(Disclosure notice. Activision invited me to attend Call of Duty XP back in September for a hands on preview of the Multiplayer and Zombies portion of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. They paid for my flight, hotel accommodations and travel to and from the venue.)
Oh boy here we go. Infinite Warfare may be the most polarizing game of the year and probably the most polarizing Call of Duty game of all time. Ever since this game was announced it has taken an absolute thrashing. Personally, I didn't have that much of an issue with it but Call of Duty fatigue has absolutely been setting in. Black Ops 3 was a fantastic game and after playing a significant amount of Infinite Warfare, I think I am going to stick with Black Ops 3 when it comes to the multiplayer. This is a time where I would say that the multiplayer portion of this game is probably the weakest part of the game.
This time around, Call of Duty is making it's way to space. Set in the future, Earths resources have been depleted, so humanity takes to the skies and decides to set up shop in space. During the annual fleet week festivities, Earth is attacked and this kicks off what becomes an enjoyable, but incredibly cheesy main campaign. You play as Nick Reyes, Captain of the Retribution, who has to save the galaxy from the evil Salen Kotch. Salen Kotch is... well he's the villain of Infinite Warfare and.... uhhh? He want's to conquer Earth...because.... he's the villain I guess? He's got a big scar on his face so he must be the bad guy! We get no backstory on this guy at all so we really don't know this guys motivation other than the fact that he wants to conquer Earth and take over the entire galaxy.
He's an incredibly generic villain and most of your interaction with him will be when he hacks your communications equipment and gives evil speeches about how we will fail and how "death is not a disgrace" so we should all just give in. There are three types of missions in the main campaign that you. Normal story missions, Jackal assault missions and ship invasions. As you progress through the normal story you can unlock additional side missions such as the ship invasions and jackal assault missions, which can be completed in any order you wish. Jackal assault missions all take place in space. Star Fox this is not, but these missions are fun. The problem is that your ship doesn't really feel like it's handling like a ship. The game kinda guides you around and you can steer in which direction you want to go, but you can also stop instantly, back up, and make quick turns like it's nothing.
Ship invasions usually have you breaking into enemy ships and either sabotaging them or assassinating certain generals. One impressive thing is that during the campaign, there are no loading screens at all. From the time the campaign starts, everything seamlessly flows together. It's disappointing that you are able to walk around your ship but there is nothing to do and no one to talk to. All of the generals you assassinate will be displayed on the wall in your office in the form of playing cards, but we honestly have no idea who any of these people are. Sometimes on a mission you will shoot down a random enemy ship and you find out that it was someone you were supposed to assassinate.
The main problem I have with the story itself is the pacing. It feels like they tried to cram a trilogy's worth of story into a single game as it seems like it follows all of the story beats of a traditional trilogy. You get the build up, the heroes getting beat and then the epic final battle where everything is on the line. The problem is that it feels like the story starts to build and then all of a sudden your at the final mission. It's like we only got the first two stories of a trilogy but then skipped all of the story of the third story and skipped right to the ending. It's a total popcorn movie. It's a story where you shut your brain off and enjoy all of the action. I mean, one second you have someone tearing you a new one because a decision you made got people killed and then no more than a few seconds later they say "I'm totally with you sir". Right in the beginning of the game you are telling your commanding officer that you think you should attack Kotch to prevent attacks. Of course your commanding officer says no and says you can't do anything unless there is a war going on..... annnnnnnd all out war breaks out no more than five minutes later.
In one mission one of your squadmates is spouting off about how he hates and doesn't trust your robot friend "Ethan", who is probably the best character in the game to be honest, then in the next mission they are best friends. Thankfully though, the story caps off with one of the most intense final levels in a Call of Duty campaign that in part feels like a futuristic version of the D-Day invasion. This is where everything is on the line and it certainly has that end of the world, mass extinction feel to it. I don't want to give away too much, but they kinda went overboard with certain characters sacrificing themselves for the mission. Most of these characters we hardly have any interaction with throughout the story. The story itself is cheesy but thankfully the action is on point, so at the very least the single player campaign is fun to play through.
Now we get to multiplayer, the main reason I would assume that people but the Call of Duty games each year and this year is more of the same that you normally expect from a COD game but unfortunately, the multiplayer is really worse off than previous years. First off, I can appreciate the single player mode for at least trying to do something different. The space locale, in my opinion, absolutely fits into the Call of Duty franchise and I actually hope they return to this universe in the future. The sad thing is that almost none of this carries over to the muliplayer. Sure a lot of the maps in the multiplayer mode are taken directly from the single player campaign, but there is a huge disconnect here. Even when you are fighting indoors, the single player campaign always as that feel like you are in space in the future. The multiplayer however really just feels like any old Call of Duty multiplayer. The first thing you will notice about the multiplayer of Infinite Warfare is that it is very similar to Black Ops 3. The new Combat Rig system is really just the Operator system from Black Ops 3. Each Combat Rig will give you a special ability called "payloads" which will give you special abilities or weapons after you fill the payload meter and they will also give you passive abilities that are active throughout the match as well.
The one thing however that just ruins the experience this year is the absolutely atrocious lag in matches that will probably get you instantly killed in 1 v 1 fights all the time. In previous years, this was at least manageable and you could deal with it. This year however it's incredibly frustrating. Here is an example. I run around a corner, slide, turn and face an opponent, aim, fire off about 5 shots, and I am dead a split second later. I watch the killcam afterwards and I see myself run around a corner, slide..... and that's it. It's like what I am seeing on my screen is actually happening a full second or a second and a half behind what is actually happening. This isn't happening to just myself as I have looked online and apparently tons of other people are having this issue as well. This leads to you constantly losing 1 v 1 gunfights. The other problem I have is that the game is perhaps too fast. There is nothing fun about spawning and dying literally one second later as an enemy is running up behind you. I got a double kill on a guy as I killed him once and then he literally spawned right in front of me a few seconds later.
There is a new game mode called "Frontline" where you will always spawn back at your teams spawn point. Wait... why is this a new game mode? Why isn't this just the norm? The game is so fast that no matter what map you are on, you can quickly get back into the fight within seconds anyways. The other new game mode is "defender" which is a version of keep away where your team has to take control an orb and then get as far away from the enemy as possible because each second you hold onto the orb, your team earns points. This game mode is really fun and I hope that it returns in future installments as I believe it's the best game mode added since Kill Confirmed. Now another thing that I have issue with is that the multiplayer of Infinite Warfare really feels no different from other games. Of course you got jet packs, power slides and now the use of energy weapons, but aside from the fact that most of the maps all take place in space, it really doesn't feel like it's in space. It just feels like Call of Duty. None of the feel of the single player campaign, nor do any of the space battles make their way into multiplayer which is a complete shame.
The final piece of Infinite Warfare is Zombies in Spaceland. I don't play zombies that much but it's nice to not have to wait for the next Treyarch game to be able to play one. This time, Zombies in Spaceland drops you into an amusement part in the 80's, complete with an 80's soundtrack, 80's style graphics and the characters themselves are dressed in typical, over the top 80's gear. If you have never played Zombies before, basically the idea is to stay alive for as many rounds as you can, but there are also objectives to complete as well. The main objective in Zombies in Spaceland is to turn on the power in the theme park, which is much easier said than done. As you kill zombies, you gain more cash, which can open up new areas of the theme park, but this is a bad idea if your team isn't communicating with each other. Zombies become more powerful and more of them start showing up as you progress so opening new areas of the park and running off on your own is a fantastic way to get yourself killed. Dying in Zombies in Spaceland however isn't a bad thing at all as it drops you into a virtual arcade where you have to play games to revive yourself. The arcade features a pretty decent variety of games you would normally see at classic arcades such as basketball, skee-ball, a shooting gallery, and there are even a collection of classic Activision Atari 2600 games including River Raid, Spider Fighter, Pitfall 2, Demon Attack and more that you can play as well. It's a fun take on the Zombies game mode and it's probably where I am going to spend most of my time going forward with Infinite Warfare.
There is some fun to be had with Infinite Warfare as the campaign missions are fun despite the story being lackluster and Zombies in Spaceland is a fun take on the zombies mode from previous years. Multiplayer however is where is sadly all comes crashing down. When looking at Infinite Warfare's entire package, it's a bit of a mess with bits a fun sprinkled over a pile of mediocrity. The whole future warfare part of Call of Duty's really needs to come to an end and they really need to start thinking about how they can improve the series in the future, because I really don't know how much more milk Activision can squeeze out of this franchise.
* 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