Call of Duty’s annual update comes at the hands of Infinity Ward this year, makers of the highly enjoyable and staggeringly profitable Modern Warfare games. However, this year – they have abandoned the ‘Modern Warfare’ moniker – done a complete overhaul from the ground up and introduced a brand new slant in Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Details of the ever popular online multiplayer have been scarce. However, after a live event showcasing the game, hosted by Activision (and supported by Microsoft and Eminem!??!), much more information has come flooding in! And oh my! What a lot of things to discuss! So many details were thrown out over the hour long show, it’s hard to know where to begin – so we’ll just jump straight in and give you the highlights!
Customisable soldiers – For the first time in a Call of Duty online multiplayer, you won’t just be some faceless soldier thrown into battle. How your soldier looks, what they wear from goggles to shoes will be up to you to choose. Reportedly, a staggering 20 000 different combinations are on offer – including (another first) playing as a female soldier!
Finally, someone at Infinity Ward has listened to the thousands of gaming girls laying the smack down on CoD and given them the option to play as their gender (or just given them a different looking gender to shoot at – lets face it, a lot of female gamers don’t care one way or they other if they’re playing as a male or female soldier). Anyway, whatever your preference, it is now an available choice!
Perks – Perks are said to be massively more versatile in Ghosts. Possibly inspired by Black Ops II’s ‘pick 10’ system, all perks have a points value, you spend from 8 points up to 11 (if you lose your secondary weapon). How you spend those points is entirely up to you. The example given in the event was that you could to choose a few, more powerful, perks – say, 4 perks with a 2 point value each. Alternatively, you might want more variety and select 8 perks, all with a 1 point value. You’ll be able to mix and match within your available points (no word yet on what the highest value perks are, hopefully more news will follow).
Weapons – As part of their overhaul, Infinity Ward have introduced more than 30 new weapons into Ghosts – including a brand new weapon class. Marksman Rifles are designed to bridge the gap between the longer range sniper rifles and rapid fire assault rifles. Basically, if you enjoy picking people off from a distance, but don’t like hiding on a hill or in a hut while the game happens around you – the Marksman rifle class is for you! As well as the standard issue weapons, 20 new Kill Streak rewards have been introduced. Strike packages return, but have also been completely overhauled – more of the kill streak rewards are ground based (including a replacement for the UMV), meaning anyone can take them out using their normal weapons. This is an interesting choice, as it will mean a complete change in tactics for a lot of players. Rocket Launchers won’t be quite so useful – as less support weapons will take to the air, we could also see the ground based UMV replacement stay ‘on’ (revealing enemy positions) until it’s destroyed, making it much more valuable than the time based UMV. Time will tell.
Build your Squad – An interesting twist on the ‘create-a-class’ of previous CoD games. Instead of just choosing custom loadouts for your one soldier, you’ll actually train, develop, customise and arm up to 10 soldiers in your squad – then choose which of them you take into battle. As you earn experience, you’ll earn ‘squad points’ that can be spent on upgrading available weapons, unlocking ammo, scopes, weapons and skills, in any order you see fit for, each of your squad members. This sounded a little gimmicky at first, though it will literally give more personality to each loadout – however, it turns out there is a LOT more to this squad idea (see below)!
Squad Mode – One of the most shocking announcements was that, on top of the standard ‘Single player’ campaign and ‘Multiplayer’ modes, an entirely new game mode called ‘Squads’ will make its debut in Call of Duty: Ghosts.
The idea here is that you take your whole squad of 10 soldiers – that you’ve developed in multiplayer and go up against another ‘squad’ of AI (artificial intelligence) soldiers, if you’re playing in single player you take control of a single squad member, AI controls the rest of your squad, adapting their tactics according to how you have equipped them. Alternatively, you could play against the AI ‘co-operatively’ with a buddy or two. You can even play ‘squads’ against other human players. The big twist? All the progress made in ‘Squads’ will count towards your multiplayer profiles. This sounds awesome, but also ripe for exploitation!? We’re not sure how to feel about leveling up and earning experience against offline, AI opponents, but Infinity Ward claims the AI is so good, so tactical, that you will forget you’re up against an AI opponent (and effectively calling your PS3 or Xbox 360 ‘a f***ing camper’ regardless of how you lose instead of yelling it at me!).
What’s more, you can ‘train’ and develop a 10 man squad – ensuring there is a sniper, support, assault member etc. and then upload them for others to take on – even if you’re not playing!? Effectively letting your squad earn you experience by performing well – even while you are asleep. Sounds crazy.
7 new game modes including:
A revamped Search and destroy mode called ‘Search and Rescue‘ mode that allows players to revive their fallen comrades by collecting their dog tags rather than having just one life per round. Similarly – collecting the enemies tags keeps them out of the game. This will help encourage team work on a franchise that has been guilty of putting one too many ‘I’s in ‘team’ in the past.
Another new mode, called ‘Cranked‘ was also revealed in the trailer and live play. This mode sees players gaining new abilities, mid-game, for every kill they score, such as: quicker movement, faster reloading and ADS. This could be an interesting one – where players are given even more of a boost if they can get their next kill within 30 seconds, they will ‘crank’ their skills up another notch! Oh and as a side note – if you DON’T get your next kill within 30 seconds? You explode. Awesome. We like to think of this as ‘anti-camping mode.’ It makes for very quick, frantic and frenetic battles with everyone desperately trying to score that next kill before they inevitable explosion comes!
The Game World – Other notable changes to the franchise became clear when watching the trailer. Firstly, dynamic movement. Player movement around the map, over and under obstacles looks much more fluid and the ability to slide on your knees (like a 10 year old at a school disco) looks incredibly useful for moving from ‘sprinting through a hot zone’ and transferring to ‘crouched cover’ or going prone (replacing the ‘dive’ from previous incarnations we assume). They have also added a contextual ‘lean’ maneuver – players will be able to lean out of over, take a pot shot, then lean back, exposing less of themselves to counter-attacks (campers getting some love too?).
Secondly, dynamic maps. The environment is now massively destructable – so the cover you thought you were in may suddenly erupt and crumble at the hands of some well placed C4 (taking you with it). On top of that though, unique, player initiated events can take place on the map – completely changing the look and accessibilty of some areas. The trailer showed busses being brought down from broken roads and the partial demolition of a petrol station (bringing the environment down on top of opposing forces looks amazing)! Players will have to learn the maps in all the various states of disrepair!
We also saw a clip of someone sniping from helicopter. No, not using a helicopter mounted gun, just their standard loadout… but from a helicopter! How this is incorporated we’re not sure? It could be an all new spawn point, or it could be linked to kill streaks or even perks?
Next-Gen and on the move – In a rather smart move, we think, progress from console to console is being supported. So if you can’t afford to move up to the next generation consoles until after Christmas – but you CAN afford to purchase Ghosts for your current gen console – all of your progress goes with you when you DO buy a next gen console (as long as you stick to the same brand. Xbox 360 progress WON’T carry to your PS4 for example). You can also take your loadouts, unlocks and achievements with you via your mobile or tablet device via the Call of Duty Account (previously ‘Call of Duty Elite’ – you may already have an account!).
Combine all this with the brand new game engine Ghosts will be running on and there is a lot to be excited about here! Infinity Ward have certainly been accused of resting on their laurels since the original Modern Warfare was released – it would seem they have taken that criticism seriously and are set to shock the world all over again. We hope, for everybody’s sake, this will be a successful mission!
Call of Duty Ghosts is scheduled for release on Xbox 360, PC, Wii U and PS3 on November 5th, with next generation versions to follow later in the year.
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Richard is a father, teacher, gamer and writer. He believes that The Last of Us and Olli Olli 2 are the finest games ever made, feels that the StarWars Saga should only be watched in ‘the Machete order’ and once cleared Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in one sitting. Took him 20 hours, four cups of tea and a sausage roll. You can follow him on twitter @TLOUFactionsMP or @VigilanteSanta and view his occasional twitch outbursts on twitch.tv/spooklebeans.