While the founders of Infinity Ward are preparing to go to war with their former masters Activision Blizzard in court this week, the studio as it is today is busy building the future of its cash cow, Call of Duty. The series has, over the past five years, split into two potent franchises. Call of Duty: Black Ops II will establish studio Treyarch’s series right alongside Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as a second pillar in Activision’s yearly release schedule. Black Ops may be more than just a solid earner for Activision in the coming years though—It may be the game that maintains Call of Duty’s presence on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as the transition to new consoles begin. Infinity Ward won’t be working on those platforms as it’ll be too busy preparing what is likely Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 for Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 using Epic’s Unreal Engine 4.
The Official Xbox Magazine of the U.K. reported on Tuesday that Activision posted positions on its careers partner website seeking to fill multiple positions at Infinity Ward to work on a next generation title. These jobs include a Senior Technical Animator to will work “with 3rd party software for viewing and effecting Maya animations in the game engine (i.e. Unreal),” as well as a Technical Visual Effects Artist that will “focus on large complex destruction sequence simulations” with additional focus on animating “wildlife,” “destructibles,” and “animated environment elements like blowing cloth [and] foliage.”
There are also postings calling for a Senior Gameplay Engineer with expertise in shooters and a Senior Network Engineer that will “design and implement high level network code for an exciting unannounced title for next generation console systems.”
In short, the next Call of Duty from Infinity Ward will have highly detailed environments and huge explosions. Surprise!
What is surprising is that these effects will be rendered using the next-generation technology from Epic. The Infinity Ward Engine, used as a base to build every Call of Duty game since Call of Duty 2 in 2005, is based on id Tech 3, a modified version of the engine used to build the now 13-year-old Quake III. Shifting to Unreal Engine 4 as even just the base technology for a modified, proprietary engine is a huge move for Activision and Infinity Ward, one that demonstrates that the minds behind the Call of Duty industry now believe it’s time to invest heavily in a technological shift.