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"People don’t 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

The one with exo suits.

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 II (which was set in 2025). Like Black Ops 2, the game features fictional futuristic weaponry and equipment such as exo suits, 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.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • The Easter Egg of the first Exo zombies map is named "Game over, man!" after Bill Paxton's line in Aliens, Paxton plays Kahn, a character of the map. Kahn also repeat variations of this line from time to time.
    • This isn't the first time Gideon Emery has voiced a character who shares his name and is equipped with a futuristic suit of armor which effective turns him into a Super-Soldier.
  • A.K.A.-47: Though justified that Mega-Corp take over the production and giving them new names and that some weapons like the Bal-27 are mishmash of more than one weapons or a heavily modified one.
  • America Saves the Day: Double Subverted. At the start of the game, Jack Mitchell is a private in the US Marine Corps and while the mission in Korea he takes part in is successful, many lives are lost including that of his best friend Will Irons and Mitchell himself loses an arm for his troubles and is medically discharged. From there he accepts an offer by the Atlas Corporation to fight for them with the help of a prosthetic limb. Things go well for him as a PMC and during his tenure Atlas grows to be the largest corporation in the world with an arm in all manner of global security, to the point that they can claim they are a superior military than any government-funded army in the world. Then it's revealed CEO Jonathan Irons knowingly let the initial attack that catapulted Atlas to success happen so he could benefit from it. Mitchell and fellow Atlas operative Ilona defect to the Sentinel Task Force, a multinational US task force assigned to investigate the KVA's nuclear attacks, but later reassigned to investigate Atlas' rise to power. They remain with them through the end of the game.
  • Anachronism Stew: Played straight in multiplayer. As of December 2015, the multiplayer features the MP-40, Sten, StG-44, M1911, lever action rifle, Wild West revolver, and a 16th century blunderbuss. This is amongst the energy weapons and advanced firearms/technology available. A final update in February 2016 also added the M1 Garand to round it out.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In the prologue level, the MLRS that Will loaded with an explosive device blows up, and debris from the destroyed MLRS 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: During "Captured", Mitchel has his prosthetic arm smashed to the point of inoperability, leaving him with only one functional limb. Due to this, gameplay changes drastically; the player can only hold one weapon, can't aim down sights except for with the Atlas .45, cannot reload and must pick up new guns off of the ground, and melee attacks are no longer a one-hit kill. To help compensate for this, every enemy in the level has the "Extended Mag" attachment on their guns, giving the player more leeway in dealing with enemies before needing to re-supply. During the last moments of the mission and for most of "Terminus", the player is put in a mech suit that grants intense firepower in place of standard weaponry.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The "San Francisco" level takes place in the Marin Headlands to the north of, and then eventually on, the Golden Gate Bridge, but never reaches the city limits of San Francisco itself.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: The start of the game shows Mitchell's severed arm being left behind as he is dragged away to safety. In reality, given that the operation was successful and the area secure, the military would have grabbed the severed limb and packed it in ice as — even today — there's a good chance the cut was clean enough that the arm could be successfully reattached, let alone in the far future where robotic prosthetics are possible.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • Mitchell's facial hair, as shown prior to dropping into South Korea during the opening cut-scene, would be out of Marine regulation. Cromack's facial hair is almost as bad. The fact they are shown wearing face masks to begin with makes it worse, because getting a good seal on face masks is one of the reasons a clean shave is enforced in the military.
    • Cormack goes from being a Sergeant in the USMC to a Major in the clandestine Sentinel Task Force in around 6 years, an impossibly fast Rank Up.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: While avoiding the cliche of a nuclear power plant that goes up in a mushroom cloud during a meltdown, the game implies that a reactor that is undergoing a meltdown is "critical", when in fact a critical nuclear reactor would be stable and producing power at normal levels. The nuclear plant shown undergoing a meltdown also somehow causes random explosions, ground shaking and concrete cooling towers to collapse, something that wouldn't happen.
  • Artistic License – Ships: In one mission, you're tasked with helping the crew of an aircraft carrier fight off boarding parties that want to take control of the ships'... Railguns. Modern-day carriers are not equipped with main guns because the recoil and/or deck space requirements of such emplacements would interfere with the space needed to launch and recover aircraft. Even assuming that future ships are not subject to these problems (which is possible, given the prevalence of VTOL aircraft in the game and the assumption that railguns don't have as much recoil), this still raises the question of why the resulting warship, which is more like The Battlestar than anything else, doesn't have a new name to reflect its new role.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Even after being in a major car wreck, Hades is still fit enough to fight one of Atlas' greatest soldiers to a standstill in hand-to-hand combat, despite not having an exo-suit while his opponent is wearing one of her own. He also manages to blurt out plot-sensitive information after having his throat slit.
    • 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: Jonathan Irons has multiple opportunities to kill Mitchell and his squadmates. At best, he simply shoots Cormack so he'll slowly bleed to death and disables Mitchell's arm. Not shockingly, Mitchell and Co. easily escape after he leaves. Most egregiously, at the end of the game, Irons literally has an unarmed, disabled Mitchell at his mercy and actively refuses to shoot him, declaring it's because he's "not a monster." Less than two minutes later, Mitchell throws him off a skyscraper.
  • 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.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: The AST Mini-Mecha serve as this in both the campaign and survival mode. They have an arm-mounted minigun, a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, and can survive more than 100 rounds of automatic weapons fire before dropping. You only ever fight them directly a handful of times, and on "Terminus" you can one-hit-kill them by yanking the pilot out the rear hatch using your grappling hook.
  • 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.
  • Call-Back:
    • The approach to the nuclear plant in "Fission" is extremely similar to the approach to the Gulag in Modern Warfare 2.
    • The way the plane is disabled in "Crash" is similar to the way the Russian sub is disabled in Modern Warfare 3.
    • "Terminus", the final level of the campaign, opens with a frontal assault consisting entirely of two men wielding the heaviest weapons and armor in the game, who make their way into the enemy stronghold under radio guidance from a friendly NPC and destroy an aircraft only to have their heavy equipment disabled by the crashing aircraft. The NPC is then incapacitated, leaving the player to engage the Big Bad alone in a quick-time event. Doesn't that remind you of Dust to Dust from Modern Warfare 3?
  • 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 a Thompson M1921 with a more modern stock and tactical accessory mount points.
  • Conspiracy Thriller: The game pretty much becomes this 1/3 of the way through the campaign. Mitchell, Ilona, 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 clandestine counter-terrorist unit originally designed to fight the KVA, but has now shifted to a counter-conspiracy unit tasked with investigating 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.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Irons knew about the KVA attacks all along. He then let them happen so that Atlas could rise to even further power and develop their Manticore project to essentially create a One World Order under their rule.
  • 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.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Unlike the futures predicted by Black Ops II and Ghosts, the 2060 envisioned by Advanced Warfare is considerably more theoretically stable. There is no cold war brewing over precious materials and a western-hating Nicaraguan narcoterrorist poking the fire nor has South America banded together to launch an orbital strike against the United States. The world that Atlas has brought about has pretty much crushed anything of the sort, as evidenced by the progress in New Baghdad. Yes the KVA did successfully coordinate an attack against nuclear facilities worldwide that Atlas wasn't able to prevent but they reacted swiftly and contained the situation. That in turn allowed them to become the world's most successful private military contractor with contracts to defend all manner of global infrastructure, ensuring the stability will continue. It's a shame that the reality is the KVA attack was allowed to happen by Irons so he could profit from it and is leveraging Atlas's success to help him enact his own world order.
  • 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, the second mission opens with Mitchell obstensibly already as an Atlas operative, working with a team to rescue the POTUS from Camp David, 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: Zig-Zagged. Irons himself gladly admits the benefits of living in a democracy, he just doesn't believe most of the world capable of supporting it - nor does he believe that it will last, because humans will reject freedom in favor of powerful leadership in times of crisis. He thus justifies seizing power as simply the smallest of a list of evils.
  • 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.
  • Developer's Foresight: In Mission 2, if you try to get in Gideon’s elevator he’ll tell you you’re supposed to take the other elevator.
  • 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.
    • Averted in multiplayer however, which uses a more traditional interface.
  • 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: Mitchell rips off his cybernetic arm to drop Irons off a building, literally and figuratively tearing himself away from the Atlas Corporation.
  • Door Fu: The player can rip off car doors to shield against a drone swarm in the opening mission.
  • 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 crashing... in the middle of Antarctica.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: In the first level, set in Seoul, Mitchell and Allies drop right in front of a slightly altered version of the Trade Tower.
  • 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.
  • Elite Mooks: Late in the game, Atlas deploys red-armored elite exo-suits with damage-soaking capabilities similar to Hades' Heavily Armored Mooks, who can even survive a melee punch that would knock other mooks flat on their asses and out cold.
    • Aptly-named Elites in Exo Survival. These are soldiers who wear green berets and green armor. They carry the IMR and EMP grenades, which can knock out your exo and destroy turrets and drones.
  • Elite Zombie: Exo Zombies features various special zombies with their own powers. You have the Charger, who is aggressive, the EMZ, who can zap you and knock out your exo suit, and the Exploder, who explodes when close to you or killed. Infection adds the Meatbag, a zombified Atlas police officer who's body armor makes him absorb more damage (and unable to be dismembered), the Oozer, who drops damaging pools of acid, and the Spiker, who shoots off spikes when he takes damage. Carrier adds the Blinker, a zombie who randomly teleports. Security Dogs also have special variants like human zombies.
    • "Descent", the fourth map, takes this up a notch by including fused zombies, which are two different special zombies fused together, giving them both types' abilities. For example, a Spiker fused with an EMZ, or a Blinker fused with an Exploder.
  • EMP: One of the variables in the tactical grenade is a short-range electromagnetic pulse, which is useful against drone swarms and mooks with AST exoskeletons.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: The UAV as usual, but also available through the Exo Ping ability, which detects nearby enemies on radar.
  • Energy Weapons:
    • 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.
    • The AE4 is a laser assault rifle, acquired by purchasing it as Downloadable Content in the "Havoc" pack. It shoots laser bursts rather than a steady beam, as the EM1 does. Oddly, both this and the EM1 have recoil, despite the fact they're shooting energy (probably for game balance).
  • 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. He's also quite fond of Mitchell, Gideon, and Ilona, to some extent even after they betray him; he does smash Mitchell's mechanical arm, but he doesn't kill him or any of his friends who were in Atlas, despite several opportunities to do so. He seems to believe this is enough to make him not evil, despite the massive civilian casualties to his name. Mitchell and everyone else disagree.
  • Everyone Has Standards: It's noticeable that every faction in the game, from allies to enemies, makes at least some conscious effort to avoid needless civilian casualties to a degree that's unusual for a Call of Duty game. Your allies will capture or incapacitate enemy workers instead of killing them, Atlas makes a point of targeting military targets rather than civilian populations, as well as deliberately engineered their WMD to not harm their own soldiers. Even the KVA can be seen deliberately scaring off civilian crowds instead of mowing them down indiscriminately (though the KVA is pretty carless about collateral damage during actual firefights, and also doesn't let the certainty of civilian casualties get in the way of their plans).
  • Evil Luddite: Hades and the KVA's motivation is to return humanity to a "natural state".
  • Evil Versus Evil: Atlas versus the KVA, even though only one faction is evil at a time.
  • 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 CEOs 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 One 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.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The zombies in Exo Zombies have this. The color depends on the type of zombie.
  • 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.
  • 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 and a single playlist in multiplayer.
  • 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.
    • The Vector-inspired SAC3 submachine guns are also mandatory akimbo.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: 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.
  • Hellhole Prison: The Atlas Prison Camp in Captured. With all the daily activities taking place in the prison, the Geneva Convention and Nuremberg Codes practically have the same meaning as toilet paper there.
  • 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.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Double Subverted in the level "Utopia". After Irons' true nature is revealed, Ilona, the sole major female character, is the only one to go on the run with you. Meanwhile, the (presumably male) mooks and Gideon stay loyal to him. In the end of the level, however, it is revealed that Gideon and Joker are both on fully on Mitchell's side.
  • 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.
  • Hypocrite: The KVA is very technophobic, yet they make use of drones, surveillance devices, advanced weapon optics, vehicles, and so on. Exo-suits seem to be the only real omission they make.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: The HBR is in American military service. It's also chambered in the 7.62x39mm cartridge. The same cartridge for the AKM.
  • 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 (though they do start using some of the simpler abilities such as Shield on more advanced playthroughs after the first 25 rounds).
  • Injured Player Character Stage: Near the end of the game, Mitchell's Artificial Limb is disabled. For the remainder of the game, the player can't use grenades or two-handed weapons, or reload. If the player runs out of ammo they'll need to either kill enemies with Mitchell's knife or grab a new gun. Fortunately, Mitchell can use Mini-Mecha with only one functional arm...
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Overlaps with Serkis Folk. Mitchell, Gideon, Ilona, Knox, and Jonathan Irons are video-game versions of Troy Baker, Gideon Emery, Angela Gotts, Khary Payton and Kevin Spacey, respectively. Likewise, Matt Riedy (Kingpin) in the brief bits he appears in. The principal cast members also provide performance capture for cutscenes.
  • 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.
    • Irons dies in the climax when Mitchell disconnects the prosthetic arm that Irons gave him, and which Irons is now hanging onto, sending him falling to his death.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kick the Dog: If the player still has sympathy for Jonathan Irons and Atlas after the biological attack on American troops in New Baghdad, the level 'Captured' will change 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 to personally smash Mitchell's prosthetic arm and fatally wound Cormack.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: To a degree. There are a handful of non-ballistic firearms in this game (the EM1 heavy laser, the AE4 laser assault rifle available as DLC, and the Tac-19 shotgun, which appears to be some kind of sonic cannon) but by and large the available guns in this game shoot bullets (unconventional as they might be, such as the IMR, which shoots 3D-printed bullets made from its own internal printer).
  • Knight Templar: Mr. Irons has no compunction about declaring the world to be in dire need of someone who can save them from themselves. The solution is to devise a bioweapon that has the ability to pick apart its victims based on a database entry. After that no one would ever step out of line again.
  • Le Parkour: In the campaign, the KVA make up for their lack of exo-suits with some fairly impressive roof-hopping skills.
  • Lodged-Blade Recycling: During the battle with Hades in Santorini, Mitchell uses his left arm to block a knife attack from Hades, which gets the knife stuck in the arm. He then uses the newly-gained knife to slice Hades' throat. Justified as Mitchell's left arm being entirely prosthetic allows him to use the arm for this purpose without bleeding out from it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Match Cut: A rather neat one can be found in "Atlas". Jonathan Irons introduces himself and Atlas just as Mitchell prepares to leave Will's funeral. He hands Mitchell his digital business card, which shows the animated Atlas logo. Mitchell looks down at it, pondering whether or not to join Atlas, while the three-volley salute sounds in the background. Just as the third volley is fired, the screen cuts to Mitchell during an operation, looking down at his assault rifle marked with the Atlas logo, showing that he joined Atlas, the logo matching up with the business card. The transition is covered by the thunderclap and the lightning making everything white, and the volley matches the thunder too.
  • Mauve Shirt:
    • 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.
  • Mega-Corp: Atlas Corporation is this in spades, a massive and technologically advanced Private Military Company that at the beginning of the story was already possessing a single largest military forces in the world and becoming even more powerful through the entire course of the game. Which culminating with its CEO pretty much declaring war on the entire world.
  • 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."
    • Implied by the tagline: "Power changes everything".
  • Mini-Mecha: ASTs, bipedal mech suits with mini-guns for arms, similar to those seen in Red Faction, First Encounter Assault Recon, or Section 8. They very much serve as Boss in Mook's Clothing encounters.
  • Monumental Damage: Continuing the trend of rising "Holy Shit!" Quotient in Call of Duty games that involve destroying a national landmark, Atlas destroys part of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco by attaching explosive drones to the cables.
  • 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 II, 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.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In online multiplayer, any equipment added to the Retired category and later removed from online play. If you happened to have any Retired equipment in your inventory, but discard them after they're removed from online play, then you will not be able to get them back. Players that are new to online play after the Retired equipment are removed from play will not be able to earn them.
  • Powered Armor: 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.
  • 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: The game revolves around a PMC, Atlas, which has grown to the point of being the most influential military force on the global stage.
  • 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 Task Force Sentinel 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 Mitchell 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 without 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.
  • Serkis Folk: In addition to being Inksuit Actors, The voice actors provided performance capture for their characters during the cutscenes.
  • Schizo Tech: The late 2015 updates introduce the WWII-era StG-44, MP40, Sten, and M1911, the modern-era AK-47, Dragunov and M-16, and a 19th-century era revolver and lever-action rifle, and they all can be customized just like the regular guns in the game!
  • 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?
    • The beginning of "Crash" looks a lot like the opening sequence of "The Dark Knight Rises".
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Will Irons (Jonathan Irons' son and Mitchell's best friend) is introduced at the start of the prologue level and dies at the end of the same level. His death is one of the biggest motivating factors in the game for multiple characters.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Ilona is the only female soldier that appears in the single-player campaign, although female player characters do appear in the game's multiplayer.
  • Stealth Pun: Atlas's multiplayer announcer and single-player force coordinator is codenamed "Prophet." As in "Profit."
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: 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.
    • Irons knows that even with the power his forces can bring to bear, he can't possibly stand toe-to-toe with the might of the United States Navy. So rather than fight them head on, he instead decides to drop a bridge on them. Literally, as in dropping the Golden Gate Bridge down on top of the core of the U.S Pacific Fleet so he can pick them apart with cargo ships converted into warships.
  • 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 proclaims truthfully that every attempt by the United States to install democracy in any foreign country has been a total failure - and feels that though democracy in America is the source of both its and his prosperity, it's not going to last for the same reason it has failed to take root overseas; it doesn't work unless the majority of the citizenry are tolerant of religious, political and social differences, concepts that are nonexistent in third-world countries and on the decline in first-world nations. Once tolerance gives way to fear, people will surrender freedom for security - and isn't that what Private Military Contractors like Atlas provide?
    "Unlike the government, we don't keep secrets of our capabilities. We don't sell policy, we sell power. We are a superpower for hire."
  • 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.
  • Tron Lines: The Repulsor SMG, added in an update that came a year after the game's release, has these.
  • 20 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 "Manhunt", there are several heavily-armored KVA troops that are fought when pursuing Hades.
    • 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.
    • The zombies, which appear during the bonus round of "Riot" in Exo Survival. They don't count as enemies on the scoreboard.
  • 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 MAUL by Metal Storm.
  • The Unreveal: It is never revealed who recorded Irons' murder of the technologist. The KVA most likely had a spy inside of Atlas, but whoever it was, and whether or not they're still inside of Atlas, is unknown.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Irons' ultimate goal.
  • 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 - those cultures lack all of the concepts necessary for it; freedom of religion, freedom of the press, even basic freedom of speech. He makes an equally good point that America has been trying to turn other nations into democracies since World War II and it has never worked, instead starting a cycle of wars that has continued into the 21st century. He also smugly points out that even America itself could be considered an anomaly, because in times of chaos, humanity will eagerly embrace a good ol' firm-but-fair iron fist - the 2050s have seen the country become a police state in all but name due to fear of terrorism - so he sees no reason not to provide said fist himself via his PMC, Atlas. He's still a Card-Carrying Villain, though, willing to commit mass murder through biological warfare to "end wars before wars end mankind".
    • 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 - nothing more high tech than a knife.
  • Visible Invisibility: The Cloak attachment has this effect; when enemies use it, the blurry effect is actually very easy to spot.
  • 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 for Fun and Profit: The mere existence of Atlas means this trope was in technically effect from moment one but certainly the allowance of the KVA attacks so Irons could use the event to make his company an N.G.O. Superpower would be fitting of the trope's spirit beyond its letter.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • The KVA suffers this, after Hades' death. Apart from Gideon mentioning an Atlas team taking down another cell, they disappear from the storyline completely as Atlas takes over as the main enemy.
    • Prophet, Mission Control for the missions where you're part of Atlas, is not heard from or mentioned again after "Manhunt".
  • World War III: Well, openly threatening the United Nations by confirming you developed a superweapon is probably not going to win many friends...
  • 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. The same is forcibly applied to the player in the same level, as harming the technicians will net you a Non Standard Game Over, in contrast to previous games (such as World at War and Black Ops 2), which allowed the player to shoot unarmed enemies, even if the player would have a cathartic desire to commit war crimes against the war criminal scientists and technicians who slaughtered many prisoners used as test subjects as part of their work on Manticore. Justified since the player's unit in the 2nd half, Sentinel is a military task force, and therefore bounded by The Geneva Convention.
    • At the end of the game it's mentioned that Atlas is only targeting military targets with their Manticore superweapon, instead of using it against random civilian population centers. However, due to the very nature of bio-weapons, it's likely that Manticore strikes would still have resulted in significant civilian casualties if Mitchell and Gideon hadn't prevented the missiles from launching.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: In the alternate What If? timeline of the exo survival mode, Atlas' Manticore attacks cause these.