August 11, 2014 2:04 PM EDT

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare wants to reset your expectations, to convince you that it’s not the annual, somewhat tedious box-checking military adventure you’ve been opening your wallet to for umpteen-many years and games.

The guys at Sledgehammer — the same guys who gave us Dead Space — have doubtless seen the mass of disconsolate user reactions to recent installments on aggregation sites. They know that while people continue to buy these games in record numbers, there’s something to be said for retooling not just how a Call of Duty looks or how many set piece skyscrapers go boom, but how the game actually plays.

Some of that’s self-evident with the long-teased promise of Advanced Warfare‘s EXO suit, a Crysis-like combat augmentation armament that turn soldiers into bionic superhumans. With the EXO suit, you can run faster, regenerate health more quickly, drape yourself in a Predator-like cloak, hover in place for several moments, out enemies behind barriers, deploy a force field-like shield, and all of that folded into a perks system that offers slight improvements or variations on ability themes. The tactical shift by definition has to be considerable.

Today’s multiplayer reveal confirms those presumptions: If you can run and dodge faster, the pace of combat becomes that much more frenetic. By letting players leap into the air and hover (as well as dodge while in the air) you’re taking the game vertical (and to a certain extent turning it into Tribes). And there’s now a “Boost Slam” melee attack that adds a “death from above” tactic. Check out the official multiplayer reveal trailer above to see someone rolling through all those maneuvers as well as illustrating how to do so seamlessly.

Sledgehammer’s also tweaking skill and XP-related multiplayer progression by folding in Supply Drops. In addition to XP ranking, Supply Drops let you acquire custom weapons (each weapon has 10 options that Sledgehammer says add up to 350 customization out of the box, and that’s before attachments), cosmetic “gear”-related customizations and rare one-time use items that activate during the match at set intervals.

The “Pick 10” create-a-class option is back, only with more options that add up to Pick 13, including customizable scorestreaks (how much you can score without dying) you can use with your favorite class, cooperative scorestreaks (you and a friend vamping on each others’ scores), and EXO suit modifications and perks.

Slegehammer says Advanced Warfare will feature 12 modes out of the box, including oldies like Capture the Flag, Hardpoint, Team Deathmatch, Domination and Search and Destroy, as well as new ones like Uplink (teams fight for control of a satellite drone) and Momentum (Advanced Warfare‘s take on tug-of-war). And between matches, they’ve added a Virtual Firing Range you can drop into to try out item metrics like sights, attachments, bullet spread or recoil without map loading, or as Sledgehammer puts it, “having to blindly go into a match with a new loadout.”

How do you lord your virtual moxie over others? In Advanced Warfare‘s new Virtual Lobby, where all of your hard-earned XP and Supply Drop rewards are displayed for anyone to peruse. Sledgehammer says you can scan everyone else’s characters in full here, from character customization options to loadouts and gear selection.

And for eSports wonks, Advanced Warfare will support Hardpoint and Capture the Flag modes, round-based domination, an expanded Oracle mode when broadcasting, ranked playlists, LAN lobbies and the option to tweak private matches using a rules-related value slider.

Write to Matt Peckham at

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