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Call of Duty

New Black Ops III video goes deep into co-op

Killing with friends is so much better
Jun 19
// Robert Summa
In order to continue the hype-train coverage that is so much of the norm for today's AAA mega franchises (and probably lesser games too), this hot-off-the-presses marketing video for Call of Duty Black Ops III will take you on a 13-minute tour of the "cooperative campaign with the Cyber Core tutorial." Sit back, relax, and let the sounds of war bathe you in a warming glow.
Black Ops III photo
Black Ops III

Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer looks chaotic

Same goes for four-player co-op
Jun 15
// Jordan Devore
Treyarch showed competitive multiplayer for Call of Duty: Black Ops III as well as the game's four-person co-op campaign at Sony's E3 2015 press conference. The former had wallrunning and sliding all over the place while the...

Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Supremacy

Jun 02 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Supremacy DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Sledgehammer Games (Current-gen) / High Moon Studios (Last-gen) / Raven Software (Zombies)Publisher: ActivisionReleased: June 2, 2015 (Xbox) / TBA (PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) First up is Skyrise, a map that takes place in futuristic Greece. Well, you wouldn't notice the setting unless you really looked, as the only clue is the Acropolis landmark on one side of the map. As it stands, it's basically a straight remake of Modern Warfare 2's Highrise. It's a classic arena in its own right -- but as I've said in the past, I'm not a fan of injecting remakes in a $15 DLC pack. Having said that, Highrise really holds up. It's a classic tiered map with plenty of high, middle, and underground paths, with a giant playground in the middle, and hidden side paths. It's a nice addition to the rotation, and enough time has passed between the release of Modern Warfare 2 to not piss me off. Parliament is set on the River Thames in London, and is yet another tanker map. It's almost like Activision needs to fulfill an imaginary quota of tankers in every Call of Duty, so this is where you can get your fix if you're a fan of steel traps. It's a lot like Skyrise in that most of the cool stuff is happening in the background, but there's some decent opportunities to jump around the map and over hazards like the river itself. It's not quite on par with Skyrise's layout, but I have no real qualms when it comes up, since it takes advantage of the increased Exo mobility quite well. Kremlin, obviously set in Russia, is extremely colorful, and sets itself apart from the rest of the pack immediately. I love that it feels like a legitimate map from an older game like World at War, as there's tons of detail inside and out, and nearly none of the layout is wasted. It's one of the best objective-based maps currently, as there are multiple chokepoints built into it, including one really rad area that involves a long road and a mounted machine-gun perch. Whenever it comes up in a playlist, my eyes light up and I mash the vote button. It seems like there always needs to be one bad apple in these DLCs, and Compound fulfills that niche. Taking place in a staging ground in Colorado, Compound is a boring, small map that serves no real purpose in Advanced Warfare, which is a much more mobile game than past iterations. From what I've played, opposing teams tend to spawn on top of one another, leading to a bunch of messy firefights. They tried to go for a more tiered design here, but it mostly fails because everything is so low to the ground. Thankfully, the Exo Grapple playlist returns for Supremacy, and I recommend playing it to get more mileage out of Compound. In case you were wondering, there's no DLC weapon this time around -- which I'm more than fine with. [embed]293187:58782:0[/embed] Like clockwork, a number of issues I have with Supremacy have been alleviated with the third part of the Exo Zombies tale, Carrier. I really love how Sledgehammer and Raven Software are moving the story along with the same cast of characters, and its narrative style is pretty much exactly where it needs to be. It's not as cryptic as Treyarch's method, it's not too on-the-nose, and it's far more interesting than Infinity Ward's alien-oriented Extinction lore. It helps that Bruce Campbell is now along for the ride, and he fits the tone of the game perfectly. Maybe he'd be better suited as a full-on Ash cameo down the line with a wackier take on the zombies mode in general, but he does a great job of acclimating to the already talented cast here. Carrier itself looks aesthetically similar to the first Exo Zombies mission, but the intricacies will soon start to pop out the more you play. One of my favorite bits involves a makeshift Pachinko machine on a random wall that takes spare grenades, rewarding you with cash. There's also a lot of cool skirmishes with humanoid opponents this time, which elevates the mode and gives it a certain degree of depth that exceeds your normal "horde" expectations. Objectives like defusing bombs while fighting off ravenous zombies do a great job of keeping you on your toes. Call of Duty: Advance Warfare's DLC drops have become incrementally more impressive as Sledgehammer is willing to take more risks. While I didn't think it'd be able to bring anything new to the table for its first Call of Duty outing, the studio has proven me wrong, surpassing Infinity Ward in my mind. While the jury is out on the fourth DLC for Advanced Warfare, Sledgehammer has already done enough to make me look forward to its next project. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Call of Duty DLC review photo
Third time is a charm
Another year, another round of Call of Duty DLC -- four rounds, yet again, in the case of Advanced Warfare. We've already had the Havoc and Ascendance packs drop so far as part of the Season Pass, and while they weren't bad offerings, nothing about them really vied for a purchase. With Supremacy, there may be a case for the pass, at the very least at a discount down the line.

Review: Shooter

Jun 02 // Nic Rowen
Shooter (Book)Released: June 2, 2015MSRP: $5.00 Shooter is a collection of essays from recognizable names in game criticism speaking on a wide range of topics related to games that involve some kind of gunplay. Some chapters take a deep dive into the mechanical and technical details that make shooters what they are. Steven Wright's “The Joys of Projectiles: What We've Forgotten About Doom” for example, laments the rise of “realistic” modern shooters and how their largely interchangeable hitscan assault rifles have abandoned many of the mechanics that made early FPS games so pleasurable and skill testing. Others are more personal, such as Gita Jackson's touching reflection on how Counter-Strike could be seen as a microcosm of the (seemingly one-sided from her self-deprecating perspective) sibling rivalry she shared with her brother. Shooter strikes a great balance, it never gets so bogged down in technical minutia that it feels like a lecture in game design, but has enough mechanical grounding that it doesn't just become a series of anecdotes either. The games Shooter examines are varied and numerous. Of course genre forebears and trendsetters like Doom, Half-Life and Call of Duty are discussed as you would expect, but there is plenty of attention paid to less bombastically popular titles as well. Genre-defying shooters like Red Orchestra 2 with its brutally unforgiving depiction of realistic combat, and the insidious darkness of Far Cry 2, which sets aside the typical rationales for heroic violence to make the player complicit in something unsettling, get entire chapters dedicated to them. It's a great technique. By examining the few games that step outside of the bounds of typical FPS conventions and power fantasy dynamics and figuring out why they feel so different, it is easier to pinpoint the standard tropes and expectations of the genre that have become so ubiquitous that they are nearly invisible. Perhaps the greatest praise I can give to Shooter is that it made me reexamine and reflect on my feelings about a few games. When a piece of criticism grabs you by the collar and demands you take a second look at something, you know its doing it's job right. Filipe Salgado's chapter on the intentional ugliness and barely contained chaos of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days almost made me want to play through the game again with a fresh set of eyes -- eyes more willing to see past the clunky mechanics and thoroughly unlikable protagonists to scan for deeper meaning. Almost anyway (this is still Dog Days we're talking about). At its best, Shooter feels like a lively conversation with some very smart people who enjoy, but expect more from, their trigger happy games. Its snappy, intelligent, and occasionally funny. At it's worst, the book veers into the pretentious. At times, it feels less like a conversation and more like an awkward dinner party dominated by a lecturing windbag everyone is too polite to interrupt. Thankfully these rough patches are few and far between. The rest of the book is well worth putting up with the occasional eye-rolling turn of phrase. Mostly though, Shooter feels important. The industry needs more “capital C” Criticism to unravel the subtext and ideas behind the games we love. Games mean something. They impart messages, communicate ideas, either by conscious choice on the part of their developers or by the assumptions they make -- the casual omissions and things taken for granted. We have to start examining these ideas in a mature, intelligent, and yes, academic way. Shooter isn't the first example of this kind of criticism in games writing of course; there have certainly been other books written, and articles penned (on sites like Destructoid, I might add) that dive into these waters. But, it is still very much a nascent field. Video games are a young medium, and we haven't had time to establish a critical tradition like film and literature has. We need to cultivate these voices; the generation of writers that will talk about games in a serious manner in the coming decades. What better way to stake a claim in this new field than to gather a variety of exceptionally talented voices to talk about and critically examine what is generally considered gaming's dumbest, most developmentally arrested genre? The thrill of shooting a Cyber-Demon with a rocket launcher may be obvious and simple, but there is a lot to unpack when you take a closer look.
Shooter Review photo
Looking at life down the barrel of a gun
Shooters seem simple. You step into the shoes of your typical tough guy space-marine or mercenary and empty clip after clip into the faces of Nazis, or aliens, or alien-Nazis from the vaguely disembodied gun bobbing up and do...

Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Call of Duty's newest DLC has some kickass weaponry

And a shark
Jun 01
// Brett Makedonski
Activision's going through that awkward time of year where it's gearing up to make a big splash at E3 with it's new Call of Duty game, but it's not quite done promoting its old Call of Duty game. That's how we get trail...
Closure photo

Spark Unlimited's ironically lost its spark and shut down

I kinda liked Legendary
May 05
// Joe Parlock
Developer of Legendary, Lost Planet 3, and Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z Spark Unlimited has closed up shop and laid off all of its staff after 13 years of game development. As reported by Polygon, the company’s assets were fou...
Wii U photo
Wii U

It looks like Wii U is getting snubbed again for Call of Duty: Black Ops III

We'll always have Black Ops II and Ghosts, Nintendo
Apr 27
// Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Black Ops III is finally making the jump to a full-on current-gen experience, on PC, PS4, and Xbox One later this year. Sadly, that means yet another snub for the Wii U, the constant "is it or is it not current-...
Treyarch photo

The Call of Duty mural at Treyarch

A quick look at the studio
Apr 26
// Robert Summa
While visiting with Treyarch for its upcoming release of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, I happened to notice some impressive artwork that ran across a few of the walls inside. Done by iam8bit artist Dave Crosland, the pieces represent the entirety of Treyarch's contributions to the Call of Duty franchise. Here's a look at some of that art.
CoD photo

Dtoid Q&A: Treyarch and Call of Duty: Black Ops III

The developers speak out
Apr 26
// Robert Summa
As part of my recent visit with Treyarch covering the upcoming release of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, I had the opportunity to sit down with three of the key figures behind this year's entry into the Call of Duty franchise. ...
CoD photo

Hands on with Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer

Complexity and simplicity collide
Apr 26
// Robert Summa
During my recent visit with Treyarch, I was lucky enough to get my hands on the multiplayer for Call of Duty: Black Ops III. After sitting through a presentation that seemed dizzying at times with the amount of changes and la...

What we know about Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Apr 26 // Robert Summa
Single player is no longer for singles As Call of Duty continues to march into the modern era of gaming, Black Ops III will introduce the option of online co-op in its single player campaign. The main campaign will now support up to four players working together. Jason Blundell, campaign director and senior executive producer, said it will redefine how Call of Duty is played. Set in the near-future, Black Ops III is all about bio augmentation and robotics. Something that will not only affect your single-player experience, but also multiplayer (but we'll get more into that later). Giving players the choice between male and female characters, the campaign will put you in the role of an enhanced cybernetic Black Ops soldier.  The intensity and theme of the game were on full display as Treyarch showed us one of the levels of the campaign, called Cairo. At first, it seemed like one of your standard Call of Duty experiences. But as the level progressed, the world awoke and the retooled battlefield was on full display. [embed]290987:58342:0[/embed] With the main fighting occurring in an open space, the ambition of Black Ops III was immediately apparent. There was an amazing scope to the level and the action within it. The world felt very alive and tangible with action happening in just about every space within the player's view. Planes flying overhead, bullets whizzing by, robots. It was hectic. New devastating weapons, such as a spike launcher, were unveiled. Rolling balls of spikes looking to impale unsuspecting victims littered the battlefield. The reliance and added value of your co-op partners certainly played a part in a level where a new emergent AI was able to make intelligent decisions based on what your team was doing. According to Treyarch, the AI was a focus during development. The team added a new animation set and claim that the goal-oriented AI can now communicate and organize itself -- which is key with the variety of options that the campaign now offers with the availability of co-op. Blundell stressed some key points Treyarch is trying to drive home with Black Ops III's campaign. Buzzwords such as cinematic intensity, epic action, a gritty narrative, and replayability are what the single-player experience is trying to be. Customization is key Allowing players to express themselves in a unique way has been a staple of the franchise for a number of years now. Treyarch is looking to build upon this by allowing players not only more set-up options, but a player experience system within the single-player that will allow extensive upgrades not only to your character and his or her abilities, but also to the weapons themselves. Cyber Cores and Cyber Rigs are cybernetic modifications that will allow added layers of player customization. Cyber Cores will let players do things from remote hacking to controlling drones to chaining melee strikes, while Cyber Rigs are passive upgrades that allow advanced movement and defensive capabilities. With the addition of the Safe House, customization and socialization options will be available. This is the area players will go between levels. The Safe House will have your own customizable bunk and provide access to a wiki with information related to the game. There will be collectibles and opportunities to purchase tokens, which can be used in your upgrades. PC will not be ignored Treyarch studio head and president Mark Lamia said a greater emphasis was placed on the PC version of Black Ops III. While not getting into a great amount of detail (such as anything server-related), Lamia said Treyarch worked closely with hardware companies to bring a high-end experience for those who have upper-tier machines and have adopted 4K.  While catering to the high-end crowd, Lamia also said the team put a great deal of effort into optimization. The current recommended specs are as follows (but they are subject to change): Operating System: Windows 7 64-Bit / Windows 8 64-Bit / Windows 8.1 64-Bit Processor: Intel® Core™ i3-530 @ 2.93 GHz / AMD Phenom™ II X4 810 @ 2.60 GHz Memory: 6 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 470 @ 1GB / ATI® Radeon™ HD 6970 @ 1GB DirectX: Version 11 Network: Broadband Internet connection Sound Card: DirectX Compatible But what about Zombies? Treyarch remained silent on what exactly Black Ops III will offer for its fan-favorite zombie mode. What we were told, however, is that it will have its own player progression system, distinct storyline, more depth and will include all kinds of "mind-fuckery," as Lamia put it. As with the main game and multiplayer, the social aspects of Black Ops III are set to play a key role in zombies as well. Who cares about single player, tell me about multiplayer Even with the inclusion of online four-player co-op, there still will be a faction of Call of Duty fans who only care about one thing: multiplayer. I got my hands on multiplayer, which is covered in-depth in a separate article, but I want to tell you what you should expect. As mentioned, Black Ops III has its focus on risk versus reward. Nowhere is this more apparent than with multiplayer and the complete reworking of not only gun-play, but movement as well. To do this, the team changed some of the rules. For instance, players will now be able to shoot while doing all movements in the game -- this includes everything from jumping to wall running (yes, wall running) to climbing over ledges and, for the first time, swimming. While still remaining true to three-lane map design philosophy with no buildings above two stories, the team has also added new movement abilities such as thrust jumping and power sliding, and as mentioned, wall running and swimming. Oh, and did I mention you can sprint for as long as you want? Treyarch said it wants to allow players to have full combat control with no pause in the action.  While players won't be limited with their sprint, there will be limitations to the power slide and wall run. They aren't significant limitations, but they are present. These changes are immediately noticeable with the varied results that thrust jump, wall running, and the power slide provide. There is a fluidity now to the action. While it seems overwhelming at first glance, the general simplicity and ease of use associated with Call of Duty is still in place. Dan Bunting, game director, said the philosophy is guns up, not down. They want omni-directional movement options in what he says will, "feel like a BLOPS II evolution." In all, it's about endless momentum and making the gameplay faster and more engaging. This is my rifle Through the Gunsmith menu, players will be presented with what is being billed as a whole new level of weapon customization. Here, players will be able to name their weapons, preview attachments on actual in-game models and of course, access a paint job option that will allow for near-limitless personalization. You will be able to equip up to five attachments and an optic. The emblem creator is back in a new way, this time called Paintshop. Not only will the images that players create be more visible on their weapon of choice, but they will now have access to 64 layers for three paintable sides. There are also material options such as carbon fiber and the ability to design gun camo. Looking for someone special Another significant shift within Black Ops III's multiplayer is the usage of what are being called Specialists. There will be nine total, but we were only shown four.  Each Specialist is essentially an archetype the player will choose from and develop over time. They have their own unique abilities and power weapons to choose from -- and of course their own look, personality and voice. The goal, Treyarch said, is to give every player the opportunity to become powerful within the game.  If you were one of those people who have come to despise Call of Duty because of excessive and overpowered killstreaks or scorestreaks, Treyarch is attempting to balance the playing field with the inclusion of Specialists and their unique weapons and abilities. While the best players will still have advantages, the goal is to now let everyone get involved, not just the top tier. The first Specialist we were shown goes by the name Ruin (real name Donnie Walsh). This is a rusher/bruiser character that uses Gravity Spikes as his power weapon. He's pretty much the Titan from Destiny. Once the Gravity Spikes are used, an area-of-effect blast deals damage and eliminates all enemies within the vicinity. It's devastating, but must be timed and used smartly for best results. Players will have to choose between Specialists' unique power weapon or ability. Ruin's ability, Overdrive, provides a burst of speed, making for a character that will thrive in Capture the Flag. The second specialist presented was Seraph (real name Zhen Zhen). She sports a hand cannon called the Annihilator that deals a single shot capable of taking out multiple enemies if lined up perfectly. Her ability, Combat Focus, will trigger a bonus multiplier to your score that will go toward your scorestreak for a short period of time. The third specialist, and probably my favorite so far, is Outrider (real name Alessandra Castillo). She comes with the Sparrow, a compound bow that will explode enemies after sticking to them. But this isn't why I liked her. I always suck with bows in games, so the real draw of Outrider for me was her ability, Vision Pulse. The ability will ping the surrounding area and tag the location of all enemies within range. With it, you will essentially be able to see enemies through walls for a short amount of time. Perfect for campers, such as myself. The fourth, Reaper (real name Experimental War Robot), is a combat robot with an arm that can transform into a minigun, called the Scythe. While it does take time to spin up, the results of it in action can be devastating. Reaper's ability is called Glitch. With it, Reaper can relocate about three seconds into the past to a previous position. The Specialist power weapons and abilities are only available after a certain time or score threshold has been met. Charging over time, the refill rate is directly affected by your participation within the game. However, even if you sit and do nothing, you still will have at least one opportunity to use either option.  As with everything else in Black Ops III, the power weapon and ability are a choice. You can't have both. Depending on your play style, you will quickly find which is more effective for you. Just like your load outs, all of these options will be available pre-match. To wrap it all up The goal for Treyarch is to make the "deepest and richest Call of Duty ever," Lamia said.  He said the intention is to make it easier for players to find each other, not just in multiplayer, but single player and zombies as well. While he wasn't willing to go into specifics, he said he wants players to be aware of what others are playing and allow them to do whatever they want to do at any time. Lamia asserted that the social aspect of Black Ops III is what will distinguish it from others. Near the end of the presentation, Lamia revealed a couple of special opportunities for players to get their hands on the game and see for themselves how it plays. At this year's E3, Lamia said fans will have the chance to actually play multiplayer. But even if you aren't able to attend E3, those who pre-order the game will have access to the game's beta. Black Ops III will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Overall, the promise for Black Ops III is there. This is a series that has extremely high expectations. It's obviously too early to say whether or not Black Ops III will come close to meeting those, but the foundation is there. The blueprint and makings of a great and varied experience that breaks the mold is evident.  For now, all we can do is wait. 
Black Ops III photo
Multiplayer campaign and more
Whatever you think you know about the Call of Duty franchise is about to change. As a series that is often criticized for offering more of the same, Black Ops developer Treyarch has made every attempt to alter that mindset wi...

Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Scientists play God in Black Ops III's latest teaser

So little shooting
Apr 23
// Brett Makedonski
Activision's officially unveiling Call of Duty: Black Ops III on April 26, but it's not being secretive about the title. The latest teaser trailer outright states the game's name. That's not where the mystery lies. What...
Deals with Gold photo
Deals with Gold

Xbox Live sale: Learn about other cultures, shoot all other cultures

Mutually exclusive, of course
Apr 21
// Brett Makedonski
Xbox Live's small weekly Deals with Gold sale features an interesting juxtaposition of games this week. One title strives to teach you about an under-represented culture. Most of the rest task you with lining up across from p...
Giant cats photo
Giant cats

A baseball player playing games with a fat cat, so don't ask any questions

It's Friday and I'm allowed to post what I want, so you get this
Apr 17
// Brett Makedonski
The San Francisco Giants' Matt Duffy isn't a proven baseball player. He had to fight through Spring Training for a spot on the club's 25-man roster. Still, I have shown in the past that I will do whatever's necessary to get c...
Promoted Blog photo
Promoted Blog

The six best videogame tanks

Promoted from our Community Blogs
Apr 14
// SpielerDad
[Whether its cruising down a corridor for a shooting gallery or putting your repair tool to one as your buddy fires it on the front lines of Battlefield, everyone loves a good tank. Personally, I like the prohibitively expens...
Next CoD photo
Next CoD

Next Call of Duty looks to be another Black Ops, and has a reveal date

Apr 09
// Brett Makedonski
The hype train powering the next Call of Duty reveal has been rolling along at full speed ever since Snapchat QR codes started showing up in the multiplayer levels of Black Ops II. It looks like that will all come to a ...
Next Call of Duty photo
Next Call of Duty

The next Call of Duty reveal starts with a Snapchat account

Apr 07
// Brett Makedonski
This has been a weird week for social media-related game reveals and teases. First, Square Enix set off to announce a game by streaming a man lying unconscious in a cell. Now, Call of Duty has updated one of its old titl...
Advanced Warfare photo
Advanced Warfare

Advanced Warfare players murdered 2.5 billion zombies

Also boosted 14K times around the earth
Apr 06
// Laura Kate Dale
Thanks to Activision this morning we now know a whole bunch of number based facts about Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Curious how many times players have boosted around the world? Over 14,000. How many grenades have been th...

Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Ascendance

Mar 31 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Ascendance DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Sledgehammer Games (Current-gen) / High Moon Studios (Last-gen) / Raven Software (Zombies)Publisher: ActivisionReleased: March 31, 2015MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) Site 244 is Call of Duty's take on Mount Rushmore, with a tad more destruction and radioactive waste to boot. Set to the theme of a ruined test site, the map looks cooler than it actually plays. The constant attention to detail is something you'll notice immediately, and the actual mountain itself isn't immediately apparent unless you look up in the distance. Unfortunately, the cheap crag-like layout feels limiting in a game that's supposed to be about freedom of movement. The layout is handicapped by "paths," which are basically just giant crags that block you from experimentation and herd you into various chokepoints. Because of its aesthetic value I don't necessarily vote to skip it during the loadout screen, but I'm not thrilled with it either. Another map in the bunch, Climate, follows the same style-over-functionality principle with a gorgeous design and a boring layout. It reminds me of Zoo on paper, one of my favorite maps of all time, but the layout itself is similar to Site 244 in that it feels far too restrictive. It's very flat outside of one particular quadrant, and you'll spend a lot of time shooting across long stretches and hallways, which feels counter-productive with an outdoor map. Filling the area with acid is a nice touch that occurs later in a match, but it's not enough to really make this one stand out. One arena shines above all others in the pack -- Perplex. It takes place in a five story apartment complex in the heart of Sydney, Australia, and it's just as amazing as it looks. Both the background (with the Sydney Opera House and active sailboats) and the interiors of Perplex look painstakingly crafted, and you can even see the details like the weather channel on TV, which at this point, is actually visible on-screen sans blur. It doesn't end there though as the design is genius, providing a five-story meta-game that has players constantly moving up and down to get a proper vantage point. It's also neat to see new modular apartments being flown in by drones, which end up being part of the level. As a welcome surprise, Perplex is now one of my all-time favorite new Call of Duty maps. With the new grapple playlist (more on that in a second), it's even more enjoyable.  While Site 244 and Climate felt different enough to justify the identity of the DLC, Chop Shop just feels like a decent map that should have been included in the base game. It feels like a mix of Horizon and Ascend from pretty much every angle, which you already paid for. Every time I geared up for Chop Shop it didn't feel premium in any way, but it's a decent map for objective-based games if that's your thing. To add a little oomph to Ascendence, you'll also net the OHM-Werewolf gun, as well as the aforementioned grapple playlist. The weapon itself is an SMG-shotgun hybrid that shoots blue energy bullets, able to switch between both modes of fire with a quick d-pad tap. It feels new without being overpowered, as you're inherently limited by your lack of range no matter what toolkit you use. The grapple playlist ended up being a joy to play, as everyone's Exo powers are eliminated and replace with a grappling hook, which can be used mid-jump or to scale pretty much anything. With a low cooldown meter you can pretty much grapple at all times, and it's just as fun as it sounds. Of course, the main attraction for many is the Exo Zombies mode, which also comes with a new map called Infection. It takes place in a decidedly less industrial setting, with a burger joint and an interconnected sewer system. Long time fans will remember Burger Town, which has been a "Pizza Planet"-like Easter Egg since Modern Warfare 2. The more I play Exo Zombies the more I really start to see the effort that was put into it, as zombies don't just aimlessly shamble along through windows like they did in the past -- they slip through cracks and dynamically approach you throughout the level, even if their spawn points are scripted. It's also nice to see Activision commit to an interesting cast (Bill Paxton, John Malkovich, Rose McGowan, and Jon Bernthal) rather than have them as a one-off like past DLCs. The Exosuit (once you locate it) continues to add an extra layer to the classic co-op formula, as double-jumping and air-dashing is still just as exciting when you're running from zombies. And you'll need to run, as there's plenty of formidable foes that can infect you or shut down your Exosuit temporarily. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare doesn't really have a killer Season Pass so far, but if you're still into zombies, it's worth the investment -- mostly because you can't even access the mode without buying some form of DLC. There are a few flashes of brilliance in the maps delivered in Havoc and Ascendance, but I'm hoping that John Malkovich and the crew won't have to carry so heavy a load for the next two add-ons. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
COD DLC review photo
A new meaning for Cyrus 'The Virus'
I've come to really enjoy Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer months down the line. It's withstood the test of time, and although I was skeptical of Sledgehammer Games' first Duty outing, it has done a decent jo...

Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

I'm glad that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare isn't afraid to embrace the strange

The Ascendance map pack looks fun
Mar 25
// Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare got some flak for the whole "Press X to pay respects" debacle, but after the controversy quickly died down, it had plenty of time to shine with an active online community. Although th...
Call of Duty free weekend photo
Call of Duty free weekend

Steam's running a free weekend for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare multiplayer

Dare I?
Feb 19
// Jordan Devore
To jump straight to the not-so-fun part: it's a 43.5GB download for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and the promo only covers multiplayer. Also, it lasts until Sunday, February 22 at 1:00pm Pacific. So you can't swoop in, ogg...
Call of Duty zombies photo
Call of Duty zombies

This 2015 D.I.C.E. Summit talk explains the entire history of Call of Duty's zombie mode

Worth the 25-minute watch
Feb 12
// Chris Carter
Call of Duty: World at War's zombie mode was an incredible addition to the industry. It was a fully featured mode that was actually included in the base package, and I played the first map for 100 hours, easy. I still play z...
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Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's Season Pass exclusive DLC map is $5 now

Timed exclusive Season Pass DLC
Feb 11
// Chris Carter
If you purchased the Season Pass for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, you got an extra map on top of it called Atlas Gorge. Now, Activision has opened up its purchase for $5 as a standalone DLC. The special Atlas Gorge playlis...
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Call of Duty

Activision: Next Call of Duty to be 'loaded with innovation'

This is Treyarch's baby
Feb 06
// Brett Makedonski
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the next installment in the Call of Duty franchise is well underway. If a Call of Duty game doesn't release, it doesn't actually count as a calendar year, you know. Activision C...
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Call of Duty DLC

Call of Duty unleashes DLC, zombie horde on PlayStation and PC in late February

Havoc, indeed
Feb 04
// Brett Makedonski
The past few years have seen Microsoft hold a temporary monopoly on Call of Duty add-ons. That hasn't changed with Advanced Warfare, as Xbox players have been mowing down zombie puppies for a solid week now. Activis...

Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Havoc

Jan 29 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Havoc DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Sledgehammer Games (Current-gen) / High Moon Studios (Last-gen) / Raven Software (Zombies)Publisher: ActivisionReleased: January 27, 2015MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) First up is Core, a yellow-toned map set in the Gobi desert. While the actual environment is plain, I really like the emphasis on more vertical movement as a result of the Exosuit. That mechanic alone has managed to differentiate multiplayer in Advanced Warfare from the rest of the series, even if Core only marginally takes advantage of that fact. It basically just Frankensteins a ton of different concepts together and hopes it works, like multiple tunnels that only stretch for a few seconds. It's a small and underwhelming arena but when it comes up I don't groan, so that's something good I guess. Urban is probably the coolest looking map in the pack, as it's the only one with a futuristic theme. Now all of the FPS genre's signature browns are subbed out for neon blue hues, and you'll definitely feel like you're playing something you paid a premium for. Having said that, the layout is a standard office/city theme, and there aren't enough windows to crash through or unique identifying aspects. That motorcycle in the picture above kind of just hovers there, and the map itself feels fairly static. Like Core though it's nice that it's in the rotation. Call of Duty is no stranger to ski resort DLC, and here we go again. Drift is another medium-small map that features a hamlet town with a few diversions like a carousel. There's a few alleys to duck in and plenty of windows to crash through, but that's about it. Havoc's name of the game is underwhelming, through and through. I'm a sucker for snow maps, but this feels like something that should have been in the base game. I know it's important to not overdo the whole "future thing," but retreading doesn't really help the appeal of this package. Sideshow is probably my favorite map of the pack, as it feels more like a Garden Warfare arena than a Call of Duty level. It has a rectangular symmetry to it, with a big open field in the middle and plenty of opportunities for cross-map shootouts. The theme is set to the tune of an abandoned township, but it also has an old-west field to it. I particularly like the fact that there was somehow a "Clown Inn" that existed somewhere that's creepy as hell. Every time I play this map it feels like everyone adapts to a new shooting style, which helps keep things fresh. Even then, Sideshow doesn't feel like something you'd pay for. Sick of zombies yet? I'm not! While the rest of the Havoc DLC is average at best, the new Exo Zombies mode single-handedly saves the map pack. Activision has opted to bring back a Hollywood cast, this time with Bill Paxton, John Malkovich, Rose McGowan, and Jon Bernthal. The prior holywood casts had horror (Gellar, Englund, Trejo, and Rooker), and mob (Palminteri, Pantoliano, Madsen, and Liotta) themes, but I think Havoc has the most interesting cast yet. While Paxton is probably the standout performance here, everyone in Havoc provides a good show. No one sounds phoned in, and they all seem like they're having fun. There's a short intro to help introduce the new pack of mercenaries, which are brought in to clean up a zombie mess Atlas started. It's a great way to link the core game and this is probably the most coherent story yet -- which should please those of you who hated how cryptic past zombie modes were. One of the cooler bits is how you'll start off practically naked, and you'll have to find the Exosuits eventually, granting you the power to jump and dash around. But with your added maneuverability the enemies will have the movement to match, so you won't be able to just kite dumb zombies around constantly. There's also a lot of cool elevated areas to visit. I love the future theme, and even if the Mystery Box serves the same function as it has in the past, it's neat to see it represented as a 3D printer. Plus, all of those new wonderful laser toys are great for blasting zombies, and they don't feel out of place like they did in the past. Zombie modes have the tendency to come out of the gate slowly, and although the first map doesn't have any real "out there" concepts, it's more than enough for those of you who still want more of the undead. The maps alone in the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Havoc DLC are an average affair, but Exo Zombies rises this package slightly above the cut. I love the new cast, the Exosuits makes a world of difference, and I'm digging the Hollywood cheese of the story. I'm interested in seeing where this goes, even if Sledgehammer wasn't able to carve out their own signature mode. If you're just in it for the maps, you can probably skip this one.
Call of Duty DLC review photo
Being zombie Malkovich
Call of Duty map packs are definitely a mixed bag. Fifteen dollars is pricey by any standards, and the prospect of one or two remade maps and a grand total of four arenas isn't anything to get excited about. Advanced Warfare's new Havoc DLC has just arrived this week on Xbox platforms, and it's par for the course in terms of what you'd expect. As usual though, zombies save the day.

Call of Duty DLC photo
Call of Duty DLC

Call of Duty DLC ups the ante with zombie puppies

I have a feeling you don't lovingly play with them
Jan 20
// Brett Makedonski
When Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's Havoc add-on releases next week, players will get waves of zombies they don't want to deal with. I'm not referencing the hordes of jetpacking undead, or even the ones that seemingly...

I know how to save Call of Duty in a post-Advanced Warfare world

Jan 16 // Nic Rowen
[embed]286278:56923:0[/embed] Timecop it out Ok, so you're Infinity Ward. You've spent the last two years eating shit over how much of a letdown Ghosts was. You need to rally, you need to get back to the core of what people love about CoD. You're thinking of going back to the well, maybe another Vietnam game, or something set in the '80s. People love that '80s shit. Or God forbid, some focus-test fiasco told you THIS was the time to head back to WWII, “the audience is totally ready for it!” You need to pull a Timecop. Timecop is a forgettable relic of mid-'90s cinema. The last desperate throws of the '80s tough-guy flick starring a leading man who barely rates as a punchline these days. A film you would have rented with the express intent of getting boozed up with your friends and unloading your own slurred, half-clever, MST3K commentary on. But the opening scene of Timecop is brilliant. A brief flash of what could have been a much more interesting movie before Van Damme takes the wheel and swerves the bus into a drainage ditch. A group of Confederate soldiers carrying gold bars for General Lee (who presumably intends to melt them down and stamp them into musket-balls or something) are held up by a lone cowboy-looking dude. Despite featuring the accent and dentistry of the era, the cowboy whips out two futuristic sub-machine guns and ventilates the lot of them in less than a second. It's a great scene because it sets up the entire premise so succinctly. Criminals have time travel, they can plan and commit crimes based on specific historic knowledge, and they have the tools and equipment to utterly dunk on the pathetic lawmen and soldiers of the day. So take your three-quarters built WWII game and flip the premise on its head. You're a soldier sent back in time to deliver an exo-skeletal beat-down to the third Reich before it can ever inspire the rise of a fourth in whatever crazy future you're from. Just take the game as it is, give the player character a jet-pack and a laser gun, and let them loose on the Battle of the Bulge. Videogames are power fantasies after all, and that sounds like a pretty fun power fantasy to me. I want to grapple-hook to the very top floor of the Reichstag, smash through one of those red-bannered windows, and cave in Hermann Goering's jowls with a mechanized right hook. I'd love to clown all over the Vietcong by flying over their bamboo spike traps with rocket boosters, flushing them out of their sniper roosts by burning down the jungle with a wrist-mounted microwave emitter. Make the multiplayer kill-streaks a race to rip open time portals to replace your Tommy guns and potato-masher grenades with plasma-casters and fission-powered smart-mines. I mean, I'm sure that the idea of a futuristic soldier fighting an entire army of outdated historical soldiers has never been done before. Right? Thine liege Lord sounds the horn of battle, whilst thou answer the Call of Duty? Ok, you're Treyarch, Black Ops 3 is well underway but you've still got time to pivot, still have time to grab the rudder and steer the ship to a bold new course. Screw trying to imitate what Sledgehammer has done. You're leaders, not followers. If anything, they just bit off the future-tech craze you started in Black Ops 2. It's time to flip the table over, to do the wild and unexpected, to prove you're the CoD development house with the biggest balls and the most nerve. It's time to go medieval on their asses. If people thought jetpacks were cool, wait till they ride into battle on a motherfucking horse. Steal whatever “thunder” Chivalry has and craft the finest first-person melee combat simulator the world has ever seen. Create a silky smooth, 60 FPS, beheading experience where you charge into battle with swords, spears, and cudgels. Screw all that “360 no-scope” rubbish, it's time to make the struggle real again. No more camping out in a power position, it's time to beat your berserker warrior chest, get right up in someone's face, and mash on the STAB button until something dies. You're going to hear a lot of shit. That the gameplay is a chaotic mess, that 16-person multiplayer simply doesn't work when everyone just charges across a field wildly swinging the fastest weapon they can. That your pre-planned “Classic Map Pack” DLC doesn't make much sense anymore and it looks weird to have men-at-arms marching down the streets of Nuketown. That the “catapult barrage” kill-streak is completely unbalanced. Don't worry about it, just block them all out and know you're doing the best thing you can for the franchise. Game of Thrones is the hot thing these days right? The kids are all about knights, and dragons, and incest, and you don't want to be left behind. It's time to bring the war maul of the CoD franchise down on everyone and show them what Historical Warfare is all about. (Well, except maybe the incest thing, marketing is having a shit over it and Australia is already saying they'll refuse to rate the game. You'd think we were talking about cleaning out an airport worth of innocent civilians or something.) Fuck it, just make them all dogs “We worked for years on Ghosts and all people liked about the game was the fucking dog. I missed my kid's birthday, on consecutive years. I haven't seen a movie since... Wow, I haven't seen a movie since The Dark Knight was playing in theaters. The other day a co-worker asked me something, and instead of trying to turn my head to respond, I moved my mouse to the right and was surprised when my view didn't change. Seriously, I sat there waggling my wrist wondering why my mouse was broken for a few seconds before I realized what the hell I was doing. I've given my life to this series and. All. They. Liked. Was. The. Fucking. Dog. Give the babies what they want then. Call it Collar of Duty, Call of Doggy, Advanced Tail-wag, or whatever cheeky name the internet came up with. I just want to see my family again. Maybe we can get some co-marketing synergy going. A DLC pack to play as the Valiant Hearts dog, or maybe Kojima will let us use Snake's new wolf-puppy if we trade him for the phone numbers of all the Hollywood guest stars that have been in our ads. Does anyone remember Balto? We could get him, Bolt, Lassie, and Beethoven to appear in the zombie mode if everyone signs off on it... Whatever. Pass me the bottle, I'm so sick of making these games...”
Call of Duty photo
A victim of its own success
“I don't think I can ever go back to the old style of Call of Duty.” I've heard some variation of that sentence at least once per week since the launch of Advanced Warfare, and if I were Treyarch or Infinity Ward...

Advanced Warfare DLC photo
Advanced Warfare DLC

Xbox gets Call of Duty's star-studded Exo Zombies DLC first on January 27

Comfort food
Jan 13
// Jordan Devore
Zombies again. It's what people know, I guess. Comforting, familiar zombies. With Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's first DLC pack, Havoc ($15 standalone, or included in the $50 season pass), the undead will don exoskeletons ...
Call of Duty Online photo
Call of Duty Online

Zombies, monsters, Captain America: Call of Duty is different in China

Hollywood takes a paycheck in China
Jan 06
// Steven Hansen
In China, the Call of Duty series is devoid of Kevin Spacey, but that doesn't mean they won't try to sell it with big American actors. This live-action trailer for Call of Duty Online, the China-exclusive free-to-play Call of Duty, features Captain America's (and Snowpiercer's) Chris Evans.  There are also some lacking CG zombies and Gears of War style giant monsters.

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