Broadcast over the web, with tens of thousands of concurrent users on the Twitch channel alone, Activision has revealed the multiplayer mode for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
The latest title in the mega-selling military shooter series is set in a distopian near-future where a private military contractor has turned against the US and started a war against its old employer. Developed by San Francisco-based Sledgehammer Studios, the game has already drawn intrigue through its casting of Kevin Spacey as the lead antagonist. But on Monday night, the focus shifted away from the campaign to the online battlefields.
The entire event is available to watch right here:
But here are the key revelations.
Exo suits = Titanfall plus Quake
As the early trailers have hinted, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will feature exo-skeletons that enhance the physical capabilities of the soldiers and provide a key component of the multiplayer mode. These suits provide a range of super-fast evasion moves, such as dodges and slides, but they also add a boosted double-jump providing quick access to rooftops.
The result is a game with more verticality, but also – in theory – more variety to one-on-one encounters where it won’t just be the player with the fastest firing weapon who’ll win out. An exo expert may be able to boost into the air, then jet down onto his enemy for a Mario-style crush kill.
The exo suit also offers a range of six extra abilities to select from. There are riot shield and cloaking options as well as a stim pack that boosts health and “overclock” which adds speed. All rely on a rechargeable battery limiting their use.
Naturally, everyone’s comparing this to the pilots in Titanfall, but Sledgehammer claims that it was thinking of exos three ears ago. “And then within one year Oblivion came out, Elysium came out and Edge of Tomorrow came out, and all of a sudden Exo was in every holiday movie,” studio co-founder Michael Condrey told Eurogamer. “I was like, wow. So, coincidence for certain because we came up with it on our own, but then all of a sudden boom, it’s like mass pop culture, the exo is everywhere.”
Airdrops are more varied
Care packages that float into the warzone offering cool enhancements have been part of the call of Duty experience for years, but Advanced Warfare mixes things up a bit. Arriving at the close of each bout, the new supply drops are rewards for in-game achievments and come in three flavours: Weapon Loot modifies your guns, Character Gear gives you custom clothing items, and Reinforcements give you one-time use of various perks and scorestreaks.
There are also three levels of supply drop rarity – Enlisted, Professional, and Elite – giving the whole thing a familiar trading card vibe. Wait, trading cards? *cough* Microstransactions *cough*.
Virtual lobby fashion shows and firing ranges
Taking a hint from GTA Online, Advanced Warfare allows players to cycle through visual representations of all the other player avatars in the lobby. you can see all their customised gear, but also the weapons and exo extras they’re using, providing a valuable heads-up on the sort of fight that’s going to follow.
Furthermore, between matches, players can test all their new perks and weapons via an easily accessible firing range – instead of having to try them out in a match. It’s a nice little extra that sort of reminds me of Fifa’s shooting practise sequences that pop in during loading times. But with guns.
Customisation, customisation, customisation
Advanced Warfare takes the Pick 10 system from Black Ops 2, but ups it to Pick 13, meaning players can choose 13 perks, weapons, attachments and scorestreaks to bring into a match.
On top of that, many of these elements are adaptable, with various tweakable parameters. Sledgehammer reckons there are 350 weapons variants including the new directed energy class; and scorestreaks now have add-on modules, so you can convert a gun turrent into a giant portable cannon. Players can even combine stronger exo armour with giant guns to allow ridiculous heavy weapon dual weilding. Just don’t expect to run anywhere.
Ooh, there are now also co-op scorestreaks: if someone on your team earns a Warbird aircraft, you can slip in as a rear-gunner, aping the more complex vehicle dynamics in Battlefield.
Activision has invented a new way to encourage pre-orders
Say what you like about Activision, this company knows how to tempt gamers into handing over their cash. On Monday, the publisher announced the Day Zero Edition, which allows customers who pre-order any of the special editions of Advanced Warfare to access the game a day early on 3 November. Those early birds will also get special weapons and custiom exo skeletons, as well as double XP for 24 hours.
It’s a cunning offering, aimed at trigger happy fans who want to level up as far as possible before all their peers. Believe me, this is so going to catch on.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is due out on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on 4 November.This article was written by Keith Stuart, for theguardian.com on Monday 11th August 2014 21.23 Europe/London
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