Here’s What We Know About Call of Duty: Ghosts

Things That Are Actually New

While Ghosts has an intriguing premise, the demo we attended showed very little of it in action. However, the audience was afforded a sneak peek of the underwater level used to demonstrate the game at the Xbox reveal event.

Mostly, the sequence was designed more to show off Ghosts’ engine in-game rather than reveal any plot details, and as such it resembled an extremely pretty version of the Call of Duty experience players have expected since 2007. In a nutshell: things start quietly, suspense builds (with the classic Call of Duty “I’ll take the guy on the left, you get the right” ambush moment on unsuspecting guards), something goes wrong, enemies attack, numerous near-death experiences occur, and fade to black. The usual attention to real world detail was on display, including a cool recreation of the Russian-made Avtomat Podvodny Spetsialny (AKA the underwater assault rifle), and the environmental effects were impressive.

We didn’t learn much, but we did see something new in this sequence. In past Modern Warfare games, players have been part of this same experience: sneaking up through enemy territory silently with a partner. In Ghosts, this takes place underwater, and Rubin explained that the engine was rendering fish that would dynamically flee as you approached and other nifty bits of immersion. The majority of the underwater sequence had the player sneaking around through sunken wreckage and through caves, avoiding enemy patrols, and later, powerful SONAR pings from beneath a ship that would actually shake the landscape and throw the player backward into objects, resulting in damage if you weren’t protected from the shockwave.

The scene changed its tenor when the player finally fired a handheld torpedo at an enemy ship, tearing it apart and sinking it — and suddenly throwing its wreckage into the water nearby, resulting in some death-defying escapes from crushing pieces of metal as they sank quickly past. As the player and his squadmate moved to escape the disaster, those roving patrols of bad guys started advancing, and the presentation briefly turned to a full-scale underwater battle. This wasn’t a scripted event, it was actual underwater gameplay, complete with ironsights aiming, moving to cover and dealing with multiple hostiles.

Call of Doggie

Though our bit of the demo ended there, we were also told some other interesting information about your squad: It’ll be a K-9 unit. During the demonstration, Activision showed off footage of motion capture sessions involving a dog that will fight alongside you, and can be used by team members to sniff out bombs and attack enemies. Rubin said the goal is to make the dog as much a part of your team as your human squadmates, in hopes of helping players to build an emotional connection with it.

In order to bring realism to the dog, full motion capture filming was used on it, and even the dog itself is authentic. Infinity Ward filmed an actual retired Navy SEALs dog for the animations that appear in-game, so they’ll look like the real thing when your K-9 pal leaps into action.

Still, despite the underwater setting and the announcement of the dog squadmate, what we actually saw in the short video didn’t seem too different from the usual Call of Duty outings. There was even a sequence in which the player and his ally covertly sneaked up on patrolling enemies and took them down with simultaneous shots — something we’ve seen time and again in modern CoD games.

We do know that Call of Duty: Ghosts offers new movement capabilities, including sprinting and sliding, fast mantles over low walls and cover, and leaning, and that multiplayer will see new character customization and dynamic maps that change during battles. That’s all we know about multipalyer at the moment, but the ability to affect and change maps during a game could potentially be very interesting — and might have a big effect on CoD’s eSports presence, as well.

But what we have seen also seems to be a neat twist on the Call of Duty formula that has at least as much potential to thrill or disappoint as last year’s almost-innovative Black Ops 2. Yes, the concept immediately calls to mind NBC’s modest hit series “Revolution,” which also is set 15 years after an apocalypse and involves efforts by former U.S. citizens to restore the nation to some semblance of its former glory. But for this outing, Activision has employed an actual secret weapon that could mean the difference between yet another formulaic shooter that rips off other media, and a truly transcendent video game experience that sets the medium apart: Call of Duty: Ghost’s Academy Award winning lead writer.

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