Preview: Call of Duty—Infinite Warfare

Disclaimer: This coverage is based on a pre-release beta version of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
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This past weekend, Infinity Ward held their first beta for the upcoming Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. We’re very thankful Geeks Under Grace Community member Leneal Thomas was kind enough to bless us with a spare beta code so we could bring you some preview coverage of the first-person juggernaut’s next entry. After a few hours with the game, here’s what I’ve found.
First thing’s first. This is a Call of Duty game and, as such, matches the mechanics of its predecessors. Where each game has built on the previous entries in the series, however, Infinite Warfare‘s multiplayer feels exactly like Treyarch‘s Black Ops 3 in nearly every way imaginable, wall-running and jetpacks included. If you didn’t like the way Black Ops 3 handled, you may want to be cautious of diving into Infinite Warfare sight unseen. If you’re a longtime fan of the series who enjoyed last year’s gameplay, you’ll be right at home here.
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Now that the older commonalities with last year’s entry are said and out of the way, let’s discuss the new things Infinity Ward is bringing this time around. First, instead of different characters you can play as, players will choose from a variety of “rigs.” These are essentially the same as characters, with their own unique play styles, payloads (super moves), and traits (passive abilities that complement the rig). Each rig can also be customized with new aesthetic pieces, taunts, and so on. It sounds identical to BO3, but it’s actually somewhat expanded, offering a wider variety of play styles and one additional payload per rig (for three super options over BO3‘s two). It looks like by the time it’s all said and done, everyone will be able to customize things a bit more than before. Speaking of customization options, in the beta lone I saw several…unsavory…emblems that contained narcotic and sexual references. Call of Duty knows a large portion of their audience and they’ve never been shy about catering to them, but it’s something to keep in mind if that may turn you off the game.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Infinite Warfare‘s beta were the missions. As you play online, you can choose to do missions for one of four factions. They do a great job constructing it to scale with players levels and, what’s more, they automatically assign them so you don’t have to dig through any menus to activate them. Each faction is promising to have unique challenges and personality, so new goals each match should help keep things fresh. On top of the missions, you can take your earnings from the game into what they’re calling the Prototype Lab, which will let you buy variants of existing guns with different perks. Like a certain gun? You can try out half a dozen or so different setups for it to find one that suits your style.
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The map design in Infinite Warfare felt interesting, if not a bit frustrating at times. The aesthetic screamed space/science fiction, which is fitting, with battles taking place on space stations. Level design offered a little bit for everyone, but sniper fire and corridor shootouts often felt like the flavor of the day. It’ll be interesting to see if the rest of the map roster will even things out a bit.
Finally, let’s discuss Defender, the new game mode that was offered during the beta. The best phrasing I can think of is that it’s keep-away with bullets. Teams scramble to grab a ball from a randomized spawn. The goal is then to hold and defend the ball for as long as possible while your opponents try to take you out and recover the orb. Ball handlers can even pass the ball if they get in a pickle. While this doesn’t feel incredibly innovative, it was a nice change of pace after pouring hours into Team Deathmatch and Domination.
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At the end of the day, I’m hopeful for Infinite Warfare. I was somewhat taken aback that there were no new gameplay mechanics. In terms of the multiplayer offering, what I’ve felt so far really feels like it could’ve been more of a classic mod for Black Ops 3. The aesthetics, new game modes, and mission teams feel promising, but I’m not sure it will be enough to hold fans who were beginning to tire of last year’s entry. With the game coming out in just a few weeks, we’ll know soon enough. If you’re on the edge, I would encourage you to wait for our review after the game releases November 4.

Joe Morgan

Gamer, software developer, dog lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace or CrossConsoleGamers, you can find him streaming at Twitch.tv/JoeKnowethGames

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