Call of Duty: Ghosts

[Hands-On] Call of Duty: Ghosts Multiplayer Reveal

Uh oh... they took away my deathstreaks!
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: August 14, 2013
A couple months back we got our first look at Call of Duty: Ghosts in a single-player context. The now infamous presentation showed off some pretty intense gamplay but the star of the show was the pooch named Riley who worked with the Ghosts. Cue a whole lot of "Collar Duty" jokes on the internet. But while there was plenty of footage and chatter about the single player campaign, the multiplayer (lets face it, that is what the kids want) was still shrouded in mystery.

Until today that is. Myself and 500 of my closest colleagues (and quite a few "pro" gamers) met up at the LA Live event deck (or as I call it, the roof of the parking garage) where Infinity Ward and Activision had assembled a HUGE tent filled with a stage and a massive multiplayer area to check out just how you can kill your friends this time around. While I can't talk about EVERYTHING I saw just yet, there is quite a bit we can tell you.

Here are some of the highlights from the press conference (and then I'll get into the actual playing itself):

- Dynamic Maps: For the first time ever, the maps will change over the course of a match. Walls may be blown out revealing new areas, logs might roll free creating new pathways and buildings may collapse, stealing away precious cover areas (and also killing anyone near the rubble when you make it go down). This will make it harder for players to really "know" a map (meaning it will take a couple weeks instead of a couple days before that pro player you know has the map down cold).

- New guns! Somehow IW has found a way to add 30 new guns to the game (I believe they said 80% of the guns are new) which probably means some of them aren't real? I'm not enough of a gunsmith to know, but they DID add a new class of guns that falls somewhere between the Sniper class and the Assault Rifle class known as the Marksman class. Think of them as highly accurate non-burst weapons (in the vein of the classic FAL) which take advantage of a new technique that I believe was called "dual rendering" (don't quote me) where aiming down a scope still gives you your peripheral vision while aiming (albeit in a blurred form).

- New modes! While we only caught a glimpse in quick screenshots of most of the new modes, we DID get to play a couple of them later on. There are over a dozen new modes this time around (sadly I did NOT see my favorite mode, HQ, in the list but maybe I missed it) and the ones we KNOW about (and can talk about) are Cranked (more on that later)and Search and Rescue (a more tactical Search and Destroy). If the past is any indication, more modes may well be added later.

- Making a return from Black Ops 2 is the "Pick 10" system of creating your own class where you pick a primary and secondary gun, a tactical and support item, plus 8 "points" worth of perks (up to 5 perks) for your personal loadouts. You can choose to sacrifice your secondary weapon for 3 more perk points (and you'll need them for some of the better perks which can cost up to 8 points by themselves) and there are now way more perks than ever before. Guns are unlocked as you see fit rather than in a progressive order, so no more grinding for a few hours to get that SMG you wanted so badly.

- Squads: This is probably the biggest change this time around. Rather than have one individual soldier you prestige 10 times, you now have TEN soldiers who can all prestige once. Prestigeing no longer clears all your unlocks, so you max a guy out and then move onto a new one if you want to start over, but still have your badass if you want him. These squads play a HUGE factor in a whole series of new modes that cover single player, competitive play and co-op. You'll be able to take your whole squad (most of whom will be controlled by AI) and take on computer controlled squads in a variety of gameplay modes (including ALL MP modes) where you continue to earn MP XP. Up to six players can co-op together against enemy squads that can be controlled by AI OR they can be one of your friends squads (with their custom loadouts) that are being controlled by the AI. There's a whole slew of squad-special modes that take advantage of this highly touted AI allowing you to recreate to MP experience without actually being online. It's easily the most ambitious project the series has undertaken to date and while it was only touched on at this event it will be very interesting to see where this goes.

Of course there is an all new graphics engine (on PS3 and PS4) making this allegedly the best looking entry in the franchise yet (still running at 60fps on both consoles), brand new sound dynamics, and plenty of other tweaks and updates to the classic series. They are also embracing mobile apps and expanded clan support to make sure you never have to stop doing your duty.

But HOW DOES IT PLAY? Well, we sat down and played a whole mess of matches with both the pros and the press (yes, we got SPLATTERED by the pros. Like 0-9, 1-11, that type of thing) to get the feel for what it felt like. Since this was a Microsoft co-sponsored event we were forced to play on Xbox One systems, but hey, we can all get along here.

A few things that really jumped out at me when I was playing. The improved mantling system is really smooth and feels good, letting you get around the environment super fast. They've added a "knee slide" that takes you from running to crouching or prone quickly and on the move to make changing stances more feasible out in the open. Also, the improvements to the sound, while they don't necessarily change gameplay were quite apparent and you could tell if you were in the open or in a carpeted room just by listening to the sounds of gunfire. Very nice.

The one mode we played most was the new "Cranked" mode (and yes, it IS based of the Jason Statham movie!) which is fast and furious. Essentially normal team death match except that when you get a kill you get FASTER. It may be faster running, faster aiming or faster reloading. Each time you get another kill, more faster! The only catch... every time you get a kill you need to get another kill within 30 seconds or you EXPLODE. This means no more camping, friends. It also means that the action is even faster and more intense than normal Call of Duty, something that I thought was probably impossible.

There's probably even more I am forgetting to impart here, but that is the main thrust of the new experience. When you get right down to playing, it is still that same Call of Duty you've come to love, only now they've added a few new features to keep things fresh. And if you were worried that you'd prestige a bunch of guys on PS3 then have to start all over when you got a PS4, fret not. All that progress will travel back and forth to both versions of the game so you'll never lose those levels.

Look for Call of Duty the same time as you'd expect, November 5th of this year!