War Ma­chines

Con­flict is a busi­ness and the in­fantry is mech­a­nised in Call Of Duty: Ad­vanced War­fare


Con­flict is a busi­ness and the in­fantry is mech­a­nised in Call Of Duty: Ad­vanced War­fare

s ince the met­ric sys­tem’s in­tro­duc­tion in 1799, ev­ery in­dus­tri­alised na­tion in the world bar one has adopted it as its of­fi­cial – if not al­ways uni­ver­sally im­ple­mented – sys­tem of mea­sure­ment. The United States is the out­lier, so im­pla­ca­bly re­sis­tant to change that even the glow­ing dis­plays of the hov­er­bikes in Call Of Duty:

Ad­vanced War­fare’s 2054 mea­sure speed in miles, not kilo­me­tres, per hour. Some things never change, af­ter all. You can give this se­ries a new de­vel­oper, a new con­sole gen­er­a­tion and a rock­et­pro­pelled jump that can launch you over a build­ing, but in al­most ev­ery way that shows on an E3 stage, Ad­vanced War­fare is still Call Of Duty, im­pla­ca­bly re­sis­tant to change. “It’s a con­stant push and pull,” Brett Rob­bins, cre­ative di­rec­tor at Sledge­ham­mer Games, says. “You don’t want to break what you think is suc­cess­ful, but you have to deliver some­thing new. It’s a bat­tle. And it’s a huge cre­ative chal­lenge, es­pe­cially this many en­tries in. The fran­chise is about great cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ences, and we don’t want to lose that.”

It’s been called The COD Prob­lem: the need to in­no­vate, but in in­cre­ments small enough not to alien­ate the largest and most de­pend­able fan­base in games. Ev­ery year, mil­lions turn out to play a new Call Of Duty, and while the se­ries has changed be­yond recog­ni­tion since its WWII ori­gins, the things that make Call Of Duty what it is now are prac­ti­cally set in stone. Ev­ery year brings a new tune, but the beat is the same.

“I think call­ing it a check­list is too pre­scrip­tive,” Sledge­ham­mer stu­dio head and

“You don’t want to break what you think is suc­cess­ful, but you have to deliver some­thing new”

co-founder Michael Con­drey says. “There are clearly some val­ues that this fran­chise has been built on: the hero’s jour­ney, 60fps, high pro­duc­tion val­ues, amaz­ing mul­ti­player, plau­si­bil­ity… But I be­lieve that in­no­va­tions can hap­pen. In­no­va­tions in the player move­ment set are re­ally ex­cit­ing and trans­for­ma­tional to how we build lev­els. The abil­ity to go ver­ti­cal, to jump mul­ti­ple storeys, to ap­proach a bat­tle­field from above rather than from head on… In sin­gle­player, you can see that change; now imag­ine what that brings to mul­ti­player.”

t he change Con­drey de­scribes is clear, even within the bound­aries im­posed by COD’s val­ues. Ad­vanced War­fare’s cam­paign plays out over a pe­riod of eight years, be­gin­ning in 2054 when US Ma­rine Corps Pri­vate Mitchell is in­jured on duty. Ren­dered un­able to fight in a con­ven­tional way, he signs on with pri­vate mil­i­tary com­pany At­las and is car­ried into bat­tle by the EXO ex­oskele­ton sys­tem, which in­creases his speed, strength and his moveset for nav­i­gat­ing a bat­tle­field.

“It made a lot of sense,” Sledge­ham­mer CEO and co-founder Glen Schofield says. “The mil­i­tary is ex­per­i­ment­ing with pow­ered ex­oskele­tons right now. Guys can carry 400lbs on their back. For us, it brings some ma­jor new me­chan­ics and va­ri­ety [to] the lev­els. We have a boost jump, a new type of cloak­ing, a grap­ple zip-line, mag­netic gloves, and you’ll even be able to hover in some places. The heart and soul of the game, and the ad­vanced sol­dier, is the ex­oskele­ton.” In the first of Ad­vanced War­fare’s demo mis­sions, a car chase across the Golden Gate Bridge ter­mi­nates in a crash and a sus­tained shootout as At­las forces ad­vance on ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tives. Ru­ined ve­hi­cles lit­ter the bridge, form­ing an as­sault course for Mitchell and the tier-one At­las forces to nav­i­gate by rocket-jump­ing over flipped buses and boost­ing into cover. When the ter­ror­ists de­ploy drones, Mitchell tears a door from a car as a shield. When en­emy forces be­come overwhelming, Over­drive ef­fec­tively slows time as Mitchell’s re­ac­tion times are boosted to Max Payne lev­els.

The fight ends with the cap­ture of an en­emy van mo­ments too late. Con­trolled re­motely, it opens and de­ploys ex­plo­sive drones, which sever the bridge’s sus­pen­sion ca­bles, caus­ing it to col­lapse upon the US air­craft car­rier sail­ing be­neath. It’s al­most the per­fect COD mo­ment – as spec­tac­u­lar as it is ab­surd – but this, says Schofield, is the kind of sce­nario the team has spent three years re­search­ing along­side a team of ex­perts.

“I started think­ing about Fleet Week – this week-long thing where they have 50 to 70 ships in the har­bour,” Schofield says. “I talked to a mil­i­tary ad­viser, who said, ‘That would be the per­fect place [for an at­tack] if you could ac­tu­ally take the bridge.’ So one of our other guys works for the govern­ment try­ing to find vul­ner­a­ble places in nu­clear plants, and he was able to get us in touch with a struc­tural en­gi­neer. At first, we were think­ing, ‘Well, we’ll take the tow­ers out.’ They said, ‘Yeah, good luck. Those things are

“We have a boost jump, a new type of cloak­ing, a grap­ple zip-line, you’ll even be able to hover”

solid.’ They said that if you cut the big ca­bles, [then] that was the way to take it down.”

The fic­tion’s plau­si­bil­ity is cru­cial. Yes, some­thing like the EXO suit has al­ready had a star­ring role at­tached to Matt Damon’s body in Ely­sium, but Ad­vanced War­fare has no space city or cancer cures. Even 40 years from now, it has to feel like a par­tic­u­lar kind of re­al­ity – ex­ag­ger­ated and height­ened, but con­tex­tu­ally ap­pro­pri­ate.

“With three years of re­search, we’ve gone deeper than we’ve ever had the lux­ury [to] be­fore,” Con­drey says. “We’ve had more mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers, more his­to­ri­ans, more fu­tur­ists, and they keep send­ing us ma­te­rial and news sto­ries all the time. Ja­pan is work­ing on a space el­e­va­tor right now. There’s a team in Rus­sia build­ing a plan

to mine the moon. You tell that to fans or non-fans and they say, ‘Is that sci­ence fic­tion?’ But that could be three years from now. It’s all closer than we think.”

There are no sud­den cat­a­clysms or tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances over the next 40 years in Ad­vanced War­fare’s time­line. In­stead, tech­nol­ogy has moved on at a steady pace: bat­ter­ies have greater ca­pac­ity, power is largely pro­vided by fis­sion and fu­sion, and an AK-47 kills people as ef­fec­tively in 2054 as it did in 1949. The ba­sic busi­ness of putting an ex­plo­sion be­hind a piece of metal and pro­pel­ling it into a tar­get has changed lit­tle, but the means of iden­ti­fy­ing tar­gets has. Sonar re­places night vi­sion on the EXO suit, and smart sights iden­tify threats and high­light them on your HUD. Ve­hi­cles will change, too. Ad­vanced War­fare has hov­er­ing bikes and tanks, mo­bile bar­ri­cade sys­tems, one-man ar­moured tanks and six-legged walk­ing ar­mour, which Schofield con­ceived and Con­drey mocked un­til the pair vis­ited NASA, where a sim­i­lar de­sign has been pro­to­typed to mine as­ter­oids. “I gave him so much crap over it,” Con­drey says. “It felt too sci­ence fic­tion to me. Yet ev­ery day we find out this stuff is real.”

EMP, hom­ing and scan­ner grenades are new weapons in your ar­se­nal, dis­abling en­emy EXO func­tions, chas­ing en­e­mies down or paint­ing tar­gets in aug­mented re­al­ity, re­spec­tively. Di­rected en­ergy weapons are again ripped from tech­nol­ogy to­day. Lasers and rail­guns mounted on bat­tle­ships are minia­turised and placed in soldiers’ hands, used to melt drone ar­mour or pro­pel a sniper bul­let at seven times the speed of sound.

It’s the air­craft car­rier’s in­dus­trial-sized rail­guns that KVA forces are look­ing to seize af­ter col­laps­ing the Golden Gate Bridge and im­mo­bil­is­ing the ship. Fol­low­ing the west’s legacy of greed and ex­ploita­tion of smaller Mid­dle East­ern and African na­tions, soldiers from East­ern Europe and across the ex­ploited re­gions form an anti-west fac­tion to de­fend those na­tions’ in­ter­ests. The KVA’s zealots go quickly off the rails, how­ever, pur­su­ing their ob­jec­tives through at­tacks on civil­ians, mak­ing them the pri­mary an­tag­o­nists.

At Fleet Week, an en­tire car­rier group is the KVA’s tar­get. In the sec­ond of Ad­vanced War­fare’s demo mis­sions, the fight continues as At­las forces climb down the ru­ins of the bridge and bat­tle on the car­rier’s deck, where the ship’s ar­se­nal is be­ing di­rected at the fleet. It’s an open map with mul­ti­ple en­emy-con­trolled rail­guns to jam, mak­ing for a largescale twist on Call Of Duty’s clas­sic de­stroy-the-AA-guns tem­plate. Much of the deck has been smashed by fall­ing stone and steel, but it’s still full of el­e­vated land­ing pads and tow­er­ing van­tage points that can be nav­i­gated with the EXO boost jump, let­ting you take on

the guns how you please. There are more mis­sions, or parts of mis­sions, like this: com­bat ‘bowls’ into which en­e­mies pour while play­ers im­pro­vise their path through.

“We’ll give you op­tions,” Schofield says. “[In a mis­sion from the trailer], you can run and gun your way down the street, or you can jump in a one-man tank, or use a mo­bile bar­ri­cade. We al­low you to do mul­ti­ple things [with your EXO suit] in a level, and you have to al­low the player the free­dom to do those things. I re­mem­ber a game by Rare, Jet Force Gem­ini, and just the amount of work it must have taken to make those lev­els playable with three char­ac­ters. That’s the way you have to think about some of these lev­els if you’re go­ing to have mul­ti­ple me­chan­ics and give play­ers choice.”

“If we’re go­ing to have a level that’s very lin­ear and cin­e­matic and fast-paced, I want to bal­ance it out with a level that has a lot of open­ness, ex­plo­ration and player choice,” Rob­bins says. “In the cam­paign, we bounce back and forth so you’re get­ting dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences. There are some that are still fairly tra­di­tional and there are some that are pretty dif­fer­ent in the way they’re struc­tured, [but] you’re al­ways go­ing to be on our script, and you’re go­ing to be hear­ing our story, which is – if we do our job right – go­ing to be a great story, and we want you to hear it.”

Play­ing to a script is COD’s way, of course. “Let’s say you’re talk­ing to Kevin Spacey,” says Schofield. “We don’t want you bounc­ing around the world while turn­ing in­vis­i­ble.” But here that script has more room for im­pro­vi­sa­tion. An Ad­vanced War­fare level could be torn straight from the se­ries’ level de­sign hand­book, but the EXO suit changes the tac­tics. As At­las forces as­sault the deck, say, they take to the high ground to get a clear

“It felt too sci­ence fic­tion to me. Yet ev­ery day we find out that this stuff is real”

an­gle on the bat­tle­field be­fore drop­ping into the ship’s lower lev­els and us­ing marker grenades to tag en­e­mies in cover.

Fight­ing deeper into the ship, the mis­sion turns lin­ear when the At­las op­er­a­tives take over the bridge and turn the rail­guns against the cargo ships the KVA have used to stage their as­sault. “Talk­ing with our mil­i­tary fu­tur­ists, right now we’re very con­cerned by weapons be­ing built that will fit in­side cargo con­tain­ers,” Schofield says. “Ev­ery­thing from how the bridge goes down to us­ing cargo ships as a weapon is all based on stuff that we’ve re­searched. I know it’s kind of a weird genre, but I like to think of it as a be­liev­able near-fu­ture story, and not re­ally, say, sci-fi.”

t he orig­i­nal Sledge­ham­mer man­date was to cre­ate a story-driven COD – some­thing like Dead Space – and while that project was can­celled in favour of what be­came Mod­ern War­fare 3, the no­tion has sur­vived to in­form Ad­vanced War­fare. “The cre­ative team here de­con­structed Call Of Duty cutscenes to fig­ure out how we make this an op­por­tu­nity to tell a bet­ter story,” Rob­bins says. “They came back and said, ‘Look, cutscenes in Call Of Duty [have] been largely mis­sion ob­jec­tives over pretty graph­ics.’ “

“Go­ing deeper than that,” Schofield says, “let’s say a load­ing cin­e­matic was a minute long… [then] we would find that 45 sec­onds of it would be try­ing to tell you the ob­jec­tive, and then 15 sec­onds at the end was the story. Af­ter 30 sec­onds, play­ers can skip it, so they were ac­tu­ally miss­ing the story beats. They would come back and say, ‘Your story sucked.’ We’re not blam­ing them; we’re say­ing we have to find a way to keep them en­gaged and [to] want to watch the rest of the movie.”

That bur­den rests on Kevin Spacey,

The Last Of Us and Bioshock In­fi­nite voice ac­tor Troy Baker, and the next gen­er­a­tion of per­for­mance cap­ture. Schofield agrees cutscenes were out of style for a long time, but Sledge­ham­mer looks to the likes of The Last Of Us as ev­i­dence that it’s pos­si­ble to draw play­ers in with an in­volv­ing story and an old-fash­ioned cin­e­matic. “The kind of act­ing [we can cap­ture] nowa­days, even in scenes he’s not in, Kevin has el­e­vated our other ac­tors,” Schofield says. “And ev­ery­body wants to see great ac­tors act.”

Spacey’s Jonathan Irons founded At­las to help in war-torn African na­tions, but his power has bred am­bi­tions for con­quest. The KVA also started out as a multi­na­tional force that op­posed ag­gres­sion, only turn­ing to ex­tremes as its en­e­mies grew stronger. There’s a moral am­bi­gu­ity to the game’s char­ac­ters and fac­tions, which feels new for what’s of­ten seen as a brain­less se­ries. “I just think there’s such an op­por­tu­nity to grow these char­ac­ters in a way that you haven’t seen in this fran­chise be­fore,” Rob­bins says. “And there was re­ally no rea­son not to. Just be­cause it’s a mil­i­tary shooter doesn’t mean you can’t have these phenom­e­nal, mem­o­rable char­ac­ters.”

Play­ers will spend eight years in the boots of one sol­dier (“I’ll ad­mit I’ve had a hard time bounc­ing be­tween five dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters across seven mis­sions,” Con­drey says), fight­ing along­side a multi­na­tional At­las force. Bri­tish op­er­a­tor Gideon, played by

“Just be­cause it’s a mil­i­tary shooter doesn’t mean you can’t have these phenom­e­nal char­ac­ters”

long­time videogame and TV ac­tor Gideon Emery, fights at Mitchell’s side through­out the San Fran­cisco mis­sions and is the star of a lengthy walk-and-talk in the open­ing of a later Detroit mis­sion.

Hav­ing been evac­u­ated due to a bi­o­log­i­cal at­tack, Detroit’s cit­i­zens now live in an At­las-guarded camp at the out­skirts of the city, which Mitchell and Gideon pass through on their way into the pow­er­less and pitch-

black cen­tre. The glare of flood­lights gives way to to­tal dark­ness, and pow­er­ing it all is a new en­gine de­vel­oped in-house at Sledge­ham­mer, al­though what the stu­dio means by ‘new’ in this con­text isn’t what the In­ter­net means when it com­plains about the old COD en­gine. There are, says Con­drey, lines of the old en­gine’s code still in Ad­vanced War­fare, just as there are in most stu­dios’ en­gines en­ter­ing a new gen­er­a­tion, but enough has been built from scratch to make it al­most un­recog­nis­able. “We have new ren­der­ing, an­i­ma­tion, physics and au­dio sys­tems. This is Sledge­ham­mer’s new COD en­gine,” Con­drey says. “The new tech that is driv­ing our light­ing and ren­der­ing en­gine couldn’t have hap­pened on last-gen­er­a­tion [ma­chines]. This is only pos­si­ble now.”

Sledge­ham­mer set its sights on noth­ing short of pho­to­re­al­ism for Ad­vanced War­fare, and has man­aged to achieve it in many of its un­pro­cessed in-en­gine shots. “We can take some of our shots of lev­els and they look

“There are places – not every­where – where we’re not go­ing too crazy and it’s like, ‘Is that a photo?’”

real,” Schofield says. “There are places – not every­where – where we’re not go­ing too crazy and it’s like, ‘Is that a photo or not?’

“The big dif­fer­ence,” he ex­plains, “is that now we have ma­te­rial artists. Their job is to make the ma­te­ri­als real. Now we have real chrome, not a painted sil­ver tex­ture that kind of looks like chrome; this is chrome, with all the prop­er­ties of chrome. We have rub­ber, stone, as­phalt. Now ev­ery tex­ture has to have a ma­te­rial, so that when we light it, it be­haves like it’s real.”

Art de­sign in a phys­i­cally ren­dered world is no longer about adorn­ing maps with painted ap­prox­i­ma­tions of real ma­te­ri­als. In Ad­vanced War­fare, the sur­faces are cre­ated more with maths than they are with artis­tic sen­si­bil­ity. As the stu­dio moved over to the new sys­tem, many of the team’s tex­ture painters strug­gled to ad­just. “Last-gen­er­a­tion [artists] would paint a tex­ture, look at it and say, ‘That looks like the right colour; that looks like dirt; that looks like con­crete,’” art di­rec­tor Joe Salud says. “But now we use this thing – it looks like a sta­pler – that mea­sures ex­actly the spec­u­lar re­sponses [of a sur­face], then we mea­sure the base colour so we can get these re­sults that are more sci­en­tific. Then we de­vel­oped our en­gine to take all that in­for­ma­tion and out­put it. But artists [like to] paint, and there was a point where the most se­nior artists were hav­ing the hard­est time adapt­ing, be­cause they had been do­ing it that way for ten years. Ev­ery­thing had to change, from the code to the pipe­line to the process to the artists. It took a long time, and lit­er­ally it was al­most like a re­volt [for a while].”

The artistry comes in with post­pro­cess­ing, light­ing and some­thing not too far from Hol­ly­wood set de­sign. In Detroit, the At­las team pro­ceeds on hov­er­bikes into the empty, un­lit city, where only a lowhang­ing moon il­lu­mi­nates the city’s in­dus­trial ru­ins, with all of it framed to present the per­fect postapoc­a­lyp­tic vista. As the soldiers hunt for a KVA cell, they ven­ture into the city’s man­u­fac­tur­ing heart­land and the game turns into one that’s part stealth and part sur­vival hor­ror as KVA forces hunt Mitchell through the gut­ted struc­tures. The mis­sion ends with a scripted chase through the city as the KVA drive the At­las troops back to the camp, where forces wear­ing the heavy­weight ver­sion of the EXO suit re­turn fire on the KVA with dual-wielded LMGs.

A three-year de­vel­op­ment cy­cle and a fo­cus on PlayS­ta­tion 4 and Xbox One has given Sledge­ham­mer time for minia­ture rev­o­lu­tions, both in game­play and among its art team. For the first time since Call Of Duty 2, the game is built with new hard­ware in mind – an­other Ac­tivi­sion stu­dio is pro­duc­ing a 360 and PS3 port. For the first time since Call Of Duty 2, then, the shack­les are off, re­defin­ing even the most ex­treme and bom­bas­tic Call Of Duty set-pieces.

“I re­mem­ber say­ing, ‘Do you think we could blow up the Golden Gate bridge?’” Schofield re­calls. “On [prior-gen hard­ware] we’d have thought, ‘Yeah, prob­a­bly. Well, the air­craft car­rier would have to be fogged out, and we prob­a­bly couldn’t do it in day­light.’ De­vel­op­ing [for PS4 and Xbox One] pretty much said to us [that] we can do any­thing we want. There were just no con­straints – that was so big.”

“That was lib­er­at­ing,” Con­drey says. “The op­por­tu­nity for each dis­ci­pline to build these new en­gines for au­dio, physics, light­ing, ren­der­ing… It’s al­lowed us to take chances, take risks and in­vest in R&D that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we had been strained by wor­ry­ing about the [prior-gen] ver­sion. We had to get the team to em­brace the fact that they didn’t have to say, ‘We can’t do this on last-gen­er­a­tion [con­soles].’ In fact, when­ever that was the an­swer, we im­me­di­ately said, ‘No, fo­cus on the po­ten­tial of the next gen.’ That al­lowed us to do things on big­ger scales, with larger lev­els and higher de­grees of res­o­lu­tion and den­sity. It’s awe­some.”

“We knew the fidelity was go­ing to be a lot higher,” Rob­bins says. “We knew we could do big­ger scenes, show big­ger ar­eas, have more com­bat­ants… The ob­vi­ous stuff I think we de­liv­ered on. But be­yond that, we

Sledge­ham­mer is push­ing at Call Of Duty’s un­writ­ten laws in new ways, but some things just can’t change

still have to make a great shooter. And it has to be a great Call Of Duty.”

It’s that fi­nal point where some play­ers will sign out, but where oth­ers will be thrilled. Sledge­ham­mer is push­ing at Call Of Duty’s un­writ­ten laws in new ways, but some things just can’t change. The bikes hover and the tanks walk at speeds mea­sured in miles per hour, trav­el­ling down roads de­signed to lead play­ers through the kind of thrill ride Call Of Duty has owned for the best part of a decade. It’s a ride many have taken ten times al­ready, even be­fore ex­plor­ing the ex­pan­sions and DLC, but for 40 mil­lion play­ers it’s a ride worth tak­ing again. “I think there’s some­thing as a Call Of Duty fan that I’ve felt for a decade, and it’s a love for a re­ally well-crafted Call Of Duty ex­pe­ri­ence,” Con­drey says. “I think the next-gen [con­soles] al­low us to deliver that ex­pe­ri­ence to a higher fidelity in a more in­ter­ac­tive and in­no­va­tive way. As a fan, I ab­so­lutely think that’s some­thing play­ers want. I think you have to bal­ance that with in­no­vat­ing in a way that people think is new and in­ter­est­ing that they haven’t seen be­fore, but, to me, when I think of the great lev­els in Call Of Duty that stand out, a next gen­er­a­tion ex­e­cu­tion on a feel­ing like that… I want that as a player.”

Kevin Spacey stars as At­las CEO Jonathan Irons. The ac­tor’s scenes are be­ing filmed with him in a cap­ture suit and Spacey ap­pears in-game with his per­for­mance recre­ated at an un­prece­dented level of fidelity for videogames

FROM TOP Cre­ative di­rec­tor Brett Rob­bins; Michael Con­drey, Sledge­ham­mer’s head and co-founder

ABOVE Sledge­ham­mer in­sisted that the Ad­vanced

War­fare screen you see here was grabbed in a doc­u­men­tary style, a far cry from the con­spic­u­ously doc­tored, ex­plo­sion-filled shots of pre­vi­ous re­veals.

RIGHT The game’s co-star, Bri­tish spe­cial forces op­er­a­tive Gideon, func­tions as some­thing of a guide, ex­plain­ing the com­plex pol­i­tics and his­tory of 2054. He also swears a lot

Glen Schofield, co-founder of Sledge­ham­mer and the stu­dio’s chief ex­ec­u­tive

Ad­vancedWar­fare gives you most of the abil­i­ties of a Cr­y­sis Nanosuit – speed, strength, cloak – but with none of the en­hanced ar­mour. Vet­eran dif­fi­culty will still be a meat grinder

Ad­vanced War­fare’s cos­tume work op­er­ates at a level of de­tail that we sus­pect few will no­tice. Still, when pho­to­re­al­ism is the bench­mark, ev­ery part of ev­ery ob­ject needs to stand up to in­tense scru­tiny

Stealth and flank­ing works when there’s room for it. A fourth mis­sion, shown to us con­fi­den­tially, demon­strates the full suite of the EXO’s stealth ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the power of the new en­gine to pull vis­ual tricks on play­ers ex­pect­ing the du­bi­ous back­drops and sky­boxes that propped up a gen­er­a­tion of shoot­ers

The hov­er­bikes are an­other piece of fu­tur­is­tic mil­i­tary hard­ware bear­ing the same ‘miltech’ look that art di­rec­tor Joe Salud finds so com­pelling. With hard an­gles and oblique sur­faces, it’s a look that’s wholly func­tional but lacks con­ven­tional el­e­gance

ABOVE Chaos hits the streets of La­gos. Ad­vanced

War­fare’s sprawl­ing multi­na­tional story takes play­ers on a tour of the few lo­ca­tions Call Of Duty has yet to blow up.

RIGHT The heavy­weight ver­sion of the EXO suit turns a man into a slow but pow­er­ful walk­ing tank. It’s used to guard out­posts, not fight in front­line com­bat

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