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Zombies are back!

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    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Havoc

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    Zombies are back!

    The undead have become a permanent part of the Call of Duty formula. Ever since World at War introduced the now famous Zombies mode, fans have asked for it to return in each entry. So far, only Treyarch has been allowed to bring zombies, with the mode returning in Black Ops and Black Ops II. Sledgehammer Games, the new Call of Duty studio that worked on Advanced Warfare, has been allowed to deliver their own spin on the Zombies mode, and it just so happens to be one of the best versions of it to date.

    A Zombies mode was teased in the core Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare experience, but we’re just now getting to experience it through the Havoc DLC. The main selling point of the Havoc DLC is, in my opinion, this new Exo Zombies mode that it adds to the game, but I will get into the other content that the DLC brings to the table in a little bit.

    Exo Zombies is fantastic. The exo suit completely changes the way that you play Zombies, yet it still has the same feel of the previous versions. I was worried that the zombies equipped with exo suits would ruin the experience, but they still are more or less the same zombies we’ve seen before, except they have a little boost in their leaps at times.

    This version of Zombies is much more fast-paced than any of the other ones that came before it. The zombies seem to come in higher numbers, and they swarm you with a little bit more speed. This is made to compensate for the fact that the exo suit allows you to zip around the map like crazy.

    The perk system returns, though their names have been tweaked. There is a new perk that allows you to slam into the ground to deal extra damage, otherwise the perks are all returning ones from the older Zombies.

    Players still purchase guns off the wall, but there is no more rebuilding window barricades. Instead there are credit machines on the wall that will occasionally spit out some credits for you to collect, which is a much better method of dealing out bonus points to players without forcing them to stand near a window and rebuild the thing. It’s all about keeping the game moving at a quick pace, and I love this change as Zombies has been notoriously slow at times in the past.

    The mystery box has now been replaced by the 3D printer, but it functions the same. The weapons are all new, though some function like weapons seen in previous games. Pack-a-punch is almost non-existent, but you are able to upgrade weapons with one of two upgrade machines that are found around the map.

    Speaking of the map, this might be my favorite Zombies map to date. The way it is designed is just very appealing to me. There are rooms that are nice and open, allowing you to zoom around with the exo suit with ease, but there are also tight, claustrophobic hallways and rooms that allow for very little movement, requiring you to play the game a bit differently once in those areas.

    Along with Exo Zombies, which is the most significant addition to the game through this expansion pack, the Havoc DLC also adds four new multiplayer maps. Three of them are really excellent, though one of them is not that great. The four maps are Core, Drift, Sideshow, and Urban.

    Core is the map I don’t like. It’s set in a desert, and the way it is designed just makes it an absolute mess. Most of the time the only way people can be successful here is by camping, which just makes for a very annoying gameplay experience. I also thought this was the laziest map in terms of visual flair out of the four new ones that have been added to the game through the Havoc DLC.

    Drift is a fantastic map. It’s a snow map set during Christmastime. It’s the biggest map out of the four new ones by far, and it is also one of the most visually appealing maps in Call of Duty history. The various Christmas colors, Christmas trees, lights, and the night time setting all work together to create a unique atmosphere and help make this a memorable map. The large size of the map allows for a variety of different playstyles to be included, which is great as well. The gimmick with this map is that an avalanche can occur, which covers some of the environment with heavy amounts of snow.

    Sideshow is another great map with a great visual hook. The map is set at a motel that is carnival themed. It’s relatively small, but very wide open, making it a map where pretty much everyone uses snipers. That’s fine with me, as the map is designed exactly with snipers in mind, so it becomes a very dangerous test of skill between players. This map also has a gimmick, wherein bombs pop out of the motel sign that can then be picked up and used as grenades.

    Finally, Urban is another pretty good map that Havoc brings to the table, though Drift and Sideshow are much better. Urban is all about vertical movement, which adds a nice wrinkle to the map as it is extremely small, and before most of the small maps in Call of Duty are laid out in a horizontal fashion, such as Nuketown. Urban is good for some chaotic fun, though it’s just set in a small section of a city, with the focus around a single tall building more or less, so there’s not a whole lot of visual creativity at work with this map.

    I would’ve given this DLC a higher score, but there’s some serious connectivity issues with Advanced Warfare that can make Exo Zombies an extremely irritating experience at times. I have been disconnected numerous times, far too much really, and the fact that these connection issues are still going on long after the Advanced Warfare release is troubling. A lot of new-gen games seem to have connectivity issues, which is annoying considering Microsoft promised unrivaled connections thanks to all the servers they apparently purchased and set up for Xbox Live. Yet, the connection problems this gen have been far worse than anything I experienced during the days of the Xbox 360.

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Havoc is one of the first times that I’ve purchased DLC for a Call of Duty game and didn’t feel ripped off. I’ve already gotten a ton of time out of Exo Zombies alone, and the multiplayer maps are very good as well. Sledgehammer continues to support the online community for Advanced Warfare with free updates as well, adding fan favorite modes such as Gun Game to the mix to keep things lively. They’ve also added a new mode called One Shot where it’s snipers-only, and it has also breathed new life into the Call of Duty multiplayer experience. These mode updates are, of course, absolutely free. If the future expansion packs for Advanced Warfare are as good as this, then fans are going to be in for a real treat moving forward.

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