Today at Gamescom, a gaming convention in Germany, Activision and developer Sledgehammer Games showed off the side of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare that most players have been waiting for: the multiplayer. With millions still playing some variation of a COD title, it's no surprised that the event was broadcast worldwide. What was unexpected though, was the level of change that players can expect in the upcoming game, set to release on November 4, 2014.
Meet the Exoskeleton
Simple dubbed "Exo," this new addition is clearly the focus of the gameplay. Your Exo features a variety of abilities aimed at giving players a near superhuman-like experience. Players will be able to boost their jumping, sliding, dodging, dashing, and will even be able to do a boost slam, mimicking the "Death from Above" maneuver those familiar with mechs (or recently released Titanfall) will recognize.
The Exo makes players faster and stronger, which is expected to add another level of gameplay. In addition to some brutal melee attacks, players will learn to use the attached jetpack to hover and boost jump to high levels of maps, showing off the word of the show: "verticality". Customization was key, with Sledgehammer presenters boasting of more than a billion combinations that players can use to customize their soldiers. Everything, from head to toe, is changeable to give each character a feeling of uniqueness.
Notedly absent from the presentation was a view of a female soldier, though it was not confirmed if the body type had been removed from the game. I wouldn't expect it to be, though the lack of a visible avatar was noticed.
Finally, the Exo also featured changeable abilities that should look remarkably familiar. With an ability cloak, put up a shield, or even use a trophy system to disable enemy projectiles, players may confuse what their seeing with Crytek's shooter Crysis, though I'm sure sales of Call of Duty will eclipse the EA published game in short order.
Map Creation and Game Modes
As noted, verticality was mentioned no less than a dozen times throughout the presentation, driving home the point that Sledgehammer Games wants you to go UP! UP! UP! Four maps were shown, Biolab, Riot, Ascend, and Defender which takes place in San Francisco and is altered by a tsunami during gameplay, changing the layout of the map. The maps ranged from small/medium size to large and also showed differences with combat options, moving from close quarters to more wide-open areas.
No other maps were presented, but in typical Call of Duty style, expect to see a remake of popular maps that graced previous games.
Twelve game modes were confirmed for release, with seven being identified. Your basic Team Deathmatch, Domination, Capture the Flag, and Search and Destroy are making a comeback, as is fan-favorite Hardpoint. Surprising -- and welcomed -- was the announcement of Momentum, a new take on the classic game mode War from World at War.
New to this year's release is a mode called Uplink which, if you look hard enough, seems like a variation of the popular game Quidditch from the Harry Potter Franchise. In Uplink, players will take control of a mobile satellite with the intent of moving it to a team-specific goal. You can throw the satellite into the goal for a point or use your Exo to jump the satellite into it for two points.
A level of strategy is implemented when players carry the satellite because it disables your weapons. What that means is that you're encouraged to throw the satellite to enemy players, rendering their weapons useless, then destroy them and pick it back up to move on the goal.
Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Player Customization and Creativity
The last piece of information revealed to players was another theme throughout the presentation. With over a billion options just for how your character looks, the expectation for character function is certainly high. Fear not, it seems that the folks at Sledgehammer have evolved the "Pick 10" system to "Pick 13." The exact reason behind 13 instead of 10 wasn't apparent, but it may have something to do with the score streaks.
Yes, score streaks return in lieu of kill streaks. Players can choose zero score streaks, saving those points for attachments, perks, or weapons, or can choose the three basic score streaks. In a twist, players can spend two points on a Wildcard and an extra score streak, bringing the total to four. And most interesting is that some score streaks will be co-op streaks, allowing players to double-up and rain hell upon their foes together, but the only one on display was a simple "You spot, I shoot," co-op streak.
In addition to the expected weapons, attachments, projectiles, and score streaks, players will, for the first time, be introduced to a loot system called Supply Drop. The Supply Drop gives three tiers of items: Enlisted (Common), Professional (Uncommon), and Elite (Rare). Elite gear will feature bonuses to any number of stats or attachments, making them completely unique. Balancing these items must be a nightmare, though a comment was made that seeing a player decked out in Elite Gear would be intimidating.
The Supply Drop system will be used by players who earn it via longevity or by completing challenges in multiplayer games.
The Virtual Lobby and Virtual Firing Range are the final implements. With the Virtual Lobby, players are no longer just a name and rank while waiting for the matches to start. Instead, with so many options for customization, you'll want people to see it. You'll be able to cycle through your team and opponents to see what they look like. It's customization on the level of Emblems from previous games, only with less swastikas and penises.
The Virtual Firing Range is an area players can go to while waiting for a match to start. The intent is to allow players to experiment with new weapons and attachments prior to getting into a game and realizing that a grenade launcher isn't necessary on a pistol.
Overall, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare looks like a mash-up of a lot of recent sci-fi shooters and is implementing a lot of level design that fans have never seen before in the series. Going vertical, swimming underwater, and experiencing changes to level design mid-battle seems like a good idea. And this time around the team at Sledgehammer has had three years to work on the game, the longest development cycle since the franchise exploded onto the scene.
The question still looms though, is this the game to pull us all back in and rebuild the rabid player base that has seemed to dwindle over the last few years?