Despite being one of the most successful and lucrative video game franchises around, Call of Duty has its fair share of critics. But with the recent introduction of Sledgehammer Games into Activision's circle of Call of Duty developers - which in turn means each new game getting a three-year development cycle instead of just two years - even gamers who went off the series years ago should pay attention to upcoming title Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
The game was introduced with a cinematic trailer narrated by an evil-sounding Kevin Spacey, who opined about the uselessness of attempting to build democracy as scenes of war and destruction unfolded. As exciting as cinematic trailers can be, however, we're more interesting in seeing what kind of gameplay is on offer in this vision of 2054.
The wait for a first look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's gameplay is now over, as a nine-minute demo titled 'Induction' has been unveiled at E3 2014. The video provides a walkthrough of a mission in Seoul, Korea, as protagonist Private Mitchell (Troy Baker) and his unit make a rough landing into the middle of a warzone. The mission demonstrates some of the various uses of Mitchell's military exoskeleton, which gives him enough strength to kick open steel doors and has a boost that allows him to fall from great heights without being hurt, or to leap high into the air and get an aerial advantage over enemies.
'Induction' is apparently one of the singleplayer campaign levels, though it's unclear how much of what's in the video will actually be in the finished game. If, as the title suggests, it's one of the very first missions in the game then the ending (which we won't spoil here - be sure to watch the video all the way through) could have some pretty serious implications for the rest of Mitchell's life and career. It's certainly a great shock moment - although after the many attempts to recapture the magic of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's nuke scene, the series' shock moments have started to lose their impact a bit.
In terms of gameplay, the shooting still looks pretty standard for the franchise, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. The exoskeleton seems like it will make the player's movement a lot freer and add the potential for more verticality when fighting, and there's something quite empowering about being able to rip doors off cars and use them as a shield.
The other near-future tech that was recently discussed by Sledgehammer studio heads Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey is also littered throughout the demo, including an enormous walking tank and a swarm of drones that look like they could do a lot of damage. As the developers mentioned, however, Sledgehammer has attempted to ground the sci-fi elements by placing them against relatively normal backdrops of concrete and steel buildings.
Are you impressed by this first look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's gameplay? Tell us in the comments if you like the idea of the franchise travelling further into the future, or if you'd prefer it if Call of Duty stuck to the present.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare releases November 4, 2014 for last-gen and current-gen platforms.