|System: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Infinity Ward|
|Release: November 5, 2013|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
We’ve seen a lot about the new Call of Duty: Ghosts. The Xbox One reveal introduced us to our newest friend, the Call of Duty dog: Riley. E3 allowed us to see several scenes from the single-player along with demos of how the new graphics engine would alter the way the environment is rendered in real time. However, we haven’t heard a whole lot about the game’s multiplayer, which most would agree is the main reason why ravenous Call of Duty fans flock to the game in the first place. Luckily, Activision decided to lift the curtain on the much-anticipated multiplayer mode by flying us out to Los Angeles for a hands-on demo.
Activision has really outdone itself this time. They have rebuilt the entire multiplayer system from the ground up, starting with characters and loadouts. Instead of simply putting a generic soldier in some camouflage and calling it a day, Activision is really letting you personalize your soldier this time around. That means customizing your character’s face, hair, gear, and even giving them a name. Yes, you can even be a female soldier this time around. Finally!
Loadouts themselves are an interesting combination of the systems of Black Ops and Modern Warfare. Players are given a budget for their character’s guns, attachments, grenades, tactical items, and so forth, and they need to build their characters without exceeding that budget. Players are also given eight points to spend on perks, and each perk is rated from 1-5 points. They can take as many perks as they like as long as they don’t go over that eight point total, though they can increase that total to 11 by not utilizing their secondary weapon, grenade, or tactical slots.
Killstreaks make a return, though they operate the way Scorestreaks do--in that you earn them both by killing opponents and completing objectives. Killstreak packages will also be returning and can be customized to players’ liking. Three new Killstreaks were debuted at the event, the first being everyone’s favorite Call of Duty dog, Riley. Riley will follow you around the map, automatically attacking enemies around you and killing them in one hit. Riley will also turn in the direction of enemies in his range and bark, even if they are behind walls or cover, making him kind of a makeshift UAV.
The second Killstreak shown was the Sat Com, a grounded version of the UAV. Basically, you put down a satellite uplink somewhere on the field, and as long as it stays up, you can see the position of opponents on the mini-map. When multiple Sat Coms are up, even more information is given--such as the direction they are facing. With each new Sat Com that goes online, more info is available. This is part of Activision’s attempt to take Killstreaks out of the air and put them on the ground where players can interact with them more.
The final Killstreak shown at the event was Juggernaut Maniac, which decks you out in a ludicrous amount of body armor but only gives you a knife. Your speed also increases, so now’s the time to go on a stabbing spree. Juggernaut Maniacs took several seconds of prolonged LMG fire to the face without falling during our demo sessions. They were literally able to run right up to people in the open and stab them to death without any consequences. The balance of this Killstreak is debatable, especially since it only takes 9 kills (or caps or assists) to activate, but it’s still a lot of fun.
Oh… and there are no more Deathstreaks. Happy now?
The traditional level-up system is gone and has instead been replaced by Squad Points. You see, you don’t only get to make one character in Call of Duty: Ghosts. You get to make a whole squadron of different characters, each with different loadouts. Winning, killing opponents, completing objectives, and so on with any member of your squad nets you Squad Points, which you can use to unlock any weapon, item, attachment, Killstreak, or so on in the game. These bonuses can be unlocked in any order! It’s a lot like CoD Points, except you don’t have to level up to make the items buyable in the first place. You can even use Squad Points to buy new members of your squad (up to 10), and each member of your squad can Prestige. Thus, you have 10 levels of Prestige to work through, one with each squad member.
Squads are the backbone of many of the Ghosts multiplayer modes. In fact, a host of new solo, co-op, and competitive modes are built around the idea of you customizing your own crack team of soldiers. For example, you can play in a multiplayer simulation match with the enemy being comprised of every member of another player’s squad. The game will actually use its new AI engine to model the squad’s behavior after how they are actually played. Snipers will play like actual snipers. Assault classes will get right in the thick of things. AIs will jump-shoot, use cover, and otherwise employ all the tactics that human players will use.
By challenging these squads, you can earn points for your own squad or clan if you wish. However, there are plenty of other game modes that utilize squads as well. For example, there is a wave-defense mode that sends squad after squad of soldiers at you. There are modes that allow you to take control of every member of your own squad and face them off against an opposing squad. More and more game modes are going to be built around the squad system, so look forward to more info about this in the future.
The maps in Ghosts’ multiplayer have been overhauled as well. They now have enough interactive elements in them to make a Battlefield player blush. Phone poles can be knocked over onto cars. Walls can be blown up to remove cover. Whole segments of the map can be devastated all at once. One way you can enact this destruction is through map-specific Killstreaks. For example, one of the maps took place on a downtown street. If someone got enough kills, they were able to activate a firebombing, which not only killed everyone on the map, but also rearranged the whole map into a pile of rubble.
There are also tons of new weapons to choose from in Ghosts, including a brand-new weapon class called the Marksman Rifle. Marksman Rifles are halfway between assault rifles and sniper rifles. They allow you to take single power shots at close range. Sound familiar? Yep! Infinity Ward has essentially turned quick scoping into its own balanced weapon class! There will also be 30 new weapons in other categories, 20 new Killstreaks, tons of new perks, and more. Overall, there are over 20,000 combinations to choose from when designing soldier loadouts.
Activision also announced that there would be seven brand-new multiplayer game modes with the possibility of even more. We got to try a few, including the new Search and Rescue mode, which was a lot like Kill Confirmed, but with a twist. Basically, you can attach Search and Rescue to any other game mode. When you get killed in a Search and Rescue game, your tags show up over your corpse, just like they would in Kill Confirmed. If an ally picks up the tags, you can respawn as normal, but if an enemy picks up the tags, you have to sit out the game until the next round, like old-school Counter Strike games.
Much like Search and Rescue is an alteration of Kill Confirmed, Cranked is an alteration of Team Deathmatch, except this alteration comes with explosives! Basically, earning a kill in Cranked makes you--appropriately enough--cranked. This means that you move faster, shoot more accurately, and are harder to kill; this is all in addition to unlocking new perks. There is only one catch: You get a bomb strapped to your chest that explodes after 30 seconds. You have to kill another enemy before that time is up or else KABOOM! No camping here. Start running and gunning!
There is so much more info to talk about, including new Clan War support, exclusive single-player models, and the new bundles that are coming out, which include a 1080p head-cam. However, even more info is going to be revealed at Gamescom next week, so hold tight until then when we take an even closer look at the game and sit down to talk with some of Ghosts’ key designers.
Call of Duty: Ghosts will come out on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One on November 5th, 2013.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: August 15, 2013