Also On: PS4, PC
Developer: Infinity Ward
It has been a banner year for first-person shooter campaigns, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare certainly continues the trend set forth by DOOM. For me, the single-player side of Infinite Warfare is one of the best COD campaigns since Black Ops 2, and certainly the most entertaining of the COD modern era. Not only is it often very nice to look at, with some great animations and interesting locales, but it also goes all in on the space warfare side of things that the series has only toyed with over the past couple of entries. And it owns the sci-fi approach for the most part, offering up some pretty unique moments that set Infinite Warfare apart from its predecessor.
Now I know there's a section of Call of Duty fans that abhor the sci-fi angle approach that's creeped into the series up to this point. Unfortunately, you'll likely continue to hate that aspect here. There's full on robots all over the place, interspersed with human enemies. You'll do a bit of mindless hacking on occasion, almost the entire campaign takes place off of Earth, you'll fly a spaceship here and there, encounter a few zero-g shootouts, and so on. This is, without exaggeration, the most sci-fi we've seen interjected into the Call of Duty series thus far. But honestly, I kind of love the campaign side for that reason. There's no half-measure to be found, Infinity Ward isn't hedging bets, and the end result is pretty satisfying overall.
Which is what makes the multiplayer so disappointing for me. On one hand (the campaign) you've got some tangible difference between Infinite Warfare and the previous entries. Yeah, Call of Duty has been skating around the concept of space since Ghost, but this is definitely the first time they've really explored the option of off-world combat so thoroughly. So why oh why is the multiplayer just a repeat of Black Ops 3? And it is just that, a repeat. Yes, you have Rigs now, but they serve the same purpose as Specialist in BLOPS 3. But that's not even the real issue. For me it's that the maps don't utilize or make use of anything particularly interesting from the campaign side. It's the same standard set of on-ground maps with numerous corridors, choke points, elevation, and cover. Nothing about the map design or layout feels particularly unique.
And while some aspects of obtaining new weapons has changed, it's not necessarily for the better. For notable improvements outside of new sights and stocks, you're stuck banking on RNG based crates that require currency earned much too slowly to obtain. And yes, there is a cheaper crate option that you can generally cash in on after a couple of hours playing, but your chances of obtaining something interesting there is lessened due to the rarity system. Overall, it's pretty frustrating to see improved weapons locked out due to luck, as opposed to just seeing items like skins tucked behind an in-game crate system. It can be very disappointing to grind out the keys necessary to unlock the “rare” crate and get stuck with a couple of common emblems and one rare calling card, which seems to happen often.
Likewise, the process for earning scrap is also remarkably slow. So while it does give an alternate method of obtaining those special weapon upgrades, it's certainly not ideal. All in all, I found the upgrade system to be one of the most disappointing things about the MP side of Infinite Warfare, which is something considering how bland and uninspired the rest of the competitive multiplayer feels.
On the plus side, at least the cooperative zombie mode this year is pretty fun. This is Infinity Ward's first stab at what has traditionally been a Treyarch joint, but they do a pretty good job for their first swing. The mode is an 80's nostalgia driven thing, taking place in a theme park where you're tasked with turning on the power to access different areas of the park. The key component, blasting away at progressively tougher waves of zombie opponents, is still the big draw here, but exploring the park and finding the various easter eggs is pretty enjoyable. You can match up with 3 other random people online, friends, or play a solo mode as well. I've never been the world's biggest zombie mode fan, but I found Infinite Warfare's iteration to be pretty good, and I'm a sucker for that 80's soundtrack that accompanies it.
So, my final feelings on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is that the campaign is really good, the competitive multiplayer is pretty boring, and the Zombies in Spaceland mode is lighthearted fun. As a whole, the package is a little disappointing, especially if you put a lot of weight onto the MP side of COD. But if you're down for another solid, entertaining shooter campaign, then I think Infinite Warfare is definitely worth a look.