Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare EXO - Games Weekly

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare EXO

So we all know that everyone is going to be blasting through the single player game in hours and then spending the next year playing the multiplayer. Of course some of you will probably only have a look at the single-player campaign one night next year after you rage quit because some n00b online did a thing. This thinking is representative of the review before you. Most of the focus is on the multiplayer and less on the single-player. Having said that we strongly urge you to play the single-player game because it’s one hell of a ride into what can only be called mega blockbuster gaming the likes of which we only ever see in popcorn stuffing Michael Bay movies.

The Exoskeleton suits are a great start for this frantic run and gun multiplayer reinvention of the series. All we need now are a few jump pads scattered around the maps and a railgun and maybe even a quick-firing rocket launcher. Just saying, make a note for next time. For those of you coming away from the disaster that was  Call of Duty: Ghosts  it’s all good news.  CoD  is back and futuristic and awesome and feels just like  Modern Warfare 2  and also a little like  Black Ops II.  What I don’t like is the rubbish network code on launch. There are issues that, depending on luck or the weather or your connection, mean you either do well or excellent or terrible. I know they’ll fix all this soon but right now it grates a lot.

The old Pick 10 system has been reworked to Pick 13, which means you fully customise your loadout however you’d like (it’s more than the usual 10 thanks to the Exo suit stuff). For example, you can choose up to three add ons for your gun meaning you can’t choose an extra perk in slot one and so on. The permutations are varied and deep, allowing for everything from a ghost knifing class to a sit and camp sniping class, there’s something here for everyone. The default classes are also great for when you start and it’s a testament to the polish and familiarity of the multiplayer that you can grab an SMG default setup and still dominate a match on your first go. This is what it means to get multiplayer right: being able to jump in, having played most of the previous games in the series, and just slot right into a comfortable space.

The suits allow for more vertical mobility in the maps and it’s a real art learning how to use them effectively. They also leave a trace signature on the mini-map so you need to think about the where and how when using them. All this leaping up and dodging in mid-air also opens up opportunities to skeet shoot enemies or simply leap up and stomp people to death. It’s a great addition but comes at the cost of having no really small maps. To make up for it a little, all the maps feature some dynamic content. For example, new areas of the map are dropped off by a cargo chopper and in others a tsunami pounds the coastline. They don’t really change things too much but are a fun distraction.

On the topic of game modes, if PC-based CoD players ever bother to look there are a few other interesting maps modes to play outside of TDM and S&D, like Uplink and the welcome return of Hardpoint. So go on, have a look, you might even like what you find. Also, you can select game modes that turn off the Exo suits. So yes, Sledgehammer Games have done it, they’ve cleared the stench of  Call of Duty: Ghosts  and convincingly set the way forward for the series and hopefully the thinking behind future iterations. But no, it’s not magically different to what you’re used to, in fact it’s just like all the other games that have come before it which is not a bad thing. What it does is offer a glimpse that the people at Activision are thinking about series fatigue and taking small steps to correct this now.

But wait there’s more. There’s another mode on offer here call Exo Survival which is a co-op experience for up to four players. It’s wave-based but instead of zombies or aliens you’re facing attack dogs, soldiers and even robots (technically the game’s AI bot system).

The fun here is based in, on and around the multiplayer maps with one difference: there are upgrade stations for your weapons and Exo suits. It’s important to keep upgrading as you go along or you’re not going to be able to deal with the pain at the higher tiers. This is an exciting game mode because you never know what is coming next: one round you’ll be facing cloaked soldiers, the next you must collect dog tags littered around the map. Fail to get all the tags and they take away your main weapon leaving you with just a sidearm to defend yourself while a timer ticks down panic. It’s frantic and fun and gets more challenging the deeper you play. Of course the only negative here is that everyone is really looking for a fresh zombie mode, which the Exo Survival mode strongly hints at if you keep playing it. The people at Activision know all too well the popularity of the zombie wave-based experience, first made famous by Call of Duty: World at War and only next year will we be blessed with a zombie swarming game… fora price. Boo!

Advanced Warfare’ s multiplayer component is a very satisfying offering. While I can’t comment on anything but team deathmatch, because it’s impossible to find a game in any other mode (although I’ve heard great things from console gamers… sigh), that one mode offers so much enjoyment that it’s almost worth putting up with the P2P issues, lag spikes and disconnects. Thankfully there have been a couple of patches already which have done a lot to fix those issues.

As for the game itself, it’s great fun. The guns feel meaty and the action has real weight to it. Moving through the well designed (and reasonably-sized!) maps while blasting Exo abilities in all directions is incredibly satisfying. The movement is fast and takes a lot of practice to get right, but it’s worth trying ten times to land that perfect jump, even if you get shot out of the sky every second attempt. And once you’ve got the motion figured out, watching other players helplessly bat themselves into walls like Christmas beetles just adds to the thrill of the whole experience.

Although some *  gamers are largely unaware of the existence of game types that aren’t team deathmatch,  Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare  actually includes more than 10 multiplayer modes, plus several additional variants of these, as well as a revamped co-op survival mode. Where previous  Call of Duty  games have reliably delivered more or less the same but… no, it’s basically exactly the same thing every year , Advanced Warfare’ s sci-fi Exoskeleton has introduced a fundamentally and entirely different kind of gameplay to the series, with a definitively old school aesthetic it’s much more Unreal Tournament  than military sniper sim.

New features like double-jump, air dash, and the glorious boost slam make for much faster, infinitely more engaged matches where camping in a corner is a first-class ticket to the bottom of the scoreboard. At the moment, there’s no dedicated server support for the game on PC (controversial) or console (not quite so controversial), but I’ve had no real issue with lag or peer-to-peer matchmaking on Xbox One. Sledgehammer has maintained a somewhat vague position on when/if/what dedicated server support is incoming, but PC gamers’ grumbles are getting louder. Stay tuned.

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