While Sledgehammer Games was co-developer on “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” represents their first solo foray into developing a game in the beloved series. And the E3 2014 demo has shown the studio to be extremely adept at giving “Call of Duty” fans everything they’re going to want in a killer first-person shooter.
Starting off with a (literal) bang, our behind-closed-doors demo began with “Collapse,” a level set in San Francisco. Mitchell, the player’s character, is driving a vehicle toward the Golden Gate Bridge, in pursuit of the enemy. He’s firing a sort of energy weapon, one of the many new weapons made possible by the game’s futuristic setting of 2054. Upon arriving at the bridge, Mitchell and his comrades are immediately set upon by heavily armed assailants. These new enemies are packing jump-jets which allow them to leap supernaturally high, getting on top of cars, buses, and other vantage points to rain lead down on the player. Mitchell and his team, however, also have this ability, and “Advanced Warfare” allows the player to get right into using it, putting verticality front and center in this FPS experience.
Also front-and-center are the game’s many new gadgets, including “selector” grenades: No longer will players need to carry a variety of different types of grenades. Instead, players simply pull a grenade from their belt loops and, prior to hurling it, choose the explosive effect from a selector dial. We saw high explosive and EMP grenades, but also the “Threat Detection” effect which, when it explodes, causes the grenade to reveal the locations of enemies behind cover and walls. Of course there were myriad other newfangled gadgets, too, such as a beam or Gauss cannon of some sort, remote-control drones, and a hover tank with an EMP cannon of its own.
But “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” doesn’t force players to go in guns-blazing all the time, either. We also witnessed a stealth mission in which Mitchell’s team, after avoiding sniper fire, used personal cloaking devices to sneak past enemies and infiltrate their base. Once inside, they used a kind of “mute mine” to create a sphere of non-sound so that they could cause all sorts of silent havoc within a small locality. Obviously, the implications for these kinds of devices in the multiplayer aspects of the game fire the imagination quite a bit.
Speaking of sound, it’s worth mentioning how amazing the sound design during the demo of “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” really was. The Sledgehammer Games audio team has done a fantastic job of recreating the realistic sounds of gunfire, but more than that, they’ve added sci-fi sounds of Gauss rifles, “sound bombs,” and hover tanks to inject impressive realism into these futuristic gadgets.
“Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” is out November 4, 2014 for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and it looks to be a huge – and well deserved – success for Sledgehammer’s first full solo shot at a “Call of Duty” title.