Both Impurest Cheese, and by extension Infinity Ward, have promised that Call of Duty: From the Cold’s Campaign will continue the high calibre and realistic action seen in previous titles. From the trailer we already know that there will be tank driving levels, a large scale nautical battle as well as the AN-30 set piece siege. Recent information suggests that AC-130 action, sniper duels, stealthy infiltrations and perhaps one of the intense vehicle chases to feature in COD will also feature. In addition while most of the action takes place in the locations mentioned in the trailer, Infinity Ward has confirmed that there will be other locations in the game. While it would be easy to focus on these features there are three major changes to the game engine that will enhance gameplay and create new challenges for the player to overcome.
1. AI Collaboration
While there was a sense of enemies working together in Modern Warfare 2 and Endgame this feature has been enhanced in Call of Duty: From the Cold. Now both the enemy and allied AI work together with other NPCs, and the Player in the case of allies, in an effort to maximize their effectiveness. An example that was show to us was one of the South Africa Missions where we were tasked with clearing out an AA emplacement crawling with Angolan and Cuban Tropas. As we began the assault some of the Tropas armed with AK-47s fired coloured smoke on our position and within seconds Mortars behind the AA Guns had began to saturate our position. After a quick death we tried to creep up on the ridge but once again we were spotted and the Tropas directed the Mortars in again. This time we escaped the bombardment and reached the ridge only to find the Angolan Gunners on the ZPU using the weapon to repel our attack. After a tense battle with the ZPU we destroyed the weapon and believed we had completed the objective only to receive a sniper rifle round through the head. The sniper in question had received a cue from the Cuban Leader on the ridge to move out before we even got up the hill and had been waiting until we had cleared the area to maximize the chances of getting a head-shot while we assessed the damage we had caused. When we asked Infinity Ward if the actions were scripted they told us that Infantry will always collaborate with what they termed ‘support fire’ such as snipers or artillery to punish the player’s mistakes and promote new tactics.
2. Smart Weapon Choice
Before Call of Duty: From the Cold, enemies were scripted to appear with a set load-out which was vaguely related to the gameplay expected in the level. The new engine, when it spawns enemies takes three things into account. Firstly the engine decides which weapon class will be most effective in the area where the fighting is most likely to occur. For example in close combat an SMG or Shotgun may be chosen yet in an open long range fight it will choose on Assault Rifle with an ACOG scope or a Light Machine Gun. The second thing the engine looks at is what weaponry the player or their allies are carrying. If the player is moving through a tight corridor with a shotgun the game engine will spawn an SMG wielding bad guy to challenge the player. Similarly if the player is crawling along behind a Riot Shield the engine will instruct some of the enemies it spawns to carry a grenade launcher to get past the defences. The third and final thing the engine takes into account is what set piece events, support units and allies it will have to maximize their effectiveness. The example above about the smoke grenade launcher and the Mortars shows the effectiveness of this tactic.
3. Dynamic Weather and Environment Factor
Weather and Environment changes are scripted in previous Call of Duty games the engine in From the Cold will randomly rotate weather patterns set to the level to change tactics of both the player and the AI. In the same South African mission we were given heavy rain, strong sunlight and a dense fog in different play-through. The first time we played the level we started under an overcast sky which mid-way through the gameplay started raining hard. As we pushed on visibility dropped and we constantly ran into surprised enemies who hadn’t seen or heard our approach due to the rain. Later we reached an Angolan camp only to find the troops already undercover sheltering from the rain. In our next play-through it was sunny and visibility was not a problem which allowed the enemy snipers to have a field day easily picking off our team and in addition our sprint time was reduced due to possible heat exhaustion. Our final playthrough supported a thick fog which hid the enemies better then the rain resulting in both our team and the enemy running into each other. Upon reaching the infamous ridge we discovered that the accuracy of the mortars was reduced since the signal smoke was less visible. Infinity Ward later stated that each level has its own weather types, and that while some levels have set weather conditions all the others will randomly select a condition from the list and run it through the entire mission yet a player retrying the level after completion may experience a different set of conditions.
Once again comments are welcome and feel free to suggest sensible changes to the game as it is still in the early stage of construction.