Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare senior director talks multiplayer map design, modes, and more

Sledgehammer's senior development director, Judah Graham, spoke to Shacknews about some of what to expect with Advanced Warfare's multiplayer, talking about the three-year development cycle and what's emerged from it.

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Sledgehammer Games took the stage at Gamescom 2014 earlier today to reveal the first details on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer. It's the first time that Sledgehammer Games has had the opportunity to put their name on a Call of Duty product. As fans of the product in their own right, it's been a dream that has gradually unfolded over the past three years of development.

Shacknews recently had the chance to talk to Sledgehammer Games' senior development director, Judah Graham, about the development cycle for Advanced Warfare and what fans can expect to see in the game's multiplayer modes. Graham started off by going into the details that were unveiled on Monday, but not without reiterating that Sledgehammer first approached their game from a fan's perspective.

"One of the best things about Sledgehammer is that we're huge fans of the franchise," Graham told Shacknews. "We love the game, so it's allowed us, especially with the three-year development cycle, to step back and really figure out what we could do to put our unique stamp on the franchise.

"The Exo abilities is really the most dynamic game changers to movement and just adding that whole extra of gameplay for the user and the experience is just incredible."

While the Exo abilities did provide an interesting take on Call of Duty's classic multiplayer, it was interesting to see that it was straying farther and farther from the series' original vision of putting forth the best real-world weaponry on display. Sledgehammer quickly found themselves pulling a delicate balancing act between faithful depictions of military-grade weapons and putting together a fun product with outrageous tech. Graham noted the steps that the series has taken, while assuring that there's still a basis in reality.

"We tried to take a step back and really look at where things could be in a realistic realm 50 years in the future," said Graham, "which really allowed us to hone in on the Exo system and the Exo abilities and then really refine that gameplay and bring that mechanic into the system. For us, we've looked at all kinds of different future tech, I know [Sledgehammer co-founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey] have traveled quite a bit looking at different tech coming along in the future. We try to keep it in that realm, while also making gameplay as fun as it can be."

Sledgehammer also made it no secret that they were big fans of Treyarch's Black Ops series, making sure to allude to 2012's Black Ops 2 during several points of their multiplayer presentation. Graham also notes that bringing back Black Ops 2 concepts like Pick 13 and game modes like Hardpoint came down to player feedback.

"We took feedback from the community and from the fanbase about game modes that they really liked," Graham added. "And it was just about taking a step back and seeing what fit with our core vision for the game. Those modes made sense. We also wanted to help keep that core experience for those Call of Duty old-school players.

Of course, there are also some new bells and whistles to go along with Advanced Warfare's maps. Most notably, there's a tsunami striking in Defender, which adds an interesting new dynamic twist to maps. According to Graham, it all fits with Sledgehammer's core vision for maps.

"I think one of the most enabling things for us is getting the three years to really look at how maps are built and examine the fundamentals," Graham explained. "Three-lane map design is really key and we're add that verticality into the mix. What we've done is try to balance the three-lane design and add verticality, while keeping that core Call of Duty experience."

Shacknews also took the time to ask about any PC-centric features that the PC fanbase could look forward to from Advanced Warfare. However, Graham (and likewise, Activision) was curiously tight-lipped on this subject. Activision is promising more details about PC features will be revealed down the road.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will fire onto PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on November 4. A Day Zero is also planned for those that pre-order the game's limited editions.

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Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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