2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Runs on a New Engine and Includes Raytracing

2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Runs on a New Engine and Includes Raytracing

Here's some tech jargon on what new to expect from Call of Duty's latest for your Modern Warfare-stuffed morning.

Yes, there's a new Call of Duty out this year; and yes, it's a reimagining of Modern Warfare, arguably the most beloved of all the subseries in the franchise. Yes, it's being developed by Infinity Ward, with help from Raven Software and Beenox. But this year's Modern Warfare isn't just freshening up Call of Duty's lately-manic tone, it's also realigning the tech that powers it too.

During an extended presentation to the press premiering the first details on Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward and Activision revealed that a new engine is powering this year's shooter. The new engine, which will have more details revealed about it (including a name) at a later date, is being developed by a new Activision studio in Poland. It's an engine that delivers photo-realistic visuals, and allows for more in-depth visual engineering.

Lighting in Modern Warfare is aiming to be as realistic as possible, even in the dark. | Infinity Ward/Activision

In the presentation, developers across Infinity Ward gave live in-game examples running on PlayStation 4 of the sorts of imagery players will see. It includes advanced photogrammetry, a new hybrid tile based streaming system, persistent volumetric lighting, physically based rendering, and more. Modern Warfare will also support 4K HDR, and on PC, DirectX Raytracing as well.

Studio art director Joel Emslie noted in the presentation that the new technology behind Modern Warfare helps to power more vibrant environments. "We don't want to be the brown game anymore," Emslie said. Character models later shown included long and flowy gear with a lot of movement, such as a tactical poncho that looked like a cape. We also got a glimpse of a long cloth mask that, according to the team, was the sort of gear that was very difficult to get looking just right before the new engine.

Tier 1 Operators, for instance, have an infrared patch on the back of their uniforms. In broad daylight, it's not noticeable, but when you have your night vision goggles on, they reflect brightly. This is part of the new spectral rendering, which "delivers thermal heat radiation and infrared identification for both thermal and night-vision in-game imaging," according to a statement from Activision and Infinity Ward.

Audio is also getting an overhaul, with full Dolby ATMOS support. Guns for the game were recorded with 20 microphones. The sound you hear in Modern Warfare, as showcased in a live demo led by audio director Stephen Miller, is all contextual too. From standard echoing in a tunnel, to shooting at a car deep in the distance compared to close by, to whether you're looking down the sights or not: sound will always be changing depending on the situation and target.

It's a big step-up for Call of Duty on a technical level with this installment. We'll see if it sounds and looks as good as the tech notes lead us to believe when it's out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25, with full cross-play backing it. For more insight on Modern Warfare, check out our interview with studio narrative director Taylor Kurosaki, for in-depth details on revitalizing Captain Price for 2019, player choices, and more.

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Caty McCarthy

Senior Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's Senior Editor.

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