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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Might Be Good

Ahhh, don’t hurt me, okay? Hear me out. Up until now the twenty-three-game Call of Duty franchise has been running its yearly main sequels (which make up ‘just’ eleven of those) through a two-year development cycle. Releases have alternated between original developers Infinity Ward, who were basically decapitated after the release of Modern Warfare 2, and Treyarch.

But this year’s offering isn’t from either of those studios, rather relative nu-kidz Sledgehammer Games. They helped finish Modern Warfare 3 while Activision wrestled legally with Infinity Ward. Plus, studio main-men Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey were co-directors of the original Dead Space and have brought some of the staff from Visceral with them. What they’ve shown off so far, in Activision’s usual blitz of trailers, actually has me excited. Come see.

Let’s start at the top: if the very thought “Call of Duty” brings you to fury, I’m not going to be able to convince you. But, if you’ve got this far rather than being reduced to frothing madness by merely the headline, it’s unlikely that’s the case. As a reward, here’s the E3 gameplay demo:

I actually think there’s a bunch of cool stuff in there, though it’s severely lacking in the Spacey department. It’s obviously taking one or two of Titanfall‘s hints that jetpacks and big stompy robots are awesome. The love triangle sitcom-style awkwardness between the two franchises aside, that’s a good thing: Titanfall’s double jumping and wall running was arguably the best part about it. We’ve been criminally lacking in the stompy robot suits department for many moons, so I’ll be happy to see more of them.

Advanced Warfare also departs pretty significantly from the Call of Duty norm. The series’ near-future setting has been mostly near, less future. Sure, the odd civil war or economic collapse we’re still looking forward to has featured, but not laser beams and hovercraft. That’s spoken about a little in Sledgehammer’s latest offering:

The chat Glen’s handing out here about new ways to play and changing the face of Call of Duty may seem like marketing speak (and it is) but if you stop and think about it, he and his PR people probably have a point. The leap to future-tech grenades for seeing through walls and homing onto enemies, exoskeletons for leaping on cars and climbing walls really hasn’t been in CoD before. A lot of that stuff departs pretty far from the pseudo-realisitic mainstay of FPS that many complain about, and enters the territory of the Wolfensteins and Bulletstorms. Less believable, more ridiculous and, ultimately, more enjoyable.

There are hints in there that it gets a bit more extreme too, in this behind-the-scenes story trailer:

Which brings us rather neatly to the Spacey. Basically stealing his character from House of Cards is exactly what I want in my dumb, bombastic shooters. It’s a shame Sledgehammer still seem to want to tug on my heart strings with the death of characters I met not six minutes before, because everything else is pointing towards the sort of ridiculous explosion-fest that I really enjoy.

Oh, there was one other new trailer, but I’ve pulled out the only relevant bit of it.

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