While it’s been known for a while that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would be using a new engine, as would the Warzone sequel, now that the campaign has arrived early, we’re starting to see exactly what that looks like.
And it’s wild.
A viral video is making the rounds Twitter, showcasing a mission set in Amsterdam. And it’s so wildly detailed it looks almost indistinguishable from reality, with some joking it almost looks even better than actual photos, somehow.
Some are pointing out that in this case, this mission is more or less a “hallway” mission, where you’re not in a huge firefight, but simply walking a pre-ordained path down the street with minimal combat. It seems like it was specifically crafted to show off the capabilities of the tech. And those capabilities are…vast. I’m reminded of the Unreal Engine 5 Matrix tech demo which was the most realistic looking generated city I’d ever seen in the game, and only the beginning of what’s possible (Modern Warfare 2 is not using UE5).
If there’s one shortcoming it’s that the realism of the human characters are not quite matching the realism of their environments, from their motion to their appearance. They’re not terrible, but they’re not great either. You can see more of that in the full video of the mission:
This is just the first game made using this new engine, and that means that a lot bigger and better offerings will be coming as they continue to max out its capabilities. While we are a few years into this new console generation, we have not yet fully reached their potential, and of course on PC where things like the new 4090 exist, it’s a different story altogether in terms of how far things can be pushed. Even games like Cyberpunk 2077 on CDPR’s aging REDengine look flawless with current top tech. Imagine what happens when they do make their next game in Unreal Engine 5.
This stands in sharp contrast to the advent of the metaverse, where a recent point of controversy has been how poor Meta’s Horizon graphics have been specifically, even with promised upgrades coming. More traditional video games continue to sprint forward into the future while a platform like VR is still playing catch-up to tech from two generations ago, outside of rare exceptions like Half Life: Alyx, which are few and far between.
This video has more or less sold me on the campaign of Modern Warfare 2, after I’ve skipped the last two. I gotta see what else this game is capable of, I think.
Update: Some more information about why this new engine looks so good, and how we can expect other, non-Modern Warfare games to also use it, given a big shift coming to the series.
One big thing about this new engine for Modern Warfare 2 is that Call of Duty is now changing to have everything being made on a single, unified engine instead of disparate versions like they did in the past.
“When one of the teams puts in a really cool rendering or audio or animation feature,” Infinity Ward co-studio head and Modern Warfare 2 creative director Patrick Kelly said at a preview back in June 2022, “then we have to have a bunch of people implement it in the other engine, and then another engine again.”
However, that does not mean that all the games will feel exactly the same as one another:
“A Black Ops game historically has had a slightly different feel – some different art direction and things like that – than an Infinity Ward game. And I will tell you, from my point of view, from our point of view, we celebrate and embrace that we’re not looking to mash them all together into one.”
This new Infinity Ward engine we’re seeing in action also uses parts of engines from other studios, which have all been combined into the “super engine” you see above. The idea is that they used the “best of the best” features from all the different engines they were previously working with. And yes, that means other games like the next Black Ops title should also look this good.
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