A deep dive on what's new, and what's the same
Call of Duty: Ghosts' multiplayer has finally been revealed, and it's the biggest overhaul Infinity Ward has done since the first Modern Warfare. What I got to play at the reveal event was pretty fun, but then again that's not shocking as I've always enjoyed playing the series' multiplayer.
And I think that's how things boil down here. If you've enjoyed Call of Duty's multiplayer in the past, then you'll like Ghosts' just the same. If you've never been into the series before, well, there's nothing too different here that will suddenly pull you into the experience.
That's not to say there aren't some cool new changes that refresh things just a little, but on the whole, there's nothing huge that will make you think twice about giving this one a go.
Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [previewed], Wii U
Developer: Infinity Ward / Treyarch (Wii U)
Release: November 5, 2013
Guns, Call of Duty: Ghosts has them. Here's all the categories along with the few weapons we got to use:
Six weapon classes, with the addition being the Marksman Rifles category offering weaponry good for mid- to long-range distances. You're able to attach a three-round burst to these guns, but aiming gets wonky with it. Various attachments can be added to all the weapons like under barrels, scopes, and the works -- and that goes for the Riot Shield now too. There are three possible attachments for this, with the one I saw giving you a portable radar system on your shield.
Then you have your secondary weapons like pistols and launchers, lethal items such as the I.E.D. and the Canister Bomb, plus tactical weapons such as the thermobaric grenade and the 9-bang grenade. The 9-bang will have a bigger flash-bang effect the longer you hold it, and at max charge it'll give you an EMP burst.
Perks have been overhauled in a big way, and there's roughly 40 to choose from now. How many you can bring with your character depends on the number associated with each perk. Similar to Black Ops II, it's all based on a point system. Here, you have a total of eight points to spend on perks for your character. So, for instance, both Sleight of Hand and the Agility perks are two points each. Take those two and you have four more points left to spend. You can actually have 11 points were you to drop your secondary and equipment items.
Here's a list of all the perks we were able to see, along with the seven categories.
Strike Packages are back from Modern Warfare 3, and come in three flavors: Assault, Support, and Specialist. There are 12 total Assault streaks, with the highest being a 15-point streak. The ones I got to see in my hands-on time were Sat Com at three kills, your dog body guard at five kills, and Maniac at nine kills. Maniac sees you summoning a care package where you'll equip a juggernaut suit and be given an increase in speed. The tradeoff is that you only have a knife, and your health won't regenerate.
Support has 12 total streaks to choose from, with the highest point streak at 16. Unlike Assault, your point streak won't reset when you're killed. At four kills you'll get to drop a Sat Com, which I should add are the replacements for UAVs from past games. It's also worth mentioned that the reason Sat Coms are available for both packages here is that you can stack Sat Coms as a team to get better radar detection. The first Sat Com will give you radar detection based on your teammate's line of site. Two of them will give you a more traditional UAV-like system, with a third one that refreshes the radar faster. At four, you'll be given the ability to see the direction enemies are facing on the mini-map.
A Night Owl can come in at nine kills, and it's this floating little companion that acts as a mini-radar and as a Trophy system as it will take down missiles that come near you. Plus, it'll stick around even after you die. The last thing I got to mess with was the MAAWS at nine kills. It's a shoulder mounted rocket launcher which spits out two rockets that you guide with a laser.
Finally there's the Specialist class, which will be the same as before where you can stack Perks on top of each other with each successive kill you get.
Rounding out all your customization features is the new create-a-soldier feature where you can modify the look of your solider, right down to playing as a female. It's all purely cosmetic, and none of it affects gameplay but it's there with 20,000 different possible visual customization if that's your sort of thing. You can create up to ten soldiers, and each can be leveled up to a max of prestige level one.
Other noteworthy changes to the gameplay are the ability to lean around corners, and knee sliding. With leaning, just walk up to the edge of a wall, hold the aim button down, and you'll peek around the corner. It's seamless and easy to get in/out of it, but not really the most ideal thing to do in a fast paced combat situation.
Knee sliding is fun, though -- you can trigger that at any time while running by pressing down on the crouch button. You can continue to shoot when going into your knee slide, as well as when you're vaulting over obstacles too.
14 maps will come with Ghosts; 15 if you pre-order the game. The big twist now is that each map has some level of destructibility associated with it. It's not as extensive as Battlefield 4's system -- more that certain walls or structures can be knocked down. Plus there are some events you can trigger too, like causing a satellite to fall from space into the map.
There's going to be seven new game modes added, and I got to check out two of them. Cranked is this badass, super-fast-paced mode where you are given 30 seconds to kill someone after getting your first kill upon spawning. Fail to kill someone in that timeframe and you'll explode. Succeed, and your clock resets to 30 seconds for you to repeat until failure. Your speed is amplified while cranked so things get nuts very quickly.
Then there's Search and Rescue, a variation of Search and Destroy, with a little Kill Confirmed thrown into the mix. It plays out just the same as S&D, where one team has to plant a bomb while the other has to defend. The twist now is that instead of being taken out of the match completely, there's a chance for you to come back. Killed players will drop a dog tag, and if a teammate recovers the tag you'll instantly respawn. If the enemy team get the tag though, then that player is out for good.
Visually, there's really nothing to write home about. Sure, certain parts of the map do look good -- but nothing about this screamed "next-gen." I played Ghosts on the Xbox One (or at least a PC that was on par with the Xbox One specs) and couldn't help but laugh when thinking about how gorgeous something like Battlefield 4 or Titanfall will be in comparison. It's not bad-looking, of course -- just don't go expecting the most realistic thing ever.
Thankfully the audio design is able to make up for the visuals as everything has been overhauled on that end. In reminded me a lot of Black Ops 1's audio design, and you're going to be able to really read where enemies are just by paying attention and listening. Along with that, your teammate's in-game audio will now specifically call out enemy locations instead of just giving you a general idea like in the past.
So yeah, that's the multiplayer in a giant nutshell. Lots on offer, and it'll certainly do the job of pleasing the Call of Duty audience. I will admit that I didn't think Infinity Ward was going to match the very high bar that Treyarch set with Black Ops II's multiplayer, but after some extensive hands-on time I can say they definitely nailed it.