Call of Duty: Ghosts exclusive first look
COD: Ghosts unveiled at Xbox One reveal event. Plus first reveal footage.
Xbox One - all you need to know
Call Of Duty: Ghosts has been shown off at Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement event in Redmond, Washington
T3 visited the studio of developer Infinity Ward in Los Angeles earlier this month and was the first UK outlet to get an extensive "eyes on" with the technology behind the game set to kick off the Xbox One and PS4's life cycles.
Powered by a new engine, and using displacement mapping to create geometry from flat polygons and Pixar's SubD technology to smooth visuals, Ghost's next-gen visuals are suitably striking, but it's inevitably proving to be a much harder project for the team than the last Call of Duty.
"It's requiring a lot more effort on our part, yes" executive producer Mark Rubin tells T3, with a laugh. "In a console transition year, there's a lot of 'learn as you go'. We put stuff in because it sounds great on paper, but then it doesn't work out and we have to pull it.
"It's a level of complexity that takes longer and uses up more resources, so we're pulling help from other studios and outside sources. But a lot of the tech we've created in the new engine is helping to make it less work than if the artists had to do it from scratch."
The minute visual detail - from grazes on helmets to unhooked threads on uniforms to mud under nails - add a level of realism we've not seen before and is easily the first "wow" moment of the next-gen.
One level is set entirely underwater, with combat taking place amid a school of fish that moves contextually and dynamically around you. It's like the opening of Jaws 2 but with more guns.
"As a benefit of being in LA, we have access to a lot of Hollywood talent," says Rubin. "Over the last few years we've been hiring CG artists from there, guys making major motion pictures, and they brought a different idea of tech with them, and we've slowly been integrating it. With the new engine and the next-gen consoles, we can bring a lot more into the game."
With a six-times the improvement on light sources and higher particle counts, the HDR real-time lighting system gives jungle scenes vibrancy, too.
"There's no smoke and mirrors this time round," adds Rubin. "We used to paint it in and cover up the cracks, but now it's all real-time."
The Iris Adjust tech means that looking into the sun or leaving dark cover affects your visibility, while the sub-surface scattering shader is used to filter god rays through plant leaves.
"The artists don't just throw a bunch of tech at you and say, 'Here's this great tech, have fun looking at it,'" continues Rubin. "They use it to enhance the environment and gameplay, it's all immersive. They're not just putting in the latest tech from a GDC speech so we can tick a box."
Shunning the multiple character structure of Modern Warfare and Treyarch's Black Ops series, Call of Duty: Ghosts is inspired by the Osama bin Laden-raiding Seal Team Six and focuses on a customisable single team throughout – one member of which is an attack dog.
While the title may reference the Modern Warfare character Ghost – a sly wink and no more, Rubin said – the new game is the start of an entirely new story set in a new game universe.
Stephen Gaghan, Oscar-winning writer of Traffic and Syriana, has penned the story, which is set in the present day after an "Event" has caused some kind of large-scale apocalypse. In this future setting, the USA is no longer the world's superpower.
"We've set Stephen up in an office here," said Rubin. "He plays ping pong with the guys, eats lunch and dinner here, he's become part of the team. That was totally unexpected – people normally write from home and just send us scripts."
T3 was told multiplayer will have dynamic maps and character customisation.
Call of Duty: Ghosts Revale Trailer