Advanced Warfare. Which is why, when I was talking with Activision, I was adamant that you guys get your hands on this and not just see it. If you play the two games, you know they feel entirely different. But if we just say that you’re thrust-jumping or wall-running or sliding or whatever, people might not get it.

You guys need to feel it and form your impression. But for me it’s a different-feeling game. It feels like, starting with Black Ops, we moved forward with these systems. Ours is a system that has all these movements that are super easy to pull off, but they’re chained all together. That’s the power of the system and the fun of the system, how it chains together.

Bunting: How did it feel to you guys compared to Advanced Warfare?

GamesBeat: I noticed the sound the most.

Lamia: It’s also analog. The thing about it, it’s a precision controlled movement system. That’s critical. You’re not going to someplace where you don’t know where you’re going. You’re only going there if you choose to go there. It goes hand in hand with that map design.

GamesBeat: It felt more slow-paced. I’m not sure if that’s what you were going for.

Lamia: More measured. No, it is slower-paced. That’s correct.

Jason Blundell of Treyarch

Above: Jason Blundell of Treyarch

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: In Advanced Warfare, it feels like you’re dashing a lot. With this system it feels like you’re bouncing a little bit more. You can control it a little bit. It’s easier to do fancier moves in this one. If you think about the points where you are, it’s sharp angles in Advanced Warfare. In this it’s more arcs and curves.

Bunting: That all goes into the philosophy of how we built it. Going back to the talk that we had, we believe in these principles of pushing head-to-head engagements and keeping the combat in frame. If you’re moving too fast, you’re going to get out of frame very quickly. We want to make sure players have a very fun, very satisfying, very controllable and predictable head-to-head engagement, where they can master the learning curve of how they use movement in combat.

GamesBeat: You mentioned creating all this open space so people can play with it. How do you do that without making a single player feel like there’s not enough cohesion?

Lamia: A lot of work. A lot of iteration.

Blundell: Hopefully there were indications of that in the demonstration. If you have a look at the PC demo, you open up these spaces — let’s take the checkpoint defense, when the wall comes down and we go into that space. We have a main alleyway, but even though that’s very much open and you can traverse across it in any way you wish, there’s actually multiple routes that are considered as we’re designing and building it. You have an open space you can move freely across in any order, but as you move through that there are channels in which you’ll find yourself.

Every time we do a space, every time we open it up, we consider that. Where’s the action? Where’s the movement? Where do you naturally travel? And then where are the offsets, the high positions, the low positions? How do you make sure you’re not blocking anyone? People can traverse over that, but there’s these natural paths of flow.

Lamia: You have to have that open. If you’re going to have all these cybercore abilities and people are going to go in and want to use them and do different things, then we’re going to want to do different things in the level. There’s no way you’re going to experience everything in that area unless you do multiple playthroughs. That’s another thing. In the games we’ve made in the past, you could scour every inch of whatever we put in there, because it was more of a linear path. With this, we don’t know what you’re coming in with. The designers have put different things in the world, different things you have to fight against, that you could approach completely differently each time.

Blundell: That was a big thing. Black Ops and Black Ops II had fantastic campaigns and fantastic modes. What we saw in this one, though, as we were first developing it, is that you’d have the designers building it and coming out of playtesting saying, “Wow, I did this, and this happened!” That wouldn’t normally happen in a Call of Duty campaign, because we were handing it out in a very predictable way. Maybe there’s a moment where you got the kill or didn’t die, but now things are happening in organic ways. “I was coming around the corner and that guy came out and you shot him.” These stories start to be told about how the AI is moving, how the players are moving and supporting each other and what they’re taking in. Those combinations change the experience. The guys are scripting the maps and building the maps, coming out each time and saying, “Wow, this happened!” That was invigorating for me, because it reinforced the design decisions, reinforced this massive investment. It was a huge undertaking to change that format in such a fundamental way, while also keeping the stuff our fans expect.