The open segments are great, allowing you to explore and experiment with your high-tech gadgets in the environment. The new freedom also opens up opportunities for you to create memorable moments outside of the scripted set pieces. At one point, I was taking cover from an attacking helicopter and discovered that I could grapple up to it. So I did. Next I was standing in the chopper punching baddies overboard, gunning down the pilots, and jumping out as the aircraft spun out of control and exploded. And the best part was that moment was all me. It wasn't scripted. I wasn't forced into the attacking the helicopter. I was in complete control, and it was totally awesome. The single player definitely brings a few exciting new mechanics and gameplay to the table, despite the underwhelming CoD campaign tropes. But Advanced Warfare still has plenty to offer in its online components.
Sledgehammer's answer to the previous games' Zombies and Extinction modes does just fine, but lacks the creative, four-player charm of its predecessors. As you'd expect, you'll face waves of gun-toting soldiers and upgrade your characters and weapons, fighting to survive for as long as possible with three buddies. But unlike previous CoD co-op, little effort has been made to turn any of this into a unique, tailored experience. It all plays out in the standard multiplayer maps, devoid of any cool, co-op specific items or weapons. The standard for Call of Duty co-op is incredibly high, and with so many fresh ideas coming out of the future setting and player mobility, it's a missed opportunity to find such a low-risk, vanilla co-op offering.
But enough of all of that. Advanced Warfare's competitive multiplayer is where it's at. Everything you'd expect from CoD's online matches is here and then some. The weapons feel weighty, the shooting is precise, and there's plenty to keep you coming back for more. Player customization is huge this time around, allowing you to not only outfit your soldier with dozens of well-balanced weapons, Perks and new Exo abilities, but also swap helmets, fatigues, and boots for a completely unique look. The new loot system creates the most rewarding progression system the series has seen in years, and earning these pieces isn't just a matter of gaining experience, either.
As you're picking up random gear and weapons in the post-game supply drop box, you can find Elite versions of the unlockable weapons, which have specified names and special stats. The intricate skin designs of the Elites--along with the customizable gear--add a ton of personality to your soldier. Also, using a single weapon consistently can earn you a completely different in-game model of that weapon, complete with unique stats and paint job. Everything you do gets you something to personalize your soldier with, and with cooler unlocks, the progression system really sinks its hooks in. There's no escape.
One brand new feature is the ability to add mods to your scorestreaks, which adds a ton of customization to your loadout. You can outfit a UAV to show enemies through walls with every sweep of the radar, add the option to rip a turret off it's stand, and give a Goliath homing rockets all for the cost of a bit more score.
On top of the random loot, temporary gear rewards bring a whole new element to the Prestige grind, allowing you to show off your accomplishments on your character. There's nothing better than displaying the hard-earned Bloodthirsty gear you got from a massive kill streak, or strapping on special sniper goggles you got from a long-range killing spree. Every new element keeps you motivated to jump into another game and earn something else to flaunt. The loot system makes ranking up incredibly rewarding, and I hope it's here to stay.
Most importantly, the exosuit changes everything, affording a major uptick in player mobility. The mechanical enhancement allows you to double-jump high in the air and dash in any direction at any time, completely altering the dynamic of a multiplayer match. The maps play differently than previous CoDs and added modes cater to the newfound aerial freedom. There's the new mode, Uplink--think basketball with guns on a multiplayer map. In it, the freedom of movement makes being the ball carrier an absolute thrill and gives you a fun alternative to blasting everything that moves (at least for a few seconds). Overall, the maps are well-designed, allowing players to take advantage of the high-flying boosts, and giving you plenty of high-rise areas to duck behind for cover or use to pounce on other players.