Why 'Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare' Is Such An Important Step For The Series
We all remember Call of Duty: Ghosts. Last year, it straddled the line between the Xbox One/PS4 and the Xbox 360/PS3 generation and featured.... I don't know, some characters, probably? A plot? Was China a thing? Okay, we all remember that the game existed, but probably not that much more: Call of Duty is often criticized for derivative stories, a lack of innovation from year to year, and general cashgrabbery. With Call of Duty: Ghosts, the developer made the bold decision to embrace every single one of the series stereotypes to its fullest potential, yielding an uninteresting game that failed to meet Activsion's expectations and put the blockbuster series on shaky ground going in to the new generation - recent analyst chatter should be enough to signal that. The pressure was on for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to do something that made people pay attention again. And, surprisingly enough, it did.
'Power Changes Everything,' goes the tagline, and that's the basic concept. What Modern Warfare did with its stripped down, hardline gameplay, Advanced Warfare does with absurdity. Even the pseudo-realism of recent games is gone, replaced instead with what qualifies as full sci-fi: double jumps, invisibility, mech suits, hover tanks - whatever. We'd begun to feel like superheroes towards the end of the last gen, so Advanced Warfare doubles down. It isn't original in the broader sense: both Titanfall and Destiny came out this year with double jumps and funky tools galore - but it's certainly original for the series. And for the huge numbers of people that play Call of Duty and little else, that should be enough to warrant a second look.
What's smart about the sci-fi mechanics is that they work just as well in a single or multiplayer context. The campaign gets all the typical bluster of the series - huge set pieces, the occasional vista, the obligatory vehicle levels - only amplified to a superhero scale. Multiplayer gets a whole new set of tools and a genuinely different feeling than that which has dominated the series for years. That's crucial: multiplayer drives the majority of sales for Call of Duty, and naysayers routinely argue that it's not worth picking up a $60 box for a few minor tweaks to an otherwise identical formula. This time, it may not be an entirely new game, but it's different enough to reject that argument.
Analysts have been worried that Advanced Warfare sales will be down even from the lackluster performance of Ghosts, but I have a feeling that won't be the case. Pre-orders are only one piece of information, and while Ghosts suffered from countless lost sales at the hands of reviewers and gamers alike sounding their disappointment loud and clear, Advanced Warfare benefits from actually positive word of mouth. As people sometimes forget, it actually matters whether or not a game is good.
Advanced Warfare doesn't present with the shocking clarity that Modern Warfare did years ago, but it performs a similar task. Call of Duty may never again reach the industry-dominating heights it enjoyed throughout the last generation, but Advanced Warfare at the least prevents it from going to its grave earlier rather than later. Two stinkers over the course of a console transition could have harmed the franchise irreparably, but now we get a chance to see if Activision can maintain momentum.
More review-style thoughts to come, but from a business perspective, I'm bullish on what Advanced Warfare will be able to do for the franchise.
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