Well after a debacle of a day yesterday, in which I learned I had mistakenly pre-ordered the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare; then started installing the Xbox One version digitally to cover that – that install ended this morning at 11:30. So while technically I did indeed have the game on Day Zero – I was unable to actually play the game. All that dealt with though and now on Day One, I have been able to put a bit of time into the Multiplayer, which is really where players look with the franchise.
In advance of the game’s launch, I was already relatively excited for the multiplayer. From the changes to the create a class system; to the actual changes to the gameplay, I had come around to what Sledgehammer games was doing. Now that’s all well and good before launch, but whether it would hold up after playing the game was an unknown to me. At least initially, my impressions of the game is that it’s a real winner. It’s a much better game, again initially, than Ghosts. Anyone who spent any real time with Ghosts knows well that the game was unbalanced thanks to guns like the Honey Badger and MTAR – weapons that very clearly functioned well beyond their intentions. It’s a little hard to tell since it’s still only Day One, but from what I have seen, there really isn’t one weapon that looks to take over the Multiplayer. I’ve seen lots using the Bal-24, the AK-12 and the HBR online so far, which makes sense, as assault rifles tend to be the more popular weapons early on.
One of the major points that Sledgehammer games was making was an increased emphasis on customization. That’s seen with the Pick 13 system, which I think will end up keeping the game from getting too unbalanced. There are so many possible options of combinations, that even MLG loadouts will see some good variety. The Pick 13 system of course is an updated take on the Pick 10 system from Black Ops II. Overall, it really does look and feel like Sledgehammer took a lot from Black Ops II as their basis. The playercard stuff is all very similar to Black Ops II, the medals are, the class loadouts are, the actual gameplay style is similar too; which honestly feels like a real refreshing feel compared to Ghosts. The major concern that I think “fans” and internet commenters had was that the game would feel too similar to Titanfall. Look, just because they both have a booster system, they’re two totally different games. Having put a lot of time in with Titanfall, I feel very confident in saying that. They’re totally different – not just because of the Titans and AI, but just the overall feel. Advanced Warfare feels just like a classic Call of Duty game should, just with some updates to deal with the new mechanics.
Which brings me to the meat of this – actual gameplay. I’ve been messing with Ground War, because that’s the best playlist (mixture of gametypes with larger lobbies is always good) and I’ve gotten to play 5 or so different maps on Kill Confirmed, TDM and Domination. Each map has definitely had a bit different feel to them, which is incredibly important to me. They’ve been smaller than the maps I’ve been playing lately with Destiny and Titanfall, but that makes sense within the Call of Duty system. What I will say is that, as is often the case early in a game’s life, the spawns need a little work on a couple maps. While that’s frustrating, being spawn trapped or flipping the map too easily both suck for different reasons, but it’s not out of the ordinary (particularly in CoD) especially so early in the lifespan of the game. Sledgehammer has plenty of time to look at the data and tweak them as they see fit. Part of playing a game so early is having to deal with some of the growing pains, spawns included. I already talked a bit about the weapons – I think there’s a good variety, and I really like the Virtual Firing Range to test everything out. One thing that I would have liked to have seen is a little more direction with the new mechanics – the boost dodge isn’t particularly intuitive (it’s activated by using the sprint button while strafing) but it’s an action that can really change a firefight. I would have liked to have seen it explained in a tooltip or something along those lines; and it might be explained well in Campaign, but I think that a majority of players dive right into Multiplayer first, so it should have something there too.
It’s really early, but so far, it really does look like Sledgehammer has a solid game on their hands. The time-to-kill feels just about right with the new abilities and weapons; the new equipment doesn’t really look like it’s got an overpowered option; the Pick 13 system really allows for freedom with classes, and the upgradeable scorestreaks are a real deep option. Depending on how they approach the first post-launch patch, that might skew things a little bit, but as of Day One, I think they have a really good chance to do well. It’s biggest asset is that it’s Call of Duty – it plays differently from Destiny, the other major shooter out right now, and has always competed well with Halo, which we see next week. It’s a great time to play shooters online.