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Call of Duty: Warzone declassified – the Digital Foundry tech deep dive

When we look back at a console generation for its greatest hits, it’s invariably the first-party titles that dominate – but sometimes multi-platform technologies emerge that are truly exceptional, and the fact they need to accommodate four very different consoles plus myriad PC hardware configurations only adds to the scale of the achievement. Today, Season Four of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare arrives – and I’d suggest that the IW8 engine from Infinity Ward is one of the most impressive accomplishments of the generation.

Modern Warfare 2019 is the most complete COD package of the modern era. We’ve reported before on the key technologies that make it stand apart – an engine that renders in both visible, invisible and thermal spectrums (!) while also supporting volumetrics on every light source. IW8 shifts to a physically-based materials system, bringing COD into line with the most advanced engines in the business, and offering a beautiful level of realism from every authored asset in the game. Geometry is also massively improved, delivering an unprecedented level of detail to the Call of Duty franchise. All of this is achieved in a title targeting 60 frames per second.

IW8 also revamps the background streaming system, using a hybrid tile-based approach, opening the door to bigger, more detailed worlds. It’s the reason why the campaign is more detailed, but it’s also how Infinity Ward delivered the vast Ground War mode of the launch code – but battle royale takes this to another level, as I discovered when visiting Infinity Ward’s tech hub in Poland at the end of February. I spent the day with Principal Rendering Engineer Michal Drobot, who is also the studio head of the Polish arm of the developer.

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