Last week I attended a private event in San Francisco for the hands-on reveal of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer. We began with an impressive visual trailer highlighting some of the key new features and changes to the gameplay that I will get into momentarily. The presentation was led by Sledgehammer Games co-founders, Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. Both not only kept audiences laughing with their comedic delivery and witty banter with one another, but also well informed and in some cases cheering at some of the announcements. This has been title three years in development, and that added year really allowed the team to challenge themselves to bring a whole new multiplayer experience while still holding true to what makes Call of Duty one of the most popular multiplayer shooters. Their core mantra is "You play, your way" and from what I've seen and from what I've played, I can certainly attest that they've successfully delivered. Without further ado, I am proud to present some of the most noteworthy features and fundamental gameplay designs that I got a chance to play in the latest instalment in the Call of Duty franchise.
The biggest change, and one most already have seen based on early reveal photos and trailers, is the Exoskeleton, or EXO for short. The EXO suit allows players to drastically change the way they traverse the environment; something different from any Call of Duty before. With this added exoskeleton, players have strength, speed, agility and also verticality and it really does transform how you play. This also forced the developers to ensure that some levels are larger to truly get a feel of your momentum based jumping. As mentioned before it also offers a significant degree of verticality, as you will approach a map from various angles. Boost jumping also comes with the addition of dash, dodge and slam "“ its offensive and evasive manoeuvres. Dashing can be done midair and, while dodging is done on the ground and both offer excellent defensive controls to truly make fast paced decisions when under fire. Slam is an all new melee ability that can quickly turn the tide in a pinch. Boost sliding has also been included, and is a great improvement on simply sliding into cover. Sliding adds to the mobility of the advanced solider as well as the fluidity of their movement, and can also work offensively as you can slide into an enemy at higher speeds. Not only that, but boost sliding can also be transitioned into boost jumping, allowing for greater momentum in your jump.
The EXO comes with an assortment of abilities. EXO shield is a quick-deploy shield attached to your arm. EXO overclock allows for increased footspeed. EXO Stim grants temporary health regeneration beyond normal levels. EXO cloak allows you to conceal yourself for short bursts of time. EXO hover lets you hover in place for a short duration. EXO ping lets you see enemy movement and weapon fire in the HUD. And finally, EXO trophy system destroys incoming grenades and rockets for a limited time period. This allows the player to completely augment their EXO depending entirely on what they value as a player and how they play in any scenario.
Supply drops are essentially loot: Call of Duty style, and they bring a new reward system of more than 1000 rewards into multiplayer. Supply drops reward you with items, including customized weapons, character based gear, and reinforcements. Reinforcements are a one-time use item that are activated during the match at predetermined intervals. These are time-based and are kill tiered rewards for your extensive playtime. The longer you play, the more fruitful your reward. Another new addition is the weapon loop. These are custom weapons with about 10 customizable options, essentially meaning there are 350 weapons out of the box.
New to class customization is "Pick 13" each class has 13 slots that can be filled, and are divided based on how you play. What this means is that you can select what you what to allocate this slots to: decking out your primary and secondary, having additional grenades or perks, or selecting scorestreaks should you choose to want them. The return of scorestreaks received a large applause, and can be customized to tailor to your needs. The example shown was a simple machine turret. One upgrade can change that machine turret into a rocket turret, at the cost of having a higher score. Going even further and you can customize it to rip the heads off your enemies for an even greater cost. Another new introduction is cooperative scorestreaks. For instance, if you receive a warbird drone, your coop buddy can join in and earn reward points alongside you.
And if scorestreaks do not appeal to you, you don't need them! In fact they do not penalize you for opting out of them; rather they grant you more allocation for your other sections of "Pick 13." By not having all 3 scorestreaks, you have the additional option of further upgrades to your weapon, or granting you more perks to utilize. They truly want you to play your way, and there was one common theme, it was customization.
Characters have received an enormous overhaul in the new "create an operator" section. It is a brand new system built from the ground up that allows you to truly create your unique avatar like never before in a Call of Duty game. Everything from the head, eyes, arm sleeves, gloves, shirts, pants, boots, knee guards, torso protection and even the Exoskeleton can be fully customized. The possibilities for your male or female soldier are seemingly limitless. This walks hand in hand with the Virtual Lobby. This is a feature that, for the first time in a Call of Duty game, displays all created operators in game amongst other people in a game lobby. You can view their custom character just as they can view yours. It is a terrific way to assess who is who on the battlefield. You can also view each other's weapons, gears, and reinforcements.
For those who may be worried about getting new weapons and not knowing how they operate before a match starts, Sledgehammer addressed this concern, and have offered the virtual firing range. Immediately from the create a class section or in between matches you hone your firing accuracy and quick shots using this virtual firing range. If there's a weapon you're unfamiliar with it gives you a good chance to control your bullet spread and become more accustomed to it, before entering a match. On top of that, it's simply a mode you can use so that there is no downtime for you. You do not need to get bored waiting in between matches anymore; you have that freedom to test out new weapons, newly created classes, or to simply improve your aim.
To test their multiplayer out we were given 4 maps, and 4 modes. The first map was called "˜Biolab' and it offered a tight, close quarters map with additional vertical options fitted on the outskirts. "˜Riot' took place in a bombed out prison. Not only does it offer wider areas to move around in, but it also offers the inside of that prison for chaotic gunplay. "˜Ascend' took place in a futuristic space terminal, and primarily focused on the verticality of a level; ideal for capture the flag. Finally, "˜Defender' was the most open offering of the 4 maps "“ perfect for EXO gameplay. Mid-match, a tsunami will also occur, forcing players to adapt and hide or be swept away. They did announce that there will be a total of 12 modes on day one; some classics like Hardpoint, Capture the Flag and Team Death Match are all redesigned with the EXO gameplay in mind.
The modes we had access to were Team Death Match and Capture the Flag, Momentum "“ which is a new take on the classic territory control mode War that fans may remember from Call of Duty 3 or World at War. Uplink was the final mode we were able to play, and was one I played the most. Two teams fight over the handling of a satellite orb and players from either side need to carry it to a floating hoop on the map (or uplink point). The real kicker is that players can pass the orb to other members on your team if you're stuck in fire, or alternatively, toss the orb at enemy players to render them temporarily weaponless while you make quick work of them and then proceed to the uplink point. How you bring the orb to the uplink can change too, as you can jump into the uplink point with the orb, or you can throw it through the hoop. For fun, most of us there decided to call the game mode Quidditch, and it really can feel like a competitive sport within a shooting game.
Sledgehammer Games is also working to cater to the eSports community. Advanced Warfare's multiplayer delivers a host of options. What's currently available to the public are as follows: round-based domination, broadcaster mode (which now features an expanded oracle mode), ranked playlists, LAN lobbies, and private match rule-set value sliders. We were also told that Beachhead Studios is working alongside Sledgehammer and are focusing on the Clan Wars aspect.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare releases November 04, 2014 for the PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PS3.
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