War did change.
They say war doesn’t change. In the case of Call of Duty it rarely does. The franchise has seen its ups and downs over time, but last year’s Ghosts was especially disappointing. A lot of people thought it was finally the beginning of the end for Activision’s juggernaut. Then Advanced Warfare came along; reinvigorating what makes the series so popular, while also changing the dynamic of its most popular feature: multiplayer. Sledgehammer has breathed new life into the series. This is a change for the better. The only problem that could stem from this is I don’t think I could go back to the old style of Call of Duty after experiencing Advanced Warfare.
Every year I have the same ritual. I plow through the campaign before touching the multiplayer. Usually they are 4-6 hour romps that involve a lot of following other people through scripted events, akin to a summer popcorn action movie. Advanced Warfare brings a lot of the same moments, but also paces itself extremely well. There is downtime in some missions, there are stealth missions that are not terrible, and the story is actually interesting, thanks to performances from Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, 360, PS3, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Multiplayer: Competitive and Co-op
This campaign is nothing new, but it hits the right notes at the right time to make it much more enjoyable than past iterations.
The biggest change is the new EXO suit, which adds new mobility and powers to the loadout. Each mission has a predetermined suit what can feature double jumps, riot shields, overdrive (basically bullet time) and even a grappling hook. The EXO suit also allows players to boost in all four directions, changing up how I played the game. Grenade at my feet? No worries, just dodge to the side. This also extends into multiplayer, and changes the fundamentals and pace of the experience.
Unlike the campaign, where EXO suit load-outs are predetermined, the online aspect allows for boost movement and double jumping all the time. As one would imagine, this changes how Call of Duty multiplayer works. I was now able to jet around the environment faster, reach new heights, and avoid being taken out much easier. It isn’t unlike that Xbox One exclusive shooter released earlier this year. The speed and pace of online matches are now frantic, and a lot more fun.
There are also supplementary powers that can be used on the suits. Things like invisibility and extra health can really change up the game. I love the customization of these items. One thing Call of Duty has been doing right with their multiplayer is allowing players to choose their load-outs and how they play. It is awesome watching the higher level players toy with these new mechanics.
Advanced Warfare also delivers a pseudo loot system in the form of supply drops. These are earned regularly during multiplayer and consist of new guns, cosmetic items and temporary perks. Some items are permanent, while others are timed. I could also trade any one of them in for bonus XP. It’s a cool system that kept me playing, plus that sound when a drop unlocks is addictive.
The traditional XP and unlock systems also make a return, delivering drip feeds to keep players coming back for more. I always had new sights or gun skins to check out, the former actually altering the way I played. It is a refined system, and added to the new supply drops, it makes playing online an extremely addictive affair.
Customization also returns in the Pick 13 system, which is just a bigger, better version of Black Ops’ Pick 10. Being able to customize my perks and killstreaks is great, especially considering how terrible I am at Call of Duty online. Toss in the ability to play with a combination of bots and/or friends, and these modes bring on a whole new meaning. I spent hours playing Advanced Warfare, and don’t intend on quitting anytime soon.
There is also a new co-op mode called EXO Survival, which again redefines the co-op nature of the series. This wave-based feature had me and three friends taking on various challenges seemingly at random – fighting robots, dogs, or regular enemies, while other times taking points or collecting items. It stays fresh, keeps it fun, and kept me coming back. It’s just another reason to keep the disc in my system that much longer.
Advanced Warfare is also the first Call of Duty game built for these machines, and it shows. The visuals are stunning at times. The uncanny likeness of the characters and the illustrious set pieces shine on the new hardware. It definitely impresses, and it also runs at a blistering 60 frames per second almost all the time. Sledgehammer really has set the bar for the series going forward in almost every category.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare isn’t going to make people who hate the series suddenly take notice, but for those that have felt the franchise has been falling flat lately, it definitely re-energizes it. This is the Call of Duty game fans have been clamoring for, and I feel sorry for the team that has to try and top it next year.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.