(Note: Activision paid for transportation and lodging for this preview)
When Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was revealed earlier this year, the reception was... less than positive. With hundreds of thousands of downvotes on Youtube and tons of negative comments on all forms of social media, I wondered, has the Call of Duty craze finally died down? In my opinion, probably not and I honestly think that most of the negative reaction to Infinite Warfare is the fact that Modern Warfare Remastered is not being offered as a separate purchase. To get it you have to buy the Legacy edition to get the game, which in my opinion isn't the friendliest move from Activision. Business wise, yeah it's smart as hell as it will force people to buy the more expensive versions of Infinite Warfare to get the game. That aside, where does that leave Infinite Warfare? In my opinion, I never really thought the game looked that bad. I am not a hardcore Call of Duty player, but I do buy the games every year because I do have fun playing them and I expect Infinite Warfare to be no different. Activision graciously invited me to attend Call of Duty XP 2016 where I got a hands on preview of the multiplayer in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and It was everything I was expecting it to be, and it's also a ton of fun.
The first thing that you'll notice right away is the Combat Rigs system in the game. This is very similar to the Specialist Operator system from Black Ops 3, but you wont be playing as a specific character. There are six different Combat Rigs in the game and each rig has a separate set of Payloads and Traits. Payloads is where the similarity to Black Ops 3 comes into play because these are special abilities that you can equip for your character. After filling up your meter, you will get to use your Combat Rigs ability by pressing L1 and R1. Use it wisely because if you die, it's gone and you need to build up your meter again. In most of the games that I played, I used the Marksman Combat Rig and I used the "Claw" Payload, which equips you with a ballistic weapon that fires out multiple shots in a cone and those bullets can ricochet off walls as well. This ability is fantastic for clearing small rooms where there is a point that needs to be capped. I also used the "Persistence" trait where your score streaks wont reset upon death. There is a catch this time around. This ability has been around before, but this time, the points needed to earn score streaks are doubled. The other catch is that once you earn all of your score streaks, you will NOT be able to earn any more score streaks for the rest of the match. This means that if you pick the three cheapest score streaks, which is usually, UAV, care package and a drone, and you earn those score streaks in the first minute of the match, you will be without score streaks the rest of the match.
The other Combat Rig I got to check out was the FTL Combat Rig. I am going to assume that FTL is short for "Faster Than Light" because if you like to rush around the match as quickly as possible, this is the Combat Rig for you as FTL specializes in speed. The "Power Slide" trait will let you slide and shoot at the same time and this is great for quickly rushing to a point, sliding in, start capping it, and pick off enemies in the area. The big change for this new system compared to Black Ops 3 is that now you can change Combat Rigs, Traits and Payloads at any time during the match, so you can switch things up to help out the team.
If you told me I had to describe to you how Infinite Warfare feels in one sentence, I would tell you this. "It plays like Modern Warfare but feels like Black Ops 3". For me, I prefer the faster Call of Duty games and this game is insanely fast. The second both teams meet in the middle of the arena, it turns into an all out brawl, with bullets and grenades flying all over the place. You are really gonna want to take your time with this game like most Call of Duty games because constantly running into a firefight will get you killed instantly. When the team works together however, it makes for a fast and fun Call of Duty game. The reason I say it feels like Black Ops 3 however is because the wall running and jet pack system is still in the game. It feels really improved from Black Ops 3 however as straffing left and right in the air, along with wall running feels really smooth this time around. There is a small feature they added which honestly feels like a breath of fresh air and that is health bars on enemies. Again, it's a small addition but at least now I wont sit there wondering why the hell someone didn't die after what felt like unloading an entire clip into them.
The three game modes available for us to play were Team Deathmatch, Domination and the new game mode, Defender. Team Deathmatch and Domination are self explanatory but the new game mode Defender is a ton of fun. The way it works is that in the middle of the match an orb will spawn. Every second that someone on your team holds the orb, your team earns points. After about 45 seconds or so the orb will reset and the battle for the orb will begin again. The best way to describe this would be Hardpoint but on the move. When you have the orb, you want to be as far away from enemies as possible. I was the first one to grab the orb on my team, and then I quickly ran back to our spawn point with the rest of my teammates as they all gathered around me to protect the orb. When the enemy has the orb, You are constantly running after them and it leads to an incredibly fun and fast game mode. In terms of the other game modes, they weren't available for us to play but all of your favorites including Kill Confirmed, Search and Destroy, Hardpoint, Uplink and more. The one thing that I really want to return are wager matches from the original Black Ops. Sticks and Stones was so much fun and I really want that one back.
As for the weapons and equipment, I am not sure if all of the items that will be available at launch were present in the demo however we did get to check out a large number of them that will be in the game. One of the new lethal grenades that I absolutely love is the Black Hole Projector, which created a small black hole where is lands and then will proceed to suck in everything that gets near it. Again, this weapon was perfect for Domination and I would assume it will be great for other objective based game modes as you can throw a black hole projector onto an objective if enemies are capping it and set up your team to take them all one in one clean sweep. The black hole projector will also suck in things near it so unlike normal grenades where you can easily hide behind some cover, the black hole bomb will still start pulling anyone that is trying to hide near it.
As for the maps, there were three available to play and the three of them did a good job of showcasing the small, medium, and large sized maps that will be included in the game. One of these maps was the return of my favorite map in all of Call of Duty history, Terminal. The fan favorite Modern Warfare 2 map returns and gets a futuristic upgrade. This map was the same Terminal that you know and love from before and even though it may look different, I felt right at home on this map, knowing exactly where all of the entrances, and choke points were. The other map was called "Throwback" which looks awful similar to "Fringe" from Black Ops 3. Throwback is a relatively large map that feels claustrophobic since you are fighting down back alleyways and small houses in the middle of a town. There is also a train that is parked in the middle of the map. I forgot the name of the final map but it takes place in a space station and it's probably the smallest map out of the three. The map is essentially a circle with a left, middle and right lane. The lanes however are small so expect a ton of chaos in the middle of the map. Unfortunately, none of the other additions that were in the reveal trailer such as the weapons crafting system were available for us to try, but by playing the game, you will be able to unlock "prototype" weapons, which are weapons that come with their own perks and upgrades. For instance, one of these rare prototype weapons will give you the almighty tactical nuke after getting a 25 kill streak. No word yet on if the nuke will work like it did back in Modern Warfare 2 where it will instantly end the match, or if it will work like the MOAB from Modern Warfare 3 where it will wipe out the entire enemy team, but will keep the match going.
Aside from Infinite Warfare, there were two other games available for us to play at COD XP including Infinite Warfare's zombies offering "Zombies in Spaceland." If you are a fan of Treyarch's zombie multiplayer experience, then you should be happy to know that Zombies in Spaceland is pretty much identical. At least you won't have to wait another two years for Treyarch's next zombies offering. Zombies in Spaceland takes place in the 80's and in an amusement park with Pee-Wee Herman himself, Paul Rubens, as the announcer for the game mode but he also appears to be the main antagonist as well. Unfortunately, this experience was timed, so we only got about 15 minutes to play. Our team was only able to unlock a few areas before the timer would run out and that's not nearly enough time to play a full blown zombies game, however, I feel like this was enough time to get a feel for the game itself and those who are fans of zombies are going to feel right at home. The last game we got to play was of course the multiplayer for Modern Warfare Remastered. Let me tell you, after playing Call of Duty for years, going back and playing this was an experience. There is no sliding, no jump packs and wall running, and everyone has the same three killstreaks in the UAV, Air Strike and The Helicopter. I can't even tell you how many times I was killed because I completely forgot about trip mines, or how many times I tried to slide away from enemy only to be killed by my stupidity. This isn't a backwards compatible port however, this is a full remaster of the game, running at a beautiful 60FPS and an all new crisp HUD as well. I really hope if this turns out to be a success, we get Modern Warfare 2 remastered as well because that and the first Black Ops are my favorite games in the series.
So I guess the last question remains. Did I enjoy the new Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare? Yes, I did. I have enjoyed the Call of Duty games for years and this is looking like a solid entry into the series. If you have enjoyed the series so far, especially Black Ops 3, then there really isn't any reason you wouldn't enjoy Infinite Warfare. For those who aren't into Call of Duty however, this game probably won't change your mind as it is still very much the same Call of Duty that we have been playing for years. I don't know much about the single player experience, but between the multiplayer and the new Zombies in Spaceland, this is probably going to be one of the Call of Duty games that I will play well into the next year.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively. It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 29 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. And for the record... I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 ending... sue me