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Call of Duty Ghosts preview: First look at new story, next-gen engine

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Call of Duty: Ghosts has been fully unveiled by Activision, showcasing a next-generation shooter with a new engine.

Developed by Modern Warfare studio Infinity Ward with support by Raven and Neversoft, the latest in the shooter franchise will feature a new world, story and characters, and is powered by a new next-generation engine.

'Call of Duty: Ghosts' screenshot

© Activision

A hands-off tech demo showed a detailed rainforest complete with mist, insects and sun beams.



The story sees a mass event cripple the United States' government and military forces, leaving the country no longer as a superpower.

The lead character and his brother then join a secret, elite group known as the Ghosts, which employ guerilla warfare-style tactics against a mysterious enemy force.

One of the squad members is a dog, described as a core member of the team, which will smell and detect explosives and protect squad members.

The dog has been motion captured, and is constructed in-game using high resolution scans of a real Seal team service dog, complete with scars and a tattoo inside the ear.



"That squad dynamic is really important, because the characters in that squad all have a different way to interact with you as the player, and they're unique individuals," said vice president of production Daniel Suarez.

With a story written by Oscar-winning Traffic and Syriana writer Stephen Gaghan and a focus on more detailed characters, developer Infinity Ward wants players to become emotionally attached to the story.

"What they wanted in this game, Call of Duty: Ghosts, is they wanted emotional reality," said Gaghan.

"They wanted these characters to feel real, feel like real people."

'Call of Duty: Ghosts' Dog photo

© Activision

A SEAL Team dog has been motion captured for the game.



The new game engine will provide high polygon counts, higher resolution textures, improved lighting, smoke and particle simulations to help create a more immersive world.

Weapons and equipment will receive far more detail than previous Call of Duty games, with rifles showing detailed grips, wires and screws, while arms and hands will show finer hairs, cuts and dirt under fingernails.

Infinity Ward has employed several key technologies that have been used by CG film artists to provide improved visuals.

One is SubD, a technology originally created by Pixar and employed by movie studios, which provides smoother curves the closer the player gets to an object.

'Call of Duty: Ghosts' In-game model

© Activision

Guns are now far more detailed to show screws, texture grips and wires.



Ideal for weapons and characters, one specific use shown in a tech demo was a scope and the player's arms, both of which are formed of more polygons when viewed up close.

Another is Displacement Mapping, which creates geometry out of flat textures by dividing the amount of polygons it uses to create new detail, which is perfect for rock faces.

While there is a focus on better visuals and animations, Infinity Ward stressed that the franchise's core philosophy of 60 frames per second gameplay and low latency controls have been maintained.

"One of the key reasons Call of Duty has been as successful as it is, is we focus on gameplay," explained executive producer Mark Rubin.

'Call of Duty: Ghosts' In-game model

© Activision

Arms will show fine hairs, bruises, cuts and dirt under the fingernails.



"It's the thing we design for, it's the thing that drives the success of the franchise.

"With all of the new tech, all of the new storyline, everything that we're putting into this next generation Call of Duty, we are still 60 FPS, low latency controls, and a great feeling game."

New gameplay mechanics that have been revealed include leaning in and out of cover to get a better view of the battlefield, a new mantle system that retains momentum when jumping over low walls, and a slide that allows players to get to places quickly.

Two new features were confirmed for multiplayer. One was dynamic maps, where earthquakes and floods would change the landscape and change the flow of the match.

Gallery: View images of Call of Duty Ghosts:
It will also be driven by player actions, such as doors and explosive traps.

Character customisation will be introduced for the first time, allowing players to change heads, bodies, helmets and gear.

While the project is being designed with next-generation systems in mind, the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are described as the best-looking yet.

"The current generation [version] will look better than any current generation version we've done to date," explained Suarez.

"There are things that we're doing on next gen that will port down, or at least work on current generation that weren't done before."

Call of Duty: Ghosts will be available on current and next-generation platforms from November 5.

Watch the announcement trailer for Call of Duty: Ghosts below:

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