Basketball isn’t the first thing we tend to think of when we play Call of Duty, but Advanced Warfare’s team-based ‘Uplink’ multiplayer mode brings the baskets and the balls to the forefront of our mind.
Each side has a floating orb (basket) that they must protect, with a neutral ‘uplink’ drone (ball) dropped into the middle of the map at the start of a match. Your goal is to grab the uplink and throw it into the opposition’s orb for one point, or walk/jump into it for two points. After two halves, the team with the most points struts away the victor.
When holding the uplink you can’t fire your weapon, although you can melee with the orb for an instant kill or throw it at an enemy. The throw is initially counterintuitive as you’re giving away possession of the only element that can score you points, but the fact that it takes the receiver by surprise (and prevents them using their gun) gives you the upper hand if you’re quick on your own trigger.
Developer Sledgehammer is going so far as to introduce the Uplink mode as Advanced Warfare’s very own ‘future sport’, an approach and a description that’s very much in keeping with the game’s overall vibe and direction.
The best tactic for success is to use the ‘pick 13’ class-creation system to give yourself 13 characteristics that will allow you to perform a specific role for your team. If you want to be a scorer than you probably want to prioritise your speed and employ as many perks as possible associated with making you invisible to radar. If you want to defend the hoop orb you’ll want more powerful weapons, as well as tools aimed at improving your ability to survey the map.
It’s in Uplink where mastery over the double-jump/boost is something approaching vital. Your jetpack allows you to dramatically increase the amount of ground that you can cover, meaning you don’t need to be especially close to the orb to attempt to walk it in (read: dunk it).
Other skills are similarly transferrable and, at the end of the day, racking up kills – as in most other FPS game modes – remains the best overall strategy. One game we played saw our team take an early lead, only to lose it all over the final moments. By concentrating on putting together killstreaks, our opponents managed to call in a ‘Goliath Suit’ – essentially a mini-mech of incredible strength and firepower into which the player that earned it can climb.
Given that the uplink spawns in the same place every time following a successful score, the Goliath simply camped in that area and made it next to impossible for our team to ever get those essential extra possessions as the final seconds ticked down.
Teamwork, in the form of each team member performing a very specific role, is the way to go in this mode. As a result, you can expect dedicated teams of friends – willing, able and comfortable in talking to one another – to dominate Uplink against randomly thrown together individuals.