The problem with churning out a COD every year is that it's hard to do anything but make a game. That's why COD shifted to a three studio set up, with Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer each getting three years to make an instalment. Next up is Black Ops 3 from Treyarch, which is using that extra time to "overhaul our entire AI system".
Speaking in the upcoming issue of Official PlayStation Magazine, Treyarch boss Mark Lamia is clear that the extra development time has been instrumental to the changes: "Without a three- year cycle, we wouldn’t have been able to take the kind of risks that we took on this game, frankly" he says. "We would not have been able to overhaul our entire AI system, which supports the kind of engagements in an open play space like we have". (They're also planning to "break the rules" with Black Ops 3's multiplayer.)
The move to a four player co-op campaign was partly involved in the AI systems overhaul: "it was critical as soon as we decided to make a co-op game, because we [still] needed to make it feel like a Call of Duty game, which meant we needed to have a lot of stuff going on to entertain the player at all times". However, the biggest change for the series is also partly due to the new robots.
A robot, yesterday.
You see, robots behave differently to people: "human AI needs to look smart" explains Lamia, "it needs to take cover and take opportunities to shoot at you". Robots on the other hand? Not so fussed. "They’re not as worried about their own self-perseveration," he says. So that means an enemy that's not too precious about incoming bullets or having bits blown off. Having that style of enemy "introduces a lot of new variety [of gameplay] that we’ve never had before" says Lamia and, when combined with vehicles and human soldiers, allows Black Ops 3 to do "more complex AI interactions" than the series has had before. Mark talks more about Black Ops 3's robot army here.