Modern Warfare dev explains why they’re not implementing 3-lane “symmetrical” maps

Infinity Ward

Multiplayer design director at Infinity Ward, Geoffrey Smith, has given a deeper explanation of map design for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, revealing why they’re not implementing the three-lane “symmetrical” design.

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Since 2012’s Black Ops 2 from Treyarch, Call of Duty has used a tried and tested map design philosophy, relying largely on ‘three-lane’ maps, which were almost always symmetrical in shape.

Fan favorites like Raid and Standoff made the design popular, but there has been a growing portion of CoD players becoming tired of the symmetrical designs, and Modern Warfare is aiming to shake this up.

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ActivisionRaid in Black Ops 2 has a signature three-lane design.

One key element of Modern Warfare which has been reiterated frequently by the developers is a focus on realism, a drastic move away from the very futuristic style of Black Ops 4, or even Infinity Ward’s last game, Infinite Warfare.

Developer Geoffrey Smith explained to GameInformer: “A lot of map design recently in CoD has been more symmetrical, and make the maps feel more like arena-based shooters.

“But going to Modern Warfare, we wanted to keep that realism, and whenever you start doing symmetrical layouts, it really starts throwing people’s brains off. Humans can pick up patterns really easily, and so to make this space feel real, you really have to hide those three lanes.”

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The maps still feature three lanes, but are much more complicated and convoluted between each lane, making their structure more obscure.

Smith also explains the team’s use of “hero buildings” – structures which are main features of the map, typically because they house an objective like a hardpoint or bomb site.

Showing the map Grazna Raid, Smith says that it strikes a chord with him, as it’s similar to the kind of maps made for Call of Duty 2.

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“I feel like a lot of games will kind of clip off a lot of stuff, and not let you climb on things”, Smith says, claiming that IW has “taken the plastic wrap off of grandma’s furniture” with the new game, with more unrestricted movement.

Whether the risk of not including proven three-lane design style pays off remains to be seen, but for Call of Duty players who had grown tired of the symmetrical maps of past games, it will be a welcome change.

Modern Warfare releases on October 25 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.