Two weeks after it’s release, and after presaging for a second time this week, it seemed like a good time to post some thoughts on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This is the 11th (!) game in the series, and the first solo Call of Duty effort from Sledgehammer games. They did co-develop Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward though. Those that dubbed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare as “Call of Duty: Titanfall” didn’t end up being that far off. More on that soon.
This game definitely feels like a Call of Duty game. It’s extremely fast paced, and as the trend has been the last few years, the maps get smaller and the engagements get faster and more frequent.
Everything is not perfect though, there are some web established server/netcode issues that seem to cause problems for many players. These issues have been discussed at length, but the gist of it is that it symptomizes itself as a player seeing hit markers on their screen, but not getting a kill, and then the subsequent kill cam showing that the player’s hits never registered. This is a frustrating problem.
The Exo Suits
The big addition to this year’s installment was the Exo Suit. This is where the Titanfall comparisons come from. For the first time, double jumping is possible. As is boosting with thrusters forward, backward and side-to-side. This increases the pace and speed of the game and makes the game more vertical than ever. At first this seemed like it would be a real issue, but it has actually been pretty good so far. No longer can someone who has taken the time to climb way up high simply sit there without incident, as double jumping allows anyone to get anywhere relatively quickly. It will be interesting to see if this will be here to stay with whatever the next game it is or not, but best guess is that at this point most people would be sad to see it go.
The Exo suits also offer an extra ability that can be equipped. Some of these options used to be perks (Ping, faster health regeneration) and there are some totally new things (like cloak and hover). These gimmicks don’t seem to be worth a slot in the “pick 13” system, and although some people use them, it seems like most people opt to go other directions.
Create-A-Class Pick 13
The pick 13 system is based on the system that has been in use in recent games where player’s can opt to build their class in many different ways. For example, players can sacrifice the aforementioned Exo Abilities for a third weapon attachment. This allows players to really get a class to fit their play style.
Most people seem to be opting for assault rifles, either the BAL–27 or AK–12 seem to be the most popular. At the moment, the class of choice for this blog is BAL–27 w/suppressor, quickdraw grip and stock as primary. No secondary, launchers or Exo abilities. Low Profile, Peripherals, Toughness and Blast Suppressor as perks. Then UAV (with support and threat detection), Care Package (with support and double tap) and Remote Turret (with support and sentry) as score streaks.
The interesting thing in this game is the de-emphasis on perks. After Ghosts offered something like 30 perks, there are just 15 here. Many perks (like quickdraw) have been moved to attachments, or (like dead silence) Exo abilities. This makes using three attachments almost a must. As a result of this change, the perks are somewhat disappointing. Outside of the four mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are few others worth using. Lightweight maybe, Flak Jacket in certain game modes, Cold Blooded is good, Blind Eye on occasion or maybe Scavenger if you live a long time frequently. That is just 9 out of 15 that are even worth considering.
There are just 12 score streaks, and as been the case the last couple of games, score streaks continue to be de-emphasized and weakened as to not be game ruining. They have done a good job with this, and because the streaks are based on scoring points, and not just kills it’s much easier for people to earn them while playing objective based games. The other addition is the ability to modify score streaks so that they have additional features, but these also increase the cost. The higher cost streaks (Goliath, Warbird and Paladin) are not enough of sure things to warrant equipping them. As good as the Paladin is, it probably will lead to just a couple of kills in most cases, and since it requires 950 points it is just not worth it. On the other end of the spectrum, the System Hack at 600 points seems to happen a bit too frequently. It will be interesting to see if Sledgehammer tweaks these at all down the road.
The maps have been an interesting experience. For the most part there are not any huge maps, and all the maps feel small thanks to the Exo suit making moving around so much faster. No maps jumped out as Strikezone/Dome/Nuketown after the first couple of days, but after two weeks it has become apparent that the maps are very well designed. There don’t seem to be spawn areas that give one team too much of an advantage and most maps don’t have any major bottlenecks. This seems to be because most maps were created with the “three lane design” in mind, which means that there are three different main paths on the map.
That isn’t to say the maps are perfect, but for the most part they are good, without a lot of separation between the best and worst maps. At this point the top four in some order would be Detroit, Defender, Instinct and Retreat. The bottom four in some order are Terrace, Ascend, Solar and Recovery.
So far, it’s Call of Duty. It doesn’t seem as enjoyable as Call of Duty: Ghosts, although that is a minority opinion, but it’s good. The connection/lag issues will hopefully get fixed sooner rather than later, which will help. There are a lot of game modes, and enough balance in the maps that the game should be fun for a while. It remains remarkable that after the 11th iteration this game still sells as well as it does. There is somehow enough to get people coming back each year, for now. Sooner or later though, they need something more fresh than this.