Comparisons to Titanfall were inevitable after Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer was revealed last week, but Sledgehammer have been playing with Advanced Warfare's jump-thrust move shortly after finishing work on Modern Warfare 3 in 2011, and Tribes fans will tell you that Titanfall hardly has dibs on the jetpack shooter. While the new exoskeleton movement options are interesting, I'm more excited about what they can do to refresh the design of Call of Duty's multiplayer maps.
The Call of Duty multiplayer experience has remained largely unchanged since the dawn of the Modern Warfare era. The opportunistic run-and-gun through flat, crumbling maps started to feel rote back in Black Ops 2, a game that could have done with a map like Advanced Warfare's Riot. Granted, it's also a crumbling concrete facility a prison, in fact but it's built around tiered structures and guard towers that make use of the exoskeleton's new jumping abilities. Like a couple of the other maps Sledgehammer showed, there's a quirk: The prison's high tech inmate monitoring system is still active, which means sensors at the top of guard towers draw laser pointers to passing soldiers.
Riot was actually one of the plainer maps. The others showed at Gamescom move away from the bleached urban aesthetic to something shinier, reminiscent of some of CoD's quirkier, more colourful DLC packs. There's a map set in the terminal of a space elevator which is bright, airy and layered with gantries and intricate spaceport corridors. Advanced Warfare will include a mode that bans exosuits, but I wonder if these maps will still be fun if you're flightless. The need to cater to the legions of fans who love the standard CoD formula is understandable, but once you've experienced extra speed and super-jumps bursts of flight, why go back?
This year you can customise your soldier with with dozens of facemasks, armour plates and colour schemes and tailor your loadout with a "pick 13" system, mirroring Black Op's "pick 10". You get 13 points you can devote to weapon attachments, special exosuit abilities like cloaks and shields, and kill streak rewards. More options can be unlocked by ranking up.
Leveling systems in shooters can hide the game's most interesting weapons and strategies behind layers of grind (see Battlfield, Payday 2), but the sheer amount of stuff packed into Advanced Warfare's customisation system is encouraging. As long as the leveling curve is fast, the expanded unlock system could provide valuable context and rewards for each 10-20 minute battle for those who don't care about 'prestiging' the practice of reaching the CoD's level cap and then resetting for a badge.
I'm quite excited about Advanced Warfare this year, for the multiplayer, at least. The single player may have Spacey, but in spite of the high-tech gubbins the set pieces look samey and predictable. I've never had a fun game of Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline leaves me cold and Titanfall is great, but lacks staying power. CoD could sweep the board this year. On the multiplayer side, it's the most exciting entry in the series for years.
Every week, keen screen-grabber Ben Griffin brings you a sumptuous 4K resolution gallery to celebrate PC gaming's prettiest places.
With the upcoming, stupidly pretty, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare pouting its lips and batting its eyes on the horizon, I decided to give the last one some love. I've contained my exploits to the first mission, but even that's plenty variety given CoD's penchant for catapulting players between ludicrous scenarios. Here I go from outrunning an orbital strike on San Diego to floating around the very space station responsible for it, all while dodging bullets from jetpacking terrorists.
It's strange to hear developers boast about how small the maps in their newest map pack are, but I hear just that in this trailer for CoD: Ghosts' final piece of DLC, Nemesis. This adds some "small-to-medium"-sized maps based around the themes 'mine cart level', 'wintry submarine base' and 'please desecrate this lovely Chinese village', along with a remake of the "smallest map ever made for Call of Duty": Shipment (now called Showtime). This one's a futuristic, Smash TV-style game show, replete with a cheesy announcer commentating on the killy goings-on. The DLC also adds the final bit to the game's full-on sci-fi Extinction mode. Exodus will see you coming face-to-elongated-face with the Ancestors, ie XCOM-ish psionic aliens. The trailer is below.
Nemesis releases next week on Xbox-flavoured systems, but if it's anything like all the other map packs, we can expect it on PC a month later. It's part of the Ghosts season pass, but you can also stump up $14.99/ 11.59 to buy the DLC separately.
Some would argue that paid-for personalisation packs are endemic in the games industry chronic, even. But is there anything wrong with showing off some style while high at the top of a leaderboard. Infinity Ward are no dopes, they know how to hit their target markets. Presented with a money making opportunity, they're not going to make a hash of it. And so, some Call of Duty developers embarked on a skunkworks mission to create the Blunt Force Character Pack a marijuana-themed DLC release.
The DLC, priced $1.99, is one of three new character packs now available for the Xbox version of the game. The other two character packs are themed as "Inferno" and "Bling". Infinity Ward definitely know their audience.
Each character pack contains a uniform and two helmets. In addition, the recent DLC drop also makes available six new 'Personalisation' packs and two new weapons. You can see the full round-up here. Expect all items to arrive on PC after the standard Xbox-exclusivity period expires likely next month.
Of course, maybe you're thinking, "but why can't I re-skin my gun in a garish cannabis pattern?" Don't worry, you already can!
You know, I've been genuinely inspired by the new Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC announcement. Invasion contains among other things a "refreshed" version of the Modern Warfare 2 map Favela. In that spirit, I'm going to similarly "refresh" an old Call of Duty news post...
Why do Call of Duty characters hate each other so much? Yes, they're at war that I can understand but the lengths they'll go to annihilate their enemy is almost sadistic. In , one of the four maps included in the DLC, somebody has gone through the time, danger and expense of . It's as if Infinity Ward have created an fiction in which every person is a .
Other deathtraps include the standard military issue , and some weird device called . Whatever will they think of next?
In addition to the four maps, players will also get the episode of "the Extinction saga" co-op campaign, and .
All this will be available sometime after 3rd, which is the date the Xbox lot start their exclusive access period. It's annoying, sure, but if they don't get first dibs, they'll spend the rest of the year saying mean things about your mum.
Each week PC Gamer probes the previous seven days to scientifically establish what rocked our world and made us despair for its future. As usual, we begin with the good stuff
Tyler Wilde: It s my birthday as I write this, so that s nice. Or is it? I m never sure whether or not I m supposed to enjoy getting older. I did enjoy playing Watch Dogs recently. I m disappointed by the fidelity-breaking parts of the world (the dumb pedestrians, the lack of consequences for terrorizing Chicago), and by the lack of experimentation in the story missions I played but where it s open-ended, where I can choose my own plan of attack (or plan of sneaking), and where hacking is a real tool for survival, I m happy to say that Watch Dogs diverges from GTA and leans in the direction of Far Cry. I m most surprised that I m looking forward to the story. I can t tell if Ubisoft wants Aiden Pearce to come off as a badass, or if he s supposed to be the way I see him: a loser who messed up his life and his family by running around in a trench coat acting like a big time tough guy when he d be better off at home watching Hackers again. I like my goober version of Aiden, so I m sticking to it.
Wes Fenlon: We're two weeks into our Dark Souls 2 coverage, and I'm still over the moon with the work that modder Durante has done for us. First, he analyzed the Dark Souls 2 PC port. Then he wrote a tweak guide for the average user to make the game look better. And now he's debuted a brand new tool with us that he calls GeDoSaTo that enables downsampling, texture modding, and other graphical enhancements in Dark Souls 2 and other DirectX games. It's still a work-in-progress tool, but I can't wait to start taking 8K screenshots with GeDoSaTo on the Large Pixel Collider. And the fact that he's helping gamers mod Dark Souls 2 the very minute the game launches on PC that's just too cool. I'm glad we can help spread the word.
Evan Lahti: Hell yes, Rising Storm got a big update. The indie-developed WWII FPS is one of our favorite games over the past few years, but it could certainly benefit from a larger playerbase. It s great to see Tripwire pouring more content into it in addition to making its sibling game Red Orchestra 2 temporarily free earlier this week.
Tim Clark: It s entirely improper for someone of my age to get excited about box art, but Dragon Age: Inquisition is delivering almost Frank Frazetta amounts of epic here. Luckily, we ve had plenty more to go on that just the box art this week. Like Chris s huge interview with the game s executive producer, info on the game s digital edition bonus content, and this very saucy looking gameplay trailer. Although it s of course right to remain cautious given that not everyone thought Dragon Age 2 was an unalloyed triumph, but the delay to The Witcher 3, and the fact Bethesda will surely revisit Fallout before doing another Elder Scrolls game, means Inquisition effectively has the high fantasy field to itself.
Andy Kelly: FRACT OSC is a first-person exploration game that sees you wandering around a bizarre, abstract world that shifts and pulses with music as you solve puzzles. It s initially confusing and a bit aimless, but as you feel your way around its surreal, vivid world, it starts making a weird kind of sense. It doesn t hold your hand at all, which demonstrates a trust in the player I wish more developers would have. As you solve puzzles you unlock different parts of a giant step synthesizer. You can create bass lines, pads, and synth leads, tweaking volume, tone, filters, and pretty much everything you d expect from a VST, but represented in 3D. I know nothing about the developers behind this, but they already have my attention. If you like exploratory games, music, and puzzle-solving, it s pretty much a must play.
Tom Senior: My game library shrank drastically last week thanks to a severely throttled internet connection (more on this later), but Dark Souls somehow worked, even with its cumbersome Games for Windows Live wrapping. I'm glad. My abortive first attempt ended in frustration, and not because of the game's oft-mentioned difficulty. It's easy to play it wrong. The bonfires scattered throughout the world offer comfort and replenish your health flasks, but bring nearby monsters back to life. I would run and re-run an area to amass souls and level up, locking myself into a cycle of boredom. I was trying to game Dark Souls as an RPG, when I should have been mastering Dark Souls as a combat game.
Now, with light armour and a fire-enchanted club I dodge under each enemy's thrusts and swings, and deliver crunchy critical hits to their exposed spines. I'm moving through each area at a satisfying pace, and can finally admire how the world has been intricately knotted together. I've been locked into the game by a scuppered connection, so perhaps this the Stockholm syndrome talking, but now I love the mystery and melancholy vibes of Lordran. I hope Dark Souls 2 can capture that too.
Andy Kelly: The image of an in-game rendered soldier from a presentation slide at GDC was used this week to run teaser stories about the next Call Of Duty game. Yes, that s right, the next CoD will contain soldiers. I don t have anything against Activision s world-conquering series. I don t play it, but people like it, so whatever. But it says everything about the paucity of the series ambition that a close-up of the hyper-realistic pores of a face is considered newsworthy.
Before Ghosts came out, they wouldn t shut up about that dog and its fur. Now maybe they ll do a series of elaborate making of documentaries about that guy s pores, and how you can make out individual blackheads if you look really closely at his nose. Call of Duty is formulaic because Activision won t dare mess with the formula. It s the gaming equivalent of a Marvel film. A dumb, flashy distraction. But I really wish they d make some attempt to innovate beyond frivolous visual details.
Wes Fenlon: I'm afraid that the dream of net neutrality is dead. The Wall Street Journal reported that the FCC soon plans to introduce new regulations that would allow Internet Service Providers to charge different prices for the data they're carrying. This is doomsday scenario I outlined a few months ago when I wrote about how net neutrality affects PC gamers. Companies like Comcast could charge Netflix or Valve more money for a faster connection to their end users, since their services require vast amounts of data. Those kinds of costs will likely end up being passed down to people like us.
And it's not just about the money. If the Internet isn't open and equal, ISPs could charge us more for access to certain sites, or block services entirely to promote their own stuff. Comcast's Video on Demand vs. Netflix, for example. I think something like that happening is less likely, but I'm still worried about it, and unless some good news comes out of the FCC soon, things aren't looking great for the Internet as we know it.
Evan Lahti: CS:GO has been my main game for four months, and it s wonderful. What it s made me unhappy about, though, is how absurdly few shooters we have on PC that feature competitive matchmaking. Across the other genres, StarCraft II, Dota 2, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Smite all offer skill-based matchmaking. Can you name another FPS with a smart matchmaking mode? I love dedicated servers, but CS:GO s five-on-five, structured, carefully-balanced competitive mode is so reliably tough and fair (save for the handful instances where I ve been matched with hackers) that it s the only thing I play. It makes me long for the return of arena shooters. I m hoping something like Extraction will help fill this near-void.
Tyler Wilde: I spent the beginning of the week getting over a flu I picked up at PAX. It was horrific. If you ever go to PAX, douse your entire body in hand sanitizer every two hours. Drink a bit of it, too. I m also very disappointed, as I touched on in my From The Archives column over the weekend, that I can t play along with the NHL playoffs on my PC. I m not mad at EA and 2K for focusing their sporting efforts on the consoles a few years ago, I d probably have made the same decision but I do hope someone plugs the gap. On PC, where modding and customization reign, it doesn t even matter to me whether or not sports games are licensed by the NHL, NBA, MLB, or whatever. It would be convenient to have the rosters and stats built in, but if not, I ll figure out how to get 2001 02 Evgeni Nabokov in his number 35 solid black jersey into the game, don t worry about that.
Tim Clark: While I m delighted with our first guide article for Hearthstone, which details the decks that are dominating the current metagame and explains why they re so effective, I m also conscious of the fact we ve probably just helped unleash even more Zoo Warlocks onto the server. Which, as shown here, is unfortunate. However, next week our expert will be showing you how to build your own killer deck, so perhaps a PC Gamer reader will come up with a perfect countermeasure for all those Zoos. (Other than fire, obviously.) To help the process, we ll also be listing our 40 favourite cards soon. I d be curious to know which ones you think are must haves in your decks. Hit me up here with suggestions. Job done.
Tom Senior: My internet router has existed in a state of near-death for a week now, allowing only the faintest breath of data to reach Steam's authentication servers. At times like this I'm reminded that my digital library is a transient thing, reliant on systems that may one day fail, or fall to market forces. Will Steam last forever? Gamespy's shutdown has inspired some quick action from 2K, but what will happen when Games for Windows Live meets its maker? Dedicated fans have been known to set up their own servers to save games from the scrapheap, but often it's down to publishers to maintain a game's online infrastructure, and that may not always be in their financial interests. Physical media is hardly infallible I've lost a few golden oldies to dust and disk scratches but the death of third-party authentication systems threaten to take relatively recent games out of circulation. I can only hope Dark Souls survives the GfWL cull.
The Call of Duty series has become somewhat infamous for hiding the bulk of its additional content inside paid-for DLC. A new PC patch for Call of Duty: Ghosts contains the rare bonus of a new, and entirely free, game mode. Chaos has been added to Extinction co-op multiplayer, providing a variation of the game type last seen as part of Modern Warfare 3's Spec-Ops mode.
In it, players battle never-ending waves of enemies. So far, so every co-op mode released since Gears of War, but the twist comes in the additional bonuses. By chaining together kills, players unlock power-ups to help them battle on. It certainly sounds like a chaotic variant of Extinction. As opposed to the orderly, subdued extinctions we're so used to.
Want to see a big ol' dump of patch notes? You're in luck:
MTAR-X: Reduced head-shot damage multiplier.
Restrict DLC weapons for clan v clan & esports mode.
Fixes dock exploit area in Whiteout. Fixed map exploit on Freight so deployable boxes no longer stick to the gate. Fixed map exploit on Warhawk so deployables no longer stick to the fence. Overall anti-cheat improvements.
Adjusted Domination spawn logic to make it less likely for defenders to spawn near a flag if it is being captured. Fix for 4096 error. Fix for wiretap perk to work properly in Hardcore modes. Fixed issue that classified non-sliding kills as sliding kills if the user died mid-slide. Fix to default killstreak highlight to last one selected. Fixed issue that allowed the user to navigate menus while accepting a clan invite. Fixed flare audio after player leaves helo gunner. Fixed hardcore audio alias for kill confirmed. Added proper friendly alias for blitz friendly scoring. Fix to properly show a popup dialog if a user tries to join on someone from the recently met player list that is a blocked user. Added killcam for Night Owl deaths. Fixed character scene offset causing misalignment of some characters.
"Chaos Mode" for Extinction.
Stability and performance improvements. Fixed challenges that were providing more than one skill point. Casual mode does not write to leaderboards. Fixed issue where player models could appear stuck when taking large amounts of damage at once. Improvements to drill placement logic. Armor is now invulnerable when the Tank Class skill is active.
Late joining, spectating and players in Last Stand will now be teleported to the final Breeder fight if triggered without them. Fixed case where players could prevent the Breeder from spawning on Nightfall.
Improved alien navigation and pathing. Improved wall and ceiling navigation for aliens. Updated Kraken smash and cool down logic. Fixed ingredient issue where some combinations prevented creation. Fixed cases where players could not turn a Rhino into a pet when using a Relic. Improvements to clipping to prevent players from getting to undesirable locations. Improvements to the Tesla Traps behavior. Improved clipping to prevent players from placing the drill in undesirable locations. MAAWS stability and tracking improvements. Drill cannot be removed from the Drillbot after being placed. Replaced the Drill waypoint icon after completing the defend from afar sequence. Late joining, spectating players and players in Last Stand will now be teleported to the Kraken fight if triggered without them. Improvements to pillage locations. Deployed items in the lower portion of the ship are removed allowing for new item placement on the top deck of Mayday. Friendly Seeder Turrets no longer prevent the gas sequence from triggering. Intel audio snippets now play in game after being collected. EMP effect from the Kraken no longer impacts skill point menu access. Fixed crafting scoring exploit where players would mistakenly receive funds when canceling crafting.
PC Specific Update
Fixed rare crash. Fixed invites not being processed properly during a loading screen in Multiplayer. Fix to return user to the barracks after leaving clan through clan details.
The patch is out now for PC, and will download automatically through Steam.
The Devastation map pack for Call of Duty: Ghosts will include four multiplayer maps and part two of the increasingly mad Extinction mode. The co-op players vs. NPC aliens aside is set on a "high-tech ghost ship" besieged by a "skyscraper-sized" sea monster and infested with dog-like alien creatures. The trailer also teases the inclusion of the Predator. The actual Predator, from the films. I haven't paid attention to Call of Duty in a while, so it feels like returning to a familiar old house I thought I knew, to find it full of dinosaurs.
The shooting will be familiar enough, I'm sure, even with the addition of the "Ripper 2-in-1 SMG/AR", pronounced "Ripper two-in-one Smgaargh". Multiplayer maps include Behemoth, set on the walkways of a vast mining machine, Ruins, set in a Mexican jungle near an erupting volcano, Unearthed, a map "inspired by" Modern Warfare 3's Dome, and Collision, set on a cargo ship that's crashed into a New York bridge.
The Predator's a tease. Is he playable in a new mode? Is there a map-specific killstreak that sends him after the enemy team? XBox live players will find out on April 3. PC players will probably get it a month later. It'll cost $15 / 10. Find out more on the Call of Duty site, and get a look at the new maps, and the famous monster, in this trailer.
Why do Call of Duty characters hate each other so much? Yes, they're at war - that I can understand - but the lengths they'll go to annihilate their enemy is almost sadistic. In Ruins, one of the four maps added through the Devastation DLC, somebody has gone through the time, danger and expense of rigging a volcano to explode on command. It's as if Infinity Ward have created an fiction in which every person is a Bond villain.
Other deathtraps include the standard military issue aliens, and some weird device called "helicopters". Whatever will they think of next?
In addition to the four maps, players will also get the second episode of "the Extinction saga" co-op campaign, and a new gun. It's called the Ripper, and can switch between SMG and an Assault Rifle modes.
All this will be available sometime after April 3rd, which is the date when the Xbox lot start their exclusive access period. It's annoying, sure, but if they don't get first dibs, they'll spend the rest of the year saying even meaner things about your mums.