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Black Ops Cold War engine gets revamp to give modern take on 1980s

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War brings the franchise to the next-generation of consoles when it launches in November. 

Raven Software’s technical team discussed during our virtual briefing what the team is doing to make the game look and play incredibly well. 

Engine

First off, Treyarch’s Dan Bunting says that they are not fully using Modern Warfare’s engine for Black Ops Cold War. Infinity Ward debuted a brand new engine with Modern Warfare that was in the works for years, which dramatically transformed Call of Duty’s graphics. 

Treyarch says that while the teams share the ‘underlying technology,’ the engine and technology being used in Black Ops Cold War was created back in 2015. Bunting says that the team worked hard to revamp and re-build a lot of their tools starting with Black Ops 3, and Black Ops Cold War showcases the power of what they were able to do. It’s important to focus on making tools and specific functionality versus a whole engine, and that’s where they focused. 

The tool set built with this game was intended to be scalable and broad to work on future platforms, including PS5 and Xbox Series X. The teams are sharing tools, but there is new stuff in Black Ops Cold War. 

Black Ops Cold War tool set

Raven’s Lighting Director Alberto Noti spoke during the briefing as to how the team worked to bring the 1980s to life in Black Ops Cold War. Noti says that the team pushed to make the game ‘visually stunning’ and ‘push Call of Duty visual boundaries.’ 

The team was able to create photorealistic visual experience with the next-generation tools to bring this game to life. They wanted to make sure they could capture the essence of the 1980s. And, the teams did that through building vintage aesthetics through modern tools. 

The game features the latest display and next-gen technology, supporting 4K and HDR across the board. Black Ops Cold War was designed to be a ‘modern’ looking game that was ‘visually sharp’ but also ‘era appropriate environment.’ 

In designing the lighting, the teams had to target. Showcase and use photorealism to bring the 1980s style to life, and use real time lighting technology. 

Raven and Treyarch identified color pallets for the different places players will travel through in the game. Examples shown to use included a teal color look for Berlin location, and a pink, purple, and red combination for the 1980s vibes. They added in 1980s props to highlight through the lighting technology. 

The teams also built Real Time Lighting technology to be able to adjust the lighting in locations in real time during development. This unlocked the team to showcase precise shadows in each area that realistically matched the location. In a clip shown, they showcased how the lighting team is able to go in and update the look and feel of locations in real time and in render. 

Raven’s Lighting Director says the teams pushed the ‘limits of the engine’ to make the ‘most realistic adventure’ in the Black Ops saga. Engine was ‘vastly improved’ over the last few years to build on the next-generation. It’s a next-gen experience and ‘lives and breathes’ the 1980s feel.  

The last piece Raven Software shared on this was the volumetric and how the fogs/effects are displayed in game. With this game, light rays are no longer invisible. Fog will be able to showcase and be more immersive throughout the entire game’s journey. 

Get the latest Black Ops Cold War news by checking our category page.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Black Ops Cold War Multiplayer Beta Dates announced

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Activision has officially announced the dates for the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Open Beta. 

The Open Beta will give fans their first chance to go hands on with MP mode of Black Ops Cold War ahead of the game’s November 13 launch. 

The Early Access of the Open Beta will begin on October 8 on PlayStation 4. 

Beta Schedule:

  • Weekend 1 —  PlayStation 4 Exclusive 
    • Early Access Begins: October 8
    • Open Beta Begins: October 10
    • Weekend 1 Ends: October 12
  • Weekend 2 — Beta on PS4, Xbox One, and PC 
    • Early Access for Xbox & PC (PS4 Open Beta) Begins: October 15
    • Open Beta Begins: October 17
    • Open Beta Ends: October 19

Fans can get early access to the Open Beta by pre-ordering any edition of Black Ops Cold War digitally on the PlayStation 4 store, Xbox One store, or Battle.net for PC. 

The Beta will feature more modes than the PS4 only Alpha, including the new VIP Escort mode, and Fireteam.

More news on the Open Beta, including content, features, and progression, to come soon.

Learn more about Black Ops Cold War MP by checking out our category page

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Treyarch dev says all CoD games have had SBMM, says it can be ‘tuned’

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Treyarch’s Director of Technology Martin Donlon has spoken out on Twitter after fans have complained about SBMM in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

A fan wrote that several original Call of Duty games did not have SBMM which made the experience enjoyable. In a tweet, he said that Black Ops 2 ‘felt amazing’ because there was ‘no SBMM.’

SBMM is also known as Skill Based Matchmaking, a system where players are matched based upon their skill set and stats versus prioritizing connection in matches.

Donlon says that all Call of Duty games, including Black Ops 2, had SBMM. He says he ‘wrote the implementation’ of SBMM in Black Ops 2.

Fans followed up saying Black Ops Cold War’s implementation, similar to Modern Warfare, appears to be a bit extreme. Donlon says that is a ‘perfectly’ valid viewpoint to have.

He also says that SBMM is just ‘one’ of the several parameters in matchmaking that can be fine tuned. It’s not just an on or off switch for it.

It’s not clear if his tweet is confirming that there will be changes to SBMM in Black Ops Cold War as of now.

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SBMM trends on Twitter as fans experience it in Black Ops Cold War Alpha

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SBMM, or known as skill based matchmaking, is the main topic of the conversation from the Black Ops Cold War Alpha.

Fans were surprised to see how strong the SBMM is set to in the Black Ops Cold War Alpha. While the first few matches that players have played were enjoyable, the next set started to become more complicated as SBMM kicked in.

‘SBMM’ was trending on Twitter on Friday, Sept. 18 for a few hours under the gaming category as both major Call of Duty content creators and fans alike voiced their frustration.

We also shared our own thoughts on the SBMM in the beta on Twitter:

There’s most certainly a time and place for SBMM in video games, but in casual playlists, it does not belong. It takes away the experience and enjoyment for so many players and forces the game to be catered to the subset of new players.

Players like Scump, Attach, and Pamaj all voiced concerns.

SBMM has been in Call of Duty in the past. Previously, games like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare were heavily criticized for SBMM. But, Modern Warfare & Warzone started the overall trend of an advanced level of SBMM in casual playlists for players.

Although dev teams continued to state that connnection remains a priority, it’s hard to not feel the SBMM as you’re playing the Black Ops Cold War alpha.

At the time of this writing, Treyarch has not commented on how the matchmaking system is setup in the Alpha.

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