Multiplayer: Make it Yours
Regardless of how much emphasis the marketing team put on the campaign with posters and trailers, multiplayer is still where most people are going to spend the vast majority of their time. Just like its single player, Call of Duty: Ghosts’ multiplayer plays it very safe and delivers a tight, solid, and almost overwhelmingly familiar outing that is hurt by the feeling that it could and should have been so much more. The multiplayer suite is anchored on a largely expanded pool of customization options. Players start out by choosing one of their ten squad members (which we’ll talk about later) to customize, name, and designate a specialization for which determines what equipment, weapons, and perks they’ll start out with unlocked. Squad points are unlocked through play that can be used to unlock new squad members to customize (each one levels up and earns points independently from the rest), weapons attachments, perks, killstreaks, and everything else you’ll need to send the opposition to their makers.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the choices are staggering. There are an absolutely ridiculous amount of choices to choose from to the point that I spend a good half hour just scrolling through everything trying to plan the best ways to synergize my options. The perks are what have received the biggest boost, now numbering at a whopping 35. Luckily they’re divided into categories (perks for stealth, speed, awareness, etc.), so beginners can at least be pointed in the right direction while they learn what they really want. The staggering number of options, paired with nice visual customization options allowing you to tweak clothing and gender, is perhaps the thing that Ghosts gets the most right. The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way, and this might be more personal preference than a legitimate problem, is that every weapon and piece of equipment is available to be purchased from the get go. I bought one or two things in the beginning that I haven’t really used, but for the most part I knew what I wanted, saved up enough in a few hours of gameplay, and haven’t had much motivation to unlock things since. I understand Infinity Ward wants to give players what they want so they can have fun and not be at a disadvantage, but it used to provide quite the thrill and sense of accomplishment when I’d finally level up enough to get the AK-47, RPG, PPSh-41, or whatever my favorite gun in that respective game was. That drive is gone.
Maps and Modes
From a technical standpoint Call of Duty: Ghosts’ multiplayer is still as silky smooth as it’s ever been. It consistently held a high frame rate, the weapons are generally balanced very well, and only very rarely was there a disconnect from what I saw on my screen and what the kill-cam showed after my death. However, a game can be as technically solid as it wants, but if there aren’t fun game modes and maps to play on, it’s all for naught. The maps in Ghosts are, in my opinion, better than they have been the last few years, but are a mixed bag in terms of aesthetic appeal. Almost all of the maps do a nice job of being vertically multi-layered and naturally anti-camping, which is nice. In my eyes one sign of a good map is if confrontations don’t always happen at the same place every time you’re on the map. Luckily this isn’t a problem, as conflict “fronts” are constantly fluid and moving. Unfortunately some of the locales are disappointingly uninspired in their visual design.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few awesome maps like the earthquake-shattered Chasm with one of the best backdrops I can remember in a Call of Duty game, the decimated Flooded which is, unsurprisingly, a city half underwater following the destruction of a dam, and Free Fall, which has players battling in the close quarters of a half-knocked-over skyscraper. Unfortunately many of the rest fall into the generic “war torn urban sprawl” cliché. The campaign has a lot of cool locales that would make for some great ways to mix up combat, but they’re ignored. Remember that awesome space station segment I mentioned before? Why not a map that takes place partially in the space station with normal combat, and partially outside of it where gravity gets thrown out the window? Why not incorporate some of the underwater combat that I had so much fun with in the story? It’s also worth noting that while the game has been promoting the changes that happen to various maps during games, the changes are largely inconsequential. In a world where games like Battlefield 4 let you take down an entire skyscraper, the lack of being able to affect the environment in meaningful, unscripted ways seems more outdated now than ever. Again, the maps aren’t bad, it’s just yet another case of the game playing it safe where it could have really pushed itself into new and exciting territory.
Gameplay is still as slick and responsive as it’s ever been, there are some legitimately cool campaign moments, and player customization is deeper than ever.
Missing multiplayer and campaign features make it feel like a step back in some ways, the campaign lacks a memorable story or characters, and coop modes are less impressive than they have been in the past.