Call of Duty: Ghosts - Devastation follows up Infinity Ward's Michael Myers cameo with interstellar badass Predator. But even his cackling laughter and mad-skills can't stop the second chapter of Alien Extinction campaign Mayday from feeling like the real meat of the package. Dave Cook gives his impressions.
”The Ruins map itself kicks off something of a theme for Devastation. As the DLC's name suggests, these maps are filled with destruction and decay, and feature environments comprised of multiple, largely thin routes, strung together by the occasional wide area.”
I had a feeling cameos were going to become a regular feature in Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC drops. It's clear the paying public are getting increasingly restless about paying for straight-up map packs with bugger all substance, so it's nice to see Infinity Ward thinking outside of the box. However, chucking out-of-context characters like Predator and Myers into the mix risks these maps feeling more like a gimmick than relevant, solid content.
That's not to say Predator's appearance in new map Ruins isn't welcome of course. The first time you're sprinting across the jungle map and a warning flashes up to say someone has turned into the one ugly motherfucker himself, you'll likely feel a pang of excitement and dare I say it, fear, in your gut. I'm yet to be killed by a Predator player face-to-face, but I have heard him making that croaking sound while stealthily picking off my buddies on the other side of the map.
I did, however, get killed by his self destruct mode. That's right, Predator can sacrifice himself near death by triggering the bomb strapped to his arm. Once active, a countdown appears on the bottom of everyone's screen, followed by that familiar, sinister laughing from the film. Once the digits expire, the whole map is nuked and the opposing team dies. I didn't really care that I was on the receiving end because the madness unfolding before me was actually quite fun. It reminded me of the daft old days of Timesplitters 2 multiplayer which dispensed utter nonsense at its finest.
The Ruins map itself kicks off something of a theme for Devastation. As the DLC's name suggests, these maps are filled with destruction and decay, and feature environments comprised of multiple, largely thin routes, strung together by the occasional wide area. I died often while playing for this write-up due to being blind-sided or by forgetting to get my aim up when entering tight corridors like a chump. Compared to broad locales like the on-disc map Stonehaven, these maps are constricted and dense.
At the heart of Ruins lies a multi-storey temple, that offers vantage points for players to hold and shoot down upon unsuspecting opponents. The water-logged basement is full of short corridors leading to path splits. I'm not joking when I say it's easy to get caught off-guard here, especially with so many forks in the road. Choose the wrong path, and you might find yourself shot from behind by a player coming down the other route. The Oracle and tracker sight work wonders on these maps as a result.
Collision is a complex beast, despite being quite small. It takes place on a freighter that has torn through a suspension bridge, and is heavy with debris and twisted metal girders that make it that little bit harder to pick out enemies at a distance. If you're sure you're six is covered, you can absolutely play a slower, more cautious game on this map. However like Ruins, there are junction points and thin walkways everywhere, so you're probably never too far from a hostile.
Both teams spawn in at either ends of the vessel and as you'd expected there's an open killzone in the middle, with elevated windows at either side to allow for tense exchanges. Although this sounds like a typical Call of Duty map, with freight container mazes and rusting metal rooms, Infinity Ward has done a good job by not reusing assets like crazy, which is something I felt the team deserved praise for in its first map pack Onslaught. It will absolutely punish infinite sprinters unless they're careful.
It's a tough map that leaves players exposed, especially the closer you get to the wider middle section. The holds down below are thin and are similar to the paths in Ruins, but up top you'll find that there's less cover and that each route is noticeably broader than what you're used to. My advice would be to stay elevated and cautious, then pick off anyone down below who happens to be running around like a fool. I'd say that playing it slow and steady will win this particular race.
"Extinction: Episode 2 takes Infinity Ward’s alien-blasting side offering and steers it closer to something that resembles a game in its own right."
The last new map is Behemoth, which is set on a colossal drilling platform. I like this map due to its shape. It's essentially a big circle with two rectangular spawn sections jutting out from either side, and in some ways is the exact opposite to Collision in that the middle is dense and full of cover, while the areas leading to each spawn zone are full of long corridors with little cover. Each dash along these paths could see you killed if you're careless.
There are three floors to the central platform, and the basement is a wide area with a stack of crates in the middle that branches off in four directions. Due to the multiple entry points this should only be used as a short-cut and isn't a place you want to try and hold. That'd be suicidal, trust me. The middle of the map also has two elevated control rooms that can serve as long range sniper spots, but the opposing room is really far, to the point that assault rifle users might struggle to find their mark.
Aesthetically, this is a cold map, but that's not entirely a bad thing. The sight of churning drills and heavy machinery give it heft, while the sound of groaning mechanism and clanking steel make for a harsh industrial vibe. It's a good map that - from my experience so far - encourages skirmishes in the centre and makes for a steady pace. It's also great for objective battles, given how contested flag B is in Domination for example. In short; that circular middle section is great fun.
Lastly; we have Unearthed, which is a retread of Modern Warfare 3 map Dome, presented here as an abandoned Project Nightfall facility from Extinction mode. I'll refrain from explaining this one too much, as it's largely the same as its predecessor, except for a crane platform that can be lowered and entered to give players a height advantage. It's still a fun map, and easily one of the previous game's stand-out locations.
All of this content is adequate enough, but it can't compare to the genuinely impressive Extinction: Episode 2 - Mayday, which takes Infinity Ward's alien-blasting side offering and steers it closer to something that resembles a game in its own right. The chapter is set some time after the events of Nightfall, and takes players to a research ship out at sea. As soon as you dock with the vessel you're off with your drill, laying waste to Cryptid hives and fending off waves of beasts as usual.
But what I like about Mayday is that here are so many optional rooms that can be drilled open and an abundance of containers to be looted. You can spend ages drilling open armoury rooms and alternative paths before moving on to the next hive, and the promise of new loot to be discovered makes exploration all the more endearing. At one point I came across a room full of lockers that each required a key to open.
I eventually found a key in a side office, and went back to claim an attachment-heavy LSAT LMG from a locker as my reward. There are, of course, still weapons lying around that can be bought, but I was picking up all-sorts from containers: cash, explosive devices, attachments, whole guns and more. It's not quite Borderlands 2 levels of looting, but I do like the surprise that comes with finding something extraordinary inside a random drop.
"The Ripper is a beast that spews out bullets at an alarming rate with reasonable recoil, but burns through ammo really fast. It’s nuts."
Speaking of extraordinary, Mayday introduces players to Call of Duty: Ghosts' newest SMG, the Ripper. This short-to-mid range beast spews out bullets at an alarming rate with reasonable recoil, and comes with a green flip-up sight as standard. It's brutal, but burns through ammo really fast. That's where the balancing kicks in against humans, but when faced with Cryptids, the heavy rate of fire keeps advancing aliens at bay before they get a chance to strike. It's nuts.
At certain hives, a giant Cryptid tentacle will tear through the map and engage players in a mini boss fight. The tendril belongs to the Kraken, a giant alien lurking below the ship that pops up from time to time to make your life a living hell. After a while you'll be able to remember when one of it's tentacles will appear, so these aren't random encounters by any means, but they're still tense and exciting.
Chuck in the new Ripper A-2 sniper rifle, lots of collectible blueprints and crafting options, and you'll find there's a lot of content on offer here in what started off as a side-offering to the main campaign and standard multiplayer modes.
Dare I say it; I'd like to see what Infinity Ward could come up with if given the chance to make a new sci-fi shooter series, but I get the feeling they wouldn't be allowed to do that just yet, not while the Ghost series is ongoing anyway. Still, in another life perhaps?