A few days ago, we got our first look at this year’s Call of Duty. I know, I know, we’re all shocked that there will be another one. But at least it looked a bit different, moving out of the, in my opinion, somewhat tired ‘modern warfare’ template to offer something a bit more near-future.

The trailer seems to hint at a more vertical Call of Duty experience, showing characters in powered exo-skeletons leaping around like The Incredible Hulk and climbing walls like Spider-Man (ok, in a more power-assisted, mechanised manner). Putting aside the inevitable comparisons to the recent sci-fi-flavoured shooter Titanfall, my first thoughts were, “I wonder if those moments are scripted?” Because if they’re not, that surely turns the entire Call of Duty formula on its head.

The series as it stands places heavy emphasis on constant forward momentum. Enemies spawn from fixed locations and simply continue to pour forth until you hit an invisible line that switches those off and turns on the next encounter. Generally, this means there’s little room for exploration – it’s hard to enjoy the scenery when you’re constantly being shot in the backside, of course. Yet if in Advanced Warfare we can jump around the environment or climb walls at will, how will that enemy spawning system cope? Surely you could just bunny-hop your way clear through a level?

I’ve always been a massive fan of Halo. A large part of that is the freedom it offers; you can jump all over the environment, either finding secrets or simply having fun trying to clamber up to places you’re not supposed to be, and you can do it all at your own pace. What makes this possible, really, is that you can enter a new area, clear it of all enemies, and then spend as much time as you like poring over the environment. Gears of War is the same, that distinctive power chord telegraphing that now you’re safe to explore. While this means combat makes up a portion of the game rather than the entirety, engaging battles against intelligent AI make those fights fun, whereas Call of Duty often feels like five hours of heavily-armed Whack-a-mole. That’s great for propelling you ever forwards through one of the series’ typical ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ campaigns, less so for gameplay diversity.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favourite aspects of gaming is being able to experience new worlds that teams have spent hundreds of hours creating, just so we can play around in them. I like to look around and drink in the atmosphere, admiring the creativity and artistry that has gone into bringing a world into existence (and this is the reason games take me so much longer to finish than is necessary!), but I’ve always felt like all that work goes to waste to a degree in a Call of Duty title, as you’re quickly funnelled from one area to the next before you can even appreciate it.

So I’m hoping Advanced Warfare is a little more dynamic with both its combat and environments. I want to be able to jump around at will, I want to be able to climb up to places that aren’t strictly necessary to advance the mission. And I really want to be able to clear areas out so that I can then jump and climb and explore at my own pace. And with this being the first full title from Sledgehammer games, it’s a distinct possibility. The studio was formed when ex-Visceral pair Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey made Activision an offer to replicate their previous success with Dead Space – a game that offers something closer to the mix of combat, exploration and environmental immersion that I’m looking for. Moreover, moving the franchise to a three-studio, three-year development cycle gives us hope that the development teams will have more time to spend creating (hopefully) more adventurous, inventive games. I expect we’ll see what Sledgehammer and Activision have in store for us next month at E3.

You can see the reveal trailer below. What are your thoughts?

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