Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War hits this month, and many will be in it for the multiplayer action. We had a chat with Matt Scronce, multiplayer lead game designer at developers Treyarch.
What challenges do you face when melding real history with fiction?
I don’t know if there’s really any challenges for us, it’s really all about opportunity. Of course, there are so many stories and historical moments dealing with the Cold War that we just really draw inspiration from those, which you can see, for example, in our level design. It’s drawing off those real-world moments, and digging into those, and figuring out how to weave them into our design. With maps, like Crossroads, where it’s on the border of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, you’re fighting across the frozen tundra over these Soviet bunkers, so even just that as a level design concept is super-inspiring. Then, for somebody like me, a game designer, to be able to go in and say, ‘OK, what game modes do we want to play in this?’
What inspired the multiplayer maps this time around?
One of the maps, Cartel, is CIA versus a drug cartel headed up by Menendez. If you’re familiar with the Black Ops series, you’ll recognise that name. But it’s all about going in and moving through this drug cartel’s hideout – you’re moving through the coca bushes. So that’s the inspiration, it’s really that Cold War ’80s vibe. One of the things that really resonated with us and was a touchstone was that it’s a vintage look through a modern lens. That was said a lot through the office and that theme ran through our entire game, specifically multiplayer, obviously in campaign.
Can you please tell us more about any cool new weaponry that we get to play with?
You’ve got new tech that just isn’t seen in the field very often. Like the field mic, which is one of my favourite pieces of new content. You can plant it down and it projects a radius. If enemy players are moving through that radius, they’re going to get pinged on your mini-map.
What extra things should players expect from the next generation PS5 and Xbox Series X versions?
We’ll be supporting 120 Hertz on next gen consoles, so that’s exciting. The hardware ray-tracing we’ll make full use of. On the PS5, I’ve been working with our engineers on the new DualSense controller, trying to dial in the haptic feedback – that’s going to be really exciting. Then, of course, there’s been a ton of work done on the solid-state drives. They’re something that we, as a studio, are very excited about, because they give players those instant load times where possible. All of that stuff is really going to let us show Black Ops Cold War in the best light possible.
What do you most wish for players to gain from the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War experience?
As a multiplayer lead game designer, it’s all about the fun when it comes down to it. We say that a lot around the studio, ‘Find the fun’. If what you’re working on isn’t fun, then the rest of it doesn’t matter.
WIRED FOR SOUND
3D audio is going to immerse us in the world of Call of Duty combat like never before. Treyarch have employed tech known as Project Triton, which allows them to bake sound occlusion into the map. So, if you’re moving through a room, this system knows precisely where everything is and creates the sounds that players hear accordingly.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War launches on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One on November 13.