DLC Review: Ascendance (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare)

Four score and seven kills ago...

Four score and seven kills ago…

Developer Sledgehammer has brought their second helping of downloadable content to the Xbox One with Ascendance for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Priced at the usual $14.99 (free for Season Pass holders), the new map pack brings four new locations, highlighted by Perplex, another chapter in the Exo Zombies saga, a new playlist (grapple) and the OHM directed energy weapon.

Chop Shop

Instead of harvesting parts from stolen cars, Chop Shop is all about black market exoskeletons, which creates some interesting visuals. While the aesthetic has some uniqueness, the layout couldn’t feel more familiar. That shouldn’t be confused with bad or annoying, but the way you move through the map and duck in and out of buildings creates some serious déjà vu — and I don’t mean from previous Call of Duty titles, either. More like maps that shipped with Advanced Warfare‘s original release.


Did you ever see the film Bio-Dome? Of course you didn’t, and neither did anyone else, which is why pretty much nobody involved with that movie is still around. Climate is Sledgehammer’s take on the subject with lush greenery and plenty of water interconnected by a series of small bridges. This is a flat map by AW‘s standards with few elevated points of interest, and though the in-game change of water into acid switches up the gameplay effectively it’s still not a memorable addition.


Easily the best new map is Perplex, which is set in a modular Sydney apartment complex that takes full advantage of the game’s focus on verticality and also serves as a showcase for the included grapple playlist where all Exo powers are replaced with grappling hooks. The five-story building creates a constant desire to gain the high ground and makes for some frantic action. On-site drones move the actual modules around, creating a dynamic combat environment. It’s really excellent.

Site 244

Set against the backdrop of Mt. Rushmore, Site 244 doesn’t utilize the landmark in any way other than to place it inconspicuously off in the distance. That seems appropriate since the map itself does almost nothing to differentiate itself from other locations we’ve already played. The winding paths and minimal freedom of movement make it feel like something that could’ve easily been shipped in a previous game when exos weren’t a thing.

Exo Zombies: Battle Back to Burgertown

Introduced in the first set of DLC, Exo Zombies is back as we continue to follow the exploits of Jon Bernthal, Rose McGowan, John Malkovich and Bill Paxton. The continuity helps give your actions some gravitas even in an absurd situation, though clearly any and all plot elements take a back seat (wayyyyy back) to the killing of zombies. One of the pleasant surprises on that front is how dynamic the undead are compared to previous games, moving more quickly and in unique ways.

Fans of the series will recognize the setting (Burgertown), while returning players will appreciate a larger and more diverse selection of the undead. Survivors will also appear, offering weapon upgrades if you can escort them to safety, along with a zombie rocking some Goliath armor to test the mettle of you and your teammates. It’s a step up from the already solid first installment, cranking up the action and challenge level.


This isn’t one of the better all-around offerings we’ve seen from Call of Duty, but the new Exo Zombies episode, grapple playlist and Perplex adversarial map successfully salvage the top-heavy Ascendance map pack.


About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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