First Impressions: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare


During my recent visit to Fan Expo Canada, I got the chance to get my hand on a good number of upcoming video games. Not many had longer lines of eager fans willing to get their hands on and try than Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. One of the reasons why had to be due to the fact that this demo ran two sets of 6v6 games, playing two matches back to back. Some had waited for an hour just to see what was in store for the future of the first-person shooter, and upon my initial reaction, I thought the wait was well worth it.

Immediately upon entering the walled-off rectangle that held 24 separate gaming headsets, flatscreen TV’s and Xbox Ones, players took their seats at the discretion of staffers. No photos or videos were allowed within this section, which was a bummer. The glee shining off of the faces of those getting the chance to play Advanced Warfare for the first time was picturesque. As we sat down, put our headsets on and began to get comfortable, the matches began.

Opening up the game was the map Biolab, a wintery outpost that seemed to be for research as well as manufacturing unknown exoskeletal chemicals. Having last played Call of Duty regularly with Modern Warfare 2 (and Zombie Mode in Black Ops), I wondered how long it would take to get back into the groove of things in this Team Deathmatch. Peering around the corner to see an enemy, I shot at him with my augmented semi-auto rifle with a laser dot. Unfortunately, he double-jumped to an above alcove while launching a semtex grenade, sticking on me and getting the kill.

An ongoing problem I had with the series is the perpetual “who shoots first, wins” ideology that comes with a two-plane system of shoot high, shoot low or shoot on even planes. Titanfall, while not an Activision product, found a great way of alleviating this concern was to have “pilots” be able to traverse maps with ease, including double jumps and wall runs. In that moment of death described earlier, I had seen firsthand just how much Sledgehammer Games had refocused the Call of Duty experience with Advanced Warfare; by rebalancing combat to equalize the playing field.

Running around the Biolab made it clear that the level design seemed to reflect the changes to player controls. Players running around the perimeter of the map could easily jump into the action by leaping into the second floor of the main storing hub, also changing the dynamics of a firefight by getting the jump on enemy combatants. Additionally, medical storage units could be shot at to release toxic gases, which not only have a lasting visual effect on the player, but can explode and kill those in the surrounding area. Overall, I liked the new Advanced Warfare trappings did to affect the creation of Biolab.

After our team won the first match, we had the time to properly change classes and check out what’s new in character creation. Of course, with a new exoskeleton comes new customization, but what I had also noticed that the perks also reflected said changes. You could go all defensive by taking sets that prevent you from being spotted by UAV, Threat Grenades (that light up enemies with infrared in a certain area) and from your footsteps on the radar. It was neat that not only can you play your character as an offensive threat with awesome (true to the word’s meaning) kill streak bonuses, but could play passively or sneakily. Allowing multiple playstyles is always an awesome added benefit.

The second map I got to check out was Riot, while playing the Hardpoint mode. A seemingly-abandoned prison plays host to a great deal of pincer points, multi-leveled combat areas and the perfect map for a mode that requires you to hold a point for a specific amount of time. What made me fall in love with Riot was just how fast-paced the action was forced to be. A pure run-and-gun map with offensive and defensive possibilities, with a sharp set of tactics required to come out the other side on top.

Additionally, depending on the use of certain stage advancements, tracking lasers from the guard towers will pick up opponents on the other team, showing up as red lasers for enemies and blue lasers if you and your team are the ones getting pointed at. They can really alter the outcome of a match, as the enemy knowing our locations resulted in an eventual loss.

Some of the oddities I noticed while playing Advanced Warfare was the auto tracking. I might be remembering wrong, but I had not seen a rifle follow an enemy player to the extremes that it was during this gameplay demo. Additionally, due to the complexities of the Riot map, I had found myself more often than previously spawning in and getting killed from behind. If you spawn near the cells in the prison block, this seems more bound to happen, and shouldn’t happen as often as it did when everyone was on the same playing field. However, at least with the auto-tracking, it could be part of the dumbing down process that seems to be present with a lot of convention demos.

After my 20 minutes were up, I had left with a feeling unknown to the Call of Duty series since Modern Warfare 2: excitement. FPS’ are very much not my main genre of appreciation, but with Activision adding a third development team to create a 3-year cycle (I’m still not a fan of annualizing non-sports games as a concept), you could see where the extra time had gone to improve the overall experience of the game. The main basic point-and-shoot tenets exist in Advanced Warfare, but as the game looks to the future, so to do the mechanics surrounding its play. I can’t believe it, but I want to pick up the next Call of Duty game. That’s something I never anticipated myself thinking in the 2010’s.

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