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Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Reckoning

Aug 04 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Reckoning DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Sledgehammer Games (Current-gen) / High Moon Studios (Last-gen) / Raven Software (Zombies)Publisher: ActivisionReleased: August 4, 2015MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) Let's kick things off with Overload, the sexiest map in Reckoning. Taking place in a giant Middle Eastern hotel complex, it has all of the pizazz you'd expect, and more. It's a great mix of indoor and outdoor environments, with a layout that keeps you in the action while allowing you to have condensed firefights. It allows the Exo movement and jetpack mechanic to really breathe without confining it like some maps in the past have. It also has these little tesla coil things littered about, which are basic in their functionality (an area-of-effect jolt when shot), but very cool aesthetically -- plus, they sound really neat. Next up is Swarm, a map set in a ruined Korean city. It's nice to see the series return to a setting like this, as I enjoyed "Magma" in Black Ops II. There's plenty of windows to boost into and buildings to hide in, and the map lends itself to vertical movement well. They really go with the destruction theme, and there's a ton of detail present that I wasn't expecting. It's another great showing for Reckoning. Fracture is an ice level that reminds me of The Thing, in a good way. The backgrounds are very detailed, and the smaller, more intimate theme works to its advantage. It's basically all outdoors, which gives it a distinct feel compared to the rest of the DLC. Although Array from the original Black Ops is probably my favorite snow map in Call of Duty history, Fracture does the frozen sub-genre proud. Quarantine, the last of the four core maps in Reckoning, gives off a distinct Walking Dead TV series vibe, which I dig. It also feels like it has a Call of Duty 4 theme with its simplicity, but it's not as vertical as I hoped it would be. The general gist is that the arena is a testing site for experiments on primates, complete with tons of banana boxes and even a room full of live test subjects. It's a rather generic theme, but it must be said that I do enjoy playing it in the rotation. I wouldn't consider it a wasted slot. [embed]297123:59780:0[/embed] Now, onto the best part -- the zombie level. Following along with the narrative that saw the demise of John Malkovich's character (and the debut of Bruce Campbell), and his ascension into zombie-hood, Descent is one of the most unique zombie stages in the entire series (the one that featured mafia ghosts withstanding). It straight-up feels like you're in a Bond villain base, which is partially true as Malkovich is there to taunt you every step of the way as you navigate your path through an underwater testing site. As you make your way through each wave, various power-ups will start to appear at the top of the deck, which you can periodically gather. These range from standard stuff like turrets, to more interesting mechanisms like defensive AI robots that float around your character. Everything feels much more action-packed and desperate, with more firepower and abilities to match the more aggressive enemies. At times, Malkovich will teleport you to a room for a boss fight session of sorts, with different hazards to avoid (like laser grids above you, preventing double-jumps) and a variety of enemies to best in close-quarters. It's a sight to behold with four players, as power-ups are constantly appearing in this secluded room while you fight for your life. Again, intensity is what they're going for here, and it really works. I'd have to think about it for a while, but it may be the most fun I've had with zombies since first playing World at War. I mean, Malkovich actually says the line "The teleporters are mine now, bitch," to give you an idea of what I'm talking about here. At the end of the day, I'm happy with what Sledgehammer Games (and Raven) brought to the table with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare as a whole. Though it'll be tough to dethrone the current kings of the franchise (Treyarch), I have more confidence in their follow-up than before, and I'm eager to see what they can come up with next. At this point Infinity Ward is a lame duck, and the odd developer out. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Call of Duty DLC review photo
Did John Malkovich just call me a bitch?
So here we are with the Reckoning DLC pack, the last add-on for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare after Havoc, Ascendance, and Supremacy. All in all, it's been a great ride, and slowly but surely, each map pack has improved upon the last. It's great then that Advanced Warfare is going out with a bang with its best DLC yet.

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: 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.]
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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...

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.


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...

Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Nemesis

Aug 08 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Ghosts: Nemesis DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Infinity WardPublisher: ActivisionReleased: August 5, 2014 (Xbox 360, Xbox One) / TBA (PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) Nemesis kicks things off with the Goldrush map -- which is just as expressive as it sounds. With a wide variety of tunnels, lifts, outdoor sections, and even mine carts, it reminds me of a Team Fortress 2-style arena. There are two sets of carts in particular, which can fit two players at at time. It's almost like a roller coaster, flinging around willy nilly as you attempt to dodge and shoot up your opponents. It's wacky, but it's fun. The entire map is fun in fact, and has some very cool visual effects, especially when it pertains to the array of waterfalls and aquatic areas. Goldrush is easily one of my top maps in the entire game. Subzero isn't nearly as pronounced -- in fact, it reminds me of the same arctic sub base map in Modern Warfare 2 -- but it's another solid map from a layout standpoint. It has a standard dispersion of outdoor and indoor sections, which meld well with plenty of vantage points to look out over. It also has a cool killstreak that involves a mysterious creature not unlike the Smoke Monster from Lost. It's a "been there, seen that" kind of map, but I enjoyed my time with it. Dynasty takes place in a lakeside village in China, and is definitely one of the more unique-looking maps in the game. It has a beautiful background littered with classical Chinese ships, as well as ornate stairwells and detailed indoor environments. My favorite part is how all of the stone stairwells interact with each other, leading to some particularly tricky corners and differences of height. It definitely takes some getting used to, which gives the map pack a fresh feel to it. Showtime is modeled after the "smallest Call of Duty map ever made," Modern Warfare's Shipment. Except this time it's game show themed, with a cheesy announcer, scoreboards, and crazy features. If you don't remember this map from Call of Duty 4, it's basically a series of bins and hallways with nowhere to really hide. Almost every point in the arena is unsafe, so you'll have to react quickly to get a somewhat decent score. Out of all the maps chosen for a remake over the years, this is one of the best ones (though my favorite is still the Hollywood-themed Firing Range remake in Black Ops II). Like I said earlier, there's also another chapter in the Extinction saga, otherwise known as Call of Duty Aliens. Appropriately titled "Exodus," this is the final chapter (for now), and involves a great escape from earth by way of a space shuttle. While every map so far has been a derivative of the "drill" mechanic found in the first stage (dragging a tool to each location to proceed), this one is set up a little more like Treyarch's zombies. This time, you'll have to choose between a series of doors to proceed, making it less of a waiting game and more action-packed. All of the alien types so far are reintroduced in Exodus, as well as the "Ancestors" -- the big bads of the Extinction campaign that are more humanoid by design. Challenges have also been updated to give them a different feel While I don't really dig the overarching story (it tries to be more serious than it needs to be), the gameplay of the entire Extinction campaign is actually solid, and in some ways, it trumps zombies. It's much easier for a group to pick up and play, and the RPG-like upgrades are addicting as always, and add some sense of progression to the mix. If you can get a Game of the Year edition of Ghosts on sale at some point with all the DLC, I recommend picking it up just to play "Aliens" with friends. [embed]278929:55200:0[/embed] At this point, all four packs provide enough enjoyment collectively to warrant the purchase of the Season Pass. If you're planning on playing the game for months to come and haven't pulled the trigger on any of the packs yet, now is a great time to do so. Check out our prior reviews for Onslaught, Devastation, and Invasion to get a full picture. Or calmly go back to not playing Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Call of Duty DLC review photo
S.T.A.R.SSSSS! Wait, wrong Nemesis
Look, $50 is a lot of money for a Season Pass in a first-person shooter. If it was just comprised of 16 maps alone, no matter how good they were, it probably wouldn't be worth the money for all but the most diehard of FPS fan...

Called to duty photo
Called to duty

Called to duty: Two Naughty Dog designers join Infinity Ward


Welp
Aug 01
// Steven Hansen
A couple of Naughty Dogs have gone to join Riley the Call of Duty dog at Infinity Ward. Twelve year Naughty Dog veteran and narrative design lead Taylor Kurosaki split to the nationalistic shooter factory, he announ...
CoD DLC photo
CoD DLC

Call of Duty puts a nail (and bullet) in the coffin of Ghosts DLC with Nemesis


Dropping Aug 5 on Xbox Live, other platforms sometime later
Jul 31
// Brett Makedonski
Activision's doing its best to drum up hype for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but it's not ready to leave Call of Duty: Ghosts behind like some sort of unloved orphan child. No, it has unfinished business, as the ...

Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Invasion

Jun 03 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Ghosts: Invasion DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Infinity WardPublisher: ActivisionReleased: June 3, 2014 (Xbox 360, Xbox One) / TBA (PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) You won't find any new guns in the newest Ghosts DLC. This time around, the creators have decided to give all of their levels a twist -- every one takes place in a real-life geographic location. With Mexico, Egypt, the Caribbean, and Brazil on display, there's a lot of potential to really show off, which Infinity Ward does in spades. First up is Departed, a take on a Mexican town during a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade. Consisting of three lanes, this detailed, colorful map is a mix of old- and new-school Call of Duty sensibilities, with tons of rooms to hide in as well as open spaces to run through. It's a ton of fun to play as danger lurks at nearly every corner, which keeps things exciting. The special killstreak reward here is the "Death Mariachi," which grants you dual pistols with extra firepower. It's not as cool as transforming into the Predator, but it's still a worthy killstreak that makes sense within the confines of the level itself. In other words, you're going to remember it. Pharaoh, if you haven't guessed already, takes place in Egypt, on the site of an ancient tomb. Simply put, it's one of the most detailed maps in Call of Duty history, and blew me away almost immediately. There's dust clouds, cobwebs, and archaeological tools strewn about everywhere, and you can clearly tell the team spent a lot of time on it. Heck, there's flesh-eating scarabs and a few environmental hazards to keep things fresh as well. The killstreak gimmick here is the Blessing of Anubis, which grants one player every perk in the game for a few subsequent lives. It's really fun because it's not quite as overpowered as other streaks, especially when you consider that one quick headshot is all it takes to down you. I managed to grab it a few times and had a blast playing with it. Mutiny takes place in the Caribbean, with a clear nod to the Pirates film series. There's ghost pirate and cannon fire killstreaks, taverns, docks, and a medium-sized ship to roam around in, all set to the tune of a moonlit night. I love the dark theme most of all as Ghosts -- or any Call of Duty game, for that matter -- has a distinct lack of night themes. There's also a lot of details here as well, like the abandoned bar with skeletons on the floor, where you can hear the faint whispers of ghosts. The map itself isn't as strong as the others from a pure layout standpoint, but the thematic elements alone make this one worth playing. Finally, Favela makes its triumphant return from Modern Warfare 2 as the token remake map of the pack, and thankfully Infinity Ward picked one worth bringing back. This is the same old rooftop and tunnel-heavy map fans know and love, but with a bit more flair and attention all around. There are new environmental sound effects in tow, as well as general decorations that help it stand out a bit more. I'm not thrilled that Activision charges $15 for its map packs when you consider that one of the pieces is almost always a remake, but as far as remakes go this is one of the more acceptable inclusions. If you haven't been following along, Infinity Ward has its own version of Nazi Zombies now with aliens, called Extinction -- and just like its prior Ghost DLCs, there's a new map. Awakening takes place in an area called "The Cortex," where teams are tasked with decoding alien obelisks instead of drilling into nests. You'll get more of the overarching story (told through a cutscene), as well as new intel to find to help tie up all the loose ends from the core narrative. The Cortex is distinct from the other more realistic settings (a town, a military base, and a ship) thanks to an area I like to call "Mushroom Hell." The area is completely devoid of human influence, and the time has come to enter the belly of the beast and see your enemy up close. It also has a more occult feel to it which I really dig. Of course, new aliens are at the ready to stop you. The most notable additions are two types of winged aliens -- Gargoyles and Bombers, which are a crucial addition to the existing stable of creatures. Now you'll have to deal with enemies from every location, which helps keep you on your toes and enhances the action overall. You'll also have to cope with the Mammoth species on foot, making this one of the toughest Extinction challenges yet. So far, Extinction feels like a more arcade-oriented version of Treyarch's Zombies, which is good or bad depending on what you're looking to get out of it. But one thing's for sure, Infinity Ward has made it much easier to get into the mode from the ground floor, and it's not nearly as tough on new players as Nazi Zombies is. [embed]275623:54122:0[/embed] Extinction mode is as strong as ever, but the real star of Invasion is the collective of welcome maps. Infinity Ward has finally learned that in order to charge $15 for five levels, it has to put forth more than a minimal effort. I'd go so far as to say that this is one of the strongest map packs in Call of Duty history, and that the Season Pass has cemented its worth already.
Call of Duty DLC review photo
Infinity Ward keeps getting better at these
So far in the saga that is Call of Duty: Ghosts, the fun factor of the game has increased tremendously through the first two map packs -- Onslaught and Devastation, which allow you to play as Michael Meyers and Pred...

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Davy Jones' Locker awaits thee in Call of Duty: Ghosts Invasion


That Departed trailer looks like someone's been watching a lot of Tarantino
Jun 02
// Abel Girmay
Tomorrow sees the release of the Invasion map pack for Call of Duty: Ghosts, so how about we get one last rundown of the new maps. In Mutiny, you'll fight in what's essentially Tortuga, shooting off almost as many bullets as...
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Come explore this Pharaoh's tomb in Call of Duty: Ghosts


Mummies not yet confirmed, but we can dream
May 31
// Abel Girmay
Following the recent trailer and announcement of the Call of Duty: Ghosts Invasion pack, Activision just released a walk-through of sorts for the very intriguing Pharaoh map. As you'd expect, there seems to be a good amount ...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Ghosts Invasion lets you play as a mariachi


They really seem to be stepping their game up
May 29
// Abel Girmay
I really enjoy the Call of Duty series, but jeez was Ghosts a letdown. While many a hater will like to say every game in the series is more of the same, it was painfully true of Ghosts. That said, the new DLC pack really sho...
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WARNING: Intended for dummies and idiots only
Max had his dumbest idea yet; handing the show over to me. What if more games had downloadable content voice packs the way they put Snoop Dogg into Call of Duty: Ghosts? What kind of celebrities would work for that kind of thing? The answers may surprise you.

R. Lee Ermey photo
R. Lee Ermey

Get a taste of the R. Lee Ermey Call of Duty voice pack


Perfect choice
Apr 18
// Chris Carter
Next week, Infinity Ward is set to drop two voice packs for multiplayer -- Snoop Dogg, and R. Lee Ermey. While Snoop's studio visit was previewed already, Ermey's wasn't -- it didn't even have a price or date confirmed, in fact. But now we know that it's going to hit at the same time as Snoop, on April 22nd for $2.99. Check out the video in full, and hear the iconic drill sergeant for yourself.
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Pay $2.99 to have Snoop Dogg narrate Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer matches


There's also an R. Lee Ermey Voice Pack
Apr 15
// Jordan Devore
Infinity Ward is rolling out a bunch of customization items for the Xbox versions of Call of Duty: Ghosts on Tuesday, April 22. Among that content lineup is a Snoop Dogg Voice Pack for multiplayer. It's exactly what you'd ex...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

The rest of us can play as the Predator in Call of Duty: Ghosts this May


Release dates for Devastation on PS3, PS4, and PC
Apr 11
// Jordan Devore
I'll hand it to Infinity Ward for spicing things up by included the Predator in Call of Duty: Ghosts with its Devastation DLC pack. More moves like that and the studio might just win over some of the fans who have moved on to...

Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Devastation

Apr 04 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Ghosts: Devastation DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Infinity WardPublisher: ActivisionReleased: April 3, 2014 (Xbox 360, Xbox One) / TBA (PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) Out of the four standard maps that are a part of the Devastation DLC, the most standout addition is easily Ruins. This is the temple map that Call of Duty: Ghosts never knew it needed, and the layers upon layers of stairs help make this one of the more interesting arenas in the game. You can also see a noticeable improvement upon past entries in terms of detail, as every piece of foliage is meticulously crafted, on top of the wonderful mist effects that help add to the theme of the level. The maze-like layout also makes objective-based modes a bit more exciting, but it's more than sufficient for team deathmatch as well. Of course, the major gimmick here is the ability to become the Predator -- and not just any "predator" -- the creature from the successful string of Hollywood films. Although it's not a fully decked-out alien hunter it's still extremely formidable, as you can track down enemies with thermal vision, cloak yourself, slash enemies with your claw, and even shoot a shoulder-mounted gun. The pièce de résistance is easily the self-destruct mode that triggers upon death, complete with the Predator's signature evil laugh. While I wouldn't recommend that people buy this DLC just for this element alone, it undeniably adds to the allure of the overall package, as even fighting the Predator is fun. Devastation has another solid map in the form of Collision, which takes place on a tanker that's crashed into a giant bridge. Like Ruins it's insanely detailed, as the ship itself is creaking, sprouting leaks, and some areas are even on fire. It's a great theme that's a step up from many of the "wrecked" levels in past games, and the running water effects look great on current-gen consoles. It helps that it sports a great layout with lots of twists, turns, and elevated vantage points. [embed]272838:53254:0[/embed] The next two maps however aren't as memorable. Behemoth takes place on a giant platform with multiple buzzsaws looming in the distance. It's extremely standard fare with no real standout points outside of the well done backdrop, which is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. There's lots of tunnels, but overall it feels cramped and limited. I usually hope that Behemoth gets voted out while I'm waiting in the lobby. Unearthed is another level that feels like a wasted slot, as it's a remake of Dome from Modern Warfare 3. While Dome was a decent arena it never really resonated with me, offering up standard underground passages and one major point of elevation. Unearthed is basically that exact same layout, just re-skinned to look like an excavation site. Infinity Ward could have done so much more with the theme, or picked a more iconic map in general. There's one more piece of the puzzle though that raises the other two weak maps up a bit -- a new Extinction level called "Mayday." Although one could easily say that the less cryptic nature of Extinction makes it less alluring than zombies, it's much easier to follow and pick up, and has a vastly detailed upgrade system that's made even better with the new DLC. In addition to picking and building your own class you can also earn "teeth" by completing levels and certain objectives, which basically function as currency for even more upgrades. Now it's easier than ever to customize your look and craft your own personal character based on your style, which adds to the mode's replay value considerably. Mayday itself is also a welcome addition to the Extinction family, taking place on a giant Tanker that's under siege by an even bigger Kraken. More doors are open from the start (which have to be drilled through just like nests) that lead to secret weapons and items, but the stakes are also much higher since the Kraken's tentacles can burst through walls. There are also a few new enemies including a Tank-like alien that can take tons of pain, and the addition of ceilings ensures that you'll have more vertical threats than ever before. It's a very difficult mission, one that'll take teamwork to complete. At one point I was stuck in a room with two downed allies, two giant tank aliens, three enemies throwing down fire from the ceiling, and a teleporting mini-boss, and was completely overwhelmed -- but I was having a ton of fun in the process. I can't wait to see what Infinity Ward does with Extinction in the next two add-ons, as they're really coming into their own here -- I hope they keep this as their "signature" in their next iteration. I'm really glad that Infinity Ward decided to model their DLC packs after Treyarch, and include an additional story-related component on top of the standard maps. $14.99 seems like a high price to non-fans, but I've played enough of Extinction mode to fit in the length of a few major releases -- the other maps are basically a bonus. I just hope they step it up next time and have every map match that level of quality.
CoD DLC review photo
I got time to bleed
Infinity Ward's DLC capabilities may not be up to snuff compared to Treyarch's, but the fact that they're trying is good enough for me. Call of Duty: Ghost's Onslaught DLC was a major step up in quality when compared to their...

Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

New Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC seems like a real waste


But hey, the free Steam weekend is okay
Feb 20
// Jordan Devore
This weekend, Call of Duty: Ghosts' multiplayer will be free to play on Steam and the game is half price ($29.99) to own. There's also double XP being offered, from February 21 at 10:00am to Feb. 24 at 10:00am. These are all...
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Sledgehammer leading development of next Call of Duty


Call of Duty series going into three-year development cycle now
Feb 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Activision has just reported on their financials for the last quarter, and among the news they've announced that Sledgehammer Games will be leading the development of the next Call of Duty coming out this year. In the past, C...
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Call of Duty's Onslaught DLC dated for PS3, PS4, and PC


Releases on February 27
Feb 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught DLC was released last month for the Xbox One and Xbox 360. And like clockwork, the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC versions of the game will see the new content a month later. Specifically ...

Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Onslaught

Jan 29 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Ghosts: Onslaught DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Infinity WardPublisher: ActivisionReleased: January 28, 2014 (Xbox 360, Xbox One) / TBA (PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) First things first, Onslaught comes with a new weapon -- the Maverick. It has the unique ability to be used as either an assault rifle or a sniper, but sadly, not at the same time (all my hopes of a Transformers style gun have been dashed). I was excited to try it out, but after using it in a series of games, there isn't much to say about it. It's more fun as a sniper than an assault rifle, because there are so many of the latter to choose from anyway, but that's about it. The good news then is that it's not overpowered and won't alienate players who don't buy the DLC. In terms of maps, there are four new ones -- Bayview, Containment, Ignition, and Fog. The standout here is Fog, featuring a creepy swamp area and a series of shacks that are straight out of a horror movie. There's a ton of detail here, including cult shrines littered about the brambled swamp, and a large house that features a deranged basement, leading into a runoff of blood and organs. The interiors have a lot of work put into them, with dead animal trophies, flayed hides, and other horror themed knick-knacks in tow. There's even a wrecked bridge leading into the level, complete with a broken down car on the other side. But the real kicker is the ability to transform into Halloween's Michael Myers by picking up and completing a specific field order. This usually happens once per match, and when it does, the iconic Halloween theme plays for everyone, and one player gets to run around the map with extra health and an axe, wrecking havoc while everyone else panics. It's basically a modified version of the Maniac killstreak, but it's well done and fun, nonetheless. This is one of the first times any Call of Duty has featured such an extensive Easter egg in the core multiplayer, and it really adds a lot of character to the DLC in general. Bayview is the best new addition though, taking place on the oceanfront under the guise of a boardwalk style town. It has a distinctively different feel from most of Ghost's bleak maps, as it feels more Treyarch in nature with its bright hues and sunny backdrop. There are tons of buildings to explore, including a giant crab shack, an information center, and a miniature aquarium. There's a lot of variety aesthetically and in terms of its layout, with a good mixture of indoor and outdoor environments to have firefights in, complete with a moving trolley along the map's perimeter. All in all, it's a pleasant surprise, and probably my favorite Ghost map in general. Containment is a bit more boring, but not a bad map by any means. It takes place in a war torn city, almost like a World at War level. The setup is interesting, as there are two distinct sides separated by a bridge and a ravine, with a truck housing a nuke in the middle. If you approach the truck your radar is screwed up, which leads players into sticking to their sides, engaging into lots of ranged fights. Other than a giant church on one side however, there isn't a whole lot of personality to it, and although you won't loathe playing on it, you won't get very excited either. Unfortunately, the last part of the four piece map puzzle (which is a remake of Modern Warfare 2's Scrapyard) feels like a complete waste. Ignition features a generic layout and style that's been done many times before -- whether it's the shuttle launching in the background or the industrial warehouse theme. The only cool part is the non-functional mobile fortress is one area (similar to the Jawa's Sandcrawler in Star Wars), but even then that's pushing it. This map is just so boring that I actively found myself voting against it -- it's not nearly as memorable as Scrapyard was when it debuted. Thankfully, all four maps have a really cool meta-game involving the hunt for "alien eggs," as one is hidden on each Onslaught stage. The main event for Onslaught however is the new Extinction storyline, starting with "Episode 1: Nightfall." For those who aren't aware, Extinction is Infinity Ward's answer to Treyarch's "Zombies" mode, but instead, it's a bit more linear in nature, and features more mobile aliens. At launch, Ghosts came with a rather generic offering of Extinction that I only bothered to play a handful of times until I was bored to tears. But with Nightfall, I see some hope on the horizon. Firstly, there's now a real cohesive story involving the outbreak and a few people who know the truth behind it. It's not a great story, but it's something, and runs parallel to Treyarch's attempts to link together their Zombies mode with its own lore. The other kicker is that it adds new aliens, including a boss fight with the giant Breeder, and a new miniboss -- the Phantom. The Phantom is a standout in particular, as he has the ability to teleport around, Nightcrawler style. His teleporting is seemingly non-scripted, as he can feign an attack, then ghost about at will just to trick you as you're attacked by other aliens from behind. The new map is also much brighter and more open ended, allowing you to drill various alien nests at your own pace with up to four players. All of the same progression oriented gameplay is here, including the ability to choose between an assault, tank, mechanical, or healing class, to augment your party's abilities or buff your own. Although it's not nearly as robust as Zombies and doesn't feature half as many tricks and secrets, I feel like Extinction has really proved its concept in Nightfall, and I'm legitimately looking forward to seeing what the next three episodes can offer.I was pleasantly surprised by Onslaught, especially considering the fact that Ghosts was so underwhelming. Although it won't do too much to change your mind if you're an adamant Call of Duty hater, the new Extinction episode is promising, and there are three solid maps here for the taking.
COD DLC review photo
I get by with a little help from Michael Myers
Call of Duty: Ghosts is one of the most disappointing games in the series' history. Although I didn't dislike it as much as Jim did, there's certainly something missing that made past games in the franchise appealing, an...

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Nightfall descends on Call of Duty: Ghosts Extinction


A teaser for the first new episode
Jan 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Episode 1: Nightfall is coming with the Onslaught downloadable content for Call of Duty: Ghosts, and here's a deeper look at what to expect. It takes place in the Alaskan wilderness, where the Nightfall Program has been rese...
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Real life in the way? Then sign up for CODnapping


As in Call of Duty, not like, a cod fish
Jan 21
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Call of Duty's real life ad campaign continues with this year's Call of Duty: Ghosts. The ad starts off almost as an homage to the intro from The Dark Knight with the whole Joker bank robbery scene. Then we see it's that one...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

CoD: Ghosts Xbox 360 update stabilizes Broadcaster mode


Further competitive rules restrictions added
Jan 18
// Harry Monogenis
Infinity Ward has pushed out Call of Duty: Ghosts' first update of the year on the Xbox 360, addressing complaints from users regarding its Broadcaster mode and how it would sometimes cause the game to crash. The update also ...
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Become Michael Myers in the new Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC


First of four downloadable content packs
Jan 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
GameStop leaked the first look, and now Activision has given us an extensive overview of what to expect from the upcoming Onslaught downloadable content for Call of Duty: Ghosts. Onslaught includes four new small to medium s...
Onslaught DLC photo
Onslaught DLC

Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught DLC info leaks


GameStop poster reveals content for 1st DLC pack
Jan 11
// Wesley Ruscher
First information for the upcoming DLC pack for Call of Duty: Ghosts has hit the web thanks to the keen eyes of one Twitter user making their way through a local GameStop. The pack, coming first to Xbox Live, will contain fou...
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Call of Duty: Ghosts update adds Heavy Duty mode


Plus a bunches of fixes
Dec 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Call of Duty: Ghosts received an update today across the PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3. A new Heavy Duty mode was added to multiplayer, plus there are new loadouts added to the Infected mode. Five s...
Console transition photo
Console transition

Activision blames new consoles for lower sales of Ghosts


Of course it's not Activision's fault
Dec 05
// Joshua Derocher
Activision knows why Call of Duty: Ghosts didn't sell as many copies as they had hoped, and it has nothing to do with them regurgitating the same game every year. Eric Hirshberg, Activision's CEO, told GameInformer that the s...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

CoD: Ghosts PC patch reduces required RAM amount


Further support for MLG also implemented
Nov 19
// Harry Monogenis
A new update for Call of Duty: Ghosts has been rolled out by Infinity Ward on PC, which intends to fix numerous stability issues and provide improved performance for Nvidia and AMD users. Ghosts' third update on PC has a...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Data files hint at Call of Duty: Ghosts weapon DLC


Guns, guns, guns
Nov 14
// Abel Girmay
Charlie Intel, courtesy of user @syncohboyy, recently got its hands on what look to be data files for weapon DLC in Call of Duty: Ghosts. The files plainly state "dlcweapon" with a number designation following each, as well a...

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