Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare arrived last year, and Havoc is the first in a suite of DLC packs for the game. Does it measure up to it’s predecessors? Welllllll…kinda.
Let’s start by examining the multiplayer maps: Sideshow, Core, Drift and Urban. The one thing I can absolutely say about all four of these maps, is that they’re clearly skewed towards objective-based game modes. Sure, you can play ‘em all as team deathmatch, deathmatch and kill confirmed…but the only one that ever feels satisfying while deathmatching is Drift. All of the others are seemingly custom built for the other modes, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing–it’s just not doing justice to the in-box offerings.
Sideshow is a large map that’s spread out over a sprawling lot that was once the site of Clown Inn–a carnival-themed motel. Oh yeah, if you’re skeeved out by clowns, you’ll probably want to steer clear of this map. It’s also a camper’s paradise, which features several long rooftops with plenty of signage to hide behind. Much like Fog from COD: Ghosts, I found myself getting capped because I was distracted by the extreme detail the designers put into the level. The center of the motel is a guaranteed shit-show, since there are almost always snipers camped up on rooftops. Luckily, there are massive holes in the walls, so you can traverse the map with a slight amount of cover. No matter what part of the map you’re in, you’ll see creepy, life-size clowns that might have a decaying body inside them, weird garages with more dead clowns, and a low-rent, white trash fireworks show Killstream that’s simply to diiiiiie for!
Drift is another “kill corridor” map, like Sideshow, which almost forces you to navigate it’s terrain by ducking through buildings. It takes place in a ski-resort town in the Rocky Mountains, and features shops, hotel rooms and a rotating central carousel which brave players can camp at. Of course, the carousel is the easiest, and least defended location on the map, so once you’re spotted, getting blasted isn’t just a possibility: it’s a guarantee. Like previous maps, there are plenty of raised platforms and windows which give unparallelled access to the central kill corridor…so you’ll want to keep to the sides. The Killstreak in this map is an avalanche, which will bury not only opposing players, but a big part of the map, making it relatively inaccessible.
Core takes place in a deserted dessert (see what I did there!?) fusion plant, with plenty of ventricular corridors which lead to a central turbine. There are lots of decaying structures surrounding the turbine itself, and each outer edge provides a ridiculous amount of sight lines and camping spaces. So unlike the other two, the key to survival is sticking to the corridors and the central turbine. This is the most annoying of the three maps, because campers tend to post up in prone positions on the raised outer platforms…and it doesn’t help that 2/3 or more of your spawns will occur on the outer “ring” of the map, which often will put you straight into the crosshairs of campers and snipers. Of course, it makes for an extremely interesting mechanics, especially when playing Uplink. The killstreak bonus in Core is a “decontamination drone” which flits around the map, attacking enemies for you.
Lastly, Urban. I saved it for the end, because I have an insane love/hate relationship with this map. It starts out in “Lockdown” mode, which compressed the map into a ridiculously small area. The first time playing it, I immediately thought of Derek Zoolander saying “what is this…a map for ants? It’s need to be at least two times bigger!” It’s an absolute, all-out shit-show for the first three to four minutes, until the lockdown is lifted, and the rest of the map opens up. There are also hoverbikes nearby…but you can’t use ‘em, which is the biggest letdown of all. Still, there are elements of classic maps from old FPS titles (think Facing Worlds for Unreal Tournament on a wayyyyy smaller scale), so I ended up warming up to it after awhile.
Havoc also features a new weapon, the AE4: a directed-energy assault rifle (and it’s modified version, the AE4 Widowmaker) which will remind older players of the laser rifles from the old-school G.I. Joe cartoons (sidenote: Sledgehammer should release a customization pack that makes the guns sound like G.I. Joe cartoon guns…I’d TOTALLY buy that). It’s a snazzy addition, but I won’t be surprised if it ends up getting nerfed in the long run: it’s long-range damage is the highest yet in the game, and is brutal up close. If you’re playing on next-gen, be sure to aim where the two sight bars intersect, as the calibration is slightly off.
Lastly, Havoc heralds the return of the Zombies mode with Exo Zombies. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll likely love the updated version, which features zombies in Exo suits that have the ability to damage you via modifier; IE electricity damage, which will force your suit to reboot, or poison damage which will infect your player, forcing them to decontaminate…or die. And if you happen to die while contaminated, your character will turn into a zombie and attack other players (it’s still in spectator mode, but it’s a snazzy addition). The game also features new zombie dogs (because why not!?), and has a fantastic cast in John Malkovich (Oz the janitor), Bill “Game Over, Man” Paxton (Kahn the Atlas exec), Rose McGowan (Lillith the IT specialist) and The Walking Dead’s Jon Berenthal (Decker, the security guard). Each player has geek specific, easter-egg-y dialogue, but all of them handle the same, from a gameplay perspective.
The overarching objective is to power-up all of the map’s generators, thus unlocking the Exo suit terminals, which will allow you to survive to level 25, which is the ultimate goal. If you want to attain the “special” ending, you’ll need to hunt down a series of ID cards by doing a set of ridiculously specific actions. It’s not fun, to be honest, and is pretty much only for bragging rights (and a 50 point achievement on Xbox LIVE). Still, the actual main gameplay can be fun: there is no option to block zombie spawn points, so you’ll be continually inundated after each wave. All weapons are “printed” on a 3D printer, and you can upgrade your gun up to 20 times. There’s the standard variety of bonus drops from enemies, and you’ll occasionally get a snazzy orbital drop of gear or bonuses. And did I mention Malkivich? Oh, I did? he’s worth mentioning AGAIN! Of all the modes and maps in the DLC, Exo Zombies gave me the biggest white-knuckle thrill while playing. And provided that you have a good team at your disposal, it’ll likely do the same for you.