Created by Sledgehammer Games, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare takes us to 2054 as the protagonist Jack Mitchell taking part in a United States marine defensive in Seoul. This opening mission introduces some of the games new features, and serves as the main tutorial of the game. Your time in the marines is short lived however and soon you’re thrusted into the Atlas Corporation. This is where the main story starts, and while it’s predictable, it’s not bad. In general the flow and reactions of events make sense and, even though I formed a stronger emotional connection to the threat detection grenade than the characters, they’re not completely disposable. They’re all quite unique and tell the story well. This is aided with beautifully rendered cutscenes that are regrettably let down by a bug, causing audio to desynchronise from the cinematic.
The campaign itself is very fun and even though most of it is moving where you’re told to go and shooting people, the game gives you interesting ways to do it. In a lot of cases the “use once then never again” strategy usually seen in Call of Duty has been thrown away, and even though many of the very nice gadgets can’t be used freely it’s nice to see them keep cropping up. One of these is magnetic gloves, used to scale the sides of buildings, unfortunately only where the game tells you you can, but at least they’re not completely forgotten about later on. There are a few driving sequences in the game, mostly surrounding the concept of aim and drive forward along a linear path. Still the cool vehicles make them exciting. Something that can be used freely on a couple of missions is a grappling hook, and these missions probably ended up being my favourite overall. They encompassed much more open ended maps and let you find your own solution to the objective, it was a nice direction for the game to take and it’s a shame many of the levels weren’t more open. The game also has difficulty acknowledging that a button has been pressed in a quicktime sequence occasionally. However the glitches aren’t too problematic.
A big change which the whole game revolves around is the use of exoskeleton battlesuits, allowing you to double jump or deploy a riot shield, dash sideways and slam into enemies from above. It makes the game much more mobile and fast paced. You don’t have quite the same freedom that a game like Titanfall allows, but it still makes multiplayer less predictable and more interesting. Sound quality was somewhat disappointing, speech and dialogue quality excellent, however things like weapon sounds were little improved over past games. An impressive note is the graphics, which far surpass previous titles. World detail too is superior; locations seem much more alive and the background scenery is just as spectacular. It’s a very beautiful world to be playing in and some of the new equipment creates great effects.
Multiplayer gameplay is very similar overall to previous Call of Duty’s. The changes occur in the use of the exoskeletons, some new game modes, and the new score-streak system. The exoskeletons like in the campaign make everyone more mobile and can mix up gameplay a lot on some maps. They also remove the need to climb ladders which seems to be a much more significant change than it should be. A couple of new game modes include uplink, in which teams must acquire a ball and take it to the enemies goal to score, and momentum, which is tug of war with a few extra mechanics. Teams battle over a single flag at a time, and move on to the next when it is captured. It’s a very hectic game mode which can often end in a draw. A major issue with multiplayer currently is the lack of dedicated servers, which results in some games experiencing severe network issues.
The new inventory and customisation system are really the most impressive areas of the game. A player has a huge array of customisations available to them. Your character can be male or female, and there is a large selection of outfit options that you can equip, which lets you build a unique avatar to play with. As you play matches, you’ll receive loot either by completing challenges or in supply crates. These can be anything from gloves to exoskeletons, some of these temporary but most can be used permanently. The game’s selection of weapons is not as extensive as previously seen. For example there are only 3 shotguns, and 4 sniper rifles, but another type of loot that can be gained are weapon variations, which are altered models and textures of the existing weapons, with slightly different stats, like a pistol with increased range, but a lower rate of fire.
A soldier’s loadout is now much more customisable as well; a large range of attachments are available for most weapons. Exoskeleton abilities can be selected, like the riot shield, or cloak and a wide variety of grenades can be taken. The wildcard system allows further customisation by altering the setup of your inventory; each class has an inventory point total which cannot be exceeded, so by not taking a grenade, you may have enough points for an extra perk or another primary weapon attachment. The final level of customisation is found with the scorestreaks. What would previously have been called killstreaks, scorestreaks differ by accepting points towards them from any action, such as completing an objective instead of just kills; A scorestreak can now have up to 3 options applied to it, increasing its point cost, but also making it more effective, for instance if you wanted your orbital laser satellite to have 3 beams instead of one. Scorestreaks are also more team based now, as other players can help control your scorestreak, and you theirs. Some maps also have a special weapon which is accessed by chance through the care package score streak. These can be things like manually controlled sniper drones, or automatically controlled tanks. Once you’ve chosen everything you want, the firing range mode selected from the inventory screen allows you to quickly test loadouts between matches. This loads almost instantly and can be exited just as fast, making it great for getting to grips with a new weapon.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is overall a very good addition to the series. It’s the best Call of Duty since the Modern Warfare story arc ended, and while it has lots of cool features and looks great, it’s fundamentally still Call of Duty. This means that if you have disliked the series in the past, it’s unlikely to change your mind. For everyone else, the enjoyable campaign and strong multiplayer of Advanced Warfare are certainly good reasons to consider it.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is available now for PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3