The next Call of Duty game, Ghosts, will be the first to appear on an entirely new generation of hardware. Despite this, it's still built on an engine that's over ten years old, though the game's developers would like you to think otherwise.
Sure, the engine has been heavily modified since then - Modern Warfare 3 vs Quake III isn't even a contest - but as any Call of Duty fan can attest, there are places, especially when it comes to the geometry of levels, where the engine is kinda showing its age.
Infinity Ward’s animation lead Zach Volker tells OPM “When we’re talking about a new engine we’re talking about upgrading significant systems within in that engine. We’re not talking about throwing it all away and saying we’re starting from the ground up”.
The reason they're still using the same engine, as opposed to an all-new one, is about what you'd expect given the annual release cycle of the series. "[It's] impossible to develop a new engine from the ground up in a two year cycle”, he says.
“What we do is we say, ‘okay what are the things that are significant and that we would say that are encompassing of the engine or its visual quality?” he adds. “Are those being upgraded in a significant way? Alright, then I think that warrants that we’ve got a new engine on our hands”.
Well, no, you don't. A new engine is a new engine. As he explains, the decision to stick with the old one makes complete sense, especially when you consider that most copies of this year's game will still be sold on "old" hardware. Not sure why they need to stretch the label to make up for that.
Hopefully next year's game can make the break. Be nice to see what the series can do with some new horsepower under the hood.