Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer brings changes, improvements, and a few concerns

Infinity Ward and Activision revealed at an E3-quality press conference details about this year’s iteration of multiplayer for Call of Duty: Ghosts and, I have to admit, after being somewhat underwhelmed with what I saw at E3, I’m finally excited for Call of Duty again. While the moment- to-moment gameplay-twitch shooting, fast paced gun-on-gun combat, the use of perks and killstreaks remains intact – the additions being made are plentiful and inspired.
The whole event, focused on just Ghosts‘ multiplayer, was packed to the brim with tons of information as Mark Rubin, Executive Producer of Call of Duty: Ghosts, and the team at Infinity Ward unveiled new game modes like Cranked and Search and Rescue, and new features like fully customizable player characters and a new perks system; it’s all a lot to take in and talk about. Rather than rattle what is being changed in the game, I decided I wanted to discuss how these new elements cause excitement and concern.

Create-A-Soldier

Create-A-Soldier is something I’ve been looking forward to in this series since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Actually, I’ve been looking forward to it since Rainbow Six: Vegas, but I have been wishing Call of Duty would have implemented this feature over 6 years ago. Now, you can fully customize the look of your soldier with reportedly about 20,000 possible combinations including heads, body types, equipment, gender – a CoD first – and more. Unlike Rainbow Six: Vegas these customization options are purely cosmetic as they don’t affect how your character moves nor does it give an advantage of armor.

Taking Black Ops 2‘s Pick 10 system to it’s logical evolution, players will be given a budget to spend on primary and secondary weapons, lethal, and tactical equipment like grenades, and Perks. It’s pretty standard if the player has spent any time at all in Black Ops 2‘s multiplayer. In Call of Duty: Ghosts, all attachments and Killstreaks are free and don’t take up a slot. Players will also earn “Squad Points” which is Ghosts‘ currency for unlocks.

Unlocking guns will be at the player’s discretion rather than being funneled down a forced path unlocking guns you don’t want. The only caveat is making sure you have enough Squad Points to unlock the higher tier weapons. This is a smart idea because while it prevents players like me from being stuck with weapons we don’t want (cough*sniper rifles*cough) it also prevents anyone from having the more powerful weapons right from the jump and makes players work towards it.

Even the way Prestige is handled is vastly different than all previous Call of Duty games. Instead of just leveling up to the highest rank, Prestiging, then leveling up all over again until 10th Prestige, you can create up to 10 soldiers to be later used in “Squads” and each one can Prestige once. So basically, you’ll have 10 soldiers with 1 level of Prestige each, giving you 10 levels of Prestige. To be honest, I stopped caring about Prestige after Modern Warfare 2 so this is honestly neither here nor there for me, but I do understand if some players have issue.

Squads allows players to take their created soldiers online against either other player squads or AI for XP for multiplayer.

Squads

On paper, Squads sounds like Combat Training on steroids. Squads is a new game mode type that in itself has 4 sub modes all involving your newly created soldiers serving as the titular squad. Squads can be played solo, co-operatively and/or competitively as it lets players match their squads against others. Unlike Combat Training, XP earned in Squads counts towards progression in multiplayer.

The four game modes are:

Squad vs Squad will pit the player and their AI-controlled squad against another player and their AI team.

Wargame which is most like combat training in that players will pick five squad mates to play against an all-AI enemy team on the multiplayer maps.

Safeguard is like Survival from Modern Warfare 3‘s Spec-Ops except it now allows 4 players to contend with wave-based AI enemies assaults. This one has me the most excited.

Squad Assault is a six-player co-op mode that pits online players against an offline player’s AI-controlled squad.

Perks

Perks have been overhauled as well. Each individual perk has a value ranging from 1-5. The value of the Perk determines how many the player can have. As explained in the reveal the player can have 3 higher value Perks or can forgo secondary weapons and have 8 lower value Perks instead.

I’ve managed to find out the names and function of the Perks as a well as most of their point values. Brace yourself, info dump incoming:

Speed:

Dexterity – Faster ADS after sprint – 1 point

Slight of Hand – Faster reloading – 2 points

Agility – Faster mobility speed – 2  points

Marathon – Long sprint duration – 2 points

Stalker – Move faster while aiming down sights

Handling:

Strongarm – Throw equipment farther and decrease cook-time – 1 point

On the Go – Reload while sprinting – 2 points

Reflex – Faster weapon swapping – 2 points

Steady Aim – Increased Hip-fire accuracy – 2 points

Quickdraw – Weapons ready faster after sprinting – 2 points

Stealth:

Takedown – Kill an enemy without revealing death location – 1 point

Blindeye – Undetectable by air support and sentries – 2 points

Off the Grid – Undetectable by SATCOM and motion sensors – 2 points

Dead Silence – Quieter footsteps – 2 points

Cold-Blooded – Undetectable by player targeting – 2 points

Awareness:

Recon – Temporarily tag enemies you damage on the minimap – 1 point

Scavenger – Resupply ammo from the fallen – 2 points

Sitrep – Detect enemy equipment and explosives – 2 points

Eavesdrop – Hear enemies louder – 2 points

Wirertap – (This one is hazy) Take over enemy SATCOM with your own and tier them accordingly (These are my words) – 2 points

(We will have more on SATCOMS later in the piece.)

Resistance:

Lightweight – Take no fall damage – 1 point

Painkiller – Health regenerates faster – 2 point

Stopper – Reduce flinch when shot – 2 point

Tac Resist – Increased resistance to flash and stun – 2 points

Blast Shield – Increased resistance to explosive damage – 2 points

Equipment:

Extra Tac – Extra tactical equipent – 1 point

Extra Lethal – Extra lethal equipment – 2points

Fully Loaded – Start with extra mags – 2 points

Extra Attachment – Extra attachment for both your primary and secondary weapons – unknown point value

Danger Close – Extra explosive damage – 3 points

Elite:

Gambler – Double down on a perk (assuming that it makes everything twice as effective ie: Slight of Hand 2 times faster) – 1 point

Hardline – Killstreaks require 1 less point – 2 points

Ping – Reveal enemies nearby after a kill – 2 points

Overkill – Carry 2 primary weapons – unknown point value

Deadeye – Increase your chance to inflict more damage with each consecutive kill – 5 points

With the new system players are no longer forced to choose 1 Perk from tier 1, 2 or 3 and can now have whatever Perks they can afford as long as they allocate the cost efficiently. In previous Call of Duty games Perks were tiered to provide balance.

Here are the icons for most of the Perks and their point values. (It’s a screen shot from the reveal so I apologize for the quality)

Killstreaks, Pointstreaks and Strike Packages

The Strike Packages from Modern Warfare 3 have returned allowing players of all types to get in on the fun of receiving streak rewards only this time, Infinity Ward has decided to tweak it from what veteran players have become accustomed to. Again, Strike Packages are broken down into 3 types: Assault, Support and Specialist.

Assault is exactly as it sounds: It’s for those that rack up kills and want to be rewarded as such. Killstreaks have been revamped as well, as Infinity Ward has decided that they want players more focused on infantry combat rather than looking up at the sky concerned about death from above. The example given was the SAT COM which will now replace the UAV. Instead of a drone in the sky that can be shot down, it’s a portable array that can be placed anywhere on the map. If the enemy finds it, they can destroy it, so making sure it’s well hidden will be an integral part of the strategy when using the SAT COM. Even further, the SAT COM is stackable to make each consecutive SAT COM a more advanced UAV than the first. For example, placing one on the map will cause any enemy spotted by line of sight of a teammate to appear on the mini-map, while the second SAT COM placed in tandem with the first will then turn it into a something like a standard UAV with periodical sweeps going over the area, causing enemies to show up as red dots. The third stacked SAT COM will make the sweeps much quicker, keeping red dots on the minimap for longer. Finally, a fourth SAT COM will turn it into an Advanced UAV that shows movement and the direction the enemy is facing just like a Blackbird in Black Ops.

Obviously, there are many Perks detailed above to counter SAT COMs, but the most interesting one is Wiretap, which then uses your SAT COM to stack on the enemy SAT COM. For example, if the enemy has 3 SAT COMS already in play, your single SAT COM will turn yours into an Advanced UAV. This is kind of awesome and will most likely change the way the game is played. I’m primarily a support/stealth player to begin with, but storing up a SAT COM for use during a Search and Destroy match to be used against an enemy SAT COM will turn the tide immensely because the enemy would need line of sight while your team would have a UAV.

Other Killstreaks include Guard Dog, which allows players to run around the map with Riley from the campaign. Riley acts as, well, a guard dog, as Riley will protect you by attacking enemies, as well as growl at nearby threats while accompanying you around the map. There is also Maniac which allows you to run around the map in a lightweight Juggernaut suit with increased speed and armed only with a knife. This sounds dumb, but it also sounds fun, two things I quite enjoy about Call of Duty and which aren’t mutually exclusive.

Riley from the single player is a Killstreak reward in Ghosts. Riley will protect you from enemies and serve as nature’s UAV by growling at nearby enemies.

I’m more of a support player in Call of Duty, throwing myself onto capture points with no concerns for my Kill/Death ratio and more concerned about getting a win at the end of the game. As such, I die quite a bit and rarely get above 10 or 11 kills for the higher Killstreak rewards. This is why I love the Support Package – I get rewarded for completing objectives in objective based game modes. Weird, right? Some of the goodies at my disposal will be a Night Owl which deploys a companion drone that follows around the map taking out enemies and somehow protecting me from explosives. A MAAWS which allows the player to lase targets for a free-firing, shoulder mounted rocket launcher. And Helo Scout which allows the player to provide sniper support from a helicopter (something I bet I’ll try once or twice and never again, to be honest).

Lastly, the Specialist package remains the same with players forgoing Killstreaks in favor of gaining an extra perk for each consecutive kill. This is something that is out of my wheelhouse, so I doubt I’ll get much use from this particular Strike Package. Yes, I admit that I am a mid-level player with a typical K/D ratio being about 1.3 – 1.5 mostly because, as I stated, I go for the win in objective modes rather than kills.

Game Modes

Adding 7 new game modes, Call of Duty: Ghosts seems to have the most robust line-up in Call of Duty‘s multiplayer suite to date. The list of game types are returning favorites: Free-For-All, Team Death Match, Search and Destroy, Domination, and Kill Confirmed. New to the party are Search and Rescue, Grind, Blitz, Cranked, Infected, Hunted, and the aforementioned Squad.

At the reveal, only 2 of the new modes were shown – Cranked, and Search and Rescue. Cranked is obviously inspired by the Jason Statham movie, Crank, in that when the player gets a kill he becomes “Cranked,” gaining speed with each consecutive kill, the caveat being that getting a kill also starts a timer which gives the player 30 seconds to get another kill. If the player doesn’t get a kill in 30 seconds, they will explode. Yep, you have 30 seconds to kill or you explode. E.X.P.L.O.D.E! Getting kills resets the timer at 30 seconds. I actively despise Team Deathmatch for the simple reason that getting kills isn’t a compelling enough reason for me to play and I become bored quickly, but Cranked looks like it will be the remedy for that, and I personally can’t wait to play it. It also means players overly concerned with their K/D ratio need not apply, which also makes me happy.

A new wrinkle to the gameplay is that the first player killed drops a briefcase which contains a “Field Order.” When another player grabs that suitcase, they’re given an objective such as getting a head shot or humiliation kill. If the player carries out this “Field Order,” they’re rewarded with a care package that will deliver any of the Assault Strike package rewards. If the player carrying the briefcase dies, they will drop it for another player to pick up. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if this is only applicable to Cranked and Team Death Match or if other game modes will have this interesting feature.

In Cranked a player has 30 seconds to get another kill. If they don’t, they explode. Yep, you read that right. And it’s awesome.

Also on display was Search and Rescue, which can best be described as Search and Destroy meets Kill Confirmed. Here, the object is similar to Search and Destroy in which one team attacks to plant a bomb at one of two locations, while the other team defends. The twist is that when an enemy is killed they leave a dog tag like Kill Confirmed. If the enemy retrieves their fallen teammate’s dog tag, the killed enemy respawns. If the player or one their teammates retrieves the dog tag, the enemy remains dead for the round. To the uninitiated that may sound like no big deal, but as a player I think this is great because it severely hampers lone wolf snipers as they need to depend on teammates they aren’t communicating with to retrieve the enemy dog tag.

Infinity Ward and Activision are said to be unveiling the remaining game modes on their multiplayer event world tour, with the next stop being Gamescom, so look for more information soon.

Mobility

Infinity Ward didn’t stop there with tweaks, no sir. They’ve also opted for minor tweaks to movement like contextual leaning in which players can lean around corners to take shots rather than leaving themselves exposed to enemy fire. Hopefully, they will add contextual cover to the next game so one would only have to press the left trigger to pop out of cover instead of toggling crouch.

Vaulting has been added for the running game of Call of Duty which allows players to keep their momentum when sprinting towards and over low wall/objects in the environment. This is by far the most practical addition to mobility because it will allow players to seamlessly navigate the environments without having to press the jump button and heave themselves over things.

One of my least favorite tactics in Call of Duty games is drop-shooting (i.e. dropping to prone while continuing to fire) because it’s not only dumb, but also ridiculous that it doesn’t affect the player’s aim in any way. Welp, it looks like I’ll now have “sliding to prone” to hate because judging from the gameplay videos that they demoed, it looks like sliding to prone also doesn’t affect aim and will allow players to continue to shoot with stunning accuracy. I generally balance myself against the drop-shooting nonsense by shooting chest level but I will admit that I get caught with it one or two times a match and it’s rather annoying.

Knicks and knacks

Aside from all the things I’ve mentioned, there’s a few other things that bear mentioning. Any player that starts playing on their 360 or PS3 and upgrades to their respective next-gen console and wants to keep playing Call of Duty can do so because all the stats and custom created soldiers will carry right over with your account. Just make sure you have the next-gen disc in your next-gen console. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say that, but these days you just never know.

All maps are “dynamic,” which means they contain destructible aspects that can change the map. It’s nothing even remotely as deep or as absolute as that in Battlefield 4, but it does change things up for Call of Duty and judging from the videos, it looks like it could be a fun, if not wholly impressive addition.

There is also full clan support in the game, as well, as on the accompanying mobile app for peeps that are into that stuff as well.

Phew… That’s quite a lot to cover and discuss. I have to admit, every year I feel like I’m starting to get burnt out on Call of Duty and it bears repeating that, their E3 presentation was underwhelming for me. But after this multiplayer reveal, I feel like Call of Duty still has quite a few years left in its tank to remain dominant as the number one most played game on Live and PSN. Call of Duty: Ghosts‘ November 5th release date can’t come soon enough.

Oh, and did I mention that you can create a female soldier for the first time ever in Call of Duty? Because, now you can.

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0 thoughts on “Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer brings changes, improvements, and a few concerns

  1. care package nukes….juggernauts with commando lunge…1 hit kill pistols….peaking(which would be cool if it wasn’t certainly going to be exploited by campers) and yet another upgrade to the same engine rather than building a new one,which will result in yet another terrible netcode….but hey as always,if you can stomach all the nonsense and constantly dying to things you were unable to prevent,have fun 🙂

    Like

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