article on Eurogamer the latest Call of Duty will have a couple levels so big that you could actually get lost in them. Earlier this year DICE made a similar comment about Battlefield 4. Both these studios have made it clear. One of their biggest game changers this year will be the scope of their levels. Comments on Eurogamer's article mostly focus on how hilarious it is that Infinity Ward has finally found this "innovation" that was commonplace 15 years ago. The general stance seems to be that the studio is trying to make a token effort to satiate the needs of shooter fans who abandoned their series ages ago. But the truth behind the matter lies within the technical limitations of current gen consoles.
Current gen systems have a total of 512 MB of RAM. Subtract the 100 MB or so needed to run the OS and there is an extremely limited pool available for games. In the case of the PS3, only 256 MB are available for the graphics card. Because of this, games this generation had to make a choice. Larger open levels with limited graphical fidelity or smaller levels with greater fidelity. For a game like Call of Duty the choice was obvious. The series has always made its name off of big explosions and epic set piece battles. Both of these would be limited if the player had the freedom to walk around a big level.
So you got the modern shooter. I played the Beyond: Two Souls demo released yesterday and guess what? The game looks fantastic. But it can do that because of how ridiculously limited you are in the game.
The new generation though, it doesn't have this limitation. A lot of people question how the next-gen consoles will actually improve gameplay, and I think the key area will be scope. Now developers can have their cake and eat it too. They can have highly detailed areas filled with destructibility and pretty explosions, but they can have those areas be city sized as well. Now this year's Battlefield and Call of Duty won't take full advantage of this because they have to make the game at least somewhat function on current gen systems. And the same will probably be true next year as well. But as soon as next gen systems become numerous enough that developers no longer have to worry about current gen versions of their game, then we'll start seeing some really amazing stuff from series traditionally associated with very linear gameplay.
I think Beyond: Two Souls is probably going to be the pinnacle of the current gen style of interactive movie games. Almost no gameplay. Extremely linear with little player agency. But boy will it look amazing. I can't wait for next generation when we'll be able to have games that look this good while actually letting us explore their worlds.