Activision has pulled the curtain back on the Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer, and to put it simply, it looks incredible. I wasn’t very impressed with the multiplayer offerings of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and since this is once again “Infinity Ward” behind the game, I was worried that it would disappoint again. However, based on what was shown, Call of Duty: Ghosts looks like the most entertaining Call of Duty multiplayer experience since Call of Duty 4.
Instead of writing a bunch of different articles covering all the different aspects of the Ghosts multiplayer, this article features all there is to know about multiplayer in Ghosts in one convenient location! So, if you missed the big multiplayer reveal of Call of Duty: Ghosts, then you’ve come to the right place!
Over the course of this article, you will learn of new co-op modes, learn about the over 30 new weapons available in the game, new game types, and more. Call of Duty: Ghosts is shaping up to be the most purely entertaining and exciting Call of Duty multiplayer experience in a long time.
Call of Duty Account
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the presentation, which blew Activision’s E3 presentation out of the water, I need to talk about the brand new Call of Duty account, as this thing ties into pretty much everything that is going on within Call of Duty: Ghosts. The CoD account will serve many functions.
One of the main functions is that it will allow you to transfer your progress, stats, and unlocks from your multiplayer experiences on the seventh generation systems and allow those to transfer over to the next-generation systems, as long as the consoles are in the same “console family”. Basically what this means is that if you get Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox 360 and then decide to upgrade to the Xbox One version of the game, you can keep all of your multiplayer progression. The same goes for if you upgrade from the PlayStation 3 version of the game to the PlayStation 4 version.
In addition, there will be a new mobile app tied to your Call of Duty account, which is all an evolution of the Call of Duty “Elite” subscription service, even though all of this will be for free, of course. The Call of Duty account will also be your one-stop shop to managing all sorts of other things in the game.
For example, clan management can be dealt with through the Call of Duty account and the mobile app that goes along with the account. On the app, you’ll be able to even edit your Emblem using touchscreen controls instead of the traditional controller input, which may make emblem creation a much easier and more creatively open experience.
The Call of Duty account can be created on the CoD website or in-game. Furthermore, both the account and the Call of Duty app are designed to be cross-generational tools, so all of your work on either system will carry over to the next-generation systems.
Clans and eSports
Speaking of clans, Call of Duty: Ghosts plans to have a larger focus on clans. Players will be able to start their own clans as well as join existing ones. From there, players can level up their clan by doing well in multiplayer, even when they are not playing with their clans in the multiplayer.
There will even be a new game mode that ties in with clans. It is called Clan Wars, and it sounds very interesting on paper, at least. Clan Wars will take place over a two week period. During these two weeks, your clan will be paired up with a clan of similar stats and size. Whichever clan is the most successful in multiplayer over those two weeks will win “territories”. The more territories you have, the more XP you earn for your clan, which all translates to unlocking more content for your core multiplayer experience.
Clans that are successful in the Clan Wars will go on to face even more challenging clans and keep competing with others. There are plans in place to constantly support the Clan Wars game mode with new territories, updated maps, and more to keep Clan Wars feeling fresh and entertaining.
Clans are often associated with eSports. We first saw Activision really pushing eSports with Black Ops II, but now they are taking that support to the next level with Call of Duty: Ghosts. They brought out two professional shoutcasters on stage to call the first ever live Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer match, which was played by teams that were a blend of real-life marines and professional Call of Duty players.
It was announced that the Call of Duty Championship will return to Xbox Live in 2014 with Call of Duty: Ghosts. Furthermore, Call of Duty: Ghosts will be the exclusive first-person shooter in 2014 for Major League Gaming.
If there was one thing I’ve always wanted to see in Call of Duty multiplayer, it is the ability to customize your own personal soldier. There have been some customization options in the past, but behind emblem creation, we really haven’t seen anything on this front. Call of Duty: Ghosts finally lets players fully create their very own soldier.
Players will be able to customize up to 10 different soldiers. Each soldier will have their own loadout of weapons, stats, and progression. Every soldier can prestige one time, and this time when you prestige, you don’t lose all of the content you’ve unlocked so far. This means that there are up to 10 levels of prestige to fully level up each of your 10 soldiers.
For the first time ever, there will even be female characters in Call of Duty multiplayer, which I am sure is very much appreciated by the overall gaming community. Other new additions include a brand new weapon class called the Marksman Rifle class. This class is a combination of sniper and assault classes, featuring new weapons that sort of blend the characteristics of those two weapon types. Speaking of snipers, there will be new “dual-render scopes” that allow you to look down your line of sight without losing your peripheral vision like in previous Call of Duty games.
A brand new perk system is in place as well. Perks will each have five levels, and players have eight points to spend on perks. So you could have four perks leveled to level 2, or you could have one perk that is level 5 and three perks that are all level 1. If you choose to get rid of your secondary weapon and gear, you can actually have up to 11 points to spend on perks total.
Returning to the multiplayer experience in Call of Duty: Ghosts is Strike Packages, but we’ll learn more about them at a later date.
As Call of Duty is traded off between the two primary developers, “Infinity Ward” and Treyarch, there are certain tropes that they have added to make each Call of Duty recognizable as a Treyarch developed one or an “Infinity Ward” developed one. One element that lets you know that this game is developed by “Infinity Ward” is the existence of Pointsreaks instead of Killstreaks.
There will be over 20 brand new ones added to the multiplayer. There were some that were only talked about during the presentation and others that were straight-up shown off. There is now a new guard dog one that will summon the highly talked about dog from the single player campaign into the multiplayer. However, he won’t act like the dogs that we’ve seen in previous Call of Duty multiplayer experiences.
Actually, the dog in the multiplayer of Call of Duty: Ghosts will follow the player around and protect them by fighting enemies as well as alerting the player to the presence of nearby enemies.
Another new Pointstreak is the ability to summon a helicopter, choose where it is positioned on the map, and then actually be inside the helicopter and do the sniping yourself. The “Odin Strike” looks like an even more awe-inspiring take on the nuclear bomb that was seen in the earlier Modern Warfare games, and there’s also a brand new take on the UAV.
UAV has been a huge part of the Call of Duty multiplayer experience since Call of Duty 4. It has pointed out enemy locations on handy radar that has been a huge part of being successful in the Call of Duty multiplayer. UAVs are now called SAT COMS and they function very differently than traditional UAV.
SAT COMS are little technological balls that can be placed on the ground around the map. This means that they are more vulnerable to enemy fire than the in-air UAV we’re used to, but it also means that players are able to hide them around the map as well as protect them from enemy fire. They can be stacked on top of each other to improve their capability.
The first time you place one, you will be able to see any enemies on your map that your teammates have seen. Throw a second one on there, and it acts like UAV has acted in all the other games. Throw a third one on top and it will allow you to see the line of sight of enemies as well, like the Blackbird has allowed in previous Call of Duty games.
It was also confirmed during the press conference that Deathstreaks will not be returning to the game.
Is it really next-gen though?
In the early days of any new gaming generation, everyone is going to be paying attention to graphics. Suffice to say, Call of Duty: Ghosts isn’t just very impressive graphically. Of course, this is because it is a cross-generational game instead of a full-blown next-gen title, and Activision simply ported the current-gen versions to the next-gen systems. For other games, this would bother me, but it is a bit of a different situation when it comes to Call of Duty.
This is because graphics have never really been a big deal when it comes to Call of Duty games. It’s all about the gameplay, and the multiplayer in Ghosts genuinely looks like a lot of fun. That being said, there are certain presentational upgrades coming to the game, as shown in both the audio and graphical experiences.
Before I get into the graphics, though, let me talk a little bit about the revamped audio, which is looking great. It all started with the debut of a brand new, world premiere of an Eminem song called “Survival”, that was awesome, and is going to be included as a part of his new album. Eminem even showed up a little bit via pre-recorded video to advertise his song and new album.
I was really, really impressed by the overall sound design in Call of Duty: Ghosts as it pertains to the next-gen versions of the game. I’m not sure if the current-gen versions will also include these audio upgrades or not, but we will find out when the game releases on November 5th. In the meantime, the audio definitely feels next-gen, even if the graphics do not.
The reasons I was impressed with the audio are many, but let me just sift through it all real quick. For one, it was really impressive how the sound of gunfire changed based on location. In metallic rooms, the guns actually sound like they are being fired in a metal room. In rooms with lots of carpet, the gunfire sounds appropriate there as well. All of this is called the new “reverb” technology, which the audio designer stressed is next-gen, even though I think it will also be included in the current-gen versions of the game as well.
Another new audio feature is the reactive emitters. These things are placed on objects by the audio designers so that objects will react appropriately when rocked by explosions.
However, I was most impressed by the improved vocational chatter in multiplayer. Featured in Call of Duty games since the beginning, it’s always been really cool in Call of Duty single-player campaigns for partner AI to yell out the location of enemies based on what landmarks they are standing by. That feature is now making its way to multiplayer, and it looked (er, sounded?) excellent in the presentation.
Despite the graphics not looking like an eighth-gen game, there are still some obvious upgrades. The game will run at 60 frames per second across all systems. There is some new destructibility in the environments, albeit not at the same level of destruction as Battlefield 4, mind you. There are also “dynamic maps” as well, though I will get into that a bit later when I start talking about the maps.
New animations and gameplay mechanics are how you can tell that Ghosts is a visual and under the hood upgrade from its predecessors. There is a new contextual leaning system that allows you to peak around the corners of cover, and it does this without forcing any awkward button combinations.
A “mantling system” is also in place to allow fluid traversal over and under objects in the environment without losing momentum or slowing down the gameplay. The knee slide, which has also been talked about before this presentation, looks great in action. Knifing players is actually accomplished with a full-blown stabbing animation this time around, which should make knifing in the game feel more balanced. In Call of Duty games, knifing has always felt over-powered or nerfed, so hopefully they finally have found a way to make it seem fair.
It was teased before the big multiplayer reveal today, but we finally got a full blown look at how Squads will work in Call of Duty: Ghosts. The 10 different multiplayer characters are all part of your own Squad, and you earn Squad Points in multiplayer to purchase new weapons and other customization options. This means that you can choose what to unlock and in what order to unlock it.
Squads itself is a brand new game mode that will support solo, competitive, and co-op gameplay. In the competitive version of Squads, called Squad vs. Squad, players will be able to control one member of their Squad and bring the rest as AI companions against another human player and their team of bots. Players can also choose to face a team comprised entirely of bots with their own bot team.
Earning XP in Squads will translate to the rest of the multiplayer modes, so you can even earn XP for your multiplayer character when playing the game offline. Of course, all this focus on bots wouldn’t work if the game didn’t have good AI, and apparently Call of Duty: Ghosts has really revamped AI technology.
In this installment, bots will play based on what weapons they have equipped. So if one of your bots has a sniper, they will play like any normal player would using the sniper. Same for shotguns and any other weapon in the game. Bots will also play like real players, as they can camp, drop-shot, and do other things that real players do.
Other game modes in Squads includes Wargames, which is where each player chooses five members of their Squad and faces other players. Safeguard is a four-player co-op wave based mode in Squad that is based on Survival from Modern Warfare 3. It separates itself from Modern Warfare 3′s Survival Mode because it also features all the mechanics and elements that are used in the multiplayer mode, such as Pointstreaks.
Finally, there is also a six-player co-op mode for Squads as well. All of these game modes can be played both online or off.
New game types
A quick scroll through various game types revealed all the favorite Call of Duty multiplayer game types are returning, including Infected and many others. That being said, all the focus was on two new game types (there will be seven new game types total in the final package), which both looked like a lot of fun to play overall.
The first I will talk about is Cranked. In Cranked, every time you get a kill, there is a 30 second timer. You then have to get a kill before the 30 seconds runs out, or else you blow up. Getting kills while in “Cranked” mode will give you new perks all designed around making your player character faster, such as the returning perk Sleight of Hand.
The other new game type that had a big focus at the presentation was Search and Rescue. This game mode is a twist on the traditional Search and Destroy game mode. Whenever you die in this mode, you will drop dogtags. If a teammate picks up your dogtag, then you can respawn. If an enemy picks up your dogtag, you are permanently dead for that round like traditional Search and Destroy. It feels like a combination of Search and Destroy and Kill Confirmed, and it looks like a lot of fun to be perfectly honest.
One of my biggest gripes about Modern Warfare 3 was how boring and lifeless the maps felt, whereas other Call of Duty games usually feature maps with a lot of personality. Ghosts features maps that seem to have personality in spades, which was very comforting for me.
We got a few glimpses at a new snow map that seemed to feature both the countryside as well as a small village. As a sucker for snow levels, this map appealed to me the most. We also got to see an entire game played out on the Strike Zone map, which seemed like a more traditional “city” map, plus there was a map taking place in a destroyed building.
The map that seemed to get the most focus was Octane. Also set in a city, this map is based around a gas station. It was across these maps that we got to see the “dynamic” aspect of the maps in action. Yes, these maps feature a level of destructibility, though scripted, and it looks fun.
For example, in Octane, players can blow up the gas station. They can also blow up select sections of wall. In the destroyed building level, a player was on an elevator, another player threw a C4 on it, and then blew up the elevator and the player on it, causing the elevator wires to snap and for it to crash to the floor below.
These maps will feature other dynamic events and set pieces that seem pulled from the single player campaign of Call of Duty. Set pieces have always been a big part of the Call of Duty single player experience, so we’ll see how well they translate to the multiplayer experience of the game as well, especially with other games in the future using similar mechanics, especially Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall.
One particularly impressive sequence saw a couple of players enter a bus that was dangling off a cliff. An enemy team member used an awesome rocket launcher that fired two missiles at once, which then smashed into the bus, causing it and the players inside to fall off the cliff.
In addition, there will be care packages just hidden around the maps for some of the game types. This will throw a brand new wrinkle into the CoD multiplayer experience and I’m excited to see how more chaotic this makes each match. The level of unpredictability hasn’t been this high in a long while for Call of Duty.
Don’t forget about Gamescom!
Next week is Gamescom, and there will be even more to learn about Call of Duty: Ghosts from that event. To close out their presentation, Activision made sure the press in attendance was going to leave with good things to say about their game. Every member in the audience received the Prestige Edition of the game for free.
If you want to get a free edition of the Prestige version of the game, which comes with an HD wearable camera as demonstrated by CollegeHumor’s Jake and Amir, then you have to be one of the first 100 people to try out the multiplayer in one of the cities where Activision is hosting its “world tour” starting in California today, then moving on to Moscow, Russia, Sydney, Australia, and various other countries, mainly around the UK and the rest of Europe. Obviously, that includes Cologne, Germany next week.
Ghosts will also have the return of the Season Pass, which will grant players four DLC packs. The Season Pass will also transfer to next-generation systems if you purchase it on current-gen first. Those that purchase the Season Pass will also get the Team Leader Pack, which contains exclusive downloadable multiplayer characters and other DLC content. There will be a Hardened and Prestige edition of the game to serve as the Collector’s Editions as well.
Finally, the Call of Duty Endowment program, a program that Activision runs which focuses on finding quality jobs for troops when they return home will continue. Dogtags based on Call of Duty: Ghosts will be sold at various retailers that players can purchased for $4.99 with 100% of the proceeds going to the Endowment program, which Activision itself has already donated $10 million to.
Call of Duty: Ghosts releases on November 5th, 2013 for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game will release alongside the launch of those consoles.
* * *
I wasn’t sold on Call of Duty: Ghosts until this presentation. Now I can’t wait to get my hands on all the new multiplayer modes and types. Call of Duty: Ghosts seems to have a pretty underwhelming single-player experience, but the new innovations and improvements in multiplayer are convincing me to enlist again.
Stay tuned for Gamescom next week for more on Call of Duty: Ghosts, and also keep an eye out for our multiplayer reveal feature on Grand Theft Auto V when Rockstar pulls the curtain back on that game on August 15th!