It will come as no surprise that that there was plenty of buzz around Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, comfortably making our list of the best games at E3 2012. Stepping into futuristic military realms for the very first time in the franchise, T3 got a look at two levels from the new game behind closed doors and it's going to be as epic and cinematic a game as it has ever been.
With a Black Ops 2 release date of November 13th 2012 still some months away, we sat down with Dave Anthony, Game Director on the new Call of Duty to find out what we can expect from weapons to multiplayer action, plus we find out if the zombies are back.
Why has Treyarch now decided to go into the future, particularly with the Black Ops franchise?
When we start out making these games, we ask ourselves what is the reason for the fans to come back and play the game? We have got to give them something they haven't seen before. in Call of Duty.that is always the number one mantra we have. I can tell you that when we set out to make this game specifically, we think how are we going to surprise people? Whether it's to do with the story, the narrative, whether it's to do with gameplay, tools, technology and even down to the characters in the story particularly the villain in the story. That's how we start.
How much of the futuristic technology featured in the game is based on reality? Is it simply inspired by science fiction?
The most important thing for us at Treyarch for Call of Duty, is that all we have done has been things in the past and things have had to be historically accurate. The franchise has been built on that. We've always made really cinematic, epic pieces but it's always been grounded in some form of authenticity. Going into the year 2025, we still don't want to compromise that feeling. It is really important to us. So the way we did that was we spent a lot of time looking for the guy who was really going to be able to help us make this authentic.
The consultant I've chosen, about 18 months ago was guy called Peter Singer. He wrote a book called Wired for War it's a really good read and it's essentially an exploration of combat, weapons, technologies and how that's going to look like in the next to ten to fifteen years. Peter wrote that book and he is also a Senior Fellow at the Brooking Institute which is an essentially a think tank for the US government.They don't know what's going to happen in ten to fifteen years time, so they go to the experts. Peter is the guy that they go to, he talks to them all the time. He talks to world leaders all the time. He is the number one resource for them. As soon as I talked to him, I knew straight away that he was the guy. It's not just the technologies that he is knowledgeable about. He is also into Geopolitics. He is looking at how the world is going to be trading in 2025. He was our one stop solution for what the world was going to look like. We didn't want this to feel sci-fi. We wanted it to feel like this could actually happen, so Peter was invaluable from that point of view.
So Peter was instrumental in terms of shaping the narrative for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2?
The conflict in 2025 is all built around these things called earth elements. Phones, iPads and TVs, it goes beyond that. Future types of renewable energy are based on earth elements. Right now the world is dependent on oil and this is going to shift to earth elements at some point. The irony is the dependency on oil is going to shift to earth elements. Now look at the situation, look at a country like Iran.They control around 10% of the world's oil and you know there is a lot of conflict around that area.particualarly with Iran. That's 10% of control, but China as of now are involved in 95% of earth elements which is a staggering statistic, but it's real. The reason it works like this is because not only are they controlling it all, they are also making the stuff.
At some point the situation is going to interesting because more and more of the world is becoming dependent on earth elements, like gadgets, or drones even new types of energy like hybrid cars it's all built into earth elements. So that situation is grounded in this story. It's interesting that we are making these choices and then we are looking at the news and we are seeing all this trouble unfold around us. Even President Obama made a speech about it three months ago to the World Trade Organization. It's amazing that this is happening and we haven't even finished making the game.
How important a role do unmanned vehicles play in Black Ops 2?
It's super important. More important than it normally would be and I will tell you why. In the past the levels in past campaigns have all been linear but very carefully crafted epic cinematic pieces. In Black Ops 2 we have turned it on its head with that mantra of trying to make something different. We still have those levels where we have those cinematic pieces. What is really interesting is that we have these things called Strike Force levels. Now Strike Force levels are a gameplay campaign experience that you have never seen before. It's an open sandbox. When you go into those Strike Force levels you have set of missions and objectives. But unlike the sort of previous very structured campaigns, it''s up to you how you go about it.
So you can go into the Overwatch mode and see a complete map of the battlefield. You can see a squad of guys on one side of the map, and you can see the technology involved. Yu can see the quadrotors flying around, you can see these things we called ASDs which are automated sentry drones which are these kind of robot lethal things you don't ever want to get involved with. We have these huge quadraped claws, with huge gatling guns on top that will waste anything that gets close to it. You can actually get hold of any of these at any point of the game, it's up to you. You can see it on a map and zoom right into it, or you can control all over the quadrotors and assign a whole platoon of them to one place and do all of that with one click. If you don't want to do Overwatch mode you can go down to first person mode and actually still have that level of control all from first person. If you can control the whole battlefield from first person we think that's something that is pretty cool.
How important was it to make multiplayer as iconic as it has been in previous installments?
It's massively important. We have an entire team dedicated purely for multiplayer. I can't give you too many details at the moment because we are going to expand on that in the next few months, but I can tell you we have re-imagined the multiplayer experience for this game. Like I said at the beginning we sat down and tried to work out how we could surprise people. Multiplayer is no different to that. We've made a real emphasis on the social side of this because we know people play this with a lot of friends with the focus on trying to encompass all of that in the experience. I think it's going to blow people away.
In terms of making Black Ops 2, were you limited in any way by the technology currently available in games consoles?
Every time we make these games, we sit down and look at the consoles and look at the technologies, and we think, we've pushed this thing to the limits we can't get another drop out if it. Then we get the game shipped and the tech guys sit down and say, 'I really want to this' or ''I'd like to change this' and sometimes we are like, hold on a minute do you really need to change all of that? But they change it and it opens up a whole new avenue to explore. We are not sitting there thinking, we wish we had the new machines right now although when they come they are going to be really cool and all that stuff. We want to make the best game we can and the important thing for us at Treyarch is the game we are currently making, has to be better than the last one. We never compromise on that. Ever since we've been making Call of Duty we believe that that is going to be the case with Black Ops 2.
Will there be zombies in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2?
I can confirm that there will be zombies. I can't give away too many details, but I will say this, I think the word I would use to describe it is that it is bigger. We have new game modes. You will be able to play it in ways that you have never played it before. You will be able to play with up to eight players. It's very interesting at Treyarch, I don't want to say we created it as some kind of throwaway mode in World at War, it was just like a bonus mode. I remember we started to make it quite close to the end of the project and it was almost a problem to get World of War shipped because so many people in the office were playing it. We were like, guys we need to get the game out! It's great that we all like it, We knew then that we were onto something. The fan reaction has been amazing. It sounds like a cliché but we are doing the zombies for the fans. We are very passionate about that aspect of the game.