I’ll be the first to admit it: the Call of Duty Advanced Warfare’s DLC schedule was off to a rocky start. The retail version of the game was fantastic, and each of the included multiplayer maps were likewise great. So it was an odd feeling when we were underwhelmed with Havoc, the first DLC set. Sure, it had creepy clowns and a zombies mode headlined by John Malkovich and Bill Paxton…it just didn’t feel as fantastic as the core maps.
Ascendance delivers on nearly every level: it not only introduces a new gun, four new maps and a zombies chapter, it also ushers in a new “grapple” mode which replaces your Exo ability with a rechargeable grappling hook. Not surprisingly, all of the included maps benefit from having a grappling hook–and though it isn’t necessary for survival, it certainly is FUN!
Like the previous DLC set, Ascendance also comes with a new weapon: the OHM hybrid. When jumping into any of the Ascendance maps, the OHM (and OHM Werewolf) are clearly the new fan favorites, and you’ll see more lasers than bullets flying around the screen. Plus, with a quick press of the D-pad, you can alternate between SMG-type fire and an automatic shotgun. Only, y’know, with laaaasers! I swear, the matches look like classic G.I. Joe episodes…maybe next DLC will include red and blue laser options? Also, in regards to the OHM, I wouldn’t be surprised if it got Nerfed in the future, as it’s clearly the most versatile, and at times, overpowered gun in the game.
Most of the maps are unique this time around, and they feature the same time-based shifting mechanic. In Climate, you battle through a bio-dome-y enclosure, and halfway through the match, there’s a system override which turns all of the previously splashable streams and ponds into acid baths. Similarly, the five-storey, vertical-combat map Perplex features drones flying in and dropping modular apartments into the map, forcing you to make new movement choices. The other two maps, Site 244 and Chop Shop, are interesting…but were clearly designed around objective-based play, such as domination. That being said, all of the maps in Ascendance are essentially designed primarily as objective maps…Chop Shop just comes off as generic, while Site 244 sports gorgeous visuals; but both of them are choke-point intensive. Once you’ve figured out the key choke points, you’ll be racking up kills in no time.
The second chapter of the Exo Zombies series, “Infection” comes bundled with this pack as well, and instead of being confined to the Atlas facility, our intrepid team of…er…John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Jon Bernthal and Rose McGowan are confined to the Easter Egg-y Burger Town. This time around, there are massive zombies (and doggies) to deal with, and for whatever reason, the zombies are extra terrifying this time around, as they cluster and often serve to isolate you from your teammates. Plus, the map will occasionally populate survivors who must be escorted to an extraction point; saved civilians means a weapon upgrade for you. It’s definitely an interesting new addition, and since the survivor spawn points are random, it’s always fresh. As with the previous chapter, survival is all about who you pick to team up with, as lone wolves will get cut down quickly. Seriously. Nobody likes a jackass who keeps getting themselves killed trying to run around and freestyle–it’s about survival, so stick together. Yeah yeah, we know: Rose McGowan sounds all orgasm-y when she’s getting attacked. It’s still not worth being down a player!
All in all, Infection brings a big “oomph” of content that was missing somewhat from the first DLC set. If you were on the fence about picking up a pack, it might be wise to start with Ascendance. And if this is an indicator of how the sets are progressing, we can’t wait to see what’s due out in June!