GamesBeat: I saw prestige yesterday. It has a lot more ceremony to it. It’s more social. Everyone gets to see it. For the Headquarters, what’s specifically built in there for multiplayer? The score streak practice was something we never got to do before. That really helps with multiplayer training. What else can we find?
Condrey: Headquarters is a social space. It’s also meant to give you new opportunities to master MP. The firing range is really important. It’s where you can get new weapons, unlock new weapons, and master them in a non-combat space. 1v1 of course is social and competitive, but it’s a place for you to test — we call it ultimate skill, individual skill. Score streak training, of course, it seems so intuitive. How often do you get a score streak the first time and you don’t know how to use it? Come in here, train on it, and you can unlock one of these great score streaks and know what to do.
There’s a lot of different ways to master the game during Headquarters. There are also ways to learn, like in the theater channel. You go in there and we have a bunch of tutorials and curated content. Here’s how you play. Here’s tips of the week. We’ll have a lot of user-generated content in the theater. Picking up your login bonus and your contracts and your challenges will help move you through the experience.
GamesBeat: What are you picking up as you get more of the supply drops?
Condrey: Two big things for us that we learned from Advanced Warfare. One, fans love cosmetic customization. But they didn’t want to feel like they were losing gunfights to someone who just had a better weapon. All of our loot is cosmetic only. We have a brand new category of pistol grips. You get these exclusive pistol grips that are very visually interesting. You can customize your character, customize your weapons, customize your calling card and emblems, but you’re never going to lose a head-to-head gunfight over someone having a stat on a weapon. That’s not happening.
GamesBeat: Do the supply drops come in at random, or are you earning them as you go up a ladder?
Condrey: Tons of ways to earn them. You get them through playtime. You get them through challenges. You get them through orders. You get them through increasing your social score in the hub. The other thing that’s important in our loot system is giving players agency to get the thing they want. In Advanced Warfare everything was a random roll on a loot box. Now we have collections. If there’s an emote or a card or a weapon cosmetic you really want, something that speaks to you, you can go to the quartermaster and buy it directly. No more waiting for a random roll. You actually have collections to drive yourself toward the thing you want.
Between cosmetic only, new types of loot, and these collections where you can make direct purchases, I think fans are going to be pretty happy with this system.
GamesBeat: You’re rewarded for being the most social, then?
Condrey: Yeah, there are tiers to your social score. It’s meant to go toward your collections. This is how you would purchase your way up. Every one of these collections represents a series of things you can buy. As you buy your way up to the thing you want, it unlocks an interesting—this is pretty cool, right? You have the regular gray SMG, and then you can get this beautiful black and gold one.
Mejia: But you would have to get all these. You can wait to get them in supply drops, or if you want to spend your armory credits as you play the game, you can just buy these to get to this guy. While they don’t offer stat changes that will make it more powerful, there are some that give you a bonus to XP or a bonus in Zombies. This one here has the perk for Headhunter, but it only works in Zombies. You can use it in MP to get that 10 percent soldier XP bonus, or take it to Zombies and benefit from it.
Condrey: With Headquarters being this truly social space where you can show off—all these cosmetics are a new way to do that. Previously it was really great to see things in the virtual lobby. Maybe you’d get the final kill cam. But now you get to show off in front of 48 other players in Headquarters.
But back to what you asked about social rank, there are tiers. As you rank up and move through the tiers, you get better and better rewards. Those rewards could be everything from armory credits to exclusive loot to supply drops themselves. With the hope that—as you can imagine, we want your social score to be as important as your K/D. We want people to engage and be contributing members of the community. You commend a player, he gets a social score. You open a supply drop around your friends, you get a social score. You use the emblem editor and upload your stuff so people can use it, your social score goes up. Ultimately we hope that there will be a prestige, a bragging right around being in the top tier of social score.
GamesBeat: And prestige will change the more your prestige up? The ceremony becomes more colorful, more fireworks and so on.
Condrey: That’s right. We think prestiging is the one of the most important things people do in their soldier career, and yet up to this point there hasn’t been the fanfare it deserves. Headquarters allows you to prestige in front of the community, and so you’re allowed access to this exclusive space, the overlook where you meet the general, and the very ceremonial aspect. The entire community gets to watch you celebrate that moment. Fireworks go off. Planes go by. The more you prestige, the greater than fanfare becomes. You can imagine that max prestige guys, in front of a group of 48 players—it’s a significant event.
Mejia: Another tip for Headquarters, when you come in for your sessions you get your payroll. We give you armory credits. You might have some cool reward in your inbox as well, part of the onboarding experience.
GamesBeat: Do you think Headquarters will change over time, with new DLC coming out?
Mejia: We see it as an ever-evolving space, yeah. Things will come online. Depending on what’s happening with the seasons, we might have something for Christmas, for example.
Condrey: Headquarters at launch is just a springboard. It’s just the beginning of what we envision as a long-evolving innovative space. New events, new activities, new changes, new rewards—we have a long list of things we’re excited to bring over the season ahead.
GamesBeat: The leaderboards are more elaborate here. You have leaderboards within the HQ, but you also have them for the entire universe of Call of Duty.
Mejia: We went pretty big with leaderboards. We wanted to represent anyone that’s in your Headquarters section. You can see how they stack up against you, how everyone’s contributing to War or Domination. But if you want to see your global ranking, you can go to your dossier and see worldwide leaderboards. You can sort them by your friends, by all time, monthly, weekly. We still have all that, but then you get the virtual representation of it in the Headquarters space. If you’re the top player you get your emblem on the chalkboard, which is pretty cool.
One thing that happens in the studio, someone will get a top score, and they’ll just stand right here to show off. “Oh, that’s the guy with the top score.” There are a lot of cool ways to show off and connect with other people in the community.
Condrey: That’s part of the community, right? A lot of it is bragging rights. Being top of the global leaderboard is important to a lot of people, but now you know where you stand in each lobby. Each one of these leaderboards is for this instance of Headquarters. You can show off to all the people around you. Hey, I’m top in 1v1, bring it on. Every Headquarters out there will have the local leaderboards in addition our global ones.
GamesBeat: The R&R where you get access to classic Activision games, is that a first as well?
Condrey: We wanted to give players a reason to spend time — we view Headquarters as that place. Maybe you’re waiting for your friends. You call your buddies to jump online and maybe one of them is 10 minutes out. You can come in here and play and be social. You can open your supply drops. You can get ready to jump into a Zombies match, whatever you’re doing, and in the meantime maybe you head down and get a little R&R with some of our classics.
Of course, this is just the beginning. We’ll continue to add more to the R&R space. There’s a lot of discoverability in here. We’ve seen some really cool things happen when the community is just hanging out. There are little Easter eggs that we’ll let the community find.
Mejia: We’ve put these things all around the Headquarters space. This is what we call the easy one.
GamesBeat: Jumping spots.
Mejia: Yeah, there we go. There are hidden challenges like this. You can show off, pass it around, throw the ball around, have a good time. There are some harder ones where you have to climb up here, jump to this thing, jump there, and then hit this little thing there. Hopefully people are going to explore and have a good time making YouTube videos.
Condrey: We know that gamers want best-in-class gameplay, but they also want a social space where they can hang out and be creative. We see that in lots of other games. This is meant to really elevate where you go between matches — maybe at the beginning of your evening, or at the end. There are lots of secrets in here for people to find.
Call of Duty: WWII is available on November 3 for the PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. The publisher provided GamesBeat with a copy of PS4 edition of the game for this review, and I attended a review event.