Before I sat down to write this guide (and before I’d actually played Advanced Warfare) I naively, stupidly reckoned I could prob’ly get away with a bit of a re-jig of the one I wrote for Ghosts. Sure, I thought, the maps would be different, the loadouts might’ve changed a bit, and there’d be a few other differences here and there, but, given it’s still a CoD game, a few (minor) tweaks, a bit of map specific tactics and bish-bash-bosh, job done, etc, etc……

Anyway, after all of about 22.36 seconds it became quite apparent that this wasn’t going to happen, and the new Exo Suit scuppered my plans quicker than….. well, quicker than a Speed Boost from a fully-charged Exo Suit. Make no mistake, the Exo Suit is a game-changer, and should fundamentally alter the way you approach Advanced Warfare. Of course, some tactics remain constant across CoD games (and indeed, all FPS ones) like, say, covering your ass, or map awareness, so I’ll mention those here too, but in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, your Exo Suit is a key component in your battle for multiplayer domination. In fact, how you use your suit will determine how, when, and where you can utilise most of the other tips, so it’s the foundation on which your success (or lack thereof) in Advanced Warfare will be built.

So, for that reason (and because it’s pretty freakin’ cool, obviously) I’ma go ahead and start with it……

Tip Number 1: Learn to love, and understand, your new-found Roboticalishness

See, it’s the future, so we have the technology and that now. No longer are soldiers limited by stupid biology, or, say, gravity. Progress and sciencey-shenanigans have combined to create supersoldiers that make the Six Million Dollar Man look like something you’d find for a quid at the back of a charity shop. Consequently, you absolutely have to learn to use your suit, know what it can do, and how it all applies to your game.

Cod ExoBoosting, speed-dodging, and the other various perks that come with the exoskeleton all give you immense advantages that weren’t in the last CoD multiplayer. I strongly, strongly recommend that you spend some time practising with them, using the suit over and over until it all becomes second-nature and you automatically utilise its capabilities – both offensively and defensively. In a game where split-seconds can make all the difference, the speed-dodging, boost-jumping stuff, if you use them appropriately, may very well be the difference between endless respawns, or a rapidly increasing killstreak.

Of course, the suits are a double-edged sword because everybody else has ultra-kick ass abilities too, which makes it even more critical that you understand yours. As much as you might want an old-school CoD MP experience, you can be pretty damn sure you’ll be going up against players who have got their exo shit nailed, so if you’re not with the programme, and you’re just aimlessly wandering around like the usual rules of physics still apply – expect to get killed by gravity defying, speed-rushing supersoldiers. A lot!

Indeed, how to dominate in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Multiplayer is as much about learning to use your exo suit as it is anything else, so if you don’t utilise it, even if you’re awesome at all the other stuff, you’ll always, always be at a distinct disadvantage.

Seriously – use the effing suit!!

Tip Number 2: Choose Your Weapons Wisely, Soldier

Once you’re comfortable with basics of the suit, you’ll be ready to get into the more common Call of Duty groove. In the Ghosts guide, I left the weapons and loadout bits until later because it was a completely different system, but in Advanced Warfare you’ll need to think about them early on – particularly the weapons. Why? Well, in Advanced Warfare most of your gear is unlocked, rather than purchased with earned squad points, so you’ll need to have at least a vague idea of what you’re aiming at (so to speak).

advanced-warfare-gunSo, for example, in each class (Assault Rifles, SMGs, Shotguns, etc), you’ll initially have access to only a couple of actual guns, and the rest will be unlocked upon reaching certain levels. Then, with each individual weapon, extras (such as scopes, grips, suppressors, etc) are tied to performance – so you’ll unlock a particular scope after x kills using that weapon, a particular grip after x headshots etc, etc.

What that means in practice is that a) you’re going to have to put in some time with a specific weapon to git gud stuff for it, and b) if you pick up an awesome gun in-game, decide you’ll have some of that, fully expect to see it locked out until higher levels.

Obviously you can mitigate things to a certain extent. Whilst particular guns are locked out initially, the classes aren’t. Try each one for a bit initially, and decide what works for you, and when. The new system – to some extent – encourages you to specialise, so decide quickly what you’re not a fan of, and put it to one side, at least for now.

So, for example, Assault Rifles and SMGs have slightly different specs, but are sort of similar and, on balance, I prefer the ARs, so I basically gave up on SMGs early doors to concentrate on improving my Assault Rifle scopes, grips, etc, and I didn’t waste kill stats on a weapon I wasn’t really bothered about. This also means that if and when I do decide to go back to SMGs, given I’ve levelled up a lot (precisely because my pimped-out AR is now helping me out considerably), I’ll have access to more choice, and thus only have to focus on improving the one I really want because it’ll already be unlocked.

As I’ll explain later on, some diversification might give you an advantage at times (although, considerably less so than in Ghosts, I found), but for now it’s important not to waste time and kill stats on weapons you don’t intend to use that much, and for you to find a decent, all-purpose weapon you’re happy with, and that suits your style of play – whether you’re a runner-gunner, mid-ranger, or something else entirely.

Tip Number 3: Choose Your Loadouts, Perks and Exo-Suit Abilities Even More Wisely

Once you’ve understood your guns/classes, you’ll be ready to work out how that fits in within the context of your full loadout package. AW employs a “pick 13” system – essentially, you’ve got 13 “points” to play with in deciding a loadout, and as with Ghosts, a bit of strategic forethought, and tactical nous will really help you maximise the benefit and impact of your choices.

Advanced-Warfare-LoadoutsAs you level up you’ll unlock various perks, wildcards, extra weapon attachment slots, and so on, but you’ll still need to manage them within the 13 point system. And, if I’m being honest, when I was initially deciding mine, I felt like the 13 points made Ebenezer Scrooge look positively fucking generous in comparison. At one point I loaded up the extra attachment perk (feeling like a goddam genius for figuring out that scope, grip and suppressor would make me da bomb) only to realise that by loading up that very perk, I no longer had enough points to actually use the suppressor. Doh!

However, if you know what will genuinely help you in your game – and conversely, what will make little-to-no difference – you can rapidly trim off the unnecessary fat, and become a lean, mean, loadout maximising machine. Initially, it became pretty obvious to me that my scorestreak bonuses were likely to be used about as much as a tanning bed in the Sahara Desert would be, so I looked at my options. You can personalise the parameters of each scorestreak, and also just not bother having them, so I got rid of the one that I knew I’d reach exactly never, and changed another to “support” – meaning it cost more to achieve, but didn’t reset upon deaths. Immediately, instead of wasting one slot with wishful thinking, and another with a statistical improbability, I had something I’d likely get some benefit from instead.
It’s a similar process with the perks, and working out what would actually help you can make a huge difference. Rather than just load-up any perk in any slot, in AW they’re sub-divided into groups, meaning you can only choose from a few options – and some are locked out until you reach a certain level. If you don’t like any perk in slot 1, for example, just clear the slot, and use the point elsewhere. At some stage, you’ll unlock a wildcard that allows you to take two perks from one group, so it might be better for you to have two from one slot, and none from the other two.

Again, think about your exo-ability in the same way, and your exo-launcher too. Are you picking up kills with grenades? – think about having another one equipped. Not bothering with them at all? – clear the slot out and spend the point on something you will use.

The final point about loadouts is an important one: always, always re-evaluate them. As you unlock more stuff, figure out how that fits in to what you’ve found works, or doesn’t work for you. Is something you ruled out earlier going to make a difference now that you’ve got the hang of x, or because you’ve started using a particular weapon? On the flip-side, have you stopped using something that made a difference early on, and would that point be better spent on an additional scorestreak that you can reach now? Hell, sometimes just taking a break from matches and enjoying not getting shot in the face for a bit can be a nice change of pace – so that’s as good a reason as any to bring up the loadout screen from time-to-time. If doing so also means you’re less likely to get shot in the face in an actual match, that’s a huge bonus.

Tip Number 4: Know Your Maps (Now With Added “Verticality”)

Now, whilst the fundamental points about map awareness in Advanced Warfare still stand, what exactly you have to be aware of has changed quite significantly. Again, this is because of the exo-suit, and you’ll need to think about “verticality” in a whole new way. In actual, real-life warfare, “controlling the high ground” has strategic importance, and in Ghosts for example, occupying and holding one of the few upstairs rooms, or sniper perches could pay untold dividends. In AW however, not so much.

advanced-warfare-multplayer-map-riotEarly on, I found what I thought was a pretty good high place to lay down and pick off enemies running through a doorway – but a) quickly noticed that they didn’t bother with the doorway on account of being able to jump the whole freakin’ building, and b) about a second after I realised this, some guy boost-stomped on my head from even higher ground.

And moreover, occupying the *highest* ground doesn’t necessarily work that well either given that there are usually many ways for people to access that same place (as opposed to one doorway, or corridor, for example) meaning you’re basically wafting your ass around in the air, and positively begging to be stabbed in the back. Setting aside discussions about whether “camping” is good or bad, what’s clear is that Advanced Warfare makes it very, very difficult to get away with. In general, many of the maps are smaller than in Ghosts, and when you factor in the increased speed and mobility of players, maps are more of a running/gunning free-for-all with (quite literally) few places to hide.

That said, however, knowing the maps is still a huuuuge advantage, and it’s really worth taking the time to explore them early on. Yes, you’ll get shot a lot, but if you suck it up and divide your attention between shooting/exploring, you’ll be in a much better position later on – if it helps, think of it as a long-term investment in the Bank of not getting peppered with bullets in a bottleneck everyone else knows about but you don’t.

AW640-620x360And because this is AW, and because you’ve got the exo suit, always be thinking about the maps through that prism. If there is a bottleneck, and there’s likely a couple of guys waiting on the other side, is there a vertical route you can take, not only to avoid the trap, but that might allow you to turn the tables and trap the trappers? Elsewhere, even if you’ve got clear sight-lines ahead of you, is there a possibility that somebody might leap off the top of a nearby building and give you a terminal case of head-stompedinitis?

Sticking to corners/edges is still a valid way of reducing your exposure, and being inside buildings reduces the chances of head stompy-stompy stuff, so that’s still a decent tactic to employ. Likewise, going round corners and entering rooms is still fraught with danger, so pay attention – and, to tie-in the stuff about the exo suit, think about using an exo dodge when doing so, just in case. And, just because sniping/”perching” isn’t as safe as it used to be doesn’t mean people aren’t still doing it – so if you already know there’s a line of sight from A to B, you’re in a better position when you happen to be near “B” yourself.

In general, knowing the layout of a map, and how it relates to how you play the game is crucial. If you use short-range weaponry, you’ll need to know where that’ll be most effective, if you prefer long-shots, you’ll need sight-lines, and above all, you’ll need to know where you’ll be vulnerable to enemies of all types. To emphasise the point, even after spending a fair amount of time in AW MP, there are still maps I’ve only played a handful of times, and these are, without a doubt, the ones I get pummelled on – and precisely because I’m geographically and tactically still a n00b in them.

Tip Number 5: Pay Attention, Be Flexible And Have Fun

Once you’ve got to grips with your suit, gun, loadout and know the maps like the back of your hand, you’re almost ready to start kicking ass and taking names. Almost. The last few tips all fall under the heading of ‘always be paying attention’. It sounds obvious, but if you’re always thinking, using the various tools at your disposal to improve your game, you can tip the scales in your direction quite dramatically.

Advanced-Warfare_Review_SolarHaving one eye on the mini-map in your HUD can stop you walking into an ambush, or alert you to nearby enemies who, having escaped from one firefight, might just need a single, solitary bullet to finish them off. It’s not foolproof, but it’s there, so use it. Likewise, when you do get killed, as tempting as it is to bash the respawn button – wait, watch the killcam. There’s loads of useful information contained in there – who killed you, how, and from where? What could you have done differently to survive the encounter? This is all gold if you want to improve, and if you don’t want to be the guy that everyone’s ragging on because you won’t learn from your mistakes.

And, if you’re noticing recurring themes – perhaps you’re getting killed because you’re Aiming Down Sights and other people are hip-firing – be flexible and change your approach accordingly. I had exactly this problem, so in maps where the majority of encounters where close-range and frenetic, I literally removed by finger from the aim button until I’d conditioned myself to hip-fire. That helped quite a bit, but I was still losing some of the one-on-one encounters, even when I was hip-firing. So I watched a few more killcams, and I realised the other player usually had their crosshairs slightly higher than me, so whilst we’d peppered each other with the same amount of bullets, at roughly the same time, his had all hit me square in the face! Now the first thing I do when I respawn is to raise my aiming reticule so it’s about 70-75% of the way up the screen. It’s a ridiculously simple thing, but it’s made a huge difference to my game!

AW purpleAnd whilst we’re on the subject of ridiculous and simple – in a couple of supply drops I’d acquired some elite, “Royal” clothing options. Naturally, I went right ahead and changed into them so’s I could strut around the maps like a legend. However, in the next few games I was getting picked off almost as soon as I respawned, and watching the killcam it became obvious why. See, the awesome elite gear I’d dressed in was purple, and against the background of most maps, I stood out like an Amish at a Sci-Fi convention. Of course, that’s the point of the purple stuff – a kind of “hey, I’m so good I don’t care if you see me coming, I’ma still kill you” statement, but if you’re not actually good enough to pull it off, think about shittier gear that’s harder to see.

Next, if in a particular map you notice you’re doing badly (and it’s nothing to do with wearing bright purple), and you notice everyone who’s not is using a shotgun, or weapon with a high rate of fire, for example, that’s probably not a coincidence. Have a crack with one yourself. Also, the opposite applies too: if you’re in one of the bigger maps and you’re being picked off before you can get up close and personal, maybe you need to get a weapon with better range to even the odds. Whilst there’s not as much scope for specialisation as there was in ghosts, there are undoubtedly maps were a shotgun’s rubbish, and ones where it’s pretty darn effective. Use the different loadout slots to give yourself options – and, don’t be afraid to change to another one mid-game if you think it might help you out to do so.

Finally, as with most CoD type games, there are plenty of game modes in Advanced Warfare, so have a play around with them all. It could be that you find you’re able to pick up more kills or XP in a mode that’s not Team Deathmatch, or that your particular skill set is better suited to another game type. You might even just enjoy them more – perhaps you were awesome at the old-school classics NBA Jam or Speedball, in which case the Uplink game might provide you with some nostalgia filled, XP-laden goodness.

AW uplink

Above all, try to have fun. Sure, there can be an extremely steep learning curve at first, and getting battered isn’t great, but if you persevere, and if you rise to the challenge, there’s a lot of reward to be had. At first I was hilariously, piteously bad, but within a few hours, I was already improving steadily. There are still individual rounds where I’m shocking, but they’re getting fewer and further between, and the ones where I actually do pretty well are considerably more frequent. I’m not at the point where I’ll be taking to the stage at a CoD World Championship, and I don’t expect I ever will be, but I am able to perform reasonably well, reasonably consistently. Learning how to dominate in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a process, and requires some effort, but if I can do it, you certainly can.

So get out there Soldier, and speed-boost your way to Advanced Warfare glory!