Don’t Be Scared, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Multiplayer is a Blast
Ben Sheene / Sep 2nd, 2016 No Comments
Infinity Ward and Activision have remained tight-lipped on the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare multiplayer experience. And after getting my hands on one of gaming’s most annually addicting experiences at this year’s Call of Duty XP it’s hard to see why. The game takes everything ironed out in years before and polishes them out to a fine sheen. It’s Black Ops 3, it’s Advanced Warfare, it’s Modern Warfare. It’s Call of Duty.
Back to Black
Once the curtain was lifted on Call of Duty’s futuristic approach, red flags were raised and trailers were disproportionately disliked. Space is a terrifying frontier that countless games have tackled. For years Call of Duty merely flirted with what lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere, remaining tethered to boots-on-the-ground combat with some jetpacks and robots added in. Maybe worry set in that Infinity Ward would tarnish a legacy a decade in the making. Or throw spaceships into multiplayer.
Unless Infinity Ward is hiding some surprise aliens, players should expect no drastic changes to the multiplayer experience they are familiar with. The first immediate dose of familiarity yearly players of the series will get is from the fluid movement system of Black Ops 3.
Boost jumps and wall running are back and truly hard to differentiate form what Treyarch set forth. Getting from place to place is seamless as players can mantle over objects, boost to a high wall, and get kills off the side of a building. It’s hard to knock Infinity Ward for taking this route. Black Ops 3’s movement system delivered lightning fast matches and frantic action that could change on the fly.
Infinite Warfare isn’t a mime of the past, it’s the action Call of Duty players expect. Deaths and respawns can take a matter or seconds while a deft hand can breeze through a map racking up kills and scorestreaks. That familiar feeling allows seasoned veterans to dive right in while giving newcomers the most refined experience available.
Classes in Infinite Warfare are now dictated by combat rigs. There are six available combat rigs that are tailored to specific playstyles. Visualized as elaborate suits, the rigs allow you to select weapons and perks that express how you want to engage in any given match.
Rigs let you select different “payloads” and traits that are unique to each rig. Payloads range from powerful weapons to moment-changing abilities while traits are persistent perks that stay with the player throughout the match.
Are you the kind of player who is obsessed with search and destroy and want to be the best camper known to man? Pick Phantom who has the active camo payload and the Rearguard trait that spawns you with a shield on your back to prevent a nasty surprise attack. Run and gun players like me will love Synaptic. This robot has the combat burst trait which grants a brief speed boost after every kill and the reaper payload that turns it into a dog-like melee death machine.
Any of this sound familiar? Again, for Black Ops 3 players it should. Combat rigs are an extension of specialists with a bit more control and fine-tuning involved. Where specialists were almost a kind of cosmetic player skin with a unique weapon or ability to use in matches, combat rigs more than double the versatility.
I found the look of the rigs to be appropriate for what’s been shown of Infinite Warfare’s aesthetic. Their dark grey tones may be a little drab at times but unlockable cosmetic variations make them feel a bit more personal. Unlike the persistent traits, payloads are activated over time and supposedly through better performance. However, in the matches I played, payloads felt slow to charge, even when I was performing well.
Specialists in Black Ops 3 allowed players to unleash bursts of death that could change the stakes at least three or four times a match. I was lucky to get two payload uses in any game type I played. Based on this short preview, it is the one thing I hope is changed in the final build.
The Future is Crafting
Weapons consist of the usual assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and so on. Energy and ballistic weapons have modern design elements and are meant to take current weaponry into the future. Players will also be able to use classic weapons that are modeled after guns that would find themselves at home in a Modern Warfare entry. But what space game would be complete without a black hole grenade that sucks in players, a deployable bubble shield, or a massive armored robot scorestreak that you can control?
In a surprising move, players have the ability to craft weapons. Using salvage (an in-game currency), players will be able to craft prototype weapons that come with gun perks unique to that weapon. Prototypes have four rarities with epic weapons having the most drastic variants and cosmetic changes. A sniper rifle may come with the ability to ping low health enemies and a pistol may have a perk where a nuke drops if a player gets a 25-kill streak with only that pistol.
While I didn’t have any hands-on with the crafting system, it looks like a more significant and rewarding version of loot drops. Players will have to work to create prototype weapons and the gun perks shouldn’t be completely overpowered against the standard arsenal.
Another exciting addition to the Call of Duty multiplayer experience are missions teams. Players can give their allegiance to one of four teams that also represent certain playstyles. From the JTF Wolverines that represent those who are the first into the fight to the assassin-like Wraiths, players will complete missions for these teams.
Much like the combat rigs, these teams are meant to further reward players for playing the way they want. Teams have their own commanders that will push players to complete objectives and challenges. Completing different tiers of challenges rewards XP and unlocks gear and cosmetics unique to that team.
The Final Frontier
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare multiplayer isn’t betraying any legacy just because it takes players somewhere new and different. After all, it’s an experience that has fit like a glove for several years now. Three lane maps find players clashing at every intersection but now there’s robots in the scenery. Shotguns make the perfect greeting for a tight corridor map, even if it’s in a space station where your dead body floats after it’s been riddled with holes.
Progression systems and the full lineup of payloads and abilities may be hidden for now, but it’s easy to see where multiplayer is headed for the next year.
In the coming months players will also have the opportunity to storm the battlefield with massive titans or take it back to the trenches of World War I. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare straddles an interesting line. At its core, it’s still the game spawned from a world at war. But it’s also a game that looks to the future, where technology turns multiplayer into faster, more exciting matches of death. For those on either side, there’s reason to be excited.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare releases on Nov. 4 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
tags: activision , call of duty , Call of Duty Infinite Warfare multiplayer , Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare , Infinite Warfare , Infinity Ward , preview