Treyarch defends Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 engine

Wednesday, 10th October 2012 14:40 GMT By Stace Harman

Treyarch has defended its use of the seven-year-old engine being used to power CoD: Black Ops 2, saying “It runs at 60 and it’s gorgeous. What exactly is there to be upset about with the engine?”

Speaking to OXM, Treyarch game design director David Vondehaar said he’s happy both with the modifications made to Infinity Ward’s original IW engine and the performance that the team has eked from it for Call of Duty Black Ops 2:

“Anybody who comes at the engine needs to remember it’s the 60 frames they love in the first place,” Vondehaar said.

“And we can make it beautiful – that’s through years and years of working with the engine, improving upon it and improving the pipeline and improving our approach, our lighting rendering.”

“People like to talk about the engine, but the truth of the matter is that this isn’t like something that was invented six years ago,” he went on. “At this point that engine doesn’t resemble anything like any engine – we’ve ripped out the UI system, the rendering and the lighting are all new, the core gameplay systems are all new.”

“To me, it’s like I never really understood,” said Vondehaar. “It runs at 60 and it’s gorgeous. What exactly is there to be upset about with the engine?”

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 runs on the IW 3 engine and launches on PS3, 360 and PC on November 13. It launches on Wii U at the console’s launch.



  1. CyberMarco

    What exactly is gorgeous…?

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Hcw87

    What’s there to be upset about? Is he serious?

    It looks, sounds and plays exactly like the previous 5 games, that’s what’s wrong with it. they don’t even bother making new sounds for the guns, just tweaking the sounds they currently have. It’s lazy.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. deadstoned

    Same, brown, grey game we’ve been playing for 7 years now.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dimaco

    Hahahaha! Love it!! That guy is so funny!!!

    … ’cause he was joking, right?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. twisted89

    who cares if it renders 60 fps, running a game at 800 x 480 is still going to look like crap.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Ali

    I am all for defending your work, but to act as if only a few people are criticizing it is just not the way to go.

    That said, I really love their characters’ models and how good their awesome facial animation is in cutscenes.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. zinc

    Reminds me of Triggers broom :-)

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Fin

    I enjoy CoD, everyone else can go fuck themselves.

    #8 2 years ago

    I wonder what people are going to say if the next-gen CoD engine puts everything else to shame…

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight


    THats unlikely since COD is using a 10 year old engine that is heavily modified. I doubt Activision would put money into making a new engine to make a COD it goes against their philosophy. Rockstar put in 100 million into their RAGE engine along with Konami and EA putting money into Frostbyte 2 and Fox engine. Activision wants quick and cheap.

    ““And we can make it beautiful – that’s through years and years of working with the engine, improving upon it and improving the pipeline and improving our approach, our lighting rendering.””

    I laughed at this. I went to visit my brother in the summer and him and his friends were playing MW3 and had to do a double take because I swore I thought he was playing on a Xbox because it looked absolutely horrible. People don’t play COD for the graphics they go for the gameplay.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. zinc

    I’d assume next gen CoD would use a modified Unreal 4 engine…

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Phoenixblight


    “I’d assume next gen CoD would use a modified Unreal 3 engine…”


    The original engine of COD was open source. THere is no reason to think they will spend money on using a completely new engine even if it is 3rd party where Unreal 3 has a lot of resources and everyone knows what they can do with it and is easy to modify and change.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. CPC_RedDawn

    I used to have respect for Treyarch being the underdog always in the shadow of IW, but after they come out like this and defend something that simply can not be defended. The engine is complete and utter shite!! No arguments, it is. It DOES NOT look beautiful, the textures are a mess low res crap, the frame rate IS NOT 60FPS all the time, this is only achievable on PC on consoles BO1, MW1,2, and 3 and all the rest clearly dropped below 60fps on many many occasions. This engine NEEDS to die, along with Unreal 3 as its used FAAAAAR too much (but at least they are showing off UE4 now). I bet they will still be using the same engine for MW4 and the rest until the next consoles come along and even then they will just modify this engine to accommodation some new features and power the new consoles will have.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. CPC_RedDawn

    @11 and 12

    Why Unreal? The current COD engine is a modified Quake 3 engine ID Tech 3 with elements from ID Tech 4. When we are now onto ID Tech 5 in RAGE. That’s how old this engine really is. It has no connection with Unreal engine, if anything it would use ID Tech 5 but that is if ID software and Bethesda want to license it out.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. ManuOtaku

    If Rage did look gorgeous with ID tech 5, i cannot wait for seeing COD on it, i hope they go that route, which seems the most logical one to me too.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Phoenixblight


    They go where its the cheapest as I said the engine is based off the open source that ID released.

    ID Tech 5 won’t happen since ID is now out of the engine business.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. roadkill

    Guys whoever is so dumb that they actually enjoy the game then let them enjoy the game. There are plenty of other games that look, sound and play better.

    Also @9 There is no one left at Activision that knows how to code a new engine. :)

    #17 2 years ago
  18. ManuOtaku

    You know i will always prefer loving the unpopular than hating the popular, it is more cool and rewarding, but i grant is just my preference.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Dave Cook

    Loving how negative some people are without actually having played it. It looks brilliant when playing, it handled superbly and it’s got an incredible multiplayer.

    This game could look like an 8-bit shooter and I wouldn’t care. Gameplay > visuals in my book. It is always more important.

    #19 2 years ago



    #20 2 years ago
  21. Phoenixblight


    I have played the games at parties and get togethers. THe gameplay is really good but I am not going to be delusional and say that its beautiful because its not and Vondehaar should be talking about the gameplay instead of defending the visuals.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Dave Cook

    @21 agreed completely. Gameplay is king, but to call it ugly or shit like some people have is just mental.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. ManuOtaku

    I think is a darn good compliment to make the game just as good looking as it is with such an old tech, from a development point of view, so we should also give them some props for that, while at the same time criticizing the uninvensment in a new tech with such strong profits this series had this generation, but this hasnt anything to do with calling it bad looking, though, it looks good for such an old tech, and i think in the next gen they will get a new engine for sure.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Phoenixblight


    I was being a bit extreme but I agree gameplay should always be top priority.

    #24 2 years ago


    Sure, that’s obvious. The game pales in comparison to some other, newer games on completely different formats, but that doesn’t mean that it looks bad.

    And tbh, even though people try to dismiss it, 60fps is very important here.

    I’m certain that any impartial reviewer would give this game at least an 8 for visuals.

    It’s never a 10, but I’m pretty sure that the other 20m regular players don’t care either.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Phoenixblight


    You are right and with Activision there should be no real reason to change the engine unless the sales dip so much that they have to do something to get the fanbase back.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Omelette

    Those who love graphics need to remember that the current consoles ARE LIMITED IN COMPUTING POWER. That means they will stick with the current engine because it fits the consoles perfectly. Did you see what happened with Battlefield 3? They had to dumb it down a lot to make it work with the consoles, and the graphics of that game ended up looking at least as bad as CoD’s look, and they don’t even look that bad. They look great imo, FOR A CONSOLE GAME. Now, I wouldn’t want them to keep the same quality of graphics in the next-gen consoles.

    Edit: Fixed nonsense

    #27 2 years ago

    @26, 27:


    If each new version keeps selling more and breaking new records, then from a business perspective, why would you change anything at all?

    However, I’m sure that they’re aware that they’re in huge danger of getting left behind in the next gen unless they make big changes.

    Next gen, the current IW engine simply isn’t going to be enough.

    I’m sure that they’re aware of that.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. absolutezero

    Who are Treyarch defending this game against? The people that are’nt going to play it anyway, the people that are going to buy it and play it regardless or the dedicated fanbase that love it anyway?

    Either one makes not very much sense because all groups don’t really give a shit about what CoD looks like.

    #29 2 years ago

    The people that aren’t going to play it anyway

    To anyone involved in selling games, this category cannot exist.

    They have to try and convince everyone, no matter how much they hate the franchise.

    They have to see everyone as a potential customer.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. ManuOtaku

    ^the ones in between, perhaps

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Dimaco


    “It runs at 60 and it’s gorgeous. What exactly is there to be upset about with the engine?”

    Doesn’t seem to me he’s talking about the gameplay here.

    And, NO, it IS NOT gorgeous. You can love its gameplay (which I did, but it’s been too long since it became more of the same for me), still you cannot tell that it freaking “looks gorgeous”.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. zinc

    I still believe MW4 will use Unreal 4. But time will tell.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Phoenixblight

    “I still believe MW4 will use Unreal 4. But time will tell.”

    That won’t be happening. The game is already in development. No one has access to Unreal 4 except EPic.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. zinc

    ^ huh, your *facts* won’t sway my belief ;-)

    #35 2 years ago

    I’m not sure if any engine developer in their right mind would turn down CoD…

    Whether their engine is finished or not.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. dagla

    The most you can expect from next-gen CoDs is same engine at 1080p.. Tech 3 will live forever.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. viralshag

    I love gamers, gameplay is the most important thing… Unless its CoD.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Dimaco

    Ehm, I don’t exactly think graphics are the only thing being criticized about cod.
    Basically they’re selling the same game every year, with some minor changes.
    I used to be a COD enthusiast, too, but it all started to stink after MW2.
    That said, since none of us has played it, I don’t think we can criticize blops2 for that matter (yet), but please don’t come around blabbering that it looks great because, quite simply, it doesn’t.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. TheWulf

    It’s a terrible game, that’s a given. It relies on familiarity and it’s just a spectacular yawnfest. There’s never been a good Call of Duty game, really, just a familiar one. And people frequently mix up familiarity with good.

    With that out of the way, Half-Life was actually good. The original one, that is. And as I recall, that used a heavily modified Quake 2 engine. So it’s not the engine that matters so much, but it’s whether the game sucks. And what people are finally beginning to realise after seven years of familiarity is that the games of the Call of Duty franchise are really, truly bad. Just bad. They’re bad like bad film tie-in games.

    And that has nothing to do with the engine, people. They’re just bad games.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Dimaco

    @40 I actually loved COD4, you really cannot say it was a bad game.
    It was a milestone as for online gaming (on consoles at least).
    Problem is, once they relialised they had a goldmine in their hands, they ended up milking it with annual releases, basically watering it down to the extent that it really became just a bad old game.
    And of course, then that “familiarity mechanism” you described kept it alive.

    #41 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.