Call of Duty: Ghosts - Hands-On With Next-Gen Multiplayer - IGN
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Call of Duty: Ghosts - Hands-On With Next-Gen Multiplayer
We've played hours of Call of Duty: Ghosts. We dove into its new weapons, maps, modes, and character customization, seen the dynamic maps change, and fought alongside dogs.
We asked IGN readers what they wanted to know. Many wanted to know how it feels, what it looks like, and whether or not it's truly next-gen.
Here are your answers, our impressions, and everything we know about Call of Duty: Ghosts.
How next-gen is Call of Duty: Ghosts?
Infinity Ward’s made a big deal of its new engine, which, yes, with the power of a kicka## PC and next-gen consoles, definitely puts Ghosts in a league above any other Call of Duty game. That said, nothing about it looks spectacular. DICE’s Frostbite 3 Engine and Battlefield 4 put Call of Duty: Ghosts to shame -- you’d never guess they were coming out in the same year. This isn’t to say Ghosts looks bad. It just doesn’t look like you’d expect a next-gen Call of Duty game to look. Its textures are still sort of washed out and the characters move in particularly inhuman ways. The real-time lighting in the next-gen and PC versions, on top of the density of detail (garbage, dust, and other particles blowing through the world) bring certain sections to life, though.
Sound, above all else, is the most impressive sensory experience in Ghosts, easily. The audio work here is exceptional -- chain link fences rattle when grenades go off; shells hitting hardwood sound different than shells dropping onto dirt or steel; contextual acoustics give each bullet a distinct sound depending on the environment in which you’re firing. Small but significant details in Call of Duty’s audio design go a long way into creating a convincing, terrifying sense of realism on the battlefield.
What's the combat like?
This has always been an exceptionally fast-paced competitive series, but Ghosts gives players more abilities to navigate environments more quickly. Infinity Ward borrows older traversal concepts like the knee slide and leaning around corners, and the results are pretty mixed. On one hand, leaning around corners is easy, intuitive, natural, and helpful -- but in a multiplayer game as kinetic as Call of Duty, stopping to peek around edges isn’t always the best tactics. Snipers and sneaky players can absolutely maximize k#lls by carefully finding a great spot, but most of us will likely continue to run around corners and we’ll probably be all right.
Knee slides, on the other hand, go a long way. It’s as useful an evasive tactic as it is an aggressive one. Crouching while sprinting send you sliding low to the ground, which is awesome for dodging headshots and catching enemies off guard. Vaulting over cover, as opposed to slamming into it from a crouch slide, is a minor difference most casual players won’t notice. It’s a little less awkward than hopping over cover, and it keeps your momentum, but it isn’t quite as Mirror’s Edge-smooth as the pitch may lead you to believe.
One of Ghosts’ most significant additions is the Marksman Rifle weapon cla## -- again, this is something old and something borrowed, but it’s also effective. Sniper rifles without scopes is a staple for some Battlefield players -- essentially giving you the power of a shotgun and the range of a rifle -- and it’s a great new gun type in Ghosts. Throwing on a three-round-burst mod really lets you hammer an opponent. The catch is that the fierce recoil means you need to be careful about getting too trigger happy.
What's new with Create a Soldier?
With Ghosts, Infinity Ward is taking some of the foundations of Modern Warfare 3's cla## organization and blending it with Black Ops 2's Pick 10 system to form "Create a Soldier." The tool is anchored, in part, by the new character personalization feature, which allows players to cosmetically alter their in-game player with a large variety of uniform types, helmets, heads, and more. It's important to note that while players can aesthetically alter their character, their selections have no bearing on mobility or armor level. Players can create 10 different characters, each of which has its own unique set of cla##es. In effect, the game opens up an entirely new tier of customization. For instance, one character and set of cla##es can be reserved for clan matches, while another could be for more casual play.
Most importantly, the Create a Soldier system marks the debut of playable female characters in Call of Duty: Multiplayer. While the visual variation in gender may be tough to distinguish in the middle of fast-paced firef!ghts, the sound of female character voices shouting over explosions is an immediately recognizable and refreshing change in pace.
Ghosts' Pick 10-style currency system is very similar to Black Ops 2, but with some notable exceptions. Players are allotted a limited array of options for primary and secondary weapons, but attachments are no longer count against that limit. Perks in particular have their own distinct allocation of points, with players allowed 8 points at their disposal. Certain perks are worth more than others, so players can opt for fewer, more valuable enhancements or four low-cost versions.
Call of Duty: Ghosts' Create A Soldier system is unquestionably the most extensive and robust player customization suite we've seen from the franchise, for better or for worse. On the one hand, the system gives players the power to stand out and fine-tune the experience to their preference, but it's also incredibly dense. Even with only certain items unlocked and after hours of play, the sheer volume of possible configurations was overwhelming. When the game finally ships, players are more than likely going to take weeks to fully unravel the potential of Create a Soldier.
Are the new game modes any good?
Ghosts’ new modes, so far, are effective mods of existing game types. Crank adds a ticking timer to Team [rip]match, so each time you score a k#ll you’re guaranteeing your survival. It adds a sense of urgency to an already fast and intense multiplayer game: If your clock goes from 30 seconds to zero, you explode and die. Crank is absolutely engineered with pro players in mind. It’s chaotic and confusing for the casual Call of Duty player, who’s likely to find themselves shot dead long before their clock expires. Skilled players will find a lot to love here, though. The amplified pace of Team [rip]match isn’t going to be for everyone, but finding a rhythm and staying alive is really tense and satisfying.
Likewise, Search and Rescue modifies the Search and Destroy objective by throwing in elements of k#ll Confirmed. Collecting your fallen foes’ dog tags keeps them permanently dead, while grabbing your allies’ tags allows them to respawn. Like Counter-Strike, you have one life, but through the good grace of cooperative and attentive teammates, you can get a second (or third, or fourth...) chance to claim k#lls.
Ghosts has five remaining new game modes to be revealed, and with any luck, they’ll bring some innovative ideas to the table to really catch Call of Duty players off guard.
How are the maps you played?
While today's event offered only a small sampling of Ghosts' 14 total maps, the three Activision and Infinity Ward included both medium and large-scale maps that highlight the game's new dynamic environments. Octane is reminiscent of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's Ambush map, with teams spawning on either side of a central road lined with crashed vehicles. It combines tight-quarter pa##ageways through buildings and alleyways, but also plenty of long sight lines. Players can also take advantage of several elevated positions accessible through stairs and ladders. It's here, in the rooftops and second story vantages, that the game's limited destructibility comes into play.
In certain locations, players can use a throwable IED or a rocket to blow out one of the walls shielding the player. However, the effect is far less dynamic than Battlefield's extensive destruction engine. Only select walls can be destroyed, and the damage isn't progressive. Either you blow it up entirely, or not at all. As a result, it's easy to forget that destruction is an option, and often times, it's just easier to just focus on flanking the position or tossing an grenade at the player.
Another map, Strikezone, is primarily an indoor map with narrow corridors and stairways. While there are a few larger exterior zones, the emphasis is greater upon frantic firef!ghts. The environment drastically shifts when the building is struck by a missile — a map altering event that causes the player's screen to blur and turn red briefly before returning to the burning, dust and rubble-filled structure. While the post-explosion environment presents sightline-challenging effects, the transition feels oddly abrupt. When the event was triggered for the first time, we found ourselves unsure of what had happened and why. We didn't see the missile strike, we didn't see the building crumble — the landscape just simply changed. The map design and flow still felt great, but the transition felt somewhat hacked-on.
The largest of all the maps shown, Whiteout, is set in a snow-covered harbor town surrounded by rocky slopes and cave-like pa##ageways. Like Octane, it also makes interesting use of verticality, providing plenty plenty of elevated viewpoints to take ranged shots at the opposing players. Depending on the gametype, players may find themselves running a relatively long distance before encountering another player, but often times we came toe-to-toe with the opposing team at a series of key choke points.
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