The latest Call of Duty has a lot going for it – here’s why it makes us care about the franchise again.
Yes, we know it’s a Call of Duty title. We know that we’ve been burned multiple times before whether it was those god-forsaken FOB missions from Black Ops 2 or the reveal of Riley the Dog for Ghosts. However, what’s made Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare so intriguing is that it hasn’t revealed any “gimmicks” thus far. There are drones, EXO Suits, power armour, Kevin Spacey, PMCs, walking tanks and much more but these all appear as integral parts of the gameplay rather than throwaway sequences we’ll play for five minutes and seemingly forget about.
While we have no doubt that Sledgehammer Games will introduce plenty of those gameplay elements, what’s been seen thus far gives us fresh ho0pe for the franchise. Here are our top five reasons to be legitimately excited for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Shades of Grey
This has often been a problem with the Call of Duty franchise. Here are your guns, here are your bad guys (they may be Russian or have funny accents – that means they’re extra bad!), now go to work. While we’re looking forward to gunning down Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order, the main reason is because the game takes a wholly different approach to World War II and the aftermath. Call of Duty has just been recycling the same stereotypical good vs. evil conflict for years. Black Ops 2 attempted to mix it up but just delivered a protagonist we didn’t feel all that fulfilled about capturing or killing.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare changes that at last. You work for a private military company or PMC and even if you’re just trying to do the right thing, you’re still one of the shiftiest guys on the planet. Plus, you work for Atlas Corporation, which is run by Jonathan Irons. Irons is played by Kevin Spacey who seemingly revisits the Machiavellian tones that made him so utterly compelling in House of Cards. That brings us to our next big point…
Frank Underwood Fears No One
Till now, we’ve had nothing but static villains in the Call of Duty franchise. Zakhaev was kind of cheesed we blew his arm off. Makarov was also kind of annoyed about the same thing. General Shepherd is a poor man’s Big Boss. That guy trying to avenge his sister in Black Ops 2 was clichéd. Rourke was a waste of time. But more than just being utterly annoying, each of these antagonists never really conveyed a sense of character.
Jonathan Irons does. He’s effectively channelling Frank Underwood, but Kevin Spacey’s voice, tone and affliction make him a far more compelling villain than even most television antagonists. He’s not even a stereotypical villain as his diatribe on control and having volatile nations following one through the use of PMCs make sense (which is of course what makes him all the more dangerous). Sledgehammer Games does have the potential to effectively screw up the character and have our main man kill him in a clichéd slow-mo stand-off. But if Spacey can make even half the insane things he does in House of Cards look good, you can bet he’ll execute the dance of death in a memorable fashion.
Welcome to Elysium
The EXO Suits in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are essentially a reason to have your soldier capable of making huge leaps and mowing down enemies. Assuming that Sledgehammer put more than five minutes into their implementation, this means that the fundamentals of Call of Duty have essentially changed. You’re encouraged to jump kick someone in the face from across a chasm. You can climb up walls and take vantage points. Super speed allows you to dash from corner to corner in quick boosts. This means that, like Titanfall, camping is made all the harder though those sneaking up have an advantage in some ways (assuming one hit knife kills return).
While we look at the game and see much of the same shooter gameplay that defined the previous iterations in the franchise, it’s good to know that Sledgehammer is taking baby steps towards changing things up. Sure, you could say that Black Ops 2 did new things but this was all within the frame work of the same monotonous gameplay. If Sledgehammer successfully pulls off Advanced Warfare’s new mechanics, it could be the most fun we have with a Call of Duty game in years.
Everything’s Better on Next-Gen
Sledgehammer Games has finally taken steps to move up from the same goddamn engine that the franchise has been using since the first Modern Warfare. You could argue that plenty of other games look better and you’d be right. However, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s revamped visuals now mean that we aren’t trapped in a lifeless environment that’s only slightly tuned from the year before.
We’re already seeing improved facial animation and textures, more detailed weapons and particle effects, greater draw distance and destruction, and much more. It means a higher demand for PC gamers but it’s been this way for a while. Now that demand is actually translating into a better looking game. The visual state of Call of Duty has arguably been one of the biggest knocks against it and with Advanced Warfare; Activision is at least showing that it’s amenable towards making its yearly franchise aesthetically appealing. Again, graphics don’t translate to great gameplay but if it helps make for bigger and better set pieces – which Call of Duty calls for – it will ultimately be worth it.
Bringing the Sledgehammer Down
Most important of all, the one legit reason to be excited for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is that Sledgehammer Games is open to doing things differently. We don’t even mean throwing new features into the game – the studio is actually interested in trying to create a different game. It was originally creating a third person Call of Duty title in the vein of Dead Space before eventually getting into Modern Warfare 3 and then Advanced Warfare.
Studios like Infinity Ward and Treyarch, for better or worse, have stuck to a particular groove. Not only do consumers expect them to deliver the same gameplay but they’re outright encouraged to repeat the same formula time and time again. Everything that Sledgehammer Games has shown us thus far indicates that’s not the case. So at least until it settles on a winning formula and milks the hell out of it, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare could arguably be the freshest take on the franchise yet.
What are your reasons to be legitimately excited for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare? Let us know in the comments.