Review by horror_spooky
Sledgehammer, please fix Exo Zombies
The first DLC expansion for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare brought with it four multiplayer maps, as well as a new game mode called Exo Zombies, a futuristic reinvention of the popular Zombies mode from the Treyarch games. Ascendance is the second expansion, and while it has more content than the first DLC, it's not quite as well made.
Like the first DLC, Ascendance features four new multiplayer maps. None of them are particularly great, but they are all at least visually interesting. I enjoyed the maps in the first DLC better, overall. In any case, the new multiplayer maps are decent, but nothing special.
Another new addition to the multiplayer, exclusive to the new maps, is the Exo Grapple mode. This playlist allows players to use their grappling device in the matches. It doesn't really change up the gameplay that match and it's not all that fun, so it kind of seems like a waste of addition. The fact that it is restricted to the new maps really hurts its influence as well.
Multiplayer also receives a new gun liked the OHM, which is both a shotgun and a light machinegun. So while Ascendance adds plenty of new content, it's mostly for the multiplayer, and it's honestly not all that great.
Where Ascendance shines is the new Exo Zombies map. Called Infection, this map is even better than Outbreak, which was fantastic as well. It's not quite as visually arresting as Outbreak, but the level design is really well done. Sledgehammer has succeeded in creating yet another one of my favorite Zombies maps to date.
Infection features three main areas connected by a sewer system. There's Atlas Command, Value Voltage (a gas station), and Burger Town (yes, the very same restaurant from the Modern Warfare games), plus the aforementioned sewers, which is basically a labyrinth for new players.
A new weapon is added to the mode as well, but this is where the issues with Infection comes into play. Infection, despite featuring better level design, is full of glitches and a general lack of polish, especially compared to Outbreak. What makes matters worse is that this DLC has been out for almost a month now, and none of these issues have been fixed by Sledgehammer yet.
The new weapon is the Magnetron. When it is obtained from the 3D printer, it is invisible, which I guess might have been a purposeful design choice, but it doesn't make sense if it is. Anyway, the Magnetron basically cooks zombies like popcorn, and then they explode into a mess of gore. This is an awesome weapon, and even better, the great weapons from Outbreak are still available, including the laser, the Cel-3 Cauterizer, and the S-12.
Another glitch comes with the easter egg. Most every Zombies map has an elaborate easter egg to complete. They were frustrating as hell in the Black Ops games, but in Advanced Warfare so far, they've been challenging, but fun, and not obscure to the point of annoyance. Once again, the egg can be completed either solo or cooperatively, which is hugely appreciated. However, what makes this egg difficult to complete is all the glitches and issues surrounding it.
While completing the steps, some of the items simply will not spawn most of the time. There's also an absolutely infuriating glitch that is effecting a lot of different Advanced Warfare players that kicks you out at the VERY END OF THE EGG. Putting in all that effort only to be abruptly forced out of the game is absolutely unacceptable, and the fact that this glitch is STILL in the game a month later is completely and utterly ridiculous. There's a workaround to this problem that's been discovered, but even still, gamers should not have to seek out obscure ways to workaround issues like this.
What makes this even more annoying is that this egg is actually very much worth doing, even more than the other eggs have been. It unlocks access to new areas of the map, plus the end of the egg is simply more rewarding.
However, like I said, I really do like Infection, and would've given this DLC a much higher score had Sledgehammer polished it more before releasing it. This new map has a lot of good ideas, such as survivors that appear in the middle of the rounds that need to be saved. Saving them nets players a free upgrade, but failing to save them causes all the power to go out on the map for a certain amount of time.
There's also a new boss fight of sorts added. Showing up every 10 rounds or so, the Goliath is a large zombie with a shield, rockets, and the ability to emit damaging electrical currents. Fighting the Goliath is a lot of fun most of the time, and it genuinely makes the map more challenging.
In fact, the map is overall a lot more challenging than Outbreak. In many ways, Outbreak is a little too easy, whereas Infection is a supreme challenge and requires truly skilled players to really succeed in it. This is due to a number of things, such as protecting the survivors wasting resources, the amount of ammo it takes to kill a Goliath, and how the map forces players out of comfort zones by spraying them with toxic gas, turning them "infected" like the gas zombies from Outbreak.
There's also less "easy" rounds. In Outbreak, there are entire rounds dedicated to fighting just zombie dogs, and when the last dog is killed, a full ammo is awarded to the players. In Infection, the zombie dogs are joined by a horde of zombies as well, meaning that there is no rest in any of the rounds.
To help offset this increased difficulty, Infection has a variety of special traps that can be activated. These traps are a lot more unique than the ones found in Outbreak. An alligator can be summoned in the sewers to eat zombies, an ambulance can be activated as a distraction at Value Voltage, hidden snipers can be activated, and a barrage of missiles can be called from the sky. There's even a spray machine that gives players instant camouflage from the zombies. These traps are cheap enough to make them viable to use.
The cheap traps come at a cost, though. The doors in the game cost a lot more to purchase than in Outbreak, requiring players to farm for more points than before by killing zombies smartly. Players also have to decide the most important doors to open, and make sure they still have enough money for perks, weapons, and more.
Ascendance has an excellent Exo Zombies map in the form of Infection, that is unfortunately ruined by glitches, some game-breaking and absolutely ridiculous. Sledgehammer has yet to fix these problems, which makes it that much more annoying. The multiplayer offerings are simply not as good as before. The maps are fine for the most part, but they aren't significant and will be completely forgotten by the time the next expansion pack releases. The new gun is inconsequential, and the Exo Grapple game mode is weak as well. Sledgehammer can't win them all I suppose, but Ascendance could've been significantly better had the Exo Zombies map been released with any ounce of polish at all.
Product Release: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Ascendance (US, 03/31/15)
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