Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is without a doubt Activision’s finest COD entry since Modern Warfare 2. While the entrenched formula has changed little, the gameplay and visuals have been refined to perfection. Advanced Warfare boasts one of the most enjoyable single player campaigns in years, and one of the smoothest multiplayer experiences to date. With their first Havoc DLC, developer Sledgehammer Games introduces new celebrities with brilliant performances, a handful of new maps and of course the acclaimed Zombie Mode. It’s been a long time since buying a Season Pass was worth the investment, but Havoc delivers some truly great content that shouldn’t be missed if you’re a COD devotee. After the disappointing Ghosts, it’s exciting to see Call of Duty finally reclaiming the multiplayer throne.
Urban looks like a map straight out of Killzone Shadowfall. From the cool-colored futuristic architecture, to the tight corridors and sense of claustrophobia. It’s a great map for close combat, giving melee and shotgun combatants plenty of opportunities to sneak up on their enemies. Snipers may have a hard time getting a good vantage point since there aren’t any well guarded hiding places, but those skilled enough in long-range combat can easily take advantage of the map’s clustered choke points.
Despite all the buildings, there’s isn’t much verticality here. The map is small in both height and its battleground radius. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re equipped with the proper gear. Urban is designed for fast paced combat, giving squatters the middle finger around every corner. Since every room has at least two openings, it’s hard to stay in one place for too long. I do wish the map was less static. Aside from a few new paths opening during a match, the map ends up feeling like an abandoned, lifeless police station.
Unlike Urban, Sideshow is a sniper haven. The deserted amusement park/town provides plenty of hiding spots that quickly escalate to cross-map shootouts. Sideshow boasts impressive breadth and is filled with dangerous open spaces. Fortunately, those less skilled with long-range weapons can sneak through the many tunnels and interiors and flank snipers with surprise attacks.
There’s one spot on the map that’s particularly frustrating once a sniper gets a good vantage point. It’s tucked away in the map’s corner giving long-range combatants a clear overview of their surrounding. With a few competent teammates, it’s easy to frag the area or flank the corner from all directions. Halfway through the match, the map comes to life. A shrill, echoing clown-laugh signals incoming fireworks that shower areas of the battlefield. Colorful smoke fills the sky, and it becomes more difficult to pinpoint gunfire locations. It’s a beautifully designed map, and an absolute blast to play.
Drift is a colorful ski resort filled with shops and breakable windows. It’s a great mix between Urban’s density and Sideshow’s openness. There’s plenty of verticality and open spaces, giving both snipers and run-and-gunners great spots to experiment with. Drift is probably the most visually impressive map. The shops are filled with interesting trinkets and colorful lights, and the contrast between the cool exterior and warm interiors impresses. Once the sirens go off, a snow avalanche comes swooping in, killing everyone in its path. It’s not a particularly threatening event as it’s very easy to find shelter when the alarm sounds, but it gives the environment more life and changes up the scenery towards the edges of the map. It’s certainly a refreshing deviation from all the “futuristic” scenery.
Core emphasizes verticality and takes full advantage of players’ Exo suits. The Destiny-looking battleground is packed with massive machinery and plenty of tunnels. Core serves as a “best of everything” map, giving all play styles plenty of areas to shine. The loud machinery adds a new layer of challenge for those who play with surround sound or headphones and heavily rely on audio cues. The thumping engines disguise long-range sniper shots, but can also be used to sneak up on enemies undetected. It’s a fantastic playground with a striking layout and a beautiful, warm color palette.
I’ve never been too crazy about COD’s Zombie modes in the past. They’re fun for a few hours, but wear thin quickly. However, Havoc’s Exo Zombies mode is an entirely different experience. By adding Exo suits to both players and zombies and offering a more complex map, the Exo Zombies mode feels more fleshed out and fun. Once again, the story brings humor and a cast of great celebrities, like John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan and Jon Bernthal. Everyone delivers superb performances, and it’s clear that they’re just having a great time with the hilariously cheesy one-liners. The actors’ CGI counterparts are particularly impressive, especially John Malkovich’s face during the intro.
Players begin with only a gun in their hand and have to survive for a few rounds before reaching the Exo suits room. The first 2-3 waves are similar to the old Zombies mode, but once Exos are unlocked, things quickly escalate to pure chaos. Exo-wearing Zombies move unpredictably and can chase after players on high platforms. Teamwork is more imperative than ever, which also means that having selfish teammates can ruin matches. As a whole, the new Zombies mode is a huge improvement over last installments, and being able to fight undead soldiers wearing Exo suits alone is worth the purchase.
If you own Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare then Sledgehammer’s first DLC is a no-brainer. The new maps are fantastic, bringing enough environmental variety to separate themselves from the base maps. There are a bunch of new weapons too, which is a big welcome for those who’ve already exhausted their entire arsenal, and the Exo Zombies mode is an absolute blast.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Xbox One