Science fact or fiction
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has been revealed. After watching the trailer dozens of times and picking out the nitty gritty details, we're going to take a wild guess and say the game takes place in the future. And based on the technology on display, that future is probably happening about 40 or 50 years from now. But with all the impressive tech on display, I had to wonder: just how far-fetched is the future envisioned by Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare?
To find out if Advanced Warfare's military gadgets are fact or sci-fi fiction, I took a closer look at the real-life technology that might've inspired the game. Surprisingly, we're not that far from actually using these kinds of devices in combat or our daily lives. See what's real and what's not on the following slides.
Ability-enhancing exoskeletons with visors
What does it do? The exoskeleton turns futuristic soldiers into superhumans, with enhanced strength, agility, and other high-tech abilities. Wearing one can give the user temporary invisibility, boosted jumping, and the ability to punch through reinforced steel. It seems that the exoskeletons will also let players attach to walls with their hands and use various helmet-mounted visors to see through walls and protect their faces.
Is it realistic? Scientists have already started research and production on prototypes of exoskeleton suits meant for soldiers in the field. Of course, the real-life counterparts aren't quite capable of launching soldiers into the air or allowing them to climb walls like the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man--but troops have strapped into the suits to lift extremely heavy boxes. As far as the seeing through walls and cloaking go, I'll touch on those later.
Wrist-mounted communication devices
What does it do? Most likely allows the characters to make unlimited local and international calls on nights and weekends, including data, and texting.
Is it realistic? Not even talking about military tech here, people already have ways of strapping a smartphone onto their wrists (just step into any gym and you'll see it). And with how far wearable computing has come in the past few years, it's not a stretch to assume that future technology is capable of putting a cell phone around your arm.
Helicopters with rotors in the wings
What does it do? The trailer shows these new aircraft carrying troops and doing things modern helicopters do today. Presumably the in-game aerial vehicles are much more nimble and maneuverable than the modern tech.
Is it realistic? Tilt-rotor helicopters are likely to be the norm in the next 40 years, according to a report byCNET. But there's an existing aircraft that looks like its even closer to what's seen in the CoD trailer. The experimental vertical flight plane is called the VTOL X-Plane, and it's a hybrid of a traditional chopper and a jet. These vehicles have better hover efficiency and higher top speeds than the typical helicopter, making them especially useful in tricky missions. Sounds to me like the exact same thing as in the trailer.
There's a 50-inch TV in the helicopter
What does it do? Displays video broadcasts and video game input devices at a comfortable distance of seven feet. Given the cramped interior space of the helicopter, the TV may be oversized.
Is it realistic? Yes, the technology exists. I have one in my house. Whether anyone would spend money to put it in a helicopter is another question.
What does it do? Allows vehicles and soldiers to become invisible to the naked eye at will.
Is it realistic? In a very recent breakthrough (we're talking April 2014), the eggheads at the University of Central Florida have discovered a way to make this possible. It would involve expanding the size of previously developed nanomaterials that are able to bend light, making whatever they cover invisible. Though this nanomaterial could theoretically be used to make invisibility cloaks, it's very difficult to come by. This new process is one step closer to making more efficient stealth craft, and maybe even invisible soldiers.
Hologram earth/city displays
What does it do? Gives you a three-dimensional look at planet Earth and cityscapes as you talk about how democracy doesn't work.
Is it realistic? You tell me.
Automatic weapons that shoot bullets
What does it do? In the trailer, the guns look like the weapons you might see today. They have flashlight attachments, advanced-looking sights, and silencers. Besides the basic design (that doesn't look like any modern rifle I've ever seen), there's nothing too unbelievable so far.
Is it realistic? Surely the future will hold many advancements in small arms, but as far as we've seen from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the look of the guns is semi-futuristic. There's nothing too space age-y about them; no laser beams or photon rays so far.
What does they do? Transports people from point A to point B. Makes for dangerous falling debris during a bridge collapse.
Is it realistic? The real surprise here is that Sledgehammer isn't trying to say we'll all be driving Jetsons-style hover cars in the next few decades. Currently, engineers are coming up with car/plane hybrids and concept hover cars. Google's even got self-driving cars (that I've actually seen driving around in real life). Despite the recent leaps and bounds in automotive innovation, it seems Sledgehammer doesn't think cars will be much different than they are now.
What does it do? Upon detonation, this grenade sends out a pulse of energy, scanning the entire room in a sonar-like fashion. Enemies tagged by the grenade's lasers will stay highlighted on your HUD, essentially letting you see them through walls and floors.
Is it realistic? In throwable grenade form? Hell no. But there are cameras that can quickly scan the dimensions of a room and create a 3D model; one example is MatterPort technology. That said, these cameras require a spacious set-up and about an hour of prep time--which enemy soldiers probably won't allow.
What does it do? Provides a versatile form of fast, relatively compact transportation. Seats a single soldier. Looks like it came straight out of Akira.
Is it realistic? Though they're nowhere near as bulky-looking as the ones in the trailer, people have built hoverbikes before, including this 2011 model followed by a 2012 model. Sadly, it seems like the technology hasn't advanced much since--maybe because these are estimated to cost between $40,000 and $100,000 each.
Huge armored suits
What does it do? A single soldier becomes Iron Man. He is completely encased in an armored suit and can take out enemies with a massive gatling gun attached to the arm.
Is it realistic? It sounds crazy, but President Obama announced in February 2014 that the US military is working on a high-tech battle suit. The President said, "Basically, I'm here to announce that we're building Iron Man [...] Not really. Maybe. It's classified." The military's first Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) is expected to be assembled and tested this June. The future is coming much faster than you think.
Future tanks/spider tanks
What does it do? What good are tanks when you run up against the rough terrain of a destroyed city? That's where the all-terrain mobility of a spider tank comes in handy.
Is it realistic? If you thought that tanks with legs were just way too sci-fi to actually be real, think again. A remote-controlled robot called the Crabster CR200 is a six-legged, walking behemoth, that looks like it was pulled straight off the set of a horror movie. The purpose of the robot is to survey the challenging terrain of the ocean floor. Just outfit this thing with a tank cannon, and you've got a spider tank (though I'm sure much more science would be needed to actually get it to shoot correctly).
What does it do? Creates a bulletproof barrier between two easily transported posts. It's kind of like a giant scroll that you plant onto the ground and hide behind when someone's firing artillery at you.
Is it realistic? Not in the post-to-post form shown in the trailer, sadly. But there is such a thing as portable ballistic protection. Take the BulletBlocker, a discreet briefcase that expands into a body-sized sheet of Kevlar armor. Protect yourself from gunfire on the go, for the low, low price of $919.99!
What does it do? These ship-mounted cannons don't look like the typical barrage of heavy artillery. By the look of the trailer's camera shot, these are advanced rail guns, which use electromagnetic force to launch projectiles at velocities beyond supersonic speeds for ultimate destruction.
Is it realistic? This technology is so real, it's scary. Just a month ago, the US Navy unveiled the first high-speed rail gun. This thing can fire a projectile at seven times the speed of sound, with the ability to punch through multiple walls of reinforced concrete. The future is now. Don't believe me? Watch this video then remember to never cross the US Navy ever again.
What does it do? Scans the ground with X-rays, checking for anti-personnel landmines that might cost a soldier his or her life. Handy for when you're trekking across a territorial border uninvited. At least, that's what we think this thing is doing.
Is it realistic? Not quite. No known landmine-removing vehicle resembles the laser-scanning tech seen in the trailer, though plenty of research papers have suggested it. In the real world, mines are often scanned for and disarmed by remote-controlled robots with ground-penetrating radar. It's much more efficient than the brute force method of old: paving the way with a remotely operated tank.
Bet you didn't know we were that close to all of these scientific breakthroughs, huh? Do you know of any other crazy tech that's currently in development? Any other science facts you want to shed some light on? Let us know in the comments below.
Want more on the next Call of Duty? See why Kevin Spacey makes every game better and then check out every detail we know about Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare