Sledgehammer Games' Advanced Warfare takes the series into the year 2054. This grounded vision of the future sets a unique stage for the shooter, complete with ability-boosting Exo suits, hover bikes, and plasma energy rifles. Another of these technological military advancements is the hover tank. I saw the floating hunk of weaponized metal in action during a presentation at E3 2014.

The action begins during a trek through the Bulgarian Forest. The batteries on the advanced soldiers' Exo suits have died, leaving them to trek through the woods without augmented mobility. Making matters worse is a prowling chopper circling overhead like a vulture taking potshots at the escaping duo. The team nearly bites the dust when climbing a tricky cliff surface, but their cloaks kick back in just as the chopper's lights land on them. From here on in, the duo sparingly use their Exo's cloak as often as their slowly charging batteries permit. Heavily armored soldiers march by as they stick to the shadows, creating tense moments as I quietly hoped they'd remain unseen. The stealthy sequence reminds me of the beloved All Ghillied Up sniper mission from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

The pair eventually meets up with the rest of their Exo-wearing squad and plans an escape from the dangerous woods. They're descending from a cliff overlooking a fast forest of trees. But something looks out of place; the trees are somehow too perfectly arranged and uniform to be real. Rappelling all the way down the cliff reveals that the enemy has veiled a large chemical and bio-weapon compound under an optical camouflage dome. The team breaks into the facilities, steals information, and sets the entire place ablaze before a hasty escape.

The team hijacks an enemy hover tank for their departing jaunt from the sabotaged compound. Shifting armor plates slide into place as the blue hover jets beneath it fire into action. The team seems surprised by the unfamiliar tech, but quickly learn how to control the beast. The Exo soldiers are immediately spotted as they glide out of the facility, forcing them to put their array of weaponry to the test. Anti-personnel missiles fire into the air in a quick volley, raining down on enemy soldiers from above like hellfire. Squads of a dozen soldiers or more fall under a single burst. A large plasma cannon weapon obliterates other enemy ground vehicles, but takes a moment to recharge. My favorite weapon is the EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) projectile, which the hover tank pilot uses to disable helicopters circling above as they helplessly fall to the ground and explode. While his hover tank escape section is linear by design, the tank didn't appear to be on rails of any sort.

The Bulgarian Forest looks like an exciting chapter in Sledgehammer's upcoming entry in the long-running Call of Duty series. The story-driven campaign (featuring Kevin Spacey), looks very exciting but we've yet to see how the new tech affects multiplayer. Hopefully Sledgehammer will show off soldiers boost-jumping across deathmatch maps in the near future. Advanced Warfare hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 4.

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