This year’s E3 was full of the typical spectacle one expects from a slew of games and promises that are still waiting in the relatively distant future. The big name publishers and developers were out in full force, especially during Microsoft and Sony’s press conferences, so it was a good opportunity to see what we have to look forward to when it comes to the major blockbuster war games throughout the remainder of 2014 and beyond.
It wouldn’t be, well, a year without a new Call of Duty game, and the one coming toward the end of this calendar looks to take the set pieces, visuals, and every other aspect of the best-selling franchise up a few more notches. While Activision allows its bread winner to cook a bit longer than normal, EA is whipping up something very different with its Battlefield franchise, and Ubisoft is bringing the squad tactics of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six back for another round. All in all it should be an interesting year for AAA action games, so let’s take a closer look at what’s in store.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty is as much of a mainstay as a series can get, rivaled only by the likes of annual sports games and Ubisoft’s relentless Assassin’s Creed conveyor belt. For the next entry, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Activision cranked up the development period, and developer Sledgehammer Games flexed its muscles on a new graphics engine that boosts what everyone was beginning to consider somewhat dated visuals. The Call of Duty games have always made up for their graphical shortcomings with enough bombastic thrills, but it’s nice to see a new level of care being put into even the most insignificant of details.
What in the world is Sledgehammer Games, though? The developer isn’t completely new to the block, and previously contributed to the series by co-developing 2011’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Sledgehammer gets to have even more fun this time around, taking the reins and playing around with some really advanced futuristic machinery to assist in unprecedented levels of destruction and mayhem. The perfect example of this can be seen in the exoskeletons soldiers are equipped with, allowing them to boost their jumps and leap about, enhance their strength, and other superheroic feats.
Yes, exo-suits and more represent the kind of equipment the year 2054 has to offer, and private military corporations rule in this vision of the future. The largest PMC in the world is known as Atlas, run by founder and CEO Jonathan Irons, played here by none other than Kevin Spacey, hot off his fourth-wall-busting run on House of Cards. Irons has beef with America, believing that the country has failed numerous attempts to install democracies around the world for far too long, and aims to change the global balance of power through clandestine operations. Former U.S. Marine Mitchell, played by Troy Baker (The Joker in Batman: Arkham Origins), joins Irons and the rest of the folks at Atlas.
It may not be the current-gen-only entry some were expecting—we are still in that murky transitional period between hardware generations, after all—but from spider tanks to the hardware outfitting every individual soldier, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare looks like it should at least live up to its name. We’ll see just how well it can predict the future of firefights when it launches across consoles and PC later this year.
Placed side by side with the latest Call of Duty, EA’s efforts with the Battlefield franchise couldn’t look any more different. Battlefield: Hardline moves away from the traditional war settings—both historical and modern—and turns it into a fancy game of cops and robbers. The studio handling development duties this time around is Visceral, best known for working on the Dead Space series of action horror games.
EA let Visceral take over after discussing the idea nearly three years ago, but they had to prove themselves first by working on a Battlefield expansion pack. With the focus shifting to police in Hardline, the war on crime takes center stage, and factions are split up between the Special Response Units and the criminals. Battlefield 4’s Levolution mechanic—which allowed for environmental destruction on a massive scale and other cool effects—will be in full play here, and Hardline adds in new game modes such as Heist, Blood Money, Rescue, and the high-speed chases of Hotwire mode.
Battlefield: Hardline can currently be sampled via a PC and PlayStation 4 beta, and at the very least it’s unlikely Hardline will come out the gate broken in as many places as Battlefield 4 was.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
While Tom Clancy is sadly no longer with us, his legacy lives on in games like Ubisoft Montreal’s Rainbow Six: Siege. Like Hardline, this entry pits two similarly opposing forces against one another, placing the emphasis on team play with a more realistic angle, exemplifying what the series has been known for since 1998.
Players on both ends will get the chance to flex their tactical prowess as one side takes hostages and decides where to post them up, while the other team prepares to bust in with a gang full of SWAT officers. That sets the stage nicely for plenty of infiltrative gadgetry on behalf of the latter, while the former focuses on barricading and fortifying their hold-up for the inevitable onslaught of armed police. While SWAT guys have gear like camera drones and other means of reconnaissance, the baddies are also outfitted with CCTV cameras, so one side always has the opportunity to get the drop on the other.
Rainbow Six remains more of a thinking man’s shooter in comparison to the Hollywood-esque rumblings of Call of Duty and the building-toppling mayhem of Battlefield. We’ll have to wait a little longer to play the full version of this one, but it’s currently aiming specifically for current-gen systems (PS4 and Xbox One) and PC.