Tuesday 24 April 2018

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - What it means for eSports

Damien Gill

The Gamescom 2014 Call of Duty event revealed a radically different multiplayer experience, that will have serious implications for the Call of Duty eSports scene.

The latest instalment of the record breaking Call of Duty franchise has been long flagged for release by Activision and their new developer company, Sledgehammer Games. Part of a new three year game development policy, where Activision have three different companies working on three different Call of Duty games at the same time, when Sledgehammer release Call of Duty: Advanced War later this year, the next game we see from this company will be sometime in 2017. It’s a great idea and gives each development company plenty of time to develop new and fresh ideas for the franchise, rather than rushing through simple upgrades and hastily designed new maps each year.

It is with this new approach that the player base of both casual and eSports collectively held their breathes and thought it’s squeaky bum time, as the World Premiere of multiplayer footage and game mechanics was revealed during Gamescom 2014. Sledgehammer Games definitely delivered.

However, the jury is still out as the major new update introduces the concept of an 'ExoSuit' and the brand new idea of verticality with boost jumps, even though this has been around since the days of Halo and more recently Titanfall. None the less, it has turned the competitive eSports scene a bit on its head trying to determine what perks and upgrades will be banned and how to deal with old game modes with completely different in game abilities. The response has been very mixed to say the least with some aghast at the changes and others relishing the challenge.

The truth is that Sledgehammer Games are massive supporters of the eSports scene at large, and in particular competitive Call of Duty games.They have brought back favourite game modes and features for the eSports community that include:

•        Hardpoint and Capture the Flag

•        Round-based Domination

•        Broadcaster Mode now features an expanded Oracle mode

•        Ranked playlists

•        LAN lobbies

•        Private match rule-set value slider

Which is a relief for fans of competitive Call of Duty and I’m sure was massively guided by Activision themselves, given that Call of Duty eSports has grown to be one of the most viewed and most attended competition events ever and its popularity continues to grow. Let us not forget that Infinity Ward, the developers of Call of Duty: Ghosts promised to deliver on the eSports front as well, but only offered up a mediocre set of features and games. The Call of Duty eSports scene is very excited by the release of the details above.

View the reveal trailer below:

Although Sledgehammer Games hasn’t released the full set of eSports features for Advanced Warfare yet, the ones they have released are all very important in the further establishment and growth of Call of Duty eSports. As the developers at Sledgehammer have been keen to show, they seem to have a keen grasp on what features, modes and maps should be in a game for eSports viewers and players. In fact, Sledgehammer has been readily engaged with the competitive community in discussing their wants and needs, which brings us to the return of League Play.

If you are new to the Call of Duty series League Play was essentially a ranked playlist mode, where players of the game competed in six different skill level tiers with the highest being Master Division. The playlist revolved mainly around small tight map and helped greatly to cement together the community of Call of Duty eSports players. It has been a feature that has been greatly missed by the community since it was announced at the launch of Ghosts that the playlist would not be present.

Details are still not fully clear on what the list will contain as all Sledgehammer Games announced was “ranked playlists”, a big indicator of what is to come. More information on Advanced Warfare will start to come in spades soon enough over the next few weeks and months as Activision and Sledgehammer really start gearing up for the release. So far things are looking very promising for Advanced Warfare and Call of Duty eSports which is only a good thing, right?

Damien Gill, eSports.ie

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