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[fancy_header]The Purchase[/fancy_header]
I purchased the Day Zero Edition on the morning of Day Zero for the couple bonus weapons – I didn’t buy the Pro edition which included Season Pass as I did with Ghosts – lesson learned – even if it does save money. The Digital Pro version would have been nice for the Atlas Gorge map (COD4 Pipeline remake) but I figure they will release it later on anyway. Will I buy the DLC? I doubt it but it is too soon to tell. Honestly, I don’t see the PC player counts staying high enough for long enough to enjoy the game modes that I usually like to play at the time I play. Just to be clear on where I stand on the past development styles of the studios – I favor the Treyarch style much more and I don’t think Infinity Ward has produced a good game since COD4. My play time in the past games speaks volumes on that. MW2 – didn’t purchase, Black Ops – 833 hours, MW3 – 43 hours, Black Ops 2 – 1,595 hours, Ghosts – 42 hours. This discussion is based on multiplayer only.

[fancy_header]Game Performance[/fancy_header]
Overall the game seems to perform quite well and it looks pretty good to boot. In my view the graphics kind of follow more along the lines of Infinity Ward and a lot of areas of the maps just look kind of dull. I am due for a graphics card upgrade but even so the game played smooth without any noticeable issues with my current hardware noted below. I originally went running the game on the “recommended” settings just to check things out and I was running solid at the capped 91 FPS. Bumped everything to High and I still held pretty steady at the capped 91 FPS. Bumped settings up to Extra and turned up the Anti-aliasing and I started dipping into 50s and 60s at different spots so I think High with low Anti-aliasing is about the max for the GTX660Ti.

Intel DZ77Bh-55K
Intel Core i7 3770K @ 3.5-3.9GHz
Crucial Ballistix 16GB (4 x 4GB), DDR3 1600
EVGA GTX 660 Ti SuperClocked
Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB SSD (System)
WD Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM (Games)
(Full specs can be found here.)

[fancy_header]Connection Performance[/fancy_header]
Well there are no dedicated servers so that is definitely the first major let down. We are back to sitting in matchmaking lobbies and running off of peer to peer connections which if we reference the past we know how things can get – especially later on when player counts dwindle. At this time with just over 8 hours in game I have not seen a “host migration” yet but overall connection performance has been hit or miss. Once again this COD fails to include ping numbers on the scoreboard and we have a colored four bar icon showing connection quality. This seems highly inaccurate at the moment because in some games I will have max connection quality and the performance can still be horrible. Other games seem fine. A numerical ping is needed. Referencing back to BO2 there is also no “ping limiter” that can be set for searching for better quality game lobbies but my guess is due to the fact of Black Ops 2 running on dedicated servers in the background and Advanced Warfare not. Overall Day Zero connection performance seemed mostly good but then Day One connection performance was really hit or miss. There were a few matches that had significantly worse pings but seemed to play decent then other games had normal pings and kill cam replays were astonishing at times of how different a view it was from the other side. Aside from a few games and the occasional 1 – 2 second spike that made me think the game had crashed (happened about 4 or 5 times so far) I would say the game is off to a much smoother start than Ghosts was and should at least get a little better some with matchmaking and P2P tweaks and improvements. Still there is no excuse in my view that SHG should not have gone with some form of dedicated servers. 3 years! Time was always the excuse before but that excuse doesn’t work for this release. There was a whole additional year for development and another separate studio working on the XBOX 360 and PS3 platforms. At a minimum dedicated servers in the form of Black Ops 2 should have been included without question.

No other way to say it other than the gameplay is very fast paced. For me it is good at that pace sometimes but bad others. It does seem rather stupid how everyone is just boost jumping all over the place with little direction of where exactly they are going most of the time but when you do figure out the Exo Suit boost and dodge combinations it does add an interesting mechanic to the game that we haven’t had before (ie Titanfall) and it can be pretty fun in intense battles for objectives. You definitely need to get your aiming in check because when attacking someone that knows how to use those mechanics correctly they can easily turn the tables on you when you think you have an easy kill. I find myself using a pretty even combination of normal running/jumping/climbing and Exo Suit mechanics in most matches and most of the maps work well for that. All the maps are designed with many different corridors for accessing the different areas. They do actually feel like they were developed with the Exo Suit mechanics in mind but still with proper tunnels and hallways to accommodate the normal travel that we are used to in COD – feet!

[fancy_header]Game Modes[/fancy_header]
Being a long time CTF fan I jumped straight into some CTF games and I really don’t have any complaints – other than flag coloring – there something about the flag location and taken colors that confuse the hell out of me at times. Not sure exactly what the problem is yet. The pace is different than the CTF I am used to and the shortened respawn time delay aides to that as well but I have had quite a few good CTF games already and I think that will still be my game of choice. Next I tried out a game of Momentum and it was fun but again due to the pace of the game it is just pure madness all the time. Finally I tried a few of my second favorite mode – DOM – but they were really just plain messy with how fast spawns are flipped and flopped. Again I prefer more of the Black Ops 2 style where once the B point is taken it is usually a good constant battle for that point to get it back and hold it and you have to work to gain the upper hand. With Advanced Warfare it seems spawns get moved so often that it is just a constant swapping of every DOM point on the map and it doesn’t really matter to hold them – more so just keep capping them as fast as you can and move on to the next. Most games almost everyone on the team seems to have 10 or more caps. Also just to note – if you don’t want to play with the new Exo Suit mechanics there is a seperate playlist without Exo Suits but it has two downsides. One there is a limited amount of game modes and two – I couldn’t even get into a single game on any of the modes.

I have only equipped a few different weapons so far and I can already tell there are some favorites but I think there is a pretty good balance of weapons. The “Time To Kill” feels a little faster than Black Ops 2 but not as fast as Ghosts so weapon damage seems about on par – the only exception to that is lag infested games where bullets don’t register much at all. I have only seen a handful of snipers so far and in general not a whole lot of corner camping with big guns but with the pace of the game there is a lot of random spraying and when you add in the Exo Suit mechanics there appears to be a lot of people using lasers on everything for increased spraying accuracy.

[fancy_header]Scorestreaks & Perks[/fancy_header]
I haven’t really messed with Scorestreaks much but they do seem to be at slightly higher point values so from what I can tell so far there seems to be fewer Scorestreaks during the matches. A little more focus on the actual gameplay and less on streaks is fine with me. In general there doesn’t seem to be any that are really overpowering but the verticality of the maps does play a role in that I think. Perks on the other hand go back to a more simplistic set much like Black Ops 2 instead of the 50 different Perk options Ghosts had. In that usual fashion there is a Perk to counter pretty much every other thing in the game so much like Black Ops 2 I feel the Perk sets are pretty well balanced.

Customization is always good I guess. I’m not sure why but in Ghosts I really had no interest in customizing anything and pretty much ran with a few classes and a handful of weapons in my lowly 43 hours played. On the other hand in Black Ops 2 I really use/used every single gun in the game and I always mess around with the classes with the “Pick 10 System”. Adding Scorestreaks into the mix in Advanced Warfare and making it the “Pick 13 System” seems like a plus to me and the little I have changed up my classes I think it works well being able to fine tune exactly what you want. I really have no interest in Emblems or Playercards so I won’t comment on those but obviously everyone has their own play style so we will leave it at that for now.

[fancy_header]In Summary…[/fancy_header]
All in all I applaud SHG for taking this step and doing something drastically different than what has been done in quite a while but on the other hand I still miss the old COD feel and features. At this point I doubt if we will ever get that old school play feel and feature set back but at least for now this is a title that I could actually see myself putting at least a little bit of time into just because the gameplay is still pretty dang solid. However, I am pretty sure I will still be hopping back into Black Ops 2 every now and then because I still really enjoy that style of play. In my opinion Advanced Warfare is better than Ghosts for me hands down because of the new gameplay mechanics & additions included however I find the very fast paced nature of the game a little too fast. All the constant boost jumping everywhere is a little ridiculous at times and I wish there was a regen time or some kind of limit on the ability. There are times that I would just like to slow things down a bit and reset to enjoy some different aspects of the gameplay but it usually isn’t possible. With many of the great objective game modes back in the game that Ghosts took out – and a few new ones – it is a step back in the right direction. It is shameful that SHG didn’t incorporate any form of dedicated servers – especially after Michael Condrey confirmed they would be in the game but overall game performance and connection performance has been *pretty* good for me with the amount of time I have played up to this point. There are plenty of graphics options to fine tune for the people that want to tweak the game a bit more but then again on the flip side; little things like ping numbers on the scoreboard, current player counts of how many people are in game or in a game mode, the ability to look at a players profile or statistics while sitting in a lobby are all missing. When SHG claimed to take so much direction from BO2 I don’t understand why these simple features (and more important features like servers) were left out. Overall I guess I can say I am enjoying it in it’s own way but I still need to adjust because it is definitely a different Call of Duty. 7/10.

Here’s looking to Treyarch in 2015 for one more shot to do a PC platform release properly!