After 10 games, what else can "Call of Duty" offer us that it didn't before?
"Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" is out today for those who purchased a special "Day Zero" edition and tomorrow for everyone else. But the 11-year-old franchise is faced with the challenge of proving it can make changes to the game while still satisfying longtime fans. While the series has made $1 billion and sold more than 175 million games, market analysts say they expect there to be a drop-off of up to 40 percent in sales following last year's "Call of Duty: Ghosts."
That might be because a lot of military shooters can feel the same these days. Critics complained that last year's "Ghosts" suffered from an "unavoidable air of familiarity," and said that "even small flourishes [felt] like they were dug out of the recycle bin."
So: What's "Advanced Warfare" bringing to the table to shake things up?
1. An unfamiliar setting: Unlike many titles in the franchise, which generally take place in the past or in modern day, "Advanced Warfare" is set in the year 2054. The futuristic setting allows players to use -- and battle against -- new technology. Seen below, swarms of flying robots show this isn’t your grandpa’s hyper realistic war simulation video game -- there should be major surprises this time around.
2. The "exoskeleton": New to this entry is the "exoskeleton," technology fitted onto a soldier's body that grants him the ability to use heavy weaponry and accomplish superhuman feats. (Imagine climbing up a wall like Spider-Man.) This will inject new life into the multiplayer gameplay in particular: Players will leap and fly around as opposed to being bound mostly to the ground, waiting in one place to make a kill. In other words, the exoskeleton should represent more of a paradigm shift for the series than previous sequels. Here's what it looks like:
3. Kevin Spacey! Yes, Kevin Spacey appears in "Advanced Warfare" as an evil private military contractor who reportedly strong-arms his way into a seat on the United Nations Security Council. In an interview with The Guardian, Spacey said gamers can expect a new level of in-game storytelling here.
"If this is the direction they’re going, they’re going to be making movies," Spacey said.
Here's what he looks like rendered in "Advanced Warfare":
Some of the storytelling choices are already coming under fire, though. New interactive moments include an in-game sequence of a soldier's funeral where the player can hold a button to "pay respects":
One veteran took to Twitter Monday to criticize the decision:
Press X to remember that a good friend of mine committed suicide in Iraq when plagued with depression. Ha ha Call of Duty, you nailed it. :|
— B. Positive Smawley (@Chef_Lu_Bu) November 3, 2014
4. A revamped weapons system: The Guardian reports that the game will include a new "loot" system that brings nuance to the game's various firearms, allowing different versions of the same weapon to sport unique attributes like a faster rate of fire. This move seems intended to bring longevity to the title for hardcore players.
5. New level design: The Guardian also reported that the levels will be more dynamic this time around, with multiple ways to progress through the game's environments, rather than the more linear tracks of previous games.
Will the changes bring "Advanced Warfare" to a holiday victory in the marketplace? We'll see. It hits the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows PCs today and tomorrow for $59.99.