The first of several DLC map packs for the mega-hit “Call of Duty: Ghosts” is finally here for PS4 and PS3 players after a few weeks in which our Xbox One and Xbox 360 friends got to lord their exclusivity over us. Now we can join in with four new maps and a new “Extinction” experience. As we did with “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” (chronicling reactions to "Vengeance", “Uprising” and “Apocalypse”), we’re back to break down what to expect from “Onslaught” and wonder when they’ll run out of one-word phrases with which to brand their map packs (“Devastation” is coming next). Overall, the map pack is a nicely diverse one with four multiplayer arenas that feel distinct both from each other and from what the game offers. They all feel relatively small, offering nice, compact combat experiences. In the order that I vote for them when they come up between matches, most of them played multiple times on Team Deathmatch and my particular multiplayer addiction, Kill Confirmed:
A California town has been abandoned and left to the Ghosts and Federation to turn into their own deadly playground. It’s a fast-paced map that does not allow for nearly any cover. There are buildings to go in but they all have doors on multiple sides. The level has rooftops that can be reached for sniper cover but they won’t last long. There’s a trolley bus that you can ride (and killing someone from it is truly fun) but “Bayview” is one of those maps that demands quick reaction time more than detailed strategy. It’s gorgeously designed, and looks spectacular on the PS4. It was CLEARLY the frontrunner for fans in the early days of “Onslaught” as I’d say it came up in my gameplay roughly 50% of the time, which means players were voting for it to get back to it. When all the “Ghosts” packs have been released, “Bayview” will still be one of the faves.
This medium-sized map is somewhat bipolar. There are open spaces that most gamers never dared to tread in this dark campsite shrouded in the titular stuff. There are cabins that often hold players who like to stake out and wait for their enemies (and drive me nuts in objective-based games because, well, they don’t really get it). And there are underground tunnels and tight pathways above them just waiting to host your demise. “Fog” is a sometimes inconsistent map. There are parts of it that practically went unused by anyone in my time with “Onslaught” and yet it can also be a lot of fun once you get to know it. Those first few times? Your K/D is going to drop. But once you know where to go and how to use the corners and tunnels to your advantage it gets pretty fun.
At first, this map looks ambitious in the design of an aging space launch facility in Florida. There’s even a rocket you can turn on. Neat. However, this map, inspired by Scrapyard from “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” is remarkably small, leading to a somewhat-frustrating “spawn-and-die” mechanic. There’s little room for safety or cover on a level that you can see from front to back from a number of angles. Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had here, especially when you learn the tricks of the rooms and small spaces that your opponents try to exploit only to meet their demise. Don’t hide on the second floor. I know you’re there.
My least favorite map in “Onslaught” is also the one that I have the least experience with since it SO rarely comes up in gameplay. In fact, I think it may have been broken for the first few days. Either that or no one is voting for it. It’s also a map that doesn’t play to what “Ghosts” does best in my opinion in that it’s a bit too big for the skills required by this game. It’s not physically huge but there are a lot of closed spaces and various vantage points from which you can easily get the drop on an enemy without much strategy or skill. Success or failure on “Containment” often felt random to me and there’s nothing worse than a multiplayer experience with which you feel like you have little control. Still, I will say that “Containment” looks GREAT. It’s a detailed map that you can use to show off your PS4 multiplayer experience. And then vote for Bayview or Fog again.
I wasn’t a big zombie guy and I’m not a big Extinction guy. It’s essentially the same concept and I feel essentially the same way—there are other games that do this better. If I want to play a zombie game or a sci-fi/alien game, I’ll go play one of those. I come to “CoD” for different things. However, if you’re one of the millions who love these offerings, you’ll be happy to know that Activision is continuing the habit of supplementing their map packs with “Extinction” expansions. Get your alien-killing finger ready.