It should come as no surprise that Infinity Ward has not reinvented the wheel with the multiplayer in "Call of Duty: Ghosts." At a glance, this is the same, addictive and fast-paced multiplayer that has sucked in many, many players since "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare." After all, if that same wheel keeps scooping up cash and keeping people playing year after year, why change it? Well, instead of completely reinventing the thing, Infinity Ward has basically said "Okay, this wheel works pretty darn well. Let's just put some awesome playing cards in the spokes, add some LED lights, and figure out how to make this thing more awesome. While we weren't treated to the full multiplayer at the reveal, we did get to play a decent chunk of it, and we're happy to report that yes, this wheel is indeed more awesome.
While there will be seven multiplayer modes in the new game, we only played four: Team Deathmatch, Domination, Search & Rescue, and Cranked. Team Deathmatch and Domination as the same modes you have probably played a million times, and which still dominate the top of playlists. But mixing it up are some of the newcomers, like Search & Rescue. This takes Search & Destroy and Kill Confirmed, and combines them into one game. You're still trying to defend or destroy points on the map as in Search & Destroy, but with each kill, you need to grab that players dogtags and "confirm" the kill, keeping them out of the rest of the game. Or if it's a teammate who went down, try and grab their tags before the enemy does so you can bring your buddy back into the game. It's a nice addition that makes things more strategic, and also underscores the importance of working as a team and sticking together.
- Tip: If you're able to pick off a lone enemy, or have a teammate die some distance from you, try sniping the enemies as they come for the tags. It's a great lure to rack up more kills.
Cranked is one of the most innovative game modes that have been added to the game in quite awhile. Once you get a kill, you gain buffs. While this isn't a new mechanic for CoD multiplayer, what happens next is. A ticking clock gets added to the left of your screen, starting at 30 seconds and counting down. Once it reaches zero, you go boom. However, if you keep getting kills, you'll keep the clock alive. This quickly turns into a frantic search for your next enemy, and when you hear the last few seconds of your clock ticking down, it can cause you to panic and make stupid moves. But you're going to blow up anyhow, so why not? I was never close enough to another teammate when I exploded, nor did I find out if an exploding teammate can kill you, but that would definitely make things a bit more interesting. Just imagine the kamikaze players who will come charging into enemy strongholds just to explode in a blaze of glory.
- Tip: Don't panic, and don't watch the clock. Breathe easy and look for your next kill. If you have a couple on the timer already, consider finding a spot to snipe or ambush from.
We played our way across three new maps: Strikezone, Whiteout, and Octane. There is a high level of detail in each of these, as you have come to expect from both Treyarch and Infinity Ward, and all of them offer multiple paths and a nice variety of contained arenas.
- Strikezone was the smallest of the three, taking place in a destroyed baseball stadium. While you can't get out onto the field (sadly), you can cruise through the former concession areas, the offices, and the ticket sales areas. It's a nice map for close quarters gameplay, and campers will be able to find a few spots to hole up in. Tip: Near the ticket sales area is a crate you can hide behind, which is a great place to camp from as long as you have a motion sensor with you.
- Octane was the mid-sized map, taking place in a sand-blasted locale with a dingy motel, a seedy strip club offering sexy boxing, and a central gas station that can be blown up at any point in the game by either team. With its sharp corners and stark contract, it can offer a lot to a sniper. Stay behind the main buildings if you want to avoid getting picked off, and stay mobile. Tip: There's a destructible portion on one of the roof walls in the middle of the map, making it a good spot to attack from.
- Whiteout was the largest of the maps, and easily our favorite. This map is set in a snowbound fishing village, complete with an ice-bound fishing trawler, a fancy hunting lodge, and multiple tunnels.
And Everything Else
Besides the big, visual changes like new modes, maps, weapons, killstreaks, and everything that's immediately tangible when you drop into a game, there are several other new things at work here, all meant to add to the experience. Some of them seem minor, like the ability to knee-slide, while others are major, like the new perk system that is based on slots. Some perks take up more slots, some take up less. So you'll have to mix and match to fit in combinations and see how they work. We only had a few hours to play the games, and most of the new killstreaks, weapons, and perks were locked out, so look for a lot more of those details to come.
One interesting note: we played the game on Xbox One development builds, meaning that they were running off of PC systems somewhere behind the scenes. While the actual result may change a bit once the final product ships, the game looked extremely pretty. There are plenty of indications that this is built on a new engine meant to enhance the experience graphically and in other ways, like when you swap weapons while creating a soldier, your avatar will drop the current weapon and have a new one handed to him/her. Speaking of "her" this time around, we played as a female soldier the entire time. It's nice to see that gender equality has come to online ass-kicking.
"Call of Duty: Ghosts" launches on November 5, so stay tuned to MTV for more details as we prepare to go another round with Activision's flagship shooter.