The narrative for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare starts off strong, but it isn’t long before a devastating event takes place during the tail end of the first mission. After you witness the death of your friend during the mission and suffer the loss of an arm, you are recruited by his father Jonathan Irons, played by Kevin Spacey. Being the head of the most powerful private military contractor (PMC), you are rewarded for joining by immediately having an advanced prosthetic arm surgically attached to your body. Kevin Spacey’s performance should be commended and I couldn’t wait to interact with him between missions. The narrative heads in an easily predicted direction, but the action-packed, summer blockbuster style sequences keep it from feeling stale.
The gunplay has always been a strong aspect of the Call of Duty series, but Advanced Warfare makes some changes to the core gameplay for the advancement of the series. All heads-up display (HUD) elements have been removed, instead displaying all the necessary information via equipment. Every weapon tells you everything you need to know about remaining ammunition for both conventional weapons and power consumption for the new, advanced energy weaponry. Grenades feature the biggest change, moving in a direction that makes them more than a one dimensional last ditch effort. The Variable Grenade breaks things out in two different categories: Lethal and Tactical. Using a Lethal grenade features the basic frag style we all know and love, but also a seeking grenade that will propel itself towards the nearest target, and the contact grenade that will explode on contact. Tactical is be used for support by showing an outline of enemy targets (useful through smoke), creating an emp blast for taking out drones, and a flash grenade perfect for room clearing.
Advanced Warfare also places a reliance on powered exoskeletons, evolving the attributes of a standard soldier way beyond the realm of a normal human. Player mobility has drastically improved, focusing on increase vertical movement, similar to the infantry focus in Titanfall. The exoskeleton has different abilities, not all available at the same time, and you’ll find you don’t have to use them unless required to advanced. As someone that doesn’t enjoy forced stealth sequences, I was glad to see that it was limited to the beginning parts of a single mission. The cloaking ability needs will discharge while you are moving, forcing you to act quickly and choose your re-charging locations with great care.
After each mission you are graded depending on your performance, netting points to allow upgrade your character. The new powers give your character additional health, more grenades, explosive damage reduction and more. The upgrades are barely noticeable as I never felt any stronger or faster playing through the game. Throughout the seven hour affair, you’ll race through the white domed buildings of Santorini, battle across Seoul, and it wouldn’t be a Call of Duty game without a battle across the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
I may be in the minority each year looking forward to the narrative and scripted sequences of Call of Duty each year, but the bread and butter of the series is still the online multiplayer. The core changes to a growing stale formula has revitalized my interest in the series. The customizable appearance options are limited at first, but thanks to the supply drop system, you will constantly find new character gear, Elite weapons, and temporary buffsevery 45 minutes of in-game gameplay.,There are also additional methods to acquiring them, such as earning XP and medals. Although all of the rewards are for multilayer, you may get a supply drop in the campaign and through Exo Survival. Elite weapons are the most sought after as they have altered stats that make them feel different than the standard version of the same weapon.
Being available online as well as locally, Exo Survival takes cooperative gameplay in Call of Duty to new heights. Literally. The four player wave-based progression game type allows for 25 rounds of increasingly difficult enemies. Upon completion of the 25th round (good luck), the game will reset back to wave one, but with a bump in difficulty. Players get to keep all of their progression, including weapons, abilities, and perks. All of the standard multiplayer modes are included, but the same missing favorites from Ghosts are no where to be found. Headquarters may be missing, but the newest addition to the series provides unique entertainment and a change of pace. Uplink features a single drone (or flag) placed in the center of the map, which can be passed between players on your team or even players on the other team. Passing the drone to someone on the other team negates any offensive maneuvers, so basically you take away their guns. Teams must either toss the drone into the uplink station or exo boost into it for additional points.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the revitalization the Call of Duty series has needed for years. While previous games have attempted to freshen up the series with baby steps, Advanced Warfare takes a massive leap forward in every aspect. The exo suit gives players more options than running through the maps, adding untapped vertical potential to multiplayer.
Note: The Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review was written based on a retail PlayStation 4 version of the game provided for review.