Can ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ Live Up to the Hype?

After a few leaks and a lot of sleuthing led to a slightly premature reveal, Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) has officially lifted the curtain on the next Call of Duty game. It’s called Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and it’s coming out November 4. As with each year’s new installment, fans’ expectations are running high. Raising the stakes further, Advanced Warfare is the first installment of the series to be developed by Sledgehammer Games. Can the relatively new studio pull it off, and will the game live up to the hype?

Based on the lengthy trailer Activision released last night, it’s certainly going to try. Every year, the new Call of Duty game features a single-player campaign that plays out something like a twelve-hour Michael Bay action film, plus a multiplayer mode that keeps players coming back until the next installment is released. So far, Activision has only revealed information about the single-player mode.

At the start of the trailer, it’s revealed that the developers have tapped House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey to lend his voice and likeness to the lead villain in the game. Spacey plays the head of a private military corporation who has turned on the government of the United States and wants to impose a dictatorship on the country. Presumably, players will lead the charge against his private military.

As the title suggests, this year’s edition of the long-running franchise will feature futuristic technology that has never appeared in the series before. Previously, the games have taken place during World War II, the Vietnam war, or modern times. Advanced Wars is set in the future, and the trailer shows technology like hover bikes, mech suits, cloaking devices, futuristic helicopters, and armored suits that let soldiers scale walls and jump great distances.

If anyone is worried that the addition of futuristic gear will come at the expense of the chaotic action Call of Duty is known for, they can rest easy. Like other recent games in the series, Advanced Warfare looks to be full of supercharged set pieces like the Golden Gate Bridge being destroyed in full daylight.

Behind the scenes, however, Activision has shuffled things around. Previously, each Call of Duty game had a two-year development cycle, with developers Treyarch and Infinity Ward taking turns releasing a game each year. From here on out, development of each game will run three years, as Sledgehammer Games is added to the mix. Advanced Warfare will be the first game in the series developed by Sledgehammer alone, which means it will have to deliver a high-quality game to prove itself.

As for sales expectations, the Advanced Warfare has a lot to live up to. The three most recent games in the series have sold around 25 million copies each across all platforms. Last year’s installment, Call of Duty: Ghosts, was released six months ago and has already sold 20 million copies. Over the next six months, it is expected to match the performance of the other games.

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