Today's big Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer reveal event didn't reveal everything. They actually skipped some really interesting things, including "martyr dog." Thankfully, Ghosts executive producer Mark Rubin decided to spill more news when he spoke to us.
Here's what we got out of him...
- The game will ship with 14 multiplayer maps.
- There probably won't be cross-generation multiplayer—no PS4 people playing with PS3 people or Xbox One people in a deathmatch against Xbox 360 gamers. "That, currently from what I understand, is not allowed, so it's unlikely that that will happen," Rubin said. "And just from a developer standpoint, I'm not sure it's a good idea. The main reason why is because, graphically, they're different. It would be really bad if, graphically, on one machine, the higher-rez, higher-poly smoke is obscuring visibility but on a 360 its not and that would put an advantage in one court or another."
- It sounds like Ghosts' development team is on the fence about whether Black Ops II's shoutcaster mode will return, but Rubin said that Ghosts will include spectator modes that are ideal for watching competitive matches.
- Clan match-ups will be a bigger deal than before. " We do have a clan v. clan playlist," Rubin said. "It'll be basically on-the-fly qualifying championships. Your clan will go in and you'll play against a similarly-ranked clan, in terms of skill level, and, of course, we'll have leaderboards that will follow this. We'll see who is the top clan in the world. You have to play with your clan. "
- The big, new Squads mode lets you gain XP even when you're not playing. That's one benefit to setting it up, but there's really a lot more to it than that. Squads lets players compete one-on-one or play either solo or in co-op against computer-controlled enemies. If you're playing this mode against someone, then you're going into battle alongside five computer-controlled allies. Your player-character and those of your five allies are all pulled from a 10-character squad that you're leveling as you play any part of Squads.
In co-op, up to five friends can join you to play against six computer-controlled enemies. The enemies can be comprised of members of another player's squad. Let's be clear on this... you and your friends can be competing against the squads assembled by other Ghosts players—even if those Ghosts players are offline. See, before any of this begins, each player can pick six members of their squad, select their loadouts and map preferences and then make them eligible for online matchmaking. (Players of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops will find all of this very, very familiar.)
If you're playing Ghosts' Squads mode, you can therefore matchmake randomly against another real player's squad or even pick out a friend's squad and then play a match against that crew. The opposing squad is entirely computer-controlled, but the results have consequences for the player who owns that squad. If, say, you lost to my squad while I was offline, then, when I log back online, I'll get some XP. If my squad lost, thankfully, I lose nothing.
- Multiplayer levels in Ghosts can crumble, but not quite in the way you've seen in other shooters like Battlefield. "The different levels have different levels of destructibility," Rubin said. "They're basically sort of set pieces you trigger. We didn't just want random destructibility around the map. People end up just not really using it or blowing stuff up just for the hell of it. We want there to be moments that players use as part of their strategy.
"In some maps, like the one that you saw, there's the gas station that falls over. In another, there's walls that can be shot out. In certain modes, there's a hidden care package. On another map, the whole map will be completely and entirely destroyed through the use of a kill-streak. There's another map where, when you get an intel drop, there's a chance in that care package of getting a map-changing kill-streak. It's similar to the MOAB or the nuke in previous games, but it actually destroys the entire map and you're now playing what basically looks like a new map. New routes open up.
"We also have another level that shifts and shakes during play that causes routes and sight-lines to change when it happens. Some of it is environmental and some of it is player-driven."
- Character movement will feel tweaked. "A lot of the pro players we have here say, 'It feels really good and that it feels different,'" Rubin said. "As far as speed is concerned I think the players move maybe 5% slower, maybe 2% slower, but at the same time they actually move over stuff faster, so the effect is that you feel like you're moving through the world faster than ever before."
- Dedicated servers? "Dedicated servers, I can't say yet," Rubin said. Sounds like they'll be making people happy or sad regarding dedicated servers some time in the future.
- You cannot play as the dog, but... the dog is a kill-streak reward: "You call him in," Rubin said. "He comes out right where you are. He's going to follow you around."
- And there's more about the dog! "We do have an interesting challenge… if you see someone around the corner and he kills you and your dog is out and the dog kills the guy who kills you, you get a challenge-completion called 'Martyr Dog.'"