The end of the year means an influx of AAA games, and Call of Duty headlines that each year. Being the thirteenth Call of Duty game, it’s reasonable to expect that gamers are getting sick of the franchise.
While rival series Battlefield has taken its warfare back to the first World War, Infinite Warfare brings the franchise into the future for its third consecutive year. This allowed Infinity Ward to improve the formula in some ways, but also causes it to feel stale for series veterans. Let’s examine each of Infinite Warfare‘s three modes to see if this year’s installment is worth your cash.
What I played (on PS4): Completed the Campaign on Regular, including all side missions, in roughly six hours. Played several hours of Multiplayer across a variety of modes to rank up to level 15. Played about ten rounds of Zombies both solo and online, making it as far as scene 12.
The campaign of Infinite Warfare, unlike Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III before it, takes place almost entirely in space. In the future, a rogue group known as the SDF terrorizes the population. When the bad guys attack Earth’s home base, your team launches an all-out assault to take the fight to the baddies.
Though you’re fighting in space this time, this is still a CoD campaign. Linear missions consisting of “we need to stop the bad guys” are here, and you won’t find any branching story arcs like in Black Ops II. However, even with the core mechanics of a CoD campaign, gallivanting into space does bring some fun moments.
After a certain point, you’re able to pick from a few different missions. Some of these are optional space dogfights, where you’re tasked with eliminating high-value enemy pilots. Other times, you’ll need to sneak aboard an enemy ship and use stealth to assassinate high-ranking officials.
These ship combat missions are a first for the series, and while they are enjoyable, they can drag on for a bit too long. The aircraft control wonderfully, but having to chase after a dozen tiny enemy fighters or deal massive damage to a destroyer starts to get old after a few times.
While this game can’t compete with Modern Warfare, it is one of the best campaigns the series has seen. Solid voice acting, along with gorgeous visuals and some great moments, make the roughly six-hour experience a good one.
If you’re looking to experience pain, you can play through the campaign on Specialist difficulty after beating it once. This mode is more realistic — enemies can shoot weapons out of your hands and your movement is hindered if you are hit in the legs, for example. It’s not for everyone, but it’s something the series hasn’t seen before.
No matter how solid the campaign is, people keep playing Call of Duty for the multiplayer. Unfortunately, it’s the weakest mode of this game.
It’s Call of Duty Multiplayer, In Space
Nearly everything that this year’s multiplayer has to offer is something that you’ve seen before. You’ll still be boost-jumping and running along walls, but with maps in space. The unique abilities that Black Ops III‘s Specialists had are now found in combat rigs, the robots you control.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this multiplayer setup. It’s still Call of Duty, and Infinite Warfare feels faster than ever before, so you’ll be getting killed a lot. The lag and spawning issues of prior games haven’t been fixed, and the maps feel a lot more maze-like than the three-lane structure of those in Black Ops III.
With the Pick Ten system allowing you to choose your loadout and Supply Drops granting you special taunts and camos, anyone who played the past two CoD games will immediately get a feeling of deja vu. Even some of the elements, like the scorestreak counter and ability meter, look like they were was copied and pasted from Black Ops III.
Infinite Warfare could have done a lot more with the space theme to make the third year in a row of mechanized warfare stand out. Why didn’t we get a mode where players fight in zero-gravity, or larger maps that made use of the grappling hook from the campaign?
There are a few new modes, but they have nothing to do with the theme. Frontline is a team deathmatch-like mode where you always spawn in a safe base, and Defender tasks you with holding onto an orb to score points. Another new mechanic is the factions that task you with completing small missions in a match, like getting five kills with a handgun. Completing these unlocks special gear.
While the guns feel fantastic to shoot, many of them are clearly re-skins of older weapons like the AK-47. We also found the lack of an option to mute everyone completely bizarre. Ultimately, Infinite Warfare‘s multiplayer ends up feeling like more of the same, almost like an expansion pack to Black Ops III.
Pay to Win?
One concern in the multiplayer is the Supply Drop system. As you play, you earn keys that can unlock boxes of random loot. These boxes can contain special variations of guns that have better stats and bonuses. For example, an Epic assault rifle might have no damage drop-off at a distance.
— Call of Duty News (@charlieINTEL) November 3, 2016
Since these keys will be available as microtransactions, players who pay real money could have an objective advantage over those who don’t. It’s too early to tell at this point, but has the potential to be a frustrating issue.
Once a bonus, Zombies has become a core part of the CoD package. While Zombies has traditionally been Treyarch’s mode, Infinity Ward has included it in Infinite Warfare. It’s a shame that they didn’t try something fresh, like the Extinction mode from Ghosts, but thankfully this year’s Zombies is one of the best offerings yet.
Zombies in Spaceland takes place when four wannabe actors show up to be cast for famed horror director Willard Wyler’s return to the silver screen. It turns out that Wyler is crazy and sucks the four into his movie, Zombies in Spaceland. The film takes place in the 1980s and the four players are transformed into cheesy 80s stereotypes.
If you’ve played a Zombies offering before, you know what to expect here. The core mechanics of boarding up the windows, turning on the power, and buying better weapons are all present. It’s the aesthetics and player-friendly nature that propel this to one of the best Zombie modes in a while.
There are plenty of breaks for new players. When you die in a multiplayer round, you’re able to play arcade games and earn a revive. Multiple players can chip in to open expensive doors instead of forcing one person to pay. There’s also a “guide to the park,” which explains the fundamentals. For a mode that’s been rooted in complexity, these are welcome changes.
The 80s vibe and theme park setting work perfectly for Zombies. Killing zombies can drop tokens that you drop into a prize machine to unlock a temporary, powerful weapon. Completing mini-challenges from a robot earns tickets that you can spend on special items.
The character voices are a treat — a particular standout is Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) as Wyler. He serves as the announcer in each round, and hearing him yell “You weren’t supposed to clear the set!” when you grab a zombie-killing Nuke power-up is phenomenal.
Zombies has plenty of replayability, as well. You’ll rank up just like in Multiplayer, and can unlock weapon attachments. You can play Zombies online with up to three other people, so we recommend having some buddies along.
Despite being the third sci-fi Call of Duty game in a row, two-thirds of Infinite Warfare are quite solid. The campaign is fun, features great moments and acting, and is certainly worth playing through. Zombies is full of charm and is more accessible than ever before. If you’re interested in these two modes, the game is definitely worth renting.
It’s a shame that the multiplayer doesn’t fare as well. CoD diehards will probably be disappointed by how samey everything is. If you haven’t checked out any other similar games in a while, now is the time. There are several other recently released multiplayer shooters that are more enjoyable that this game.
With Battlefield 1‘s epic WWI battles, the amazing teamplay and diverse characters in Overwatch, and the fine-tuned sci-fi antics of Titanfall 2 (which isn’t charging for DLC, to boot), we can’t recommend Infinite Warfare to those looking for a multiplayer shooter.
Have you played Infinite Warfare? What do you think about the multiplayer, and what’s your favorite mode? Share the shooter you’re hooked on down in the comments!