You know that the world has really hit the skids when zombies take over a fast food restaurant, the last bastion of all that is good in our western society. The blank stares, the lust for blood, the senseless grunting – all of that is gone, replaced by hordes of the undead. In the latest slice of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare DLC, it's up to you and your pet alligator to save the day.
Like the previous pack, Ascendance bundles together four new multiplayer maps and an additional zombie playground to work your way through. For whatever reason, these new maps rarely come up in the main multiplayer section, and so if you ever want to check them out, you'll likely be relegated to a separate playlist. It's an odd problem that has never really come up in a Call of Duty before, so whether it's a case of coding or just a lack of people buying, we're not sure.
The four maps focus largely on sunny, futuristic buildings with plenty of verticality and not always much in the way of cover. While generally better than the last pack, there doesn't seem to be any stand-out levels either – they're all fairly good fun.
Perplex is set in an eco-village of sorts, with square apartments stacked on top of one another. If you face a team that has any sort of communication, you're probably going to be destroyed, but that's par for the course in this type of game. The reason why it feels more the case here is that there are key areas of the map that you can hold to give you a very big advantage, and more often than not the team that stands in one place at the top of the structure will be the team that wins.
With that said, it's still a nice enough map to play. There's a real verticality to it that makes it stand out from any other level in the game. Unless you're at the very bottom or top, you have to think more about up and down than you do side to side.
In the screenshots, Site 244 looks better than it is. The faces of Mount Rushmore apparently overlook a crashed alien ship, although you probably wouldn't know any of this unless you were to read the website. It's best to think of it as an industrial complex with a nice outside section; likeable enough on its own terms and a decent layout to boot. It's quality, but perhaps not what you might be expecting. Perplex comes up more often, but this may be the better map.
Climate is a green-filled structure, combining long grass and deep water with grey bridges and tall, saucer-shaped pods. It's an interesting map to play, rounded with a central building to defend, and is again mostly overlooked compared to Perplex. There's nothing about it that makes it stand out, unfortunately, but it does what it does very well.
And finally, Chop Shop is an interesting labyrinth of tunnels in an exo-suit factory. Much darker in comparison to the other maps in Ascendance, the bright lights and tight hallways make for a nice change. It barely ever gets voted for, but there's nothing it does especially wrong.
Overall, the quality is good, and those who just have to buy the DLC as soon as possible are unlikely to be disappointed. There's not a lot that you'll be missing if you don't buy it – especially considering you won't see them in the main playlists – but there's enough value on offer to make your purchase worth it.
That's especially true when you factor in the zombies map, which again has you fending off thousands of zombies with whatever you're lucky enough to be given from the 3D printer. This time around you'll fight through sewers, abandoned buildings, and, yes, the local Burgertown. It feels much less organised than the last map, which was set in an industrial complex. The reason why is obvious, but it doesn't make the map any better as a result.
Generally, though, there's plenty to enjoy, and a few madder things to check out. Deep in the sewers, you can release an alligator into the water and watch as zombies disappear beneath the surface. There are new specials, which are introduced too quickly and are accompanied by a horde of their own, but it's nice to see things shaken up.
The same cast of actors returns from Havoc. They have some new dialogue which continues to be pretty amusing the first time you hear it, but there's too much coming back. It might not be fair to expect a fully fresh set of vocal cues when you're dealing with the same weaponry or when you're doing things like reloading, but it still stands out as something familiar in what should be fresh.
The return of zombies was an exciting part of the previous release, but the continuation of that and the lack of any standout maps makes Ascendance a less interesting prospect than its predecessor. That doesn't mean that it's bad, though, and fans will lap up the fresh environments. However, the next pack will need to go above and beyond if it wants to keep people excited ahead of Black Ops 3 in November.