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As expected at this time of the year, Activision had big plans for the reveal of this year’s Call of Duty game, but due to Destructoid leaking out images and even the first trailer, they had to pull the trigger early. Titled Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, this new iteration is Sledgehammer Games’ first one at the helm on their own after being involved in past games in some capacity. Advanced Warfare is also the most important Call of Duty yet with so much at stake for the franchise to leave an impressive mark on the next generation of consoles.
If you missed my review of Call of Duty: Ghosts, which you can read here, it was the most disappointing Call of Duty game I played due to Infinity Ward not progressing the series that they started as much as Treyarch has been with the Black Ops games. Sure, it was a transitional time with new consoles launching, but Ghosts relied on the established formula too much with an uninspiring campaign, not taking advantage of the new mechanics they wanted to introduce that much, and a storyline I didn’t care about. Advanced Warfare is Sledgehammer’s opportunity to establish their own identity into the franchise and that has been my curiosity with this year’s game before the trailer came out.
The reveal trailer above is already making a good impression that Ghosts did not by establishing a storyline you would care about. It does help that Kevin Spacey from House of Cards plays the main villain of the game named Jonathan Irons. He is the founder and president of Atlas Corporation Inc., the largest PMC around. Yes, I did say PMCs and this is not Metal Gear, but Call of Duty’s take on private military companies is already interesting. To no surprise, Advanced Warfare deals with various political themes such as democracy and regulating borders, but Spacey’s performance alone is already bringing excitement to the game’s campaign and perhaps more people will play it besides jumping right away to multiplayer.
Also not surprising is the future setting for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which is a mix of modern and futuristic weaponry. It seems that Sledgehammer is taking cues from recent shooters and movies to come up with the game’s main weapons and gameplay mechanics. Exoskeletons seem straight out of Elysium with improved mobility that will remind players of Titanfall’s pilots. Drones and hoverbikes were also seen in the trailer showing signs of futuristic technology. It may seem that this sequel is biting off other blockbusters (they have been for years though), but this take is welcoming personally.
Besides introducing the setting and storyline with Spacey playing as the villain, not much gameplay was actually shown in the trailer and I expected that. E3 is the time to show off campaign gameplay for the first time anyway and let’s hope the demo at either the Microsoft or Sony press conference is as not scripted and linear. That is still a lot to ask given Call of Duty’s perception these days, but Sledgehammer needs to take the Black Ops approach when it comes to the campaign. In other words, branching paths and alternate choices affecting the storyline is what I come to expect this year and not the direction Infinity Ward went with Ghosts.
A lot is riding on Sldegehammer also with the multiplayer to still be as fun and fresh to fans and casual players. Titanfall evolved the Call of Duty-like pace by having that instant gratification with killing bots to get in your titan faster and coming up with highlight reel moments that are easy to pull off. Of course, Advanced Warfare won’t have something similar to the titans in multiplayer, but playing as these soldiers with exoskeletons is the next best thing. Sledgehammer has to make sure that these exoskeletons are satisfying and badass to play as not only in the campaign, but also multiplayer. If the multiplayer does feel run of the mill or by the numbers, then players would play other multiplayer shooters like Titanfall and Destiny more. Then again, the Call of Duty name alone is still enough to get players to log in hundreds of hours and we’ll hear more in Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer reveal later this summer, but I do think Sledgehammer is up to task to change up the series’ core multiplayer formula.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the most important Call of Duty game especially being the first true next-gen iteration because I’m personally not counting Ghosts. Also with Ghosts’ less than stellar sales considering the records prior games broke, this can be the one to bring the series back on track and leave a mark on this next generation. The best thing about the reveal trailer is surely Kevin Spacey playing as the villain and that has been getting people to actually care about the campaign. Before the trailer’s release, however, I wondered if the series should go on the Titanfall direction with a multiplayer-only campaign, but it turns out that I still don’t mind playing through these solo campaigns no matter how crazy and absurd the action can be. This is indeed do or die time for the Call of Duty franchise as Advanced Warfare comes out on November 4th for the Xbox One, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.