E3: Call of Duty: Ghosts First Impressions


“Call of Duty” is an unstoppable force in the gaming world now. They’ve released a new game annually for years now and it doesn’t look like that will change. The latest entry in the franchise, subtitled “Ghosts,” will be released this November and it’s trying to take the combat for the game into new territory.

The story for Call of Duty: Ghosts positions players in an original story with all new characters in a brand new world. The campaign will pick up 10 years after a catastrophic event has decimated the United States and the player, along with his older brother and their dog Riley, will be recruited into a new organization known as “The Ghosts.”

Before allowing us to see some levels from the game, Activision showed off a handful of in-game situations to show the changes to the graphics and textures in the game. Using their newly designed “Displacement Mods,” textures will be even more life-like than previous titles. Instead of seeing flat rocks and ground fixtures, these will stick out into the level. It’s a pretty interesting process that makes the environments feel more real. The most interesting thing they’ve done in regard to the envirornment and how it affects the player is in the lighting. With the new engine in the game, if a player goes from a dark area to a light area the screen will change as your eyes would in a real life situation. It’s a nice little detail that makes the game feel a little bit more real.

The first level we were shown saw the player and his brother returning to their home in San Diego. As they traverse through the foliage, you realize that the path they’re traveling through used to be a suburban neighborhood and has since become desolate and taken over by nature. As the level started, the player took control of their dog to take out some enemy combatants blocking the path. This aspect of the game is one of the newest gameplay options for “Ghosts” and it’s quite strange. Yes, dogs have a place in special forces missions, and giving the player control of the dog is one way to go about it, but in a series that has worked so hard to create new experiences with each game, it seems like a step down.

As the level continued, it became clear how much the campaign relies on the player to be stealthy. “Call of Duty” has never been a good judge of subtlety, but it would appear that players should at least try and remain unseen for the duration of the levels, even though they have a dog. The level design is pretty clever with a few glaring errors, such as why would a ten-year-old and ruined home have perfectly beautiful picture frames sitting on the wall? It might seem like a small complaint, but when the company has spent this much time making a world that looks as broken as this, you’d think they’d notice the picture frames.

The second level we were shown is the next big innovation for “Ghosts.” Previous games in the “Call of Duty” franchise have had moments underwater, but “Ghosts” will have entire levels where the player must navigate through the water in a scuba suit. This particular level saw the players targeting a missile silo just off the coast of South America. Once again, the environments in the game look great and the mission once again calls for the player to remain largely undetected, but the underwater combat doesn’t appear to be as fun as the large scale and explosive battles of games in the past.

The biggest disappointment of the presentation was the total lack of any information for “Ghosts” multiplayer. Arguably the main selling factor for the series, and yet not a peep was spoken. It’s not too out of the box to think that the dog controlling and underwater sequences will find their way into the multiplayer for “Ghosts,” but is that actually something that gamers want to do?

“Call of Duty” appears to have run out of ideas. After having revolutionized first person shooters with “Modern Warfare” and “Black Ops,” there’s not a lot of places left to go and it shows. The new gameplay elements seem cool but will likely get a less than enthusiastic response from hardcore fans. “Ghosts’” only advantage to welcoming new players is its stand-alone story mode, though nothing else appears to be in place to lure newcomers to the franchise. Frankly I’m a little worried about it.

You can watch the gameplay videos that were released during E3 below: