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Activision brings in new studio for 'Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare'

Today, more details emerge regarding “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” thanks in part to a feature published in this month’s Game Informer magazine. Last week, a trailer for the game was released, providing a first look into its premise and talent. Kevin Spacey, who is most recently recognized for his portrayal of Francis Underwood on “House of Cards,” lends his voice and likeness to “Advanced Warfare” as what would appear to be the game’s main antagonist Jonathan Irons, CEO of Atlas Corporation.

An Atlas Corp. soldier heads into battle wearing the futuristic EXO suit

The year is 2052, set in a near future beyond that of “Black Ops II.” A great deal of real world military research was done in order to ensure a believable story. Sledgehammer Games–a small game development studio created by two franchise veterans at Infinity Ward, and responsible for the “Dead Space” games–inspired by robotics ventures such as Google/Boston Dynamic’s “Big Dog,” met with Mitchell Hall of US Navy SEAL Team Six and producer/screenwriter Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”).

In this future, Atlas Corporation is a private military group with seemingly endless resources and free reign to “fix” devastated regions after conflict sets in. The group is so large, in fact, that it even has a seat on the United Nations Security Council, though it answers to no government. The player takes on the role of a member of that group, Private Mitchell. Sledgehammer consciously diverted focus on his background and limited his vocalization to cutscenes in order to allow the player to become the character as much as possible. Creative Director Bret Robbins says, “I can’t necessarily have players be a submarine pilot and also a jet pilot – it stretches the imagination to make Mitchell be able to do all those things. […] Now I get to tell a single soldier’s story throughout an entire campaign.” Previous entries under the “Call of Duty” namesake have placed the player in the boots of multiple protagonists.

Atlas soldiers are outfitted with a highly advanced piece of exoskeletal armor aptly known as an EXO suit, another concept derived from modern technology such as the Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX). The suit allows for some superhuman mobility and strength, anything from super jumping to climbing buildings to optic camouflage. Each mission awards points which may then be used to apply upgrades to the suit.

The inclusion of a third development studio is new for Activision, who typically has Infinity Ward and Tryarch put out alternate releases. The publisher is hoping that moving to a three-year release cycle allows for more trial and error in the development process by extending deadlines, and ultimately, more interesting games. “Advanced Warfare” will be the franchise’s first foray into the current generation of gaming consoles, but Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners will not be left out. Activision promises last-ten versions of the game, however, Sledgehammer will not be the studio developing these iterations. It has not yet been announced who will be.

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