A cocktail. A deadly, explosion-packed, bullet-ridden cocktail. That's on fire. Sprinkled with knives. That's Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer mode in a nutshell.
We spent three hours blasting our way through various game types and maps at Gamescom, and there's a ton of shiny new treats for CoD veterans and newcomers alike to sink their teeth into.
And the biggest change is:
The Exoskeleton is a huge, fundamental new addition to the CoD universe, and it shakes up the core foundations of CoD gameplay as we know it.
Equipping each player with a jetpack, it brings a whole new dimension to multiplayer by no longer limiting you to running and gunning on the ground like a gun-toting ant.
You can't fly around on it indefinitely, but it does allow you to boost to higher locations, letting you traverse maps faster, evade enemies, and get the jump on unsuspecting foes.
It's impossible not to mention Titanfall here, because the similarities are immediately apparent the minute you boost on to a rooftop for the very first time.
But that's no bad thing. It mixes things up, makes skirmishes more exciting and, well, it's just plain fun.
Running around a corner with bullets whizzing past your sides, only to jump up, fly backwards over your pursuer and shoot them in the face is one of those raw, simple pleasures in gaming which puts a smile on your face. Or maybe that's just us.
There are, however, a few disappointments. Having been accustomed to Titanfall, we really missed the ability to wall-run in-between jetpacking around from rooftop to rooftop.
Titanfall feels smoother for this reason. Jumping on to a roof, running, and jumping again in Advanced Warfare feels clunkier in comparison.
There were also moments where we wished we could have boost-jumped up a wall and planted ourselves there with a well-placed knife. Again, this comes in very handy in Titanfall when you want to set up an ambush or turn the tables on a pursuer.
More than just a boost jump
Still, Advanced Warfare makes up for it in other ways. Players can use the exoskeleton's jetpack to carry out various manoeuvres to keep movement flowing and to evade enemies.
You can boost dodge, dash and slide around to make yourself a harder target, and chaining the different manoeuvres together does bring a welcome sense of fluidity to the gameplay.
Boost slam is a fun exoskeleton melee trick, and it's also a good way to slam down and kill your enemies from above.
The Jetpack also has a built-in arm cannon, which you can load up with frag grenades, tracking drones, flash bangs, and more, while the other arm can eject a temporary shield to protect you from bullets, if you choose to equip it.
There are also exoskeleton perks (more on those later) which can make you invisible, allow you to hover briefly, and much more.
While Call Of Duty diehards will need a few games to adjust to the extra opportunities offered by the exoskeleton, we think it's a welcome breath of fresh air and adds an element of fun chaos to the traditional run, shoot, rinse and repeat gameplay we're used to seeing from the series.
More after the break...
Creating the perfect soldier
We actually felt a bit dizzy when Sledgehammer was talking us through the vast array of options available for creating the perfect super-soldier.
After a few games however, everything clicked into place, and we were in customisation heaven.
For starters, you're rewarded with Supply Drops which serve up new gear to customise the look of your solider. Everything from helmets to kneepads are up for grabs, ensuring that no two players will ever look the same.
Supply Drops also include guns. There are three tiers of Supply Drop - enlisted, professional, and elite - and the guns you unlock along the way have better attributes compared to their stock counterparts.
When it comes to customising your loadouts, there's an incredible amount of depth. You're dealt 13 points, which you can choose to distribute as you see fit.
You can decide, for example, to kit out your main weapon with three attachments, which include silencers, different scopes and larger magazines.
There are also perks, ranging from an overcharged exoskeleton (recharges your exoskeleton's special abilities quicker), to ensuring that you're invisible to thermal scopes.
And then there are the Wildcards, which we used to have a primary weapon in our secondary slot.
Scorestreaks also use up some of your originally allocated 13 points, and they offer rewards such as in-game drones, which are activated when you've been playing particularly well.
It all sounds confusing, but you'll get the hang of it after tinkering around in the loadout screen and jumping into a few matches.
A new virtual shooting range is also an excellent way to instantly try out your weapons and loadouts before and in-between matches. It loads up straight away, and it's a fantastic way to tweak your gear to perfection.
Our Gamescom multiplayer impressions
After a few matches, we were able to customise our soldier's loadouts to our liking. We opted for two main guns - an assault rifle tricked out with a laser scope, silencer and extended magazines. It was accurate enough to pick off enemies across the map, but left us vulnerable at short range.
And that's where the shotgun came in.
The most fun we had during the entire preview was boosting up around rooftops and blasting enemies from above. More miniature cannon than shotgun, nearly every trigger press resulted in a swift death, each of which was accompanied by a huge, booming blast, and a recoil action strong enough to make us physically flinch at times. Now that is a gun.
We opted for the hover exoskeleton perk over the active camo, mainly because we could easily see invisible players most of the time, and therefore didn't think the camo would be of much benefit.
Of the four maps on offer, the San Francisco bridge map (called Defender) was one of our favourites, especially when a massive tsunami interrupted the action, swallowing down any players too slow enough to boost jump to higher ground.
Biolab's exploding canisters made for some fun kills too, and our favourite gametype was the standard team deathmatch.
Capture the Flag and Hardpoint (which makes its CoD return) were also fun, but we're personally too shallow to bother with objectives most of the time. Shooting anything that moves is all we want to think about.
A new game mode called Uplink was also enjoyable. Both teams have to grab satellites and jump through the other team's Uplink, which is essentially a giant floating ball of... umm.. plasma, or something. Either way, it's sort of like playing handball - with bullets - and it does a good job of bringing something different to the CoD table.
Overall we found Advanced Warfare's multiplayer mode to be chaotic, hectic fun, while the immense customisation options, coupled with the exoskeleton abilities, bring a welcome breath of fresh air to a series that could benefit from a little extra spark.
Multiplayer hands-on by Esat Dedezade
Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare is due out on 4 November for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions are also due out on the same day, but they hail from High Moon Studios and quite likely won't have feature parity with the new-gen and PC iterations (Activision hasn't shown High Moon's versions yet).
This is the first entry in the series to have a three-year development cycle (previous games had two years apiece), and it's Sledgehammer Games' first full shot after helping Infinity Ward finish up the stellar Modern Warfare 3. The new engine looks pretty excellent in motion, the premise is exciting, and the fresh future tech will hopefully shake up a series that's gotten complacent of late.