Editor’s Note: Activision provided us with a review copy of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s Legacy Edition on PlayStation 4 system.
I started playing Call of Duty with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. For me, Modern Warfare is my favorite Call of Duty series to date. I do not know what exactly it is about it that kept me hooked during those times, but it did.
It was clear from the start of this year that this year would be different. From the initial leak of a space setting to the reveal, fans seemed tired of the futuristic setting. Infinite Warfare had a very rough reveal with the reveal trailer now ranked as the #2 most disliked video on YouTube (although, yes, there was a dislike bots hit on it too). There has been a lot more hate thrown around this year, more so than I have seen in the last 6 years of doing this. We get the idea of the Call of Duty hate bandwagon that exists; it is there and will probably always be there.
This year is different again because of the setting of the game. In 2014, Advanced Warfare took us to the future; Last year, Black Ops 3 kept that trend up and took us again to the future.
And now, Infinite Warfare takes us there again.
Infinity Ward has taken us to space. It was teased, somewhat, when you look back at it. Infinity Ward explored the space idea in Call of Duty: Ghosts’ campaign but kept that game true to ‘modern times.’ You could tell that single mission was their exploration phase into what space combat with zero gravity would look like. In fact, in a recent interview, Taylor Kurosaki confirmed that the Infinite Warfare zero-g combat was started from taking the zero-g combat in Ghosts.
However, as an overall entertainment package, Infinite Warfare delivers a solid Call of Duty game. And with Modern Warfare Remastered attached on collector’s editions, there’s a ton for fans to enjoy this year.
We do not want to dive too deep into the campaign, as its best if everyone experiences it for themselves, but just a few notes on it:
The entire thing, from start to finish, puts a lot of focus on developing the characters from start to finish, instead of trying to put focus on a single character. You actually feel connected to each of the characters on your team. I think its one of the first titles I actually got emotional at certain points; many cut scenes and action sequences are incredibly designed. The emotional run in this campaign is just phenomenal.
For the first time in Call of Duty, players are tasked as the leader of their command. Lt. Reyes gets promoted to Captain as the game progress, and players take control of the Retribution. The Retribution is your main home base and is very lively. As the campaign develops, so does the ship. And, your attachment to crew on ship develops. Throughout the story, players get a chance to fight back and take back what the SDF took from us following the attack on Geneva.
One of the biggest downsides to the campaign, however, is the lack of development of the Kit Harrington’s character, Admiral Salen Koch, the leader of the SDF. You only get to see little portions of him, with majority of interactions via a video feed. It’s not like Advanced Warfare, where Kevin Spacey’s character was throughly developed and expanded. We barely get to know Koch’s past or his path to leader of SDF. And how his character arc developed was not exciting. There could have been a lot more here.
But overall, the campaign delivers. In fact, Infinity Ward has delivered one of the best Call of Duty campaigns to date.
There’s one central thought that comes to find when I think of Infinite Warfare MP: lack of innovation.
The MP experience is one that does not live up to the campaign’s. While the campaign fully embraces the zero-g, space combat, Infinity Ward was not willing to take it on in the MP portion. If you played Black Ops 3, this game is almost identical to it. Infinity Ward basically tried to take what was “good” of previous Call of Duty games and blend it into one.
But, it comes back to the point of innovation. When you pick up Infinite Warfare MP, you will not necessarily find something dramatically new. Many systems, features, and more feel identical to Black Ops 3.
There is something about Infinite Warfare MP experience that works: at many points, it is fun. While the experience does not feel new and lacks innovation, it is almost like a refined experience of what we have been playing for last several years. And if you did enjoy the last few Call of Duty games, then you might enjoy this too.
And it’s a dramatic improvement over Ghosts’ lack of polish. Here we can see the 3 year cycle providing some good polish and overall direction to the title.
There also appears to be in multiplayer an issue that some players are experiencing: lag compensation. This is something Infinity Ward is aware about and has been since the beta. At many points, it feels as if you “shoot first” but die instead of getting that select kill. This is something that other Call of Duty titles have experienced before, but it is noticeable for many in this game.
Sledgehammer Games first introduced ‘advanced’ movement in Call of Duty with the Exo Suites in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. These exos provided boost jumps, boost dashes, and more. Treyarch toned it down to a ‘chain based movement system’ in Black Ops 3, which still allowed double jumps and more, but it was more controlled and tight to maps than Advanced Warfare.
Infinite Warfare’s movement system, at Call of Duty XP, was identical to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. However, at launch, it appears Infinity Ward has slightly toned down the movement system overall, making it more controlled. Another big difference in Infinite Warfare’s movement system compared to Black Ops 3 is how limited wall running is, which is a plus. Some maps are not designed for the wall running, and the movement system at some points is not required.
We really want to see Call of Duty return to boots on the ground. We’re not there yet, but hopefully Activision brings us back to the ground in future releases.
Infinity Ward introduces a Combat Rig system in Infinite Warfare, which is basically Infinity Ward’s take on the Specialists in Black Ops 3.
The difference between Infinite Warfare Rigs and Black Ops 3 Specialists is that Specialists actually had personalities, felt different when playing with different ones, and provided a balance to the game. Combat Rigs have no personalities, really. They feel stale, and you do not really know that you changed rig until the meter lights up in the bottom with a new payload.
Another huge different between Specialists and Combat Rigs is that you do not have to risk throwing away an ability for a payload. In Black Ops 3, you picked between a weapon and an ability and could only use one in-game. In Infinite Warfare, players can use a Payload (which can be weapons or different abilities) AND equip a trait which stays active throughout the entire game. It is basically an extra perk all players get. You do not sacrifice anything to equip a trait.
It seems like Infinity Ward was able to find a balance with this system in game, but these rig characters do not really expand the gameplay experience any more than Black Ops 3’s specialists did. And, we think its time to go back to the original system without these abilities. Some of the abilities just feel unnecessary in Call of Duty.
What made the older Call of Duty titles great was the simplicity in gameplay.
Ah, yes. The infamous Supply Drops are back. We are stuck with them, at this point probably. In a recent investor call, Activision said in-game sales “doubled” in Call of Duty in 2016. In fact, Activision Blizzard (the entire company, across all games) made $1 billion in 2016 just from in-game content sales.
But if we have to have Supply Drops, Infinity Ward’s implementation is probably an okay version of it. It’s a combination of Advanced Warfare’s and Black Ops 3’s system with twists.
Supply Drops in Infinite Warfare can award players with the following:
- Multiplayer Loot (calling card, customization gear, weapon camos, and more)
- Weapon Variants
- Salvage (the in-game crafting currency)
Weapon Variants are back. Instead of Advanced Warfare where weapons had straight up statical advantages, Infinite Warfare weapon variants gain extra weapon perks that bring advantages or additional stability to each weapon.
In Advanced Warfare, weapons variants could only be acquired through Supply Drops. Either earning drops as you play (which was a very slow rate…) or buying Advanced Supply Drops. In Infinite Warfare, weapon variants can be acquired in two ways: through supply drops or through crafting the variant you want. You can actually directly get the variants of the guns you want without the randomness of supply drops using the in-game crafting currency of Salvage, which is different than ‘Keys.’ However, it has come to light at launch that select weapon variants are locked to Supply Drops. Infinity Ward, however, has mentioned to some press that these weapons will eventually become craft-able as new weapons are added.
In Infinite Warfare, players earn Keys as they play. The more you play, the more keys you earn. You use these Keys in the Quartermaster to get Supply Drops. There are two Supply Drops; Common (10 Keys) and Rare (30 Keys). Salvage, the crafting currency, can be earned through those Supply Drops, through mission teams, and through login bonus. You, actually, do not earn Salvage through regular play time. This whole system weighs on how often you earn Keys and how much Salvage you get. It will probably take a lot of play time to get the best variants of weapons.
When Supply Drops can be bought directly (it is only a matter of time till they go up on sale for real currency), it might create unfair advantage since Supply Drops provide Salvage, which then can be used to craft weapons. Especially Rare Drops, which give Salvage more often.
It all depends on how Infinity Ward handles the drop rates and bonuses that players get.
Infinite Warfare is an overall great entertainment package from Infinity Ward. The campaign delivers; multiplayer, while it lacks innovation, offers rich customization and gameplay options; and of course, the game features the fun Zombies in Spaceland mode.
It feels like a repetition of what happened during Ghosts, really. The campaign is well thought out and explores incredible new ideas; a new take on a co-op mode that extends the gameplay further. But the multiplayer is not innovative. It always seems like Infinity Ward is scared and holds back on innovating in multiplayer. Ghosts did this too: they removed a lot of risky innovations from Black Ops 2 and tried to just hold on what they thought worked. They never take risks with multiplayer, and that causes it to feel stale if you already played previous Call of Duty games.
A really single way to sum up Infinite Warfare MP: If you liked Black Ops 3 MP, this game might be for you. It’s very similar to the core idea that Treyarch bought last year, and Infinity Ward has made an attempt to refine that, although some may prefer Treyarch’s approach. They are very similar in almost all aspects, but Infinity Ward embraces a new environments in maps and more by taking the game to space.
And if Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is not for you, the Legacy, Digital Deluxe, and Legacy Pro come with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. Modern Warfare is one of my personal favorite games ever, and I am more excited than ever to be able to play this again. Activision has not announced the possibility of releasing Modern Warfare Remastered separately, if you’re someone holding off just for that.
If you’re looking for the best value this year for Call of Duty, the Digital Deluxe Edition delivers that: Infinite Warfare ($60), Modern Warfare Remastered (~$20), and Infinite Warfare Season Pass ($50 + $20 additional bonus), a total value of $150+, for only $100.
This is the first time in Call of Duty’s history we are getting two games at once. Play whichever you enjoy more. We plan on giving both a fair shot.