Call of Duty Ghosts Onslaught DLC Impressions

By Adam Ma on February 5, 2014, 12:26AM EDT
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Assuming that you're not the kind of person to go in for a Season Pass DLC can be a pretty tricky business. Is 19.99 USD a fair price for four maps, a new chapter to Extinction and two new weapons? It's a pretty loaded question to ask because many of us have different tastes in how we play. The difference between being a player that enjoys camping in a particular spot, versus sniping down alleyways, to running through the streets with a shotgun is pretty huge, and amid all the advertising hype it can be difficult to tell if the content you're getting is worthwhile.

So what can the average gamer expect to get from Onslaught? The question still depends on what kind of gamer you are but perhaps a deeper breakdown of its content will help lend a hand in deciding if you should spend your time, let alone money, on blasting away other players (or aliens) in some brand new fancy locations. Starting of course with the multiplayer side.

Ignition

One of the big four multiplayer maps is actually an updated version of a Modern Warfare 2 map, Scrapyard, but a better word for the overall design changes would actually be a re-imagining. Many of the tight corners and narrow hallways from the older version of the map have been spaced out, additional underground passages have been added to provided a safe haven from what few sniper spots exist, and to top it all off the map doesn't even start in its completed form until close to a minute into the game.

Instead players get to run around and shoot at one another while a nearby rocket takes off and explodes in mid air to send bits debris flying across the battlefield; landing conveniently in places that allow for extra tunnelled passages. Of course, if you're standing in the wrong place at the wrong time you'll probably be crushed by something but knowing where to be and how to manipulate yourself during the event is half the fun.

It's also the weakest of the four maps, exchanging nostalgia for meaningful design changes, as many of the problems that were present in the Modern Warfare 2 iteration of the map still exist in full force. Dislike being shot from one of thirty potential corners? Enjoy medium sized maps that aren't made smaller from too much cover? Are made easily upset when a single avenue is able to be almost entirely dominated by a single player? These are the design choices that make online less fun, and Ignition (for as flavorful as it is) just isn't as interesting as it should be.

Bayview

Almost entirely on the other spectrum of Ignition is Bayview, a map set in a scenic tourist trap that features an aquarium, shops, a two story cafe/restaurant and the typical naval destroyers sitting just offshore. While it seems at first that Bayview is a map that can and does force players into taking up high points and blasting down into the rat maze of stores below its design actually gives players a lot of options in taking both close range and distanced strategies.

Two major lanes sit on the northern and southernmost point in the map, allowing for players who enjoy a "˜wait and see' approach to take their time in moving; meanwhile the network of stores and stairways scattered through the center of the map allow for plenty of means to travel without approaching the kill box in between. Other nice touches include metal detectors that sound off in each store when a player steps through which alerts nearby players to your movement, and of course the trolley that moves around town and serves as a wonderful perch for you or any electronic kill machines you may have.

Containment

Containment is another map that says it's small, but is in fact much smaller than it lets on to be. Maybe some of this is because the ravine that sits between both sides of the besieged Mexican town takes up most of the space available to run and gun in, and because running into the ravine is most assuredly a death sentence. Or perhaps it's because the buildings offered provide too much cover over the few roads and back alleys available, making it very difficult to shoot if you're not adept at long-range combat.

Either way if you're a marksman rifle, sniper rifle, or assault rifle player (with an eagle eye or a good scope) then Containment is the map for you. Close range players will find themselves very hard pressed to make their way around the map, especially since there are so many directions you can be shot from with very little safety in between. The same reasons that make Containment such a difficult map for game types like Kill Confirmed or Team Deathmatch make it worse for Search and Rescue; since the pressure that comes with dying tends to be non-existent for the defending team.

Fog

Fog is hands down the most complex map in the DLC lot, in both the level of detail poured into the design and its learning curve for players to adapt to. It's also the most rewarding and enjoyable to play in since as a player you can literally section off portions of the map and dedicate yourself to a single location without hurting your team (though perhaps you'll risk being called a camper).

Long range players literally have the entire eastern side of the map to enjoy, while close to mid-range players will find themselves enjoying the cave network, underground basement, and abandoned house. The entire level is meant to be creepy, foreboding and unnerving with references to many horror classics laying strewn about all over map. Trails of blood, semitransparent spirits, an abandoned camp site and plenty of swampy bog fills the level with an undeniable amount of personality.

It also features what has to be the most satisfying Field Order yet, the ability to turn into Michael Myers. Upon getting the order completed and obtained players will run around the map with increased speed and durability, using an axe to cut down enemies while his classic Halloween theme plays throughout the level to let friend and foe know you've arrived. It's a whole new level of psychological warfare should you be lucky enough to grab the elusive order, and one that definitely makes the map that much more enjoyable.

In addition to the four maps multiplayer gets a new rifle which doubles as both a sniper and assault class weapon. Either route you take the gun has both power and kick, something generally coveted by most, and though it's difficult to say whether or not it'll be the next go-to gun there are enough drawbacks to using it to make other rifles more appealing; depending of course on your taste.

If you're the kind of player that enjoys short, precision based shots (and has the trigger finger to support it) then the Maverick may just be your new best friend. Otherwise it'll take some modding to get it to behave the way you want, be it for engagements where you hold down the trigger or successive long range shots. At the very least its sniper variant has a unique scope that offers a sizeable ADS view with its own unique futuristic orange tint.

Extinction: Nightfall

The next chapter to the alien "˜invasion' sends players to Alaska on a three part mission: Locate a missing scientist, eliminate a traitor, and put down anything that isn't human between point A and B. Where Point of Contact gently pushed players into the idea of warding off enemies through improvised encampments Nightfall takes things one step further, tossing bigger and nastier waves of Cryptids much sooner than the previous chapter.

As a result it may not be the best thing for a new player to jump into, but if you've got the experience then the challenge Nightfall offers should take up a decent chunk of your time. The two new aliens present both a new normal enemy option in the form of a teleporting melee baddie, and a you-can-only-shoot-my-head boss. Sadly it doesn't flash yellow or orange when it gets low on health, but you will have to tackle it with a unique strategy compared to the others that only require superior and constant fire power.

From a narrative standpoint Nightfall also gives players a chance to discover new data on the aliens via intel hidden throughout the map, and NPC banter between rounds does a great job of making players feel more that they're a part of an ongoing roller coaster ride of action.

The downsides? Well, though it may be difficult to accomplish a good team can actually clear through the content very quickly; and the final boss offers little to no challenge once you've discovered the trick in beating it (compared to Point of Contact which was a bit of a adrenaline rush). The new Extinction exclusive gun also doesn't become available until close to the end, and though it's free for any player to use it would of been nice to have the option to play with it a bit earlier in the level during a less frantic moment.

Onslaught as a whole is a map pack that plays like it caters to a group of gamers that enjoy the more frantic pace of CoD's arcade shooter combat. Though it feels like Infinity Ward has tried to find a happy medium in maps like Containment and Ignition it all still falls short, and if not for the incredible variety offered in Bayview and Fog it would be safe to say that Onslaught misses the mark entirely.

Fortunately what they do get right excels at beyond expectations, and we can only hope that the next map pack instalment decides to be a little more creative and experimental in where they send players to shoot each other in the face. Bayview and Fog both give us a short glimpse of that potential creative brilliance and though players that have a hard time adapting to smaller maps may struggle, Onslaught biggest boast is how different and flavorful each map really is. You'll just may not appreciate it amid getting shot a lot.

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