Infinity Ward boss Mark Rubin says the character creation system in general represents the “biggest overhaul since the original Modern Warfare”. Perhaps the most eye-catching change is the addition of female characters to the avatar roster. One for the history books, surely, and we’re looking forward to picking Rubin’s brains about that in an interview.
You’ll be able to mix and match character heads, body types and headgear to create your very own soldier – Activision promises there are over 20,000 possible combinations. The game has also adopted an equipment customisation system similar to the “Pick 10” variant Treyarch used for Black Ops 2. You’ll spend points from a budget on weapons, perks and the like, with no restrictions according to category, which leaves more scope for the creation of oddities such as characters with 10 perks and no secondaries. Attachments and killstreaks can be equipped free of charge, however.
There are around 30 new weapons, including a brand new weapon class known as the Marksman rifle, which “bridges the gap between sniper and assault class”. Essentially, Marksman rifles can be used as scoped semi-auto sniping weapons, or ironsight-based assault rifles. Infinity Ward has put together some fancy dual render scopes, which show the view around the scope and through it simultaneously – allowing you to sight on a target without sacrificing peripheral vision.
There are over 20 new killstreaks, including Juggernaut Maniac – which drops a heavily armoured Juggernaut into the field, for a brief, blistering advantage – and Odin Strike, which appears to be an air bombardment thing of some kind. You can also call in Ghosts single player character Riley to act as a guard dog – he’ll follow you around eating people, and growl when enemies are near.
It’s possible to earn streaks by completing objectives, rather than just by killing. There will be fewer air-based killstreaks and more “visceral, in your face” ones, which means you can take out air attackers without special equipment. Infinity Ward’s also done away with deathstreaks and come up with a new levelling currency, Squad Points, which allow players to shortcut the default unlocks ladder if there’s a particular weapon, perk or whatever they’re interested in.
In terms of how it all handles, there’s now a contextual lean system which kicks in unprompted when you approach a corner. It’s possible to mantle objects, and you can knee-slide from a sprint to a crouch or prone. All this essentially “enhances the experience and controls you already know”.
Activision took a moment to focus on audio, which has been substantially improved – or so we’re told. You’ll now experience different levels of weapon reverb based on where you are and whether you’re aiming down the sights – shooting somebody in a carpeted room won’t sound like shooting somebody in a prison cell. Less cosmetically, there’s now locational backchatter – allies will tell you when they spot somebody near a landmark, for instance, rather than simply sounding off whenever they kill an enemy.
Those who pride themselves on their map knowledge might want to sit a little straighter, because Call of Duty: Ghosts’ maps are chock-full of destructible elements. There’s one called Octane, for instance, where you can blow up a gas station to create new cover spots, or mine certain second floor walls to dislodge snipers. It’s possible to change the geographical chemistry of a map by using certain killstreaks. It doesn’t look like there’s a realistic terrain deformation system, a la Battlefield – you’re just triggering scripted events, in essence. There appear to be plenty such options, however.
There are seven new modes, including Search and Rescue, Cranked and Squads. Search and Rescue is like Search and Destroy, but you can revive people by claiming their dogtags and stop the enemy doing likewise by collecting theirs. Cranked is like Team Deathmatch, except every time you nail a kill you’ll get faster – at the cost of being lumbered with a countdown that’ll detonate yo’ ass if you don’t claim another kill in time.
Squads is a complex beast. It essentially lets you run 10 characters side by side in multiplayer, levelling them up in tandem. This keys into a set of multiplayer game modes which can be enjoyed offline against ‘bots or online, and thus together constitute a sort of glorified Training Mode with character development elements.
In Squad vs Squad, for instance, it’s you versus another player’s group. In Wargame, it’s five of your chaps versus an advanced AI team. Safeguard is a four player co-op affair comparable to Survival in Modern Warfare 3. Experience earned in these matches counts towards your general multiplayer progress.
To facilitate Squads, Infinity Ward has sharpened up the game’s AI. Computer characters will now corner camp, jump shot and drop shot among other previously humans-only techniques, and will behave differently depending on what you equip them with.
Last but not least, Activision has put together a new tablet and smartphone app which ties into the next iteration of the Call of Duty: Elite platform (one account can be used on both the current and next generation console versions). You’ll be able to browse your prestige level, stats and so forth on the go; it’s also possible to communicate with clan members, pick partners for upcoming multiplayer sessions and customise your emblem using a phone.
There’s a new mobile meta-game called Clan Wars, which pairs off clans every two weeks against similarly skilled rivals of more or less the same size. You’ll be given a territory (represented by a single map) to fight over in-game, and the conqueror will earn XP bonuses and unlockables like camos and helmets. Once the two week period is up, the team with the most points wins and everybody starts again.
That’s pretty much it in terms of the core gameplay stuff. Activision also confirmed a Call of Duty: Ghosts Season pass, which spans four map packs and the exclusive Ghosts Team Leader character for multiplayer. You won’t need to buy a second Pass should you upgrade to the Xbox One version of the game – the content is tied to your Xbox Live account