The holidays are a time for family gatherings, massive dinners, mildly disappointing presents, and visitations by ghosts who show you harrowing visions of what might have been. This year, the Ghost of Video Games Past showed me what the games of 2013 would have been like if graphics cards had never been invented! I have no idea why he did that. The Ghost of Video Games Past is a little weird.
However you feel about the Call of Duty series, we can all agree that the visuals are among the most cinematic in gaming. What happens when you remove the visuals? Follow me (and do exactly what I tell you when I tell you) and we'll find out with Call of Duty: Ghosts: The Text Adventure!
Nov 20, 2013
We're back! After a few weeks of work on special operations, we found a moment to catch us (and you) up on October and November's big games: XCOM: Enemy Within, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Battlefield 4.
Sprint across a flowered field and embrace PC Gamer Podcast 365 - Ghost Grenade Dad.
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Previously, I'd assumed Call of Duty: Ghosts' heavy RAM requirement was there because loading a nice dog was a memory intensive procedure. Either that's not the case or canine computer tech is becoming increasingly advanced, because a new multiplayer patch has lowered the game's 6GB RAM restriction. Now you'll only need 4GB of memory juice to access the multiplayer portion, which should naturally mean more dogs chewing on more throats. Hooray?
The exact purpose of the update isn't entirely clear, with Infinity Ward planning to release the official patch notes later today. What the community have found is that, not only is the game mysteriously less RAM intensive, but that the e-sports features - originally thought to appear as part of the next MLG Championship - have made an early appearance.
Both Blitz and Search & Destroy modes have been updated with hard-coded rulesets, available to use in private matches. Players are also given the ability to set weapon, equipment and perk restrictions while using the e-sports functionality. In addition, a Broadcaster mode provides access to a new set of camera tools, including first-person, third-person and over-the-shoulder viewing modes.
The tenth Call of Duty game came out this week, and by all accounts it's full of the same man-shootiness we've come to expect from the series. It's also not well optimised for PC. The frame-rate bobs all over the place and the apparently unshakeable mouse acceleration makes aiming feel slippery and weird. Players sensitive to narrow fields-of-view have also been suffering with Ghosts.
The good news is, there are a few tweaks and fixes popping up to alleviate the worst of it. Here are a few you might want to try from around the web.
Fear not, Barry, your days of wild slippery aiming will soon be over.
Does the mouse control in Call of Duty: Ghosts just feel wrong to you? You're not alone. You'll want to check that Mouse Acceleration is turned off in the main menu, of course. Then, disable any programs that add overlays, like Fraps, and the Steam overlay.
To disable the Steam overlay right click on Call of Duty: Ghosts, head to "Properties" and then visit the "General" tab. Uncheck the "Enable Steam Community In-Game" box there.
If that fails, then players on the COD: Ghosts Steam forums have reportedly had luck reducing the polling rate of their mice to 250Hz. The method for that will vary depending on your mouse software.
The always-useful PC Gaming Wiki have also found a config tweak that might help with the sudden jumps mouse movements can sometimes trigger. Change seta r)elevatedPriority "1" to seta r)elevatedPriority "0" in the config_mp.cfg file, found in Steam -> SteamApps -> common -> Call of Duty Ghosts -> players2
Stuttering and Framerate drops
This is the tenth Call of Duty game, and you're still not senior enough to open doors.
Don't trust the automatic settings. Where possible, switch graphics options away from "auto" to match your setup, that goes for setting your display ratio, too. It's thought that CoD upscales lower settings by default to keep the framerate high, but if you have a machine that can handle Ghosts easily, using extra settings with a defined aspect ratio will improve visual quality.
Call of Duty: Ghosts can stutter if your OS has it defined as a high priority process. You can improve performance by opening Task Manager, right clicking on iw6mp64_ship.exe and setting priority to "normal". If you're running Windows 8.1, head to your mouse settings on the Control Panel and make sure that Enhance Pointer Precision and Acceleration options are off.
If the frame rate is still tanking occasionally, try heading to the video options and running Ghosts in Windowed (no border) mode.
If your framerate is insanely high, but you want MORE, you may want to consider the CoD FPS unlocker at your own risk.
FOV and RAM requirements
That extra RAM is needed to power Ghost's advanced bird AI.
A community fix for Ghost's locked multiplayer field-of-view called Fovely appeared earlier in the week, but was quickly taken down apparently "due to a friendly threat from everyone's favorite publishing firm". Fovely, and others like it, are probably still out there on the world wide web somewhere, but take care when applying them. It looks like Activision don't want people meddling with Ghost's inner workings. Tweaks like this can sometimes result in multiplayer bans.
There's been some controversy over the question of whether or not Call of Duty: Ghosts uses the full six gigabytes of RAM that it insists you have. PC Gaming Wiki also has details of a way to remove Call of Duty's 6GB RAM requirement for the single player mode, but is also risky if you're planning on playing online, and requires a download.
Those are some of the best for now while we await any potential patches for the controls. Tyler laid down our official verdict yesterday in our Call of Duty: Ghosts review.
Nov 6, 2013
Call of Duty: Ghosts will be damned if you peek away from your screen. Boredom is absolutely not allowed as the campaign pelts you with action vignettes—including a scene directly snagged from the opening of The Dark Knight Rises—and repeats its mantra ad nauseam: “Keep moving!”
I’m in space, I’m underwater, I’m piloting a dog, I’m piloting an Apache, I’m driving a tank that handles like a Lamborghini—all without ever really learning a new skill. The Apache, for instance, is magically repulsed from the ground—it’s like piloting an air hockey disc—so finesse is unnecessary. On-screen cues tell you what you need to know as you’re plunged into an airstrike: fire flares when an enemy locks on, left mouse button to fire your cannon, hold down the center mouse button to lock on with missiles. Then go to town.
It’s fun in that it’s something exciting to see and do: a theme park ride where I’m given an airsoft rifle to pelt the animatronics with. And it’s a brilliant ride. There are pyrotechnics, car chases, submarines, and drone strikes. Once scene has me rappelling down a skyscraper and shooting guards through the windows—and then the skyscraper collapses while I’m in it. It’s every action scene Hollywood has imagined for the past 20 years packed into five to six hours of super-stylish interactive montages, and wrapped up in a goofy, inoffensive story about brothers trying to live up to their dad’s super-soldier status.
Call of daddy
It’s fun, but it’s not engaging—Ghosts’ campaign is even more passive than Telltale’s recent point-and-clickers. In The Wolf Among Us, I have choices. In Ghosts, I do the Right Thing or fail. Frustratingly, even the decision to follow the constantly barked “keep moving” order can get me killed. That repeated flavor dialog should be ignored: save heroics for the scripted moments, stay crouched, and pop up sporadically to shoot at the bad guys.
Blowing up boats while remotely piloting a drone is fun and not at all challenging.
In rare instances, I was able to part from my squad, flank the enemy, and wipe them out with the advantage, but that kind of tactical planning was a sparsely present treat. It appeared once more in a jungle mission which put columns of guards between me and my squad, arming me only with a silenced pistol and sensor to detect nearby enemies. That was the only time I was given a goal and left to achieve it without explicit instructions for every action.
That was also the only time I got a magic bad guy sensor, and that’s another of the campaign’s failings: it fires off interesting ideas and then instantly forgets about them. Near the beginning, I’m introduced to my canine companion, Riley, and I can mark targets for him to quietly de-jugular. I did that once, when ordered to, and never again. Later, I get to use a remote-controlled sniper rifle to clear out a stadium. It’s a great gadget that I’d have liked to plop down on my own a few times, but it never shows up again. Both weapons are like toys that I get to demo in the store, but never get to take home.
Sgt. Shark is awfully testy today.
But we get bored of toys after we take them home, whereas if we stay in the toy store, poking at everything that requires batteries, nothing needs to do more than light up and make noise to keep us entertained. And you won’t ever be bored, because Ghosts’ novelties are brilliant and bright, full of life and then whisked away before they can be broken open and revealed to be little electronic tricks.
If you buy Ghosts just for the multiplayer, I will say that you should at least play the campaign long enough to get to the first obligatory space scene. It’s fantastic. It’s Gravity with guns. I wish the whole thing had been in space.
Call of shooty
The multiplayer is more Call of Duty® Multiplayer. It’s about flanking, out flanking, and milliseconds of animation that determine who lives and who dies. The maps are circular arenas dressed in gray military garb, pulling assets from the dullest bits of the campaign’s setting. Instead of a space station and tropical shipwreck, the maps are Busted Up Train Yard and Overcast Snowy Place.
In most modes, death nearly always comes from behind or upon rounding a corner and shooting too slowly to avoid a knife to the gut. There’s no front line, so every kill is likely to instaspawn your foe somewhere behind you, making matches a dizzying circular chase sequence.
Getting knifed from around a corner is something I excel at.
Guns are plentiful and nuanced, though every vital stat, from how long it takes to raise the iron sights to recoil and spread, is experienced in milliseconds of surprise action. Everyone swirls around the map like disoriented flies, and I either catch glimpses of their feet under collapsed steel girders, or run face first into them as our beelines intersect, reacting with spasms more often than cool tactical awareness. At pub levels, Ghosts’ multiplayer is whack-a-mole to Counter-Strike’s chess game.
An exception is Search and Rescue, which gives teams bomb and defend objectives, and players one life per round unless a team member collects their dog tag to revive them. That encourages teammates to stick together, generating group engagements at range that I heavily prefer over darting around like an armed insect.
I also enjoy, as I have in past CoDs, the Ground War mode. With bigger maps and 12-14 players, there’s more room to breathe and more teammates to rely on during firefights. It’s in that mode that I discovered that going prone is practically an invisibility cloak. I was able to camp out by a capture point picking off enemy after enemy for nearly an entire round, often after they ran right over me. It was fun target practice for me, but probably a frustration for the other team, which eventually had to run around the perimeter until it found a back to knife.
Call me maybe
Even in the modes I enjoy, I don’t want to stay for long. The “one more round” syndrome just isn’t present for me in Ghosts. In previous CoDs, the drive to unlock and try out a new weapon might have kept me going, but that’s been replaced with Squad Points. Accrued through good play, the points can be spent to unlock any weapon at any time if you save them up. I appreciate that this is more respectful of players’ time, as well as returning CoD fans’ desire to get right to the gun they’re happy with, but it nullifies any sense of accomplishment the progression system once had.
Defending a point is easy when lying down makes you invisible.
But it isn’t just the progression system, or the complex-to-the-point-of-silliness soldier customization, or the boring killstreak rewards that make me tire so quickly of Ghosts multiplayer. It’s that, like the campaign, it’s about constant forward momentum, but unlike the campaign, it never changes. The matches go by too fast to ever develop a rhythm or personality. From one map to the next, it’s run, run, run. There are no nail-biters, no heroics, and no rivalries. There are no brilliant shots that I want to run to show YouTube, unless it’s an accidental trick grenade throw. There are no moments when I pull back from my display, rub my forehead, and say, “I can’t believe I did that.” Moments like that happen all the time for me in Unreal Tournament 2K4, Tribes: Ascend, Battlefield 4, Rising Storm, and earlier Call of Duty games.
Ghosts multiplayer is a game of snap decisions, mechanics, and mistakes—"should have gone prone instead of firing, shouldn’t have reloaded after that last kill, should have turned around instead of sprinting"—and it is freakishly nuanced and can absolutely be mastered. I respect those with the drive to master it, but it’s too bleak and severe for my tastes, and feels like preparing for ritual combat more than enjoying a game.
Actually, delete my number
The cooperative Extinction mode is much better: four players versus waves of aliens, with money earned for each kill, and weapons and defenses to buy. It’s a healthy application of a formula we’re used to, but it doesn’t do anything I wouldn’t rather do in Left 4 Dead or Killing Floor, and it feels like a side note compared to the effort put into the campaign and competitive multiplayer. When I started, the keys used to buy my character’s special items—ammo crates, turrets, and so on—weren’t even bound. My options were indicated with a four-way cross which looks like it’s meant for a D-pad, and when I did bind the keys, the menu called them “killstreak rewards.”
The aliens eat sunsets. Give us your sunsets!
That doesn’t damn Ghosts as an icky console port, because my experience was otherwise well-optimized for medium to high-end PCs. I ran it fine on a mid-range build, and on a silly-powerful machine (Core i7-4950X, 16GB RAM, and two GTX Titans) the campaign ran at a silky and gorgeous 100-plus frames-per-second, with water and lighting effects that made me stop to gawk a few times (when I was allowed to). The only technical problem I encountered was sudden framerate dips in the menus, which are a just a nuisance—the same never happened to me while playing.
The netcode in multiplayer is as robust as usual, but not better than previous CoD games. There were still a few times where I swear a hit registered on me before I saw my opponent’s character model round a corner. These details have become a part of serious CoD play—some complain, but others master the nuances to gain an advantage. I’m not in either camp: I’m only bothered when synchronization issues cause frustration or feel unfair, and so far they’ve been too slight and sporadic to bother me.
In multiplayer, you have about 30 frames in which to shoot first.
What does bother me is how tired and cold Ghosts feels. I didn’t touch on the campaign’s story much, but its attempts to tug heart strings are cringe-ably cheesy, and the multiplayer seems bored of itself, changing systems just so they’ll be different from Modern Warfare.
I don’t doubt that every gun, perk, and killstreak reward in Ghosts was implemented and tweaked with a fine brush, but painting in every individual eyelash of the Mona Lisa wouldn’t make it a better painting. That’s what’s been happening to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare since 2007—little bits have been scraped off and painted over again and again. With a broader brush, Activision and its studios might stop noodling around in the corners of Modern Warfare’s greatness and paint something actually modern.
The most important thing about Call of Duty: Ghosts is the fact there is a dog. Therefore it is only logical to conclude that the most important thing about the Call of Duty: Ghosts launch party is the fact that there was a dog. A real dog, that it was possible to pet.
As conscientious videogame journalists we thought it only right that we reviewed this crucial part of the game for you. We're selfless like that.
Please note: on a recent trip to Nottingham's GameCity festival I accidentally packed a set of dog-themed Top Trumps cards instead of my business cards. The two-hour train journey meant that I became very familiar with the criteria by which one might judge a dog. However, due to the confined nature of the launch party some were harder to assess than others - so those have been substituted for equally applicable criteria.
The Top Trumps card for German Shepherds states that Riley should have a keen nose ranking of 85/100. That's as may be, but he didn't seem to have clocked the fact that there had recently been a sausage roll in my handbag. That or he didn't rate the sausage roll. There were also people with entire trays of meat-based canapes in the next room which appeared to pass unnoticed (well, I say canapes but isn't the point of canapes that you can fit them in your mouth in one go? You couldn't do that with these. I tried.) Either Riley has fallen short in the keen nose ranking or he is exceedingly well behaved. Which brings us to the second category.
Here's Riley driving a tank in the videogame Call of Duty: Ghosts. What a clever boy!
This category combines 'Ease of Training' and 'Noisiness' as well as general temperament. Riley was the model of good manners and excellent judgement and coordination - which is one up on some of the inhabitants of the dance floor as the evening wore on. He didn't make a break for the canapes (see previous category) and he didn't even get fed up with the group of men who took one look at him and then spent a full minute asking "Oh my God, is that Wellard?" I have no idea where they thought they were - an EastEnders wrap party in the early nineties, or something.
Anyway, nobody was savaged to death and he sat and walked and posed exactly as requested by his handler and the photographers. Top marks in the Good Boy-ness category.
Fur (or hair) is generally considered to be a decent indicator of graphicsability, so we then examined Riley's coat. The adjectives which sprang to mind were "glossy" and "well-groomed". You could even make out the individual hairs from about a foot away and they moved realistically as he changed positions. A picture circulated around the PC Gamer office resulted in the consensus that Riley had optimal graphics and we would like to hug him and maybe throw a ball for him. He is nice.
Would pet again.
Editor's note: our actual review of Call of Duty: Ghosts is currently being worked on. It's got a dog in it, though! What could possibly go wrong.
Where will you be at midnight tonight? Personally, I'll be randomly clicking on internet links, delving further into the hole of unproductive time-wasting and feeling guilty about not getting a Good Night's Sleep. As PC gamers long acquainted with digital distribution, I'll guess that your own plans probably don't involve queueing in the cold, or in some barely-lit supermarket, waiting for a copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts. For some, though, it will. That's because Call of Duty: Ghosts is a Big Deal. Just look at all the trailers Activision are throwing out for it. One of them even features Megan Fox, who you may remember for the uncredited role 'Stars-and-Stripes Bikini Kid Dancing Under Waterfall' in Bad Boys II.
First, though, we'll look at the trailer that wasn't designed to appeal to some non-existent personification of a fist-bump. It's a further glimpse at the recently revealed co-op mode Extinction, in all its bug blasting glory.
While this particular video doesn't show much of how the mode will play out, Extinction is the part of Ghosts I'm most looking forward to trying. Infinity Ward made some great co-op missions with their last two Modern Warfares, and hopefully they can continue that streak here. Although, yes, the lack of a dog is a disappointment.
But forget all that, because here's a live-action trailer, gaudy swagger and all:
Remember when the first Black Ops live-action trailer effectively conveyed Call of Duty's wide appeal without being self-indulgent aspirational fantasy? I miss those days.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is out tomorrow.
From a game that contains ghosts, to a game that's called Ghosts... and contains aliens? As predicted yesterday, Call of Duty: Ghosts has now officially trailed Extinction, with a two minute video showing glimpses of the series' "all new" four-player co-op mode. As you can tell from the gratuitous "BWAAAAARM" noise, the tone here is steely determination, ruminations on the nature of change, and acid spitting monstrosities. Essentially, the military equivalent of a pub night with the PCG team.
"Call of Duty: Ghosts introduces Extinction - an all-new 1-4 player cooperative game mode featuring a unique blend of fast-paced survival action, FPS base defence, scavenging and class levelling," explains the trailer's description. What makes it so new isn't exactly clear yet. Right now, it looks pretty similar to the Horde co-op mode that you played in every third-person action game released since 2008.
That said, Infinity Ward did a great job with Modern Warfare's co-op. The Spec Ops mode was consistently the best part of those games. Hopefully they have something similarly special lined up for this.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is due out on November 5th.