It might sound less artis­tic than paint­ing a world, but shoot­ing for re­al­ity isn’t bor­ing for Ad­vanced War­fare’s cre­ative team. “I get re­ally ex­cited about hit­ting re­al­ity, be­cause it’s like, ‘Oh my God we’re do­ing it,’” art di­rec­tor Joe Salud says.

Call Of Duty’s switch to phys­i­cally based ren­der­ing places it along­side Ryse and Star

Cit­i­zen in em­brac­ing a new kind of art that some be­lieve is the fu­ture stan­dard of triple-A game vi­su­als.

“[In our game], that’s the phys­i­cal ma­te­rial, that’s the ac­tual sur­face,” he says. “Our shaders, our base tex­tures: they all had to be phys­i­cally based. Our light­ing had to be phys­i­cal, and then we had to bring in [high dy­namic range]. And since we’ve cap­tured ev­ery­thing in HDR, we can ramp the ex­po­sure up and down, and it be­haves just like a cam­era would in the movies.

“Re­al­ity is your base­line here, but that doesn’t mean re­al­ity is what you’re putting on­screen. You can still be stylised with it and you can still present a height­ened re­al­ity. When you’re dis­tanced from some­thing, whether it’s a con­troller or movie theatre, you need more im­pact. Re­al­ity alone isn’t enough. You need to en­hance the world, make it jump off the screen some­where. The other part that gives me [a sense of] ex­pres­sion is our de­sign – de­sign­ing the char­ac­ters, the weapons, the ve­hi­cles. That’s our thing, and I feel our team is re­ally good at that.”

De­vel­op­ing fu­ture tech­nolo­gies and talk­ing with spe­cial forces led Salud’s team to in­vent so­lu­tions to real-world prob­lems, such as the ‘3D Printer Gun’, which is de­signed to man­u­fac­ture am­mu­ni­tion on the fly from light­weight can­is­ters of liq­uid metal. But the bulk of artis­tic de­vel­op­ment time and ef­fort was in­vested in the game’s sig­na­ture EXO suits.

“We had hun­dreds and hun­dreds of it­er­a­tions,” Salud says. “We think about how it ar­tic­u­lates, moves and func­tions. It took like a year just to de­sign it, be­cause ev­ery­body is a critic [and we needed dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions]. When it first starts out, it’s go­ing to be bulkier. It has a whole fic­tional his­tory [at­tached].

“The art is not nec­es­sar­ily on the gran­u­lar­ity of the ac­tual ma­te­rial, but in the de­sign of what we’re ac­tu­ally mak­ing. We’ve be­come like guys who de­sign chairs… We’re not mak­ing the leather any more, but we’re still de­sign­ing ev­ery­thing about the chair. That’s ac­tu­ally where the real art is.”

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