Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Havoc (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 22.03.2015

Review for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Havoc on PlayStation 4

There are few things in life that are guaranteed: death, taxes, a fat pay cheque for Noddy Holder every Christmas, and Activision (who likes money) releasing premium priced DLC for Call of Duty games on a regular basis. Love it or loathe it, DLC is a nice little earner for the gaming industry, providing fans with a means to extend or enhance the play time of games they enjoy. Funnily enough, it's a trend that actually originated with this very franchise, and given that Call of Duty is currently one of the largest gaming franchises in the world, it's practically a license to print cash that only the most foolish wouldn't capitalise on. Now that the time-limited exclusivity deal that Microsoft had secured on this downloadable content has finally elapsed, Sledgehammer has squarely taken aim at the PS4 with the Havoc pack - the first in a series of four scheduled expansions for its Advanced Warfare title. What exactly does this DLC contain, and is the Havoc guaranteed?

Over the years these multiplayer-centric content drops consisted of nothing more than a handful of maps, though healthy competition from the likes of EA's Battlefield series has seen Activision expand its downloadable output to include new game modes and even fresh weaponry. Thankfully, the Havoc pack ticks all these boxes and adds plenty of value to the base game, with the inclusion of a new mode that expands on the vanilla Exo Survival by replacing the armed troops with zombies, four new multiplayer maps and the satisfyingly accurate AE4 energy assault rifle (with Widowmaker variant) to snuff out any opponent foolhardy enough to get in within range of it.

Without further ado, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty...

The Havoc pack brings with it the first map (Outbreak) of a new game mode called 'Exo Zombies,' an updated edition of the undead-centric 'Nazi Zombies' co-op experience that has proved popular in the Treyarch iterations of the series. While the most fervent of the anti-DLC brigade will complain that this mode should possibly have been integrated into the shipped product, its inclusion here makes perfect sense given that its episodic content is a perfect fit for the format. Sledgehammer has chipped into the (no doubt) massive budget that Activision has afforded them to lure in major Hollywood talent, seeing the likes of John Malkovich, Rose McGowan, Jon Bernthal and Bill Paxton taking on the roles of the four luckless Atlus Corporation employees caught up in the aftermath of a chemical fallout containment gone horribly wrong. While nobody plays the role of angry janitor better than John Malkovich, it's a real shame that Sledgehammer didn't capitalise on the assembled cast for more than just an introduction sequence. Well, okay... that's not strictly true, as the playable characters do resemble their Hollywood counterparts and they do frequently bark out context specific lines, but it gets so darn hectic very quickly that it's tough to pick out the nuances of the individual performances. It could've been anybody, really.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Havoc on PlayStation 4

Exo Zombies is all about being thrown into a fairly horrific situation and being forced to endure for as long as possible against terrible odds, preferably with the assistance of three other fellow humans. It starts off sedately enough with just a handgun and a will to survive as the relatively slow trickle of zombies give no indication of the horrors that lie ahead. Points mean prizes, as any score accumulated can be used to buy upgradeable weapons, ammo and access to other parts of the facility. Staggering access to areas and equipment gives a sense of urgency, which never really lets up during the course of play, and even after picking up the Exo suit frame each individual enhancement still has to be purchased separately at different stations scattered around the compound. There are a number of 3D printers that can print off random weapons (it is the future, after all), but power will need to be routed to ensure efficient operation, not to mention a required cool down between uses. Just like the printers in the office, then.

The enemies come thick and fast, and besides the plentiful grunts and zombie dogs that seem to attack from every conceivable angle, there are EMP zombies that will temporarily knock out the Exo suit abilities and infected zombies that pass the contagion onto any player unfortunate enough to come into contact with them - nothing that a quick decontamination shower won't fix, but it's at a cost. It pays to stick together as a team, which, in theory, is easy; however, the reality sees frequent separation given that each player quickly gets caught up in a private frenzy with each progressively tougher wave. Downed participants eventually bleed out if not revived, but will get an opportunity to respawn if the remaining team members can survive until the reinforcements timer hits zero. There's usually one person on the team who seems a liability, requiring constant revives... Not too ashamed to admit that that player is in fact right here (thanks in advance). Death is at a cost, and while a handy token dropped at the point of demise will reinstate points collected, all Exo abilities are lost, which will likely result in a dangerous solo run to the lab to pick up a new frame. As one might expect, it soon descends into... well, Havoc, with the game drawing to a close when all four players have been downed.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Havoc on PlayStation 4

The inclusion of four new multiplayer arenas in the Havoc pack are likely the biggest draw here, and despite being saddled with some fairly uninspired, generic names, these are actually some of the better COD maps to have appeared in recent times, and do a good job of injecting new life into the game.

Core has a fairly bleak, polluted setting within the ruins of a nuclear fusion plant in the Gobi Desert and, given its sandy locale, is aesthetically reminiscent of the 'Rust' map from Modern Warfare 2. There are plenty of hiding places and open chambers for mini skirmishes to break out, but a tough map for those who like to play sniper given that the there are lots of structures to obscure clear lines of sight. This, of course, promotes some fairly intense firefights in the large central area, which has numerous tunnels and alleyways leading into it. There is also a map-specific score streak that activates decontamination drones that emerge from the innocuous looking pods scattered around the map, and act like deadly bodyguards dispatching those that get too close to the player that activated them.

Urban is a compact map set in a futuristic modular compound in Dallas Ward 3, a possible crime scene judging by the number of police cars at the location. A great map for run and gun players, as the action is channelled into the central area where there are a few walled courtyards overlooked by buildings/ledges/rooftops - all areas that provide a clear line of sight into the action hotspots. While the fight can be taken into the numerous buildings scattered about the map, there is a timed event with the blast doors that opens up fresh lines of sight, making those long distance kills a bit more achievable. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise to know that a map called 'Urban' offers a lot of verticality for the more adept Exo suit operators.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Havoc on PlayStation 4

Sideshow is set within the grounds of a dilapidated, seedy rundown hotel near the Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming, complete with a bargain basement funfair. Probably not a great map for anybody unfortunate enough to suffer from coulrophobia, given that there are pictures of clowns everywhere - though, thankfully, the carnie folk have long fled the scene, meaning one less obstacle to get in the way of shooting each other in the face. There are a few buildings providing cover, but plenty of wide open spaces, which give snipers a good line of sight right across the map. There's a slight risk of spawn trapping, though the Exo suit abilities do at least provide assistance in zipping out of an area quickly, foiling those campers who enjoy training a sniper scope at newly resurrected participants. Skilled players will be able to activate the clown-tastic marquee as a score streak, which will rain down death in the form of smoke trailed cannonballs from above - a little known staple of most modern funfairs.

Drift rounds up the package nicely, with a scenic ski resort located in the Rocky Mountains, which would make for an excellent holiday destination if it wasn't for the sudden arrival of a bunch of amped up Exo clad loons taking pot shots at each other. As expected with a small town, there are lots of alleyways and shops to take cover in, with a glass observation deck providing a good vantage point. As possibly hinted at by the name, there are occasional avalanches, which will change the terrain, alter the flow in the affected area and wipe out any players unfortunate enough to get caught up in the danger zone when it strikes.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Havoc on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Those deeply entrenched in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer component have likely already invested in this selection, but for anybody else, the Havoc pack delivers exactly what it says on the tin, with the stress-inducing Exo Zombies mode, some great new maps and a beefy weapon to add to the loadout. It's certainly a good indication of the quality to expect from Sledgehammer's next three DLC instalments.

Developer

Sledgehammer Games

Publisher

Activision

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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