Video Game: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

"People donít want freedom. They want boundaries, rules. Protection. From invaders and from themselves. People need a leader who can give them both the support and the constraints to keep chaos at bay. You give them that, and they'll follow... And that's where I come in."
Jonathan Irons, Reveal Trailer

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a First-Person Shooter entry in the Call of Duty series, developed by Sledgehammer Games and released in November 2014 for the PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.

It's intended as the spiritual successor to the Modern Warfare series, though the story it tells is unrelated and set in a new continuity. The game was developed by Sledgehammer Games, who took over development of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 after the infamous troubles between Infinity Ward and Activision.

Advanced Warfare takes place in the semi-near future of 2054-2060, similar to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (which was set in 2025). Like Black Ops 2, the game features fictional futuristic weaponry and equipment such as "Exosuits", mechs, hybrid airships, transforming spider-tanks, hover-bikes, combat drones, wall-climbing gloves, and adaptive camouflage.

In 2055, a terrorist organization known as the KVA initiates the first global terrorist attack in history by simultaneously destroying the nuclear reactors of developed countries around the globe, including the United States. Across five continents, many countries' military and government infrastructure including electricity and technology were devastated and incapable of fighting the threat posed by the KVA. As the result, private military corporations (PMCs) have become the dominant armed forces for countless nations and represent the first line of defense against this new enemy.

Jack Mitchell (Troy Baker), a former U.S. Marine who lost his left arm during the battle of Seoul, joins Atlas Corporation, the world's most powerful private military company with the most advanced technologies on the planet, which is run by Jonathan Irons (Kevin Spacey). Executing clandestine operations across the globe for the highest bidder, Mitchell and his Atlas team seek to destroy the KVA and restore order to the world, but everything changes when they uncover the dark secret of Atlas.

Tropes appearing in the game include:

  • Action Girl: Ilona, a former Spetznaz operative, is Atlas' best soldier and one of Mitchell's key allies.
    • The Smurfette Principle: She's also the only female soldier that appears in the single-player campaign, although female player characters do appear in the game's multiplayer.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In the prologue level, the transport that Will loaded with an explosive device blows up, and debris from the destroyed transport takes Mitchell's arm off. As shown by Will's corpse, he, too, lost his arm, his right one as opposed to Mitchell's left, in the blast, on account of it being stuck in the door at the time of the explosion.
  • The Antichrist: Irons isn't explicitly presented as this, but he hits a surprisingly large number of points on the checklist; he is a man of great influence and charisma, he rises to supreme power in the wake of a global disaster, has a messianic vision of bringing about world peace by Taking Over The World, requires all his citizens to be implanted with a "DNA chip" that catalogues them in a giant database in order to protect them from his Manticore weapon, and he built his capital city over the ruins of Babylon (New Baghdad). He even dies by you dropping him into a massive lake of fire.
  • Artificial Limb: Mitchell gets a cybernetic arm after his real one gets torn off in the prologue. Seems to be rare in this setting since Irons considers it worth more than antyhing else in their arsenal. Later on, it gets badly damaged and Mitchell can't use it, before he cuts it clean off to drop Irons off a roof.
  • Badass Normal: Even after being in a major car wreck, Hades is still fit enough to defeat Atlas' greatest warrior in hand-to-hand combat, despite not having an exo-suit while his opponent is wearing one of her own.
    • Mitchell manages to do the same thing later in the game when he (without an exo-suit and only one functioning arm) disarms a fully kitted Atlas Elite Mook and shoves him off a roof.
  • Bait and Switch: Irons's speech to the UN.
    Irons: I want to address these allegations head-on. Are we developing such a weapon? No. We. Are. Not. [beat] Because we've already developed it.
  • Big Bad:
    • Hades, the leader of the KVA, seeks to halt humanity's technological progress and revert it to a 'natural state' with terrorist attacks all over the world.
    • Jonathan Irons turns into this after Hades is killed, who was aware of the KVA's world-wide attack on major cities but let it occur in order for Atlas to pick up the remains and make itself the dominant military power. He attempts to flat out Take Over the World thereafter.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: At the end of the game, Irons make a big deal out of not killing Mitchell even after he has him at his mercy, in order to prove he's not a monster. note  Mitchell repays him by throwing him off a skyscraper less than two minutes later.
  • Book Ends: The game's first and last missions both feature Mitchell's left arm being cut off, him being carried away by a teammate, and a city under attack.
  • Climax Boss: Hades. The final confrontation against him wryly plays out exactly like every previous Call of Duty villain, with you incapacitated and watching your teammate locked in a life or death struggle, while you're prompted to try and reach for a weapon. Then he reveals the existence of The Man Behind the Man with his dying breath. Oh, and you have another eight missions to go.
  • Clip Its Wings: One nifty gadget you get is a laser buzzsaw that allows you to clip off a plane wing in seconds.
  • Cool Airship: The US Marines that drop into Seoul via drop pods deployed from massive hybrid airships.
  • Cool Guns: Somehow, despite being 2054, weapon designs have decided to look to the past for some inspiration. The "ASM1" submachine gun is Thompson M1921 with a more modern stock and tactical accessory mount points.
  • The Conspiracy: Irons knew about the KVA attacks all along. He then let them happen and betrayed Hades afterwards, killing him and crippling the terrorist organization so that Atlas could rise to even further power and develop their Manticore project to essentially create a New World Order under their rule.
  • Conspiracy Thriller: The game pretty much becomes this 1/3 of the way through the campaign. Mitchell, Illona, and Gideon uncover that Atlas is not what it seems and the level "Utopia" plays out like a chase scene from many conspiracy thriller movies and games, where Mitchell and Illona escape from Atlas troops and go on the run through New Baghdad. They then join Sentinel Task Force, which is a secretive counter-conspiracy in the U.S. military to investigate what Atlas, which is pretty much controlling the world at this point, is planning. In the third act though, it heads back into more of an action-thriller war game after Atlas openly declares war on America and the free world after Sentinel exposes the Manticore project and has an almost James Bond-like finale where the heroes go to save the world and race against the clock.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: In multiplayer, the KVA are given exo-suits in the interests of symmetrical gameplay, so they fight identically to Atlas and Sentinel. In the campaign, exo-suit technology is very exclusive; even North Korea doesn't have it; the KVA certainly don't and have to rely on more low-tech combat methods instead.
  • Cyberpunk: Pretty much a textbook example. Highly advanced technology contrasted with serious social problems? Check. Megacorporations with enough resources to dwarf sovereign states? Check.
  • Danger Room Cold Open: Following a time skip, Mission 2 opens with Mitchell obstensibly already as an Atlas operative, working with a team to rescue the POTUS from a country lodge, which goes smoothly up until his glitching prosthetic arm winds up botching the mission, whereupon his captor shouts to reset the simulation, revealing the entire lodge and surrounding area is just an enclosed training camp attached to a larger Atlas facility.
  • Defector from Decadence: Will Irons, who joined the Marines rather than his father's PMC.
    • Mitchell and Ilona, and later Gideon, do the same when discovering Atlas's true agenda.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Jonathan Irons seems to believe that the Third World simply is incapable of supporting democracy. He makes a good point in that much of the Third World lacks the concepts necessary for it; freedom of religion, freedom of the press, even basic freedom of speech - and that new democracies have never been created through outside pressure. He's still just a hair shy of Card Carrying Villainy, as he also smugly states that what the Third World really needs is a good ol' firm-but-fair iron fist, courtesy of him and his PMC, Atlas. Not to mention the mass murder through biological warfare which factors into his plans to achieve his goals
  • Depopulation Bomb: Irons's plan of assuring world dominance is a global deployment of Manticore, a chemical weapon that instantly kills anyone who hasn't been inoculated by Atlas.
  • Diegetic Interface: Instead of using a traditional HUD, gameplay elements such as ammo count and remaining grenades are projected as a hologram on the side of your weapon.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Hades is terminated 1/3rd of the way through the game. The rest of the story is spent dealing with Irons' plans for global domination.
  • Disney Villain Death: Irons.
  • Drop Pod: The USMC deploys them from a flying airship. Four years later, Atlas one up them by deploying them from an orbital space station. This allows them to send in reinforcements to secure a downed plane within minutes of it the middle of Antarctica.
  • Eleventh Hour Super Power:
    • Inverted in the second-to-last level. Irons smashes Mitchell's prosthetic arm, so you have to spend the rest of the level fighting with only one arm. As a result you can't reload weapons and have to constantly pick up new ones. You also can't aim down sights with assault rifles.
    • Played straight at the very end of the game, where you get your very own AST Mini-Mecha to pilot.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Irons is a very personable man that is shown to interact with his men on more than one occasion. He even has a picture of his son's obituary on his personal computer, five years after his death.
  • Evil Luddite: Hades and the KVA's motivation is to return humanity to a "natural state".
  • Evil Versus Evil: Atlas versus the KVA.
  • Exact Words: During Iron's speech to the UN, doubles as a wham line;
    Jonathan Irons I want to address these allegations head on. Are we developing such a weapon? No we are not... because we've already developed it.
  • Expy: Jonathan Irons is basically a corporate non-Southern version of Frank Underwood.
    • He's also very similar to Bob Page in Deus Ex. Both are CE Os of an evil Mega Corp. that practically runs the world (although Page is the head of an Ancient Conspiracy called Majestic-12 which Page Industries is only one front of), both seek to establish a New World Order, both have secret Take Over the World plans that have to be stopped at the end of the game, and they both live in the same time period (Page in 2052, Irons in 2054-2060 throughout the events of the game). Also, after the protagonists of each game uncover The Conspiracy that each are involved in, they both express disappointment at this character and talk about What Could Have Been, who had worked for them for a good chunk of the game and now has gone on the run to stop them.
  • Fallen States of America:
    • The game takes place years after a major coordinated global terrorist attack, which has severely weakened the world's major governments and given Atlas the opportunity to step in and fill the power vacuum. It turns out that all of those events were initiated by Atlas, and that the U.S. is one of the few countries powerful enough to resist their rule. Also doubles as Oppressive States of America, as footage shows civilians being locked up and executed.
    • Alongside that, the Golden Gate Bridge is shown to get trashed.
  • Follow the Leader: The apparent gameplay changes to the standard Call of Duty formula created by the exosuit and its superhuman abilities have already drawn many comparisons to Titanfall and the Crysis series.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams:
    • The new EM1 Heavy Rifle introduced in this game shoots a concentrated laser beam, which doesn't require reloading. A cooldown mechanic and reduced damage are present for balance.
    • The XS1 Vulcan is a Multiplayer Scorestreak that rains a laser beam from the heavens. A Module to the Scorestreak can add 3 additional ones to the primary laser.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Ilona is so good at this that she can do both the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique and "I just want to help you, but you have to work with me" parts by herself. Mitchell's narration is suitably impressed. And kinda creeped out.
  • Guns Akimbo: As with CoD games post-COD4, you can dual-wield pistols - and one of the machine guns is dual-wield only - specifically, a pair of gatling guns mounted on your arms.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Hades is killed halfway into the plot, which up until then was more or less a typical shooter against a terrorist organization. After that, the rest of the game becomes a Conspiracy Thriller to stop the Atlas Corporation from taking over the world.
  • Heavily Armored Mook/Elite Mooks: Hades has a handful of personal bodyguards wearing some sort of high-tech armor (not an exo-suit, as it lacks the mechanical components and makes a distinct electronic noise) that lets them withstand about half a magazine of assault rifle fire before falling. Later in the game, Atlas deploys red-armored elite exo-suits with similar damage-soaking capabilities.
  • Heroic Mime: True to the Modern Warfare roots, Mitchell narrates the between-mission cutscenes but is completely silent during the game. This leads to a rather bizarre situation early on where he's having a relatively lengthy conversation with another character, but doesn't actually speak and needs a third character present just to fill in his end of the conversation.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During the Santorini mission, when the Atlas team kills a body double of Hades, they discover that the body is rigged with explosives. One soldier leaps on the body to protect the rest of his squad.
  • Hitler Cam: Irons at the UN, he conveniently leans forward on the podium just to make his "looking down on the scums of the Earth" that much more menacing.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Irons' reasoning.
  • Informed Ability: Enemy exo-suit users in the campaign do not use any of the cool exo-suit abilities you have access to, with the sole exception of the basic boost jump ability. They're not even noticeably better armored than the low-tech KVA goons (with the exception of the fairly rare red-armored Elite Mooks). Enemies in Exo Survival use boost dodging in addition to the boost jump, and a special class of enemies also uses the cloak mode, but that's pretty much it.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Mitchell, Gideon and Jonathan Irons are video-game versions of Troy Baker, Gideon Emery and Kevin Spacey, respectively. Likewise, Matt Riedy (Kingpin) in the brief bits he appears in.
  • Ironic Death: Hades dies when Mitchell blocks an otherwise-fatal knife stab with his prosthetic arm. For someone who thought that technology "weakened" mankind, let's hope the irony was palpable for him after Mitchell slashed his throat open.
  • It's Up to You: Justified. Irons' new bioweapon is coded to target people who are not part of Atlas' personnel. As Mitchell, Gideon, and Ilona are all former Atlas soldiers, they are all inoculated and immune to its effects, making them the only ones who can stop Irons.
  • Kick the Dog: If the player has any sympathy for Jonathan Irons and Atlas after the biological attack on American troops in New Baghdad, the level 'Captured' will take care of that. To wit, the player and his squad are led through an Atlas concentration camp witnessing mass executions, tortured prisoners, people kept in tiny plastic cages, and hundreds of shrink-wrapped bodies used for bioweapons research before being dumped in mass-incinerators. To top it all off, Irons himself makes an appearance at the end to personally smash Mitchell's prosthetic arm and fatally wound Cormack.
  • Knight Templar: Mr. Irons has no compunction about declaring the world to be in dire need of someone who can save them from themselves.
  • Le Parkour: In the campaign, the KVA make up for their lack of exo-suits with some fairly impressive roof-hopping skills.
  • Made of Iron: Mitchell survives having a van full of drones explode in front of him and being launched dozens of feet into a parked car. Yes, He's wearing body armour and an exosuit, but that's still impressive considering an explosion at that close of a range would have seriously injured or killed most people.
  • Mauve Shirt: Will Irons (Jonathan Irons' son and Mitchell's best friend) dies at the end of the prologue level.
    • Atlas operatives Carter, Torres and Rivers exist primarily to fill out a full squad of four and have very little characterization as well as being killed in "Fission" and "Manhunt" respectively.
    • Joker leads the initial squad in "Atlas" and is Gideon's second, but usually goes with the non-Gideon character whenever they split up and does not appear after "Utopia," despite being alive and active.
  • Might Makes Right: Almost spoken verbatim by Jonathan Irons in the second story campaign story trailer:
    "Ideas don't determine who's right. Power determines who's right. And I have the power... so I'm right."
  • Mini-Mecha: ASTs, bipedal mech suits with mini-guns for arms, similar to those seen in the Red Faction, First Encounter Assault Recon, or Section 8. They very much serve as Boss In Mooks Clothing encounters.
  • More Dakka: One of the weapons is the XMG-1, a dual-wield only pair of miniguns that can also be deployed to be used as a stationary turret.
  • My Death Is Only The Beginning: During the final confrontation, Irons states that killing him won't stop Atlas' ascendancy to becoming the world's sole government. The ending text for the final level confirms the war with Atlas is just beginning.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The game seems to share a number of design elements in common with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, such as the wall-climbing gloves, active camouflage, transforming mechs, and armed quadrotor drones. The holograms in the briefing room Jonathan Irons give his New Era Speech in is even almost identical to those in the briefing room from Black Ops 2.
    • The game includes several of the "futuristic" weapons found in Call of Duty: Ghosts.
    • The final levels are essentially a grab-bag of scenes from previous iterations in the franchise: The villain is a high-ranking American who has turned on the country both for its sins (Modern Warfare 2) and because he lost a close relative (Black Ops 2). The heroes are members of his handpicked elite, who are betrayed and forced to fight against their former leader (Modern Warfare 2). The villain's boldest stroke is to attack the Americans' flagship aircraft carrier (Black Ops 2). The final move is an imminent launch of chemical/biological weapons against the mainland US (Black Ops) where the protagonists' squad learn of it at the last minute and are the only ones close enough to stop the ICBM launch (Modern Warfare). The enemy's base is in a middle eastern skyscraper, which the heroes attack using heavy armored suits (Modern Warfare 3). At one point, the player is injured and must defend themselves from the ground with only a handgun (Modern Warfare). And after succeeding, the player is carried off to safety by his British and Russian friends into a Sequel Hook (Modern Warfare 2).
  • New Era Speech: Jonathan Irons gives one in the reveal trailer.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: Atlas is so enormous and so influential that it gets a seat on the United Nations Security Council after its many victories, and it controls most if not all of the world's essential infrastructure at one point in the game. Irons literally calls them a "superpower for hire" in their introduction to Mitchell. By 2060 they even have at least one orbital space station capable of deploying an entire company of orbital drop troopers anywhere in the world within minutes... even Antarctica.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The KVA quickly collapses once Hades is killed, potentially a Justified Trope in that there did not appear to be any actual leadership beyond Hades. Averted with Atlas Corporation itself; both Irons and Mitchell note that Irons' death won't stop the corporation's path towards global domination, as a corporation will have others behind it in case the CEO dies.
  • Oh, Crap: Jonathan Irons finally loses his calm nature completely as well as his composure when he realizes that Mitchell is willing to cut off his prosthetic arm to kill him.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: Evident in some of the weapons— the SN6 in particular looks like a big metal block with a grip, magazine, and stock, while the MORS sniper rifle's entire barrel section is almost completely rectangular.
  • Powered Armor/Clothes Make the Superman: Exosuits similar to those seen in the film Elysium are a core aspect of gameplay, being standard equipment for Atlas contractors and U.S. Marines. They augment the user's strength, and can uses bursts of compressed air to make super-human jumps or dodge sideways more than a dozen feet. They can also be equipped with a number of modular attachments that grant a variety of special abilities.
    • Super Strength: The exosuit makes the user strong enough to punch open doors, tear through metal armor plating, and kick people into walls hard enough to leave a crater. An exo-suit wearing soldier is shown to be able to defeat 4 well trained opponents in hand-to-hand, though in the process they do get in quite a few good strikes and grapples in, showing that the exo-suit does have its limits.
    • Bullet Time: The Overdrive attachment briefly boosts the user's reflexes to superhuman levels; the world slows down around you while you continue to move and shoot at normal speed.
    • Goomba Stomp: You can rapidly descend from a booster jump to smash down on an opponent.
    • Grappling-Hook Pistol: The Grapple attachment does this (it can also be used to pull enemies towards you Scorpion-style). Notably it is not limited to pre-scripted use (unlike in Black Ops II); you can use it freely during gameplay, similar to the Batman Arkham Series games, but it's only available in a couple of levels.
    • Having a Blast: The Sonic ability unleashes an area-of-effect sonic attack; it staggers enemies around you and briefly leaves them vulnerable to attack.
    • Healing Potion: The Stim attachment lets you instantly heal from damage; however, it's limited to a single usage per level.
    • Jump Jet Pack: An improved version of the standard booster system. It won't let you fly, but it does significantly slow down your falls, even letting you drift across long gaps.
    • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: The Riot Shield attachment is an unfolding riot-shield that can deploy from a bracer on the exo-suit's forearm; it provides full frontal coverage, but you can't fire a weapon while it's up.
    • Visible Invisibility: The Cloak attachment has this effect; when enemies use it, the blurry effect is actually very easy to spot.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Gideon announces his Heel-Face Turn with a pretty impressive one, just before gunning down his own Mooks to save Mitchell, Ilona, and Cormack.
    Atlas Command: Atlas Zero-One, report!
    Gideon: This is Atlas Zero-One. Juarez and Michaels are KIA.
  • Private Military Contractors/N.G.O. Superpower/Mega Corp.: The game revolves around a PMC, Atlas, which has grown to the point of being the most influential military force on the global stage.
  • Reality Ensues: On several levels.
    • Jonathan Irons' various speeches about the nature of modern foreign policy strike a chord with many players because, unlike many shooters, it acknowledges the nature of modern wars themselves, and how they often simply lead to more wars.
    • When the KVA has its leader fall, it falls fast due to no real visible leadership. However, when the leader of Atlas Corporation falls, the fact that there is a backup leadership means that there is an implied Sequel Hook even though the most apparent conflict is finished.
    • When Cormack is shot with a seeming flesh wound on the leg, most players, who undergo this kind of shot regularly in the games, would assume he's going to be fine. unfortunately, it's directly stated that he will die in approximately twenty minutes from blood loss due to a lack of adequate medical attention.
    • One of the things touched upon, is how powered exoskeletons have changed how infantry warfare is handled, as well as Military Operations in Urban Terrain. Because of the verticality that can be achieved with an exosuit, along with how much it increases the warfighter's capabilities and what it can provide to the warfighter, it has changed how infantry combat unfolds. Yes, the warfighter in an exosuit can still be slowed down, badly injured and killed, but in a lot of circumstances, the kind of damage they can do in a short period of time, one on one or in fireteams or larger, is nothing short of astonishing. An effective force multiplier, it is. Ideal for advanced warfare.
    • Atlas is the most powerful corporation in the world, with the largest military in the world, direct control over much of the world's infrastructure, and some of the most advanced weaponry on the planet. When Irons declares war on everyone, however, his capital is directly attacked by overwhelming military force, and the only thing preventing it from being overrun is Irons dropping Manticore bombs on his own city.
    • Gideon and Mitchell, being Call of Duty protagonists, have an amazing array of skills. They have AST pilot training, tank training, can fly light jet fighters, jetpacks, and helicopters, along with training in demolitions, stealth, and controlling several types of drones. But even with all their expertise, the game draws the line at Gideon being able to stop a melting-down nuclear reactor. He just doesn't have the highly-specialized technical know-how to actually stop the reactor from blowing.
  • Red Herring: Dialogue during the level 'Bio Lab' seemingly hints that Gideon is a fake defector from Atlas leading the Sentinels into a trap. He's not, and remains completely loyal to Mitchell and the Sentinels throughout the game.
  • Replacement Goldfish: It's likely not a coincidence that John Irons takes a liking to Mitchell his dead son's best friend and treats him with trust, affection and eventual disappointment not bestowed to his other soldiers.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Irons gives a prominent one to the United Nations where he declares they are the problem that needs fixing. He delivers this in his first speech after becoming a part of the UN Security Council himself.
    Irons: So let me be clear, I am here to solve the world's problems, and I believe the problems begin with you.
  • The Reveal: That Jonathan Irons let the KVA attacks happen to shore up Atlas' role as the largest PMC, as revealed by the data drive Hades gives to Ilona before he dies.
  • Scenery Gorn: The Golden Gate Bridge gets pretty hammered, as seen in the trailer.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: This seems to be Irons' mindset. Shown best when he responds to the U.S. government trying to persuade him against invading foreign sovereign soil with the approval of Congress.
    "Atlas is an internationally registered private company. We don't need Congress."
    • Not to mention this bit:
      Irons: We're going in.
      General: On whose authority?
      Irons: On MY authority!
  • Semper Fi: Mitchell is a former US Marine who joins up with Atlas after being medically discharged from the USMC due to being injured in the line of duty.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: The Exo Survival co-op mode is noticeably less difficult than the similar Safeguard mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Players can survive more damage than in Safeguard and can upgrade their armor to survive even more damage, the purchasing system means players can customize their loadout and aren't at the mercy of the random numbers god, and the exo-suit's boost abilities make it much easier to escape from enemy gunfire. Also, there are no ultra-frustrating shield-bearing enemies (which, in Safeguard, could kill you in 2 hits and were extremely difficult to kill from the front).
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: It takes noticeably longer for health to regenerate in the Advanced Warfare single player campaign compared to earlier Call of Duty games, especially the ones by Treyarch (the Black Ops series). This is balanced out by exo abilities that give you a number of combat options to save yourself when your health becomes low. The game also occasionally throws a Boss In Mooks Clothing Mini-Mecha A.S.T. at you, which have no real equivalent in previous Call of Duty games (not counting Juggernauts, which didn't appear in the main campaigns).
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Sledgehammer Games has looked into relevant in-development future tech for this game, including 3D printers and powered exoskeletons.
    • The tunnel and highway note  leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge are as accurate as they are futuristic. Not surprising, given Sledgehammer Games' presence in the Bay Area.
    • When Mitchell and pals are deployed to a desert, they wear cloth covers over parts of their exos to keep sand from gumming up the works. Similar covers exist in real life.
    • The amount of detail that went into portraying Santorini is nothing short of stunning. Outside of a few high tech locales that we see, most of the terrain that Mitchell and Ilona cover are more or less true to life.
    • The dropship Zeppelins from the Seoul mission bear a striking resemblance to DARPA's Hybrid Ultra-Large Aircraft program, the successor of which is under development today.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Weaponized in the form of the Mute Charge, it is like a noise-cancellation headphone that works on an entire room, perfect for when you need to blow a wall down without the people in the next room noticing.
  • Shout-Out: From the level "Utopia" onwards, the plot feels like a shout out to Deus Ex. The protagonists uncover a massive conspiracy in the organization they work for, are captured, escape with the help of a mysterious ally who contacts them with a scrambled voice, and go on the run to uncover the evil Mega Corp. CEO's Take Over the World plan and put a stop to it. Oh, and it's set in the 2050s. Sound familiar?
  • Stealth Pun: Atlas's multiplayer announcer and single-player force coordinator is codenamed "Prophet." As in "Profit."
  • Take That:
    • Briefly in the first level post-Time Skip, while exploring a deserted and radioactive city.
      Torres: Man, I can't believe this is Detroit.
      Joker: Hasn't changed that much.
    • Again in Jonathan Irons' interview after Hades dies, when he is asked if he is considering an attempt at politics.
    Irons: Well, I like to get things done, so... no.
  • Tank Goodness: The "Titan" tank, which is not only like a regular tank, but it can also walk.
  • Theme Naming: The game uses a number of names taken from Greek mythology, all tied to the Atlas corporation.
  • Throw Away Guns: One level leaves Mitchell with the use of only one arm, making him unable to reload and instead discard his emptied weapons for new ones.
  • Title Drop: By Irons on behalf of Atlas Corporation.
    Irons: What you're seeing is Advanced Warfare.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: Jonathan Irons strongly believes that implementation of democracy has failed in many countries, and feels that people need strong law and order with an iron fist. He uses previous examples of failed attempts to install democracies by the United States as examples, and says that security is more important than democracy.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: While the trailers don't explicitly give away the game's "plot twist" namely that Hades and the KVA are a Disc One Final Boss and the true enemy is Atlas, they imply it so strongly that everyone can see it coming. Notably because the first several levels follow the typical Call of Duty/Battlefield formula of a heroic Western military power vs. an abnormally well-equipped Third World terrorist group, so when the twist comes it could actually have subverted expectations if everyone hadn't been primed to see it coming.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: 2054 comes with exosuits, spider-tanks, grenades with selectable modes such as threat detection and smart-targeting via tiny jets, drop pods for military insertion, 3D printer rifles(as in the weapon manufactures its own ammo), directed energy weaponry, hoverbikes, and more. The game also takes place partially in 2055, then skips to 2059-2060 for the rest of the plot.
  • Underside Ride: Jack and Cormack briefly do this to get inside an Atlas compound. Wearing Powered Armor really helps.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The final two missions. At the beginning of Captured, your prosthetic left arm is destroyed and you are forced to play through the level with one arm, one gun, and no reserve ammunition. Mitchell is forced to repeatedly scavenge new weapons from the enemies he kills. The end of that level and most of the next level take a turn into Mech Shooter territory when you hijack an enemy AST.
  • Unique Enemy: In Exo Survival, the Drone Handler enemy type (dual wields autocannons and can release a suicide drone) usually only appears once in an entire 25 round game (half the time he doesn't even appear at all), despite only being slightly tougher than a regular enemy. Heck, the boss-like A.S.T.s appear more often. The Launcher enemy type (guy with a grenade launcher) is almost as rare, although he usually does put in one or two appearances every 25 round game.
  • Unorthodox Reload:
    • The IMR rifle uses an attached 3D printer to print and load bullets from a cartridge of liquid matter. The result is a very unorthodox-looking reload somewhat reminiscent of the pulse rifle from Half-Life 2.
    • The Bulldog shotgun (which was first seen in Ghosts) is reloaded by simply swapping out the barrel, which has the shells pre-loaded and stacked in front of each other. It's based on the real-life MAULER by Metal Storm.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • There's quite a lot of Truth in Television when Irons criticizes the United States' inability to bring peace and democracy to the Third World due to flawed policies, as countries with little in the way of democratic practices in their histories tend toward other systems or adapt democracy to their own systems instead, rendering the changes often useless or temporary. His criticism of them as only causing wars that lead to more wars for the past century (by the time of the game, that reaches back to approximately World War II) also strikes a chord.
    • Hades' rants about the over-reliance on technology also prove very prudent, as when Irons locks down Gideon and Mitchell's exosuits, they are in fact forced to return to their "natural state" and use primitive means to take down their foe, just as he wanted: pure, human determination, strength, and stamina, and nothing more high tech than a knife.
  • Visionary Villain: Irons' ultimate goal seems to be to "end wars before wars end mankind" (as the series' game over screen frequently says), however his solution is to end governments and unify the world under a single corporation.
  • War Is Hell: The battle of Seoul in the beginning of the game. The city has been devastated, and your squad comes across dead South Korean civilians in a subway station. At the beginning cutscene of the next level, Mitchell says that the United States suffered 6,000 casualties in four hours.
  • Walking Tank: The reveal trailer shows a spider-tank, which starts out as a normal tank, but the treads are capable of separating and transforming into legs.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" is the major theme of the game's ad campaign. Subverted in the story in the sense that Irons was already corrupt even before the global KVA attacks caused Atlas to become the world's dominant superpower. In fact he sat back and allowed the attacks to occur specifically in order to acquire all that power.
  • Wham Line:
    Hades: He knows... Irons... knows...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Joker just sort of disappears about halfway through the game. He goes along with Gideon in letting Mitchell and Ilona escape, but later on when Gideon defects to Sentinel along with Mitchell and Ilona, Joker's nowhere to be seen.
    • Likewise, Pierre Danois is last seen being paid by Irons to help him create a new bioweapon. He is not recaptured by Sentinel.
    • Jackson, the fourth soldier in Mitchell's squad in Seoul, never turns up again after the first level.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: In one of the last levels, during a prison escape, Gideon knocks out an Atlas technician after interrogating him. Notable because the SAS, Task Force 141, and the Ghosts have, in identical circumstances, all straight up executed captured enemy workers after they were done with them.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: In the alternate timeline of the exo survival mode, Atlas' Manticore attacks cause these.