Space, the new frontier.
Each year we get a new Call of Duty, and with each passing year that game becomes more and more scrutinized due to its success. This year was the year, the one when the king was to be dethroned. Heck, I never thought I would be saying that after the abysmal Ghosts campaign I could ever truly find a Call of Duty single player experience to be worth my time again. I was wrong, oh boy, was I ever so wrong.
Infinite Warfare comes from the same developers that brought us Ghosts, the shell once known as the same Infinity Ward that created the masterpiece known as Modern Warfare. So to say my expectations were low is a bit of a misnomer. I went in expecting to find another poorly-paced experience, and instead what I got was one of the best shooter campaigns this year, among a laundry list of fantastic shooters.
MSRP: $59.99 ($79.99 for Legacy Bundle)
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
The campaign in Infinite Warfare is structured very differently than most Call of Duty games. Instead of one mission after the other, once the game gets past the initial tutorial levels, players are given their own ship, from which they can take on story missions, or opt for side missions to earn new equipment and perks for their character. These side missions come in two flavors, ones where taking over enemy ships and areas is the goal, and others that mostly revolve around massive space dogfights. These side missions are not only a nice distraction from the campaign, but also sometimes more fun than the core missions.
One of the other big changes this time around is that I actually cared about the characters. I remember their names, I knew their motivations. Character building has never been one of the series’ strong points, but when the credits rolled, and the obituaries of specific characters are read (which is an awesome way to handle end-game credits BTW) I was actually invested, and genuinely sad. Also Ethan is the absolute best. The writing and acting is fantastic, and if there is one drawback it is that I never actually understood the impetus behind the main villains.
Call of Duty is always more than just one part though. The campaign has improved, but what about the other two heads of this beast? Well let’s move on to Zombies, which this time around features an 80s theme, with none other than Paul Reubens playing a horror movie director. Yes, the mode just continues to get more and more ridiculous.
At launch there is only one map, Zombies in Spaceland, and it revolves around a theme park. The risk/reward system remains in place, and earning money will unlock the ability to venture out further into the park, unlocking new traps and gear, but also more zombies. There are also plenty of hidden items and Easter Eggs scattered around the world. I was always discovering something new. Teaming up with buddies is the best way to play, and managing to survive is a rush.
Zombies is also a very stark contrast from the main game, and even the multiplayer. I truly wish there was more than one map though, although the mini-games that have to be played when I died were great, if not hard to control. Zombies is still addictive, and sadly the only co-op feature in this year’s package.
Finally we get to multiplayer, which is what most people play Call of Duty for. For the record, I am not most people, mainly because I have gotten to the point where I cannot dedicate hours upon hours a day to just one game; well that and the fact that I am just not good at Call of Duty, never have been.
This year’s entry though feels disappointing in a lot of ways. It feels safe, and instead of taking on the feel of the developer at the helm, it feels very similar to last year’s effort.
The multiplayer takes a lot of cues from the single player when it comes to its maps. They are mostly drawn from the campaign, but lack a lot of what makes that mode so appealing. Players are not fighting in Jackals, and instead this is vanilla Call of Duty.
The class system is now based on combat rigs, which are the loadouts for characters. Truthfully none of them felt as personalized as the characters in the campaign, which again I understand. People are here to fly across maps, and snipe lowly noobs like myself. In that, it succeeds. The modes are standard fare, and there is really nothing that makes the online portion of the game stand out. Instead it took a lot of what last year’s game created and mirrored it. Personally I love the fact that more attention was paid to campaign and Zombies, but I wonder if these concessions will ultimately lead to Infinite Warfare’s online population dwindling faster than past games.
It goes without saying that one of the biggest draws of this year’s game is the inclusion of Modern Warfare Remastered with the Legacy Edition of the game. This includes both the masterful campaign and the online multiplayer (but not all of the maps, at least not yet.) The campaign still holds up, but also showcases just how far we have come in the genre. The online portion will likely be crowded for months, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it do better than Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer.
Finally, I want to touch on the visuals. The campaign looks great, and there are truly moments of “wow” at every corner. The worlds I visited had unique details, and the space battles are gorgeous. I also checked out the game on PS4 Pro, and the upgraded visuals are nice. The down sampled resolution looks great on a 1080p TV (I don’t have a 4K yet), creating a much cleaner image overall. This is a good looking game.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is an interesting entry for the series. The parts I enjoy have been improved, and are the best they have been in years. The campaign is one of my favorites of the year, and Zombies continues to innovate and find ways to be super fun. The multiplayer though feels throwaway and not all that exciting, which is what gives the series legs. The inclusion of Modern Warfare Remastered softens that blow, but I am curious how the community will react over time.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.