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

By Gareth F 29.05.2015

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

The arrival of Ascendance to the PS4 version of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare marks the second of a projected four content drops catering to the multiplayer fans of the series, although sadly, its appearance has been slightly overshadowed by Treyarch's recent Black Ops III reveal. It feels strangely premature that the hype machine for the next COD instalment has already kicked in a good seven months prior to release, but one thing that does seem apparent is that Treyarch has followed Sledgehammer's lead by moving away from current day conflicts, and has instead concentrated on a futuristic version of war. Rather than the tech-assisted Exo-suit that takes centre stage in Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III seems to be heading down the route of military grade body augmentations (Deus Ex says "Hi"), and while it's not immediately obvious how this will pan out in terms of gameplay, it's good to see that Activision is at least willing to take a few risks and shake up the formula a bit.

Those too impatient to wait seven months to get a fix for Treyarch's futuristic warmongering will be pleased to learn that Sledgehammer already has it well covered with Ascendance, a package that's literally bulging with new content geared towards racking up those virtual kills. Included in this DLC is the next chapter in the Exo-Zombies saga, four new multiplayer maps, the introduction of the grapple Exo ability and a new hybrid weapon. Let battle commence.

Following on from the contagion incident that occurred in the Havoc DLC, it should come as no surprise that trying to contain an epidemic is no joke. The second chapter of Exo-Zombies, 'Infection,' sees John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan and Jon Bernthal reprise their roles as the hapless Atlas Corporation employees forced into dealing with the fallout from the outbreak. It's a classic frying pan/fire situation, as the opening cut-scene shows the luckless quartet getting rescued from the Atlas compound by a few faceless allies just as the ammo supply was about to dry up. Relief is sweet, but short lived, as the ambulance doubling up as the getaway vehicle promptly crashes, leaving the gang stranded on the outskirts of the facility in an area that has already been hit hard by the contamination.

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

This time around there are a few buildings to take cover, including the wrecked Atlas Command (handy for weapons), Value Voltage (an electrical shop that happens to have 3D printers with the capacity to print out new firearms), and the return of the iconic Burger Town fast food joint that appeared in both Modern Warfare 2 and 3.

Fun fact: Not a single one of these buildings is zombie-proof.

It's more of the same. Unrelenting waves of Exo-clad undead getting stronger, more plentiful and deadlier with progress, as a new, heavily armoured 'Goliath' zombie variant joins the party to add to the chaos. As if self-preservation wasn't tough enough, there are a few civilian survivors knocking about that will occasionally cry out for help, and while the temptation to ignore them is overwhelming, a successful escort to the pickup point results in a weapons upgrade for all. Troubling times indeed, and it's safe to say that the sewers would normally be a place most sane people would avoid in these circumstances, however, in this instance they not only house both the Exo-suit and decontamination showers, but also an unlikely ally in the form of a giant alligator with a penchant for undead flesh. Watching one beast devour a number of other beasts is almost poetic. Needless to say, Infection continues to provide an excellent co-op experience best enjoyed with friends, but options for split screen and/or matchmaking with the general public keeps the option open for a helping hand, as it's certainly too tough a job to attempt solo.

The war online constantly rages, so it's always nice to take the fight to new exotic locales. Ascendance books the flights, skimps on accommodation and instead dumps the Exo-tourists into one of four new adversarial arenas populated by other like-minded individuals that came for the view, but stayed for the killing.

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

Perplex is a garish, modular apartment development in Sydney designed to part affluent Aussies from their hard-earned money, with a vista that places both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge well within sniping distance. It's the smallest map of the four, so it doesn't take a great deal for it to feel overcrowded, and the majority of the action is concentrated on the rooftops, providing the advantage to the team that controls it. Central to the map are the multi-levelled apartments sporting an avant-garde design that naturally creates plenty of nooks and crannies for the campers to pitch a tent. The ever efficient construction drones (which somebody forgot to switch off) continue moving sections of the building around, ensuring that the playfield constantly evolves as new pathways are created. There goes the neighbourhood.

Site 244 takes place at the location of a UFO crash site overlooked by Mount Rushmore, which in itself sounds like something straight out of a 1950s black and white sci-fi movie; all that's missing are a few little green men. It's a large map that's roughly split into three lanes cluttered by wreckage and debris, which simultaneously obstructs the lines of sight, while making decent cover for those that like to lurk. Skilled players can unlock an alien spore scorestreak, which, besides giving an unhealthy green glow, also enhances all perks and Exo abilities.

Climate is set in a bio-dome, lush and verdant with the ambient temperature computer controlled to ensure a comfortable environment for the no-scopers. It's probably the most sniper-friendly map of the bunch, as despite the lack of corners to hide in (domes are generally round), there are still good, unobstructed lines of site with plenty of ledges and rooftops to set up shop. An artificial river runs around the complex, with the central island often becoming the focal point during games of Domination and Hardpoint. There's almost always a thermostat fail during the course of play, which causes the rivers to boil, inflicting pain on any player foolish enough to remain immersed in the water. This proves particularly handy for flushing out those that enjoy hiding under the bridges like a common troll, a tactic employed by a worrying amount of players. It's safe to say there'll be nothing eco-friendly about that electricity bill!

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

Chop Shop in name brings to mind one of those dodgy garages that welds together the halves of two different cars, but in actuality it's a black market operation specialising in the unauthorised Exo-suit trade. It's a fairly large, compartmentalised industrial complex, which is perfectly suited for those that favour the run-and-gun style of play, and the fact that a lot of the action is indoors (though there are a few outdoor courtyards) means that deploying/shooting down air-based perks are a bit trickier. The Advanced Repulsion Turret is an exclusive scorestreak to this map, which, reminiscent of the Guardian Turret in Black Ops II, uses microwaves to take down the enemy. Does anybody smell popcorn?

The Exo-grapple ability was available in a few of the Advanced Warfare campaign chapters, and it feels like a terrible oversight that it wasn't actually included in the vanilla multiplayer component. It's a total game changer in the most literal sense, as zipping around the map at high speed is an absolute blast that amps up the tempo considerably, and at times, allows for some truly exhilarating gunplay. It replaces the custom Exo ability in the player loadout, meaning it's permanently mapped to the L1 button, but thoughtfully, Sledgehammer has added a separate 'Grapple Mosh-Pit' in addition to the other Ascendance playlists. It's a wise move, ensuring that a level playing field is available for all participants choosing to get involved in the zip-wire shenanigans, while simultaneously catering to those overly attached to and reliant on specific custom loadouts. To be honest, though, it's really hard to go back to normality once the grapple sinks its hooks in (pun intended), and it'd be nice to see this ability rolled out to all the other maps in the game, too. It's the only way to travel.

Rounding things off nicely is the OHM-directed energy hybrid weapon, which is a surprisingly versatile gun possessing two switchable modes that vary between LMG and shotgun settings. It's accurate, but slow to re-load, so while it's probably not the best gun for close quarters combat, it's ideally suited for laying down suppressing fire.

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

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

For those deeply invested in the multiplayer aspect of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, this is another great package that further enhances a competitive mode that could already be described as being spoilt for choice in terms of options.

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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