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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Attempts to Create Photorealism

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare isn’t only advancing itself into the future, but also take a step forward (a very large one too) in the visuals and presentation of the game.

For the first time since Call of Duty 4, we’re seeing some major enhancements in the visuals – the large set of screenshots and the intriguing E3 demos have made one thing quite evident: the franchise is ready to enter into new graphics era.

With an all-new in-house engine for the game, the developers have emphasized on ‘tricking’ players to believe the faces and expressions are almost real. The special attention to detail of facial structures and textures has been a trademark realism factor in most modern games, but Sledgehammer Studios – in charge of developing Advanced Warfare – believes they’ve taken a step further by pushing their technology to the limit.

The studio has used high dynamic range, physical-based shading, wrinkle maps, performance capture, and physical-based lighting to make facial structures move and behave in a very convincing way.

The Art Director for the game, Joe Salud, had a thing or two to say about the emphasis on visual realism in this upcoming Call of Duty title when met up in an interview by VentureBeat.

We have a tack that we like to call “physical-based” here. We’ve done tons of research on how to achieve that. There are three basic pillars that make that reality. You have to have HDR, you have to have this thing called physical-based shading, and you have to have something else called physical-based lighting.

To make a long story short, what we do is, everything is based on physical values. We let the renderer do all the calculations as to how shiny something is, how matte something is. They’re all related to each other. It’s using less of the individual artist’s eye to decide on the granular details and more of the engine procedurally doing a lot of that.

It’s evident that taking each and every physical and structural value and translating it into algorithms and numeric is a tough task, but it pays off greatly to capture the subtleties of the real environment around us, and Joe believes that is the key to tricking players’ eyes to believe what they are witnessing is real.

It’s not just the faces though – the overall emphasis on creating a near-photorealistic surrounding for the player is essential, especially when it comes to convincing them that they actually are in the future, driving futuristic vehicles that are as close as possible to how they would look in the real world.

The work here, purely in visual perspective, is commendable to say the least, as Joe Salud and his coworkers attempt to create a Call of Duty experience that is more than just an over-the-top war plot and hours of shooting. Of course, as enticing as the visuals may be, the overall gameplay and progress also be need to top-notch.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare releases on November 4 for PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.