Creepy piano theme goes here.
I like horror enough, but I’ve never understood those horror-movie fans who for whatever strange reason idolize the stalker-serial killer. I admit I never tried to talk to that one guy in high school, but in my defense I was already a socialliy awkward video game nerd. I wondered after graduation if maybe a new kid took up the mantle near the storage shed by the football field, like all the slasher anti-heroes did with their cabins and quiet neighborhoods. We just had different interests, I guess.
He liked watching teens get killed; I liked killing my friends in Goldeneye 007. He liked black nail polish; I liked comparing Mario Party blisters and declaring a new winner. He liked combat boots; I liked Vans slip-ons with no socks so that my feet smelled really bad. Now that I think about it, we probably could have started an uneasy friendship over smelly feet. Thankfully, the first of Call of Duty’s always on-the-way downloadable map packs has arrived for Call of Duty: Ghosts to rectify this divide. Now gamers and slasher fans can come together and discuss how frustrating it is to finally complete Field Orders, earn the Michael Myers mask and ax, only to die immediately. Mike never had to face a camping sniper.
Fog, the first map in the Onslaught DLC pack, takes the Field Orders mechanic introduced in the base Ghosts game and uses it to put you in the iconic Halloween killer’s mask. Field Orders challenge you to complete unique objectives within a single match, ranging from “get two kills while crouching” to “knife an enemy from behind." It can be challenging enough to pick up Field Orders on the fly. Typically the first person to die in a match drops the floating briefcase (and then others as the action unfolds), but completing one of the varied requirements to unlock the Michael persona will certainly prove more difficult.
Once you’ve got ax in-hand, playing as Myers feels much like picking up a Juggernaut Maniac crate from a killstreak. The Halloween piano theme plays every time you become the Hollywood-powered death machine and movement speed and defense get slight boosts. Still, you’ll feel a target painted on your back the instant you finish unlocking the care package coffin. When I was able to get into the serial killer’s boots, I didn’t seem to last very long. In fact, dogged determination to become Myers often lost my team the match.
Still, Fog is one of the better designed maps in all of Onslaught. Middle map navigates like a rat’s maze of caves and bramble, while structures offer great cover and plenty of points of access. There’s very little opportunity for camping in Fog, especially considering Myers might sneak up and give you an ax to the back at any moment. Fog is joined by Bayview, Containment, and Ignition, a remade map from Modern Warfare 2.
Remade maps are often tricky elements to sell in a downloadable pack, but Infinity Ward didn’t just copy and paste from a game now over four years old. In Ignition’s hanger, for example, IW added a large turbine rocket that you can fire off to blast the opposition. There’s also an added underground network that further varies the way soldiers can navigate around threats holed up in certain areas of the map. When all is said and done, I can see Ignition staying popular in lobby votes as a well-known but uniquely new option in Ghosts multiplayer.
As for Containment and Bayview, each are interesting new maps, but feel neither special nor notable like Fog and Ignition. Containment features a bridge that no one should ever be on. Sniping positions on either side of the map mean that the low-set riverbed will prove safer for anyone moving about with an assault rifle or short-range weapon. Bayview feels like a map a developer made mimicking Bioshock Infinite's Columbia. Then someone said they couldn't do it and turned it into a San Francisco vacation, complete with moving trolley car where you'll find a lot of people napping on a trip to the other side of the map. Shop interiors provide plenty of CQC, but I also had a hard time getting lobbies to vote for Bayview over Ignition or Fog.
This leaves us with the latest episode for alien-blasting in Extinction. Nightfall is the first of four narrative expansions to Extinction’s cooperative game mode. Teams will blow alien brains all over snow in the Alaskan wild to dig deeper into the origins of our aggressive and monstrous invaders. Up to four scientist-soldiers can once more move a drill from hive to hive, earn money, upgrades, and complete challenges. Nightfall adds two new alien enemy types to the mix as well.
There’s also a new gun dubbed the Maverick. It comes in both Assault Rifle and Sniper Rifle varieties. I originally thought it was a little overpowered, but a few squad points later, with Maverick in hand I realized that wasn’t the case. Everyone in the Onslaught DLC multiplayer segment is using the Maverick, but like all guns in Call of Duty, specialization is everything. If you can figure out a combination of attachments that’ll work for you, or you like using semi-automatic sniper rifles Maverick will serve you well.
For the first DLC in Call of Duty’s yearly Season Pass, Onslaught feels like an expansive, if mixed, package. I still don’t get the slasher fandom, but my guess is many Call of Duty fans can’t wait to get a game-winning killcam as Michael Myers himself. I’d like to see more remakes as intelligent as Ignition’s, but the reliance on camp-level horror, especially as Infinity Ward gets to explore its own alien co-op, doesn’t speak to me.
Review based on Xbox One version with downloaded maps. Code and copy provided by publisher. Also available on Xbox 360, later on PS3, PS4, and PC.