While the consensus seems to be decidedly mixed on Search and Destroy, I’ve always enjoyed the mode as it puts high-stake spin on the game, making players play more strategically like they would if actually placed in the situation. Search and Rescue, while just a minor tweak on the aforementioned mode, perfects it and is godsend for players with short attention spans. Instead of not being able to respawn until the next map upon dying, players have a chance to come back. Upon dying, you drop a dog tag that if picked up by an ally, allows you to respawn. If picked up by an enemy, you are out for the round. While it again doesn’t seem like a huge change on the surface, it alleviates some of the frustration of knowing you’re gone for good and also promotes that teams stick together more so they can pick up each other’s tags.
Graphically, Ghosts looked great. Both current and next gen consoles will run it at 60fps and it was unclear if we were playing on high-end PCs or Xbox Ones, but what we saw was impressive. New additions like mantling, which allows you to move over objects without losing momentum, contextual leaning and knee slide make the game much more fluid and lends well to the exceptional framerate. While not touted, one of my favorite tweaks was the apparent nerfing of the grenades. No longer can players simply run out and throw a bunch of grenades and take much of the strategy out of game. Grenades now take longer to throw and no longer travel half way across the map. They’re still handy in close quarter situations, but realistic in the sense that you can’t blindly chuck them across half the map.
Ghosts features the most robust customization seen in a Call of Duty games, with over twenty-thousand possible combinations. These aren’t just cosmetic, but affect in-game action. Custom uniforms, head body types, head gear and more are just some of the options available. There weren’t a lot of options unlocked in the build we played, and quite frankly, it was deep enough that it would take much more research and familiarity with the game to fully comprehend and appreciate. Still, though, being able to tweak how you approach the game is a great addition and, of course, you can even be a female soldier (a notion much overdue in competitive first-person shooters). There’s a budget for weapons/equipment/perks, with every perk carrying a set value between one and five points. Players are given eight points to distribute however they want, with an additional three granted upon getting rid of their secondary weapon. There’s also a new weapons class called the “Marksman Rifle,” which is between sniper and assault rifles and is similar to the M1 and carbine. Finally, sound has been completely overhauled and environments now affect it, offering realistic reverb. We played the game with surround sound Turtle Beach headsets, and it was clear where sounds were coming from, making it easier to respond to situations and know if an enemy was approaching. Most importantly, it makes you think twice about firing without having a clear target.
Call of Duty: Ghosts was the most fun I’ve had online with the series in a long time. With a limited amount of modes and maps available, it’s too early to say its the series’ best, but it’s certainly a contender. The maps were well-designed with room to breath, the new modes were a blast (especially ‘Cranked’) and it simply felt more balanced. After six games in six years, Infinity Ward has stepped up and done enough to make the series feel fresh enough to stick around in the face of stiff competition from Battlefield 4 and Titanfall. It may not be revolutionary, but it’s fun, frenetic action that preserves and improves upon the core experience of what makes online shooters so fun. We’ll have to wait to see the other modes and maps in action and how it plays when the rabid community gets their hands on it before passing full judgement, but at this point it seems safe to say that you’ll be losing another year of your life to Call of Duty.