Set in the 1980s (with flashbacks to 1968 Vietnam), Black Ops – Cold War is a direct sequel to the first Black Ops and sees Woods, Hudson, and Mason reunited to find Perseus, a real-life Russian spy. It oozes ’80s espionage cool as the team shoot their way through locations such as Ukraine, Laos, Moscow, Berlin, and Turkey in search of the legendary Soviet agent.
“One of the things early on the guys cracked was this idea of vintage through a modern lens,” says Raven’s Dan Vondrak as he reveals the lengths the team went to nail the perfect ’80s vibe. “We’re really inspired by some of those [films] like Atomic Blonde or Narcos; they took that approach of looking at vintage through a modern lens in a cool way.”
It’s a tone that requires careful balancing. The studio’s whiteboard had Miami Vice and Red Dawn at one end, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at the other. Discovering Cold War’s feel took time, particularly as the ’80s were relatively recent.
“[Because] we’re not in the future any more, you can actually get these things. And that’s been a huge thing. You can go out and say, ‘What did a guy look like in the ’80s?’ Well, we can go and build that, which means that it’s going to look even better, down to the stitching, down to the gear that’s there,” says Treyarch’s creative specialist Miles Leslie. “So the characters are really going to pop and I think players are going to be pretty satisfied [to go] from Modern Warfare to ours in terms of that level of detail.”
The visual fidelity has been aided by Infinity Ward’s work on last year’s Call Of Duty, particularly the use of photogrammetry to scan people and objects into the game for heightened realism. “We’re really pushing photogrammetry. […] I think going into the ’80s in the Cold War era has really invigorated and excited all the teams, about going to a place where you can feel it and see it. That’s allowed a [new] level of immersion and detail.
The team can see what Reagan looked like, they can go see how many wrinkles he has on his face. “Hey, you know he had one little wrinkle here,” says Leslie, rubbing the corner of his eye. “Let’s get that in.”
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