The Advanced Warfare Multiplayer Reveal has been and gone, and we’ve luckily had a chance to try the game for several hours.
Below I’m going to touch on what I feel are the main points to cover with a new Call of Duty release, and often the biggest concerns amongst fans.
Warning: this is long, but a worthwhile read.
I would consider myself more of a moderate Call of Duty player, someone who balances their time between playing, going to work and everything else on top. The following is more of an honest and personal first impression and a genuine representation of what I think so far. So, where do I start with Advanced Warfare? Well, you don’t need me to tell you that it looks, feels and plays very differently – just watch the trailer.
When you first sit down and play Advanced Warfare, you’ll quickly question yourself – is this Call of Duty? I say that because the element of movement has been overhauled extensively, and walking around with the occasional jump and slide has been replaced with boost jumps, boost sliding and so much more. It’s essentially still Call of Duty, but now on steroids with a jetpack strapped to your back – and I say with absolute certainty, you’re going to love it.
Let’s not kid ourselves here, when you play Advanced Warfare for the first time, you’re going to need to take some time to get the hang of it. We’re very accustomed to clicking the left analog stick to sprint for a considerable duration of a match, with the odd jump or slide here and there. Advanced Warfare encourages you to throw away your previous methods of navigation and instead the ‘A’ button becomes an integral part of your movement across the map.
The introduction of verticality with your exosuit has a fairly big impact on the way you play and engage enemies – ultimately being a skilled player is more of an importance than ever before. To the vast majority of players, the learning curve should pose no problem and be a fairly smooth process, but there’s no denying some players will feel slightly alienated at first by the change in movement, and suffer the consequences of more skilled opponents. I’m not suggesting it’s difficult to manipulate, but neither will I say it’s super easy to get the hang of straight away, and those who play Call of Duty for short periods of time may find the controls to be ‘fiddly’ if they intend on boost sliding and so on.
The movement abilities of your exo allow you to navigate completely new paths of engagement throughout a particular map – for example instead of taking the door of a building, you could jump to the roof and make a lethal entry from above to stir things up.
The jumping manoeuvres aren’t to the extremities of Titanfall for example, and from the 4 maps I’ve played, you can normally only jump to the height of a 2 storey building – attempting to exceed this height of a building will display an off limits message – basically you can’t, and definitely no wall-running. You quickly adjust to the ‘weight’ of your player and gauge and control your descent when in the air – this can become important when in a gunfight.
Ultimately you’re going to spent a lot of your time in the air, there’s simply no getting away with it – in fact some game modes have objectives based on rooftops with no method of reaching without your boost jump capability. Besides, given you receive no fall damage when making a hard landing, staying mobile and moving fluidly throughout the map is only beneficial to you.
Also, I just want to state before anything else that the cloak ability isn’t nearly as effective as you may think, and you’ll have to seriously question your eyesight if you struggle to see another player cloaked – it’s not extremely noticeable, but it’s noticeable, and definitely not something to be overly concerned about.
Overall, the exosuits make Advanced Warfare incredibly fun to play and those adrenaline filled, clutch moments are going to become far more commonplace on a day to day basis. The fun involved with your exosuit really comes to light in the new game mode ‘Uplink’ – it’s essentially American football, but with exosuits, and guns, and explosives… you get the picture. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun on a particular game mode in a very long time – it’s just insanely fun, and I’d love to see it come to eSports as others have said.
With all this talk about exo’s and buildings, let’s talk about maps – I’m not going to go in-depth in terms of map layout and design, as you can simply just watch gameplay videos. To me, the strength and creativity of the map selection make a Call of Duty game. Forget all the weapons and fancy technology, the map selection is where all the action takes place, so much so they become almost stained in our memory. I’m not a fan of the burnt down, rubble covered, desolate environments that have been a regular appearance in previous Call of Duty’s, and as you’ve probably seen from the gameplay videos, it’s not the case in Advanced Warfare (I’m so happy about this).
The maps within Advanced Warfare return to more of a 3 path/symmetrical arrangement that we’ve seen for many years, with the introduction of upper and lower levels within each ‘path’ throughout the map – atleast from the 4 I’ve tried. Each map has a fair share of outdoor and indoor space with the majority of the action flaring up in the centre buildings depending on the game mode in question. Each map has it’s own unique character, and they’re unquestionably more vibrant and colourful than previous Call of Duty’s, and generally look amazing both visually and graphically. I wasn’t drawn to any map in particular and didn’t have a favourite in mind – I found them all to be equally as good.
The big question of course is, map sizes – are they ridiculous like Ghosts? I would say the maps are in the medium to medium-large end of the scale and have ample breathing room to evade gunfights. With that being said, your exo abilities have a big impact on your speed of motion, and ultimately your return to action time is fairly quick – definitely quicker than Ghosts. I would go as far as to say the maps are almost perfectly sized with exosuits considered, and there’s no shortage of action near objectives given everyone can now jump towards you in any direction. They COULD be considered to be on the big side if exosuits were out of the picture, but again they balance it out pretty damn well.
Evidence of this can be seen in the scoreboards of Advanced Warfare gameplay recently uploaded on YouTube. The average Call of Duty player who racks up 10-15 kills in a particular game on Ghosts could quite easily exceed 20+ kills in a particular game on Advanced Warfare. There were rare occasions where it took me a little while to find an enemy, but I’d put the blame more on the other players not having a clue what they’re doing – it was the first 1-2 hours of playing after all.
It could be deemed risky for me to say this so early on, but I’ll go as far as to say the maps combined with exosuits are camper UNfriendly, and I don’t think anyone would succeed particularly well with hiding in a corner. Given you can now jump high distances and travel at much higher speeds, it’s just as important for you to keep moving as it is for your opponent. Of course campers will always find a way and it’s almost impossible to eradicate them, but you can only hope.
As for dynamic events or map changing scenarios – I’m actually not a huge fan of these in Call of Duty as opposed to Battlefield – I think it’s better suited for a game like that. The map ‘Defender’ as seen in the trailer features a huge tsunami wave approximately 3-4 minutes into a particular map. Ideally you need to get to higher ground or simply drown, it’s one or the other. The wave doesn’t engulf the full length of the map and really only impacts about 25% in total. The wave itself doesn’t change the overall structure of the map whatsoever, and merely poses as more of an inconvenience if you’re stupid enough to stand in front. With all this considered I have no complaints and think it’s actually pretty cool, and a good opportunity to get some last second kills as people panic in the path of the wave.
Spawns have been a long-standing complaint with Ghosts and it’s now generally a fear to many when the next Call of Duty game is released. Given the fast paced nature of Advanced Warfare, depending on your skill level and that of the opposite team there’s a good chance you’re going to die a fair bit more than previous games – so good spawns are pretty important right? Spawns in Advanced Warfare are actually pretty damn good, and the game isn’t even finished yet. There were occasions where I spawned within a few metres of an enemy, but I’d say this happened approximately 1 in every 12-15 respawns and certainly didn’t lead to overwhelming frustration.
You’re normally spawned into a good location with sizeable distance from the action to give you enough time to ‘re-integrate’ yourself into the game, but close enough to re-enter a gunfight within 10 seconds or so. Again, given the game is still in development, I would hope this can only improve as time goes on.
Next up, game modes. I’ve already briefly touched on ‘Uplink’ which is essentially American Football, but the other notable game modes are Hardpoint and Capture the Flag which are finally returning. I probably played Hardpoint and Capture the Flag the most out of all the game modes available. I’ve mostly been a TDM/Domination player in all my years of Call of Duty, and playing Hardpoint/CTF again gave me more of a “first time” view of how these game modes behaved within Advanced Warfare. Overall, my opinion was positive and again I felt these game modes were far more adrenaline filled over previous versions. I know I’ve mentioned it several times but the exosuits really do speed everything up, and team work when it comes to Capture the Flag is more important this time around. Hardpoint on the map ‘Riot’ played especially well and I thought the objective locations were really good, and forced tight, fast-paced gameplay.
I found there was more of a reliance on your team to succeed in a particular game mode which I think is definitely a positive although you still have the ability to stray off by yourself and completely ignore the objective if that’s what you prefer – I know some of you do!
Let’s touch on Time to Kill – it somewhat links in to all of the above. The time to kill is quick, that I can confirm, however it’s not quite as quick as Ghosts as you’ve probably noticed. Personally I am a huge fan of the time to kill within Black Ops, where enemies needed to take a slight beating to go down. Unfortunately Advanced Warfare is much quicker, and closer to that of Black Ops 2. This isn’t so much a complaint, but more of a personal opinion which will differ from person to person. The fact it’s closer to Black Ops 2 is only a good thing however, and it’s not impossible to evade a gunfight with the inclusion of your exo – just don’t expect to turn on enemies too often when you’ve got a few bullets already inside of you. In addition I actually find grenades and explosives to be much less effective than previous games, and your exosuit gives you the ability to evade with a high probability of survival depending on your current health level.
The weapons all feel very unique and have their own defining characteristics, with tons of customisation options throughout. I didn’t feel any of the weapons were particularly overpowered and each had their own drawbacks to balance them out with each other. Although I had very little time with the commonly named “laser beam” weapon, I didn’t find it to be particularly effective and you had a good chance of jumping away with minimal effect to your health.
To conclude, Advanced Warfare is a mixture of the best Call of Duty games in one, with added exosuit abilities that have a major impact on the way in which you play the game. From the small selection of maps and game modes I’ve played, I think they’ve mostly nailed it in terms of map design, map size, and encouraged more fast-paced and adrenaline filled gameplay within a 10 minute match period.
There’s no denying the skill of a player is now a more significant factor within Advanced Warfare, and the skill gap will increase between those who are moderate-heavy players over more casual players. Those who adapt well to the game and have good gun skill will find themselves slaying their opponents with ease. There’s a definite consensus towards eSports that many people have concerns about, but from my perspective it has very little impact on standard public game modes – it’s still the Call of Duty we come to expect in my eyes.
I normally gauge my opinion on a game based on the urge I have to keep playing as opposed to a rating on a scale of 1-10, and I can tell you right now that I definitely can’t wait to play it again. I’m confident in saying it’s the Call of Duty game we’ve all been waiting for throughout the past 12 or so months, and has the right mixture of features and design choices to be extremely fun to play for a long period.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter – @thatPetey and hit me up if you have anymore questions.