Video game publisher Activision has reinforcements to bolster its prized Call of Duty franchise.
For years, Activision-owned studios Infinity Ward and Treyarch have taken turns developing annual installments of the billion-dollar series. The next release, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, due Nov. 4 for PlayStation and Xbox One, is being developed by another of the publisher’s studios, Sledgehammer Games.
By beefing up its creative cadre, Activision gives each of the three development studios an additional year to make ever-more-expansive games. Each of the past five releases in the Call of Duty series has topped $1 billion in sales.
That success helps publisher Activision Blizzard maintain its status as the No. 1 publisher in the U.S. “We wanted to ensure that one of the most valuable franchises in all of entertainment has the very best graphics, most engaging story, great new play mechanics and is incredibly fun to play,” said CEO Bobby Kotick during a conference call earlier this month after the company’s first quarter earnings were released.
The developers at Sledgehammer Games are looking toward the future, too. Recent Call of Duty games have been set a few years in the future, but Advanced Warfare transports players four decades ahead — to 2054 — and a time where you will believe a soldier can fly.
Or at least propel themselves high into the air, thanks to an exoskeleton that’s a cousin to the energy thruster-propelled suits in the Iron Man movies. “The exo gives you the ability to boost-jump, it gives you speed and verticality that Call of Duty has never had,” says Michael Condrey, co-founder of Sledgehammer Games, which co-developed 2011’s Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward.
Beyond limited flight, the exoskeleton has other powers including increased strength and Predator-like cloaking. “We clearly came out of Modern Warfare 3 with a strong desire to innovate for the fans,” Condrey says. The exoskeleton and everything it allows you to do “is a game changer.”
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