With the start of each and every year I’ve become fairly acceptable to the idea of annual game releases. So long as they’re actually doing new things and not just recycling on the hopes that fans will just buy the game, down to blinded loyalty and a false sense of new experiences thanks to a higher pixel count. And while many would argue that Call of Duty does just that, I have two responses to that.
First off all, you are wrong. I just want you to know that. But the second and more sensible response I have is that, it’s wise to take note of an old saying. It’s one that’s changed the world, enhanced common-sense, and it’s empowered the ignorant. And it’s something along the lines of…“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And it’s this, exactly this! which makes the Call of Duty series a staple and a prominent figure within the current and previous generation of gaming.
Now…while I’m not the biggest Call of Duty fan in the world I do however enjoy the games. And I’m probably one of the only fifty odd people in the world that actually cares about the single-player campaign, and doesn’t dive head first in multi-player to waste away ten hours of well deserved REM-sleep in place of a fifty-kill headshot count and an over-saturated leaderboard.
""If it ain't broke, don't fix it""
Call of Duty has built its popularity, it’s rightfully deserved attention, and it’s insane number of fans, on what I would describe as it’s three stable pillars of persistence. The first of which would be solid controls and game mechanics. These allow the game to be an easy to pick up and play title that’s simple to grasp, but contains a slight a learning curve to advance. The second of which is an innovative multiplayer.
As said previously many would argue that Call of Duty has a recycled experience to it regardless of when or where the current game happens to be set, within the theme of its world. I disagree with this to some extent, I agree that Call of Duty does recycle yes. But it recycles what’s good about the series in order to remain familiar to veterans of the series, while adding a breath of new ideas and game modes in order to remain fresh and to constantly bring something new to the table that players have yet to experience.
The only thing that Call of Duty actually does seem to recycle is it’s control-scheme and gameplay mechanics. And this is the one thing that other first-person-shooters fail to get right the majority of the time, which in turn leads to a convoluted and over complex button layout, that can be off-putting for people to experience or become comfortable with. Regardless of how the game is experienced, be that a mouse and keyboard or to that of a gamepad, Call of Duty is consistent when it comes down to its control scheme even when adding new features and controls.
" The first of which would be solid controls and game mechanics. These allow the game to be an easy to pick up and play title that's simple to grasp, but contains a slight a learning curve to advance."
The third and final pillar that makes the series such an addictive and enjoyable experience is something that should rightfully be a norm at this point. But since prettier visuals and higher pixel counts apparently amount to the overall enjoyability as well as the re-playability of a game these days, I guess the actual functioning and playability isn’t an important factor any more.
Frame-rate! yes the frame-rate! Call of Duty has always aimed and met a sixty frames-per-second target and because of this the game feels smooth and responsive to play, is visually pleasing on the eyes, and never feels slow or sluggish which in-turn can lead to input lag, as seen with other first-person-shooter titles that rival against this series.
Call of Duty has always prioritized the playability of the game before considering the amount of pixels in the game. And while visuals are without a doubt an important factor to a game there’s a strong reason why Call of Duty has such a large fan-base that all deliver the same response as to why they enjoy the game so much. Fluidity and fast paced tight controls. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare continues the tradition while adding a new layer of depth and new features to game, which elevates it to an entire new level through ways that other first-person-shooters fail drastically to do so.
This is a new console generation, it’s also a new year. This means we can expect a new Call of Duty game and that means fan expectations are high for what the team over at SledgeHammer Games are going to have to bring to the table. During my time with the game and through an interview with Glen Schofield, co founder of SledgeHammer Games. I was given an in-depth look at the game as well as my own personal hands-on time with it, as to what new content and features we can hope to experience from the studios’ newest game.
" This means we can expect a new Call of Duty game and that means fan expectations are high for what the team over at SledgeHammer Games are going to bring to the table."
Just by observing the game through trailers, posters, screenshots and the like. Advanced Warfare is best described on the visual surface as Matt Damon’s Elysium meets Crysis and Modern Warfare 3. And if you take everything that’s good about all three of those titles, turn ’em up by a factor of ten, and think back to how each of those titles succeeded on delivered a feeling of power towards their central characters. Then you’ve basically got Advanced Warfare…
…And let’s not forget Kevin Spacey.
Developing Advanced Warfare on a three year development cycle along with a new game engine, has clearly paid off in delivering a game that’s visually stunning as well as being a joy to experience that still feels familiar while remaining fresh. As said by Glen Schofield, there was an extreme amount of focus dedicated to the narrative of the game. While past Call of Duty titles have contained their own stories it’s best said that none of these have ever really felt consistent or ever been a central focus as to why fans pick up the game.
Advanced Warfare seeks to rectify this by making the player feel engaged through the game’s main protagonist, Private Mitchell. From what’s been revealed about the game Private Mitchell’s life including his back story and friendships will play a significant role in telling a meaningful story. The story itself is said to be inspired by popular characters of TV and film.
" Advanced Warfare is best described on the visual surface as Matt Damon's Elysium meets Crysis and Modern Warfare 3."
Along with the concentration being given to the main protagonist and the game’s story, there’s also an insane amount of attention being given to the game’s multiplayer portion. And not just in terms of map size and choices for battle but also in the way that player customization works in combination with both multi-player and single-player. The four most important words being given to the player before going into battle here is You. Play. Your Way.
This is highly obvious when heading into the customization section of the game’s multi-player, which is the first thing I experienced as well as being of the most interest to me. The customization section of the game feels highly revamped in many ways to prior games. Much of what the player is able to do feels and looks vastly different in both navigation and the way in which the game displays each of its choices for the player to tweak.
The Exosuit which is as much its own weapon as well as being a mobile vehicle, allows the player to move faster and slicker than ever. Being able to double-jump through the use of jet-pack style boosting, floor-sliding, dodging, and air slamming all do well in delivering a real sense of power and speed, that aids in the way players will traverse the landscape.
" Much of what the player is able to do feels and looks vastly different in both navigation and the way in which the game displays each of its choices for the player."
Along with many different options for other Exosuit abilities such as an invisible cloak, hovering in mid-air, grappling hooks, and a wrist mounted shield, this ties directly back in to how the game’s level design has also changed in order to suit the way in which players will move throughout the level. Maps now have design layouts that are larger, more keen to verticality, and include environmental specific effects that reform the battle grounds which the player will have to adapt to.
Inspired by the Pick 10 system of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Advanced Warfare jacks this up a notch with Pick 13. For those familiar with how the system works with custom loadouts and allocating points to enhance the use and features of their weapons in certain situations, Pick 13 does this all. It just does it better by incorporating the Exosuit and supercharged weapons, that still remain balanced as well as have many options to to play with. A virtual lobby system has also been integrated which allows players to view their team mate’s weapons and Exosuit choices while they adjust their own before heading in to an online game.
Further adjustments that can be made to the Exosuit and weapons have all taken a futuristic route in the way they function and visually look. The usual choice for perks, attachments, and gadgets make a return but all in the theme of Advanced Warfare’s take on future military weaponary. Tracking drones and threat grenades that scan out the player’s environment and highlight all nearby threats in a glowing red aura, so that areas for cover and sections for camping completely change the way in how the game could play out.
" A virtual lobby system has also been integrated which allows players to view their team mates weapon and Exosuit choices while they adjust their own."
Along with completely new weapons such as a high-powered shotgun that sends out a repulsion-style wave, and a choice of dual-wielded pistols that feel like actual weapons of power, rather than a last resort once you’re ammo’s reached a critical state with your primary weapon, finally feel great to use. A new game mode for Co-op gameplay has been integrated similar to the survival and spec-ops modes from Modern Warfare 3.
Titled Exo-Survival this new gameplay mode takes everything that was introduced in the iteration of Modern Warfare 3 while adding new elements that are better well suited for the abilities and manoeuvrability of the Exosuit. Wave based A.I. battles, objective based rounds, two to four player options for gameplay, environmental weapons such as turrets and drones. Exo-Survival mode appears to be packed to the brimmed with choices for gameplay outside of the single-player campaign and the traditional multi-player format.
Another interesting feature of the game which added a deeper sense of immersion to the gameplay was the removal of the HUD (heads up display). Everything that the player now sees is directly in with what the character sees and this makes sense in delivering a more in-depth feeling to its world. Ammo count is now allocated to player’s weapon through an attached screen on the player’s weapons, and objectives and way-points are told through NPC’s voice communication and holographic displays being transmitted to the character through an on-screen mini display.
"Titled Exo-Survival this new gameplay mode takes everything that was introduced in the iteration of Modern Warfare 3 while adding new elements that are better well suited for the abilities and manoeuvrability of the Exosuit."
The overall sense of a blockbuster movie meets a triple-A video game through it’s character interactions and story telling is more prominent than ever. This time round however it appears more natural, with its cut-scenes occurring less and transitioning more in to actual gameplay. Natural is the word here and from what was shown of the single-player campaign, the inspiration behind TV and film is evident.
With everything from the weapon customization, Exosuit abilities, a significant visual upgrade, and a strong focus on delivering a compelling single-player campaign Advanced Warfare looks very promising. Launching in just under five weeks from now, GamingBolt will have more coverage on this title including all the new features and gameplay elements that will be revealed over time.
This game was previewed on the Xbox One.