Call of Duty: Ghosts’ first DLC pack ‘Onslaught’ shows a desire to shake up the typical map-pack format, but is it enough to get the punters paying?
The DLC landscape has changed drastically over the years. Just look at the MMO space; with its seasonal events and constantly rolling updates that offer real change, often without any additional charge. In this climate you have to wonder how much longer the simple map-pack can endure. After playing Onslaught I get the feeling Infinity Ward has given this issue some thought.
In my Call of Duty: Ghosts appraisal, I suggested that the studio had taken a running jump back into Black Ops 2’s shadow. I felt Treyarch really did try to inject some much-needed ‘new’ into the franchise, such as a branching campaign, removal of killstreaks, total overhaul of Create-a-Class and more. It was quite brave given how entrenched the series has become.
What’s more, I felt that the Black Ops 2 DLC season was enjoyable, with maps largely comprised of new assets spread across some wild new locations, like the active volcano site of Magma or paintball arena Rush. Say what you will about Treyarch, it was at least trying to give you something more for your money. Does Onslaught, the first of four Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC packs carry on this trend, or has it delivered another quick set of maps at the behest of real value?
Well, Infinity Ward’s content actually does come with a host of new mechanics ranging from simple interactive map features, to elements that really do change the pace of the game. However, I still feel many gamers have grown tired of shelling out for a new season of content every year, and I get that, honestly I do. I agree that it’s becoming a tiresome feature in gaming, but as I often say; no one’s forcing you to buy it.
So yes; new maps!
I’d say this is Onslaught’s best new map, as it has all the ingredients for a fierce gunfight. Set in a South American town, both teams start on either side of a ravine flanked by homes, bars and stores. You can choose to walk into the gorge and climb up the other side, or you can run over the bridge at the map’s center. The caveat is a radioactive truck parked bang in the middle. Go anywhere near the vehicle and the nuclear material will scramble your radar, even if you have Off the Grid or Incog equipped.
See what I mean? It’s a new mechanic in a Call of Duty DLC map. Granted, it’s a small gameplay tweak, but it beats the same old arenas over and over again. If someone manages to complete their field order on this map they can also call in an air-strike that destroys the bridge and truck completely. I know because I was stupid enough to still be standing on it when it was evaporated. Nugget.
When this happens you have no choice but to go long range or risk your life running across the ravine floor. The middle of the map essentially becomes a kill-zone with snipers lining each ridge, entering players into a classic long-distance exchange. That aside, you can breach and clear new paths through structures using C4, even if you don’t have it in your loadout. Containment feels like an old-school map, and a well-designed one at that.
This is the map with Michael Meyers in it. Basically, he’s a re-skinned knife Maniac that can be called in by completing a field order. Once you collect the care package reward your avatar will be transformed to Meyers, triggering the iconic Halloween movie soundtrack over the map. I’ll admit; there’s a genuine feeling of ‘Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,’ once you hear that music playing and you see the killer sprinting towards you, but it hasn’t happened often so far.
I actually managed to become Meyers on launch day, and I did feel quite sadistic running around at lightning speed, killing soldiers with my axe. You can take a ton of damage before you die and you can see gadgets through walls, but the catch is that your health won’t regenerate. It’s a mild thrill, and another new mechanic, but it feels drastically out-of-place in Ghosts. Had it been something to do with Black Ops 2’s Zombies mode then I could get on board, but Meyer’s inclusion and the horror-themed Fog map itself feels odd.
Visually, it’s a river swamp full of human remains, spooky shacks, jack-o-lanterns and sacrificial altars. If it were Halloween right now then it would have made sense, but I’m still working off my Christmas turkey. The map has a lot of snaking corridors in the middle, and wider areas around the sides for mid-to-long range play, while in the north you’ll find a fisherman’s cabin that gives a height advantage. It’s an appreciated concept, and a decent enough map, but it really doesn’t feel at home in Ghosts.
This is a remake of Modern Warfare 2’s ‘Scrapyard,’ appearing here as an abandoned ODIN launch site. The map lay-out changes slightly over time thanks to a rocket that randomly takes off mid-round. The vessel explodes shortly after take-off, raining down fuselage components that will crush anyone in their way and open up new paths. From there you can trigger a pair of jet engines around the environment that block off routes and burn players in the area, acting a little bit like Guardian turrets in Black Ops 2.
Overall, it’s Scrapyard with some new interactive elements, lots of overgrown foliage for snipers to blend into and that familiar sense of tug-of-war gameplay from Modern Warfare 2. The middle-ground is still fiercely contested, and the jet engines add some new tactical options into the mix. It’s certainly better than a classic map re-skin, that’s for sure.
Another map with ‘new’ moving parts, BayView’s coastal promenade features a constantly-patrolling tramcar that trundles around one half of the map’s border. I’ve seen many players lying prone inside as a way of getting around the map undetected, and passengers popped their head up to kill me on more than one occasion. Also; each of the map’s shops feature metal detectors that ring out whenever a player enters or leaves, which is useful for detecting threats.
It’s a good map, full of elevated vantage points, tight stores, wider plazas and a key sniper spot outside a lighthouse. The field order reward here is supposedly a naval bombardment from the coast, but I’m yet to see it in action. Otherwise, it’s another serviceable map that tries to do something new to a point, even if the tram isn’t exactly innovative. Still, points for trying of course.
I didn’t include Extinction mode in my Call of Duty: Ghosts appraisal last year due to time issues, but I do like Infinity Ward’s spin on the wave-based Zombies format. Set 14 weeks after the Colorado Cryptid incident, Nightfall sees you and up to three mates summoned to a snowy research compound by a distress signal sent by operative Samantha Cross. It becomes clear after the first few seconds that the facility is swarming with alien sods.
Similar to the first chapter, Nightfall sees you drilling Cryptid hives into powder while fending off waves of attackers, earning money for each kill. As before, cash can be spent on weapons, traps, turrets and other unlockables to help tip the fight in your favour, while the inclusion of bonus cash – earned by meeting challenges such as keeping the group’s accuracy above 75% for a full drilling round – helps inject another layer of teamwork into each play-through.
My group never made it past the second area, as the map quickly becomes overrun by Scorpions, Scouts and Seekers, but I wanted to keep playing and get a little bit further. In fact, I think I like this better than Zombies as it’s much clearer to understand, and you don’t need to die many times before figuring out the best order in which to do things. It’s simple horde-mode play, and it doesn’t ask much of you. Most importantly it has a narrative, which makes it feel more weighty than the multiplayer maps.
Lastly, Onslaught’s new DLC weapon is the Maverick, a ferocious bastard of an assault rifle that’s brutal at short-range. It packs high-velocity rounds that basically means it has a fast fire-rate, but without the insane kick-back you get from some SMGs, and it’s also stable at long range so I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot when you next hop online. You’ll also find a Maverick at the very start of Nightfall if you want to test it out on some Cryptids.
While each of Onslaught’s maps do add new mechanics into the mix, they’re hardly ground-breaking. I’m not a stick in the mud, but the Meyer’s thing – to me – felt a bit silly and out of place. You may enjoy it, and that’s fine. We’re in that familiar territory again where people are thirsty to see Call of Duty enter a mass evolution, but many of them don’t want the series to change beyond recognition.
We can’t have it both ways unfortunately, so for now, these small incremental changes will have to suffice. I certainly wasn’t offended by any of the new mechanics here, but even as a long-time Call of Duty fan I can’t exactly go around saying they’re mould-breaking. That’s for you, the paying consumers to decide. The real meat of the DLC is Nightfall thanks to its advancement of the Extinction story, but is that what you’d be buying Onslaught for?
Mull it over and let us know what you think below.