After continued analyst talk of potentially lower sales and a leak that frustrated the game's developers on their first solo effort, it might seem that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was fighting an uphill PR battle — but what we've seen of the game itself looks like the re-energized installment that the franchise needs to stay relevant.
Last year, Call of Duty: Ghosts could only muster up an indifferent response from critics and limp sales figures for the series for the series — while the game was one of the top sellers of 2013, it didn't manage to reach the heights of its direct predecessor, Black Ops II.
Advanced Warfare represents a much-needed departure from Ghosts, and looks set to break new ground for the series with the manifold gameplay opportunities that its futuristic tech offers.
Despite being one of the most popular series of the previous console generation, there's a real possibility that Call of Duty could fall into obscurity if it can't move with the times. Sledgehammer Games has been doing everything in its power to ensure that the franchise is at its best for its first entry developed for the new generation of consoles first and foremost, and it might well have paid off.
The many traversal options that players have at their disposal thanks to the game's 'exoskeleton' has had an overhauling effect on all the gameplay that we've seen so far, but it looks particularly potent in the 'Atlas Gorge' map that will be made available on the game's release day for anyone who has purchased the season pass.
The season pass DLC trailer for Advanced Warfare demonstrates combatants making full use of boost jumps to gain the upper hand on the competition in the 'Atlas Gorge' map, a reimagining of 'Pipeline' for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It's an unprecedented level of verticality for the Call of Duty series, but it doesn't seem to detract from the core FPS gameplay that has made the series so popular.
In addition to day one access to that bonus multiplayer map, the season pass also grants players all four Advanced Warfare DLC packs set for release as well as early access to bonus DLC weapons. The four packs are titled 'Havoc', 'Ascendance', 'Supremacy' and 'Reckoning' and all are set to release over the course of 2015.
While there's been plenty of doom and gloom ahead of its launch, the proof of Advanced Warfare will be in the playing. If the game is intended to be the Modern Warfare of this new generation, then the series needs to evolve — and that's exactly what seems to have happened. This fresh take on familiar gameplay may just be what the series needed; it'll be interesting to see whether fans get on board.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is set for release on November 3 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC.