Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Previewby Kirby Yablonski
We here at Xbox Addict were invited to head down to Los Angeles this past week to get some hands on time with COD: Infinite Warfare Multiplayer (MP for short). This also included some play time with COD Modern Warfare Remastered MP and the new cooperative zombies mode for Infinite Warfare called Zombies in Spaceland. All of this was in conjunction with COD XP 2016, an event that's not only meant to promote everything COD, including the game, but it is also a fundraiser for Call of Duty Endowment, which assists military veterans to obtain jobs after being in active service.
COD XP (yes we know the PS4 logo is in a pic in an article on an Xbox centric site) is a juggernaut of an event (see what I did there?). It is true celebration of everything that is COD, and the pubic gets to experience it all. From playing the upcoming game(s), taking part in a paintball match on a real life Nuketown, flying in a Jackal using PSVR, or zip lining across the venue, there is a lot for the estimated 10,000 attendees to do. There is also the big COD World Championships, and after four days of playing COD: Black Ops III multiplayer, Team EnVyUs Walked away with the championship trophy anda cool $800,000. So with that being said, and after the final piece of tinker tape and party paper finally hit the ground to celebrate the big show, we found some time to put our impressions of EVERYTHING, video gaming wise, that we got to play at the event in writing, which includes Infinite Warfare, Modern Warfare Remastered, and Zombies in Spaceland.
COD: Infinite Warfare
This year's COD is being developed by the team at Infinity Ward. Infinite Warfare is the first COD to be released on the ‘3-year' release cycle (three separate teams each being given three years to develop). There are already a lot of details on the single player experience, and we were in L.A. to check out the newly unveiled MP experience that comes with the latest COD.
As Infinite Warfare continues the series path into a futuristic setting you'll find that the soldiers you battle as are equipped with Combat Rigs. Each Rig has a specific set of abilities that are tailored for a specific type of play style. Each of the Rigs comes with different payload options for gamers to think about (1 weapon & 2 abilities). There are also some specific traits that you'll find with each Rig too. The best way to describe them are they are like perks that don't change as they are ‘attached' to each Rig. There's a total of six Combat Rigs in Infinite Warfare, and they are as follows:
- Considered the typical ‘soldier' in a COD game.
- Payloads: The Claw, Overdrive, Combat Focus
- Traits: Ping, Persistence, Resupply
- Support role for all other team players on map
- Payloads: Gravity Vortex, Micro Turret, Centurion
- Traits: Relay, Trophy Drone, Hardened
- Sniper/Marksman role
- Payloads: Ballista EM3, Active Camo, Pulsar
- Traits: Marked Target, Rearguard, Heightened Senses
- Defensive role as provides cover fire and defensive items for teammates.
- Payloads: Steel Dragon, Bull Charge, Reactive Armour
- Traits: Infusion, Mat-at-Arms, Shock Wave
- Experimental tech equipped soldier, adept at guerilla warfare.
- Payloads: Eraser, FTL Jump, Phase Shift
- Traits: Supercharge, Perception, Powerslide
- Robotic Soldier which is adept at speedy close quarters combat
- Payloads: Equalizer, Reaper, Rewind
- Traits: Rushdown, Propulsion, Combat Burst
If you look in the descriptions of the Combat Rigs you'll find some very interesting payloads and/or traits for your soldier to use. For example, The Claw (Warfighter) is a very powerful gun that fires spread shots and they have the ability to ricochet off walls. The Trophy Drone (Stryker) is a drone that follows you as you play and it will throw itself in front of an incoming grenade protecting you, and even a teammate. Perception (FTL) will allow your HUD to light up and alert you to players that are looking directly at you and from which direction. It's clear that each solider has particular attributes through their payloads and/or traits that will assist you in your role for each team.
One of the things that Infinity Ward has tried to do with the equipment in the game is allow players to have a better overall experience. This includes the way that you'll be able to deploy your lethal and/or tactical equipment. You are now able to deploy them with your left hand. Why is this so important you ask? Well, you'll still be able to hip fire your weapon while you do so, something that has not been done in the past. It's a mechanic that will allow the mayhem of gunfire to continue. The lethal and tactical items have been amped up this time around too.
In terms of lethal items, you'll be using such things like the Biospike, which not only kills the target you hit, but it also explodes in an effort to damage any surrounding enemies, or you can use the Black Hole Projector, which when it explodes creates a small Black Hole, pulling enemies out from behind cover. As for tactical equipment, you'll be able to use Personal Radar, which provides some added information such as your enemies, who are not behind walls, direction and distance, or you may use the Dome Shield (one of my faves) which puts up a small shield for short time for you and your teammates to find cover under (very useful in Team Domination).
Scorestreaks are back giving access to some classic items such as a drone to assist you and your teammates in finding your foes, but there are a few new additions, including the new RC8 scorestreak. Hitting the magic number for this scorestreak results in you being able to summon an 8-foot-tall robot. Once on the ground it can follow you as protective teammate or you can hack into it and go on a robotic tear as your gun down foes in front of you. I am sure many will think Titanfall, but hey, it's not, so get over it.
Of course we can't forget the weapons that you will use in virtual battle. Given the futuristic setting of Infinite Warfare, the weapons are all futuristic, but they are actually ‘grounded' in many of current modern day weapons. You'll find various Assault Weapons, LMGs, Shotguns, SMGs, Sniper Rifles, and more. Many of which are somewhat recognizable from the guns found in the military today. Infinity Ward worked with the military to envision how current guns may evolve into the guns of the future, and that work shows. You'll find that some weapons are ballistic while others energy weapons requiring battery power. If anything best describes the weapons, it is that they do feel like those in past COD games, so fans will get a familiar sense of being with them.
One of the new features with the weapons of Infinite Warfare is a new crafting system. You'll be collecting an in-game currency called ‘salvage' that you can use to craft prototype weapons of any weapon you favour. There are four levels of rarity for each weapon and they are common, rare, legendary and epic. As you continue to craft your favourite weapons you'll find that they change in their look as well in the perks that you get. For example, you'll be able to increase your ammo, get special power ups after a score streak, or even get a bonus multiplier for your overall score. It's incentives like this that should keep the COD fans coming back for more as they try to make their favourite weapons epic with special perks others may not have.
As with any COD its maps are one of the most important aspects of the game, and Infinity Ward stated that they did not want to mess with what is the COD formula, which for some will be good news, and others it will be bad news. The maps continue to be designed to get participants into battle quite quickly. You'll find traditional 'two lane' maps (e.g. Frontier) to 'three lane' maps (e.g. Frost) that have a bit of variety to them. Regardless, you can see how the tried and true formula of COD is alive and well in the maps for Infinite Warfare as you have choke points, sniping points, and areas that are pure chaos.
You'll find some variety in the maps, environment wise, as they take place on different planets with very different areas highlighted, and you'll even get to fight in a space station. The maps are quite detailed as well. I hear time in and time out that COD devs use an old graphics engine, but by the looks of the maps highlighted during our gameplay sessions, this graphic engine is highly refined and does a great job of looking good. From the cold steel of the innerwalls of a space station, the pod-like structures in Frontier, to the reimagined Terminal, fans should find a lot to enjoy when looking at the visuals in this game.
Finally, along with returning classic modes (e.g. Kill and Confirm, Team Deathmatch, etc.) are some core eSports modes (e.g. Hardpoint, CTF, Uplink, etc.) that Infinity Ward have tried to make improvements to. For example, they wanted those in attendance to pay attention to Hardpoint where they have added a coloured floor that makes it easy to identify when you are in the hardpoint, when you or the other team owns it, or when it is being contested. They have also added names to the hardpoints which are displayed on the mini-map, which makes it easier for you to identify where you may need to go to assist as someone calls it out.
Two new modes have been added, Defender and Frontline. They only spoke about Defender during the preview event. Here you rush to the middle of the map and try to gain control of a drone. You basically play keep away and can pass it to your teammates to help you do so. Here a bit of strategy is involved as you pick your Combat Rigs to match how you play (e.g. keep the drone or protect the drone carrier). After holding the drone for a minute the drone resets and it's a mad dash to get the drone once again. I found that this is pretty enjoyable new mode that fans should come to appreciate for sure.
The final new addition to Infinite Warfare is Mission Teams. As you play you'll be playing for a specific team that will dictate how you play. You'll find that these teams have different challenges that you must meet. For example, one mission team may be about kills while another team will be very objective based. Completing missions for the teams you choose will allow you to rank up with that team and unlock items for customization (e.g. camo, pieces for your Rigs and even prototype weapons). The latter are exclusive to your mission team and you cannot craft them.
There is no doubt that COD has taken its criticism over the years, and I get why, but when you have something that works, incremental changes make it a better experience. Infinity Ward has taken some steps to make those kind of changes, but yet when you look at how Combat Rigs, as well as their payloads and traits work, you have a game that is better than you expect. Add to that the fact that there is weapon crafting, solid looking MP maps, and the mission teams, then you have a game that more than it seems. The issue lies though is it enough for the COD hardcore? I'd say most likely, and definitely enough for those who have taken an extended break, or those few that are new to the series.
COD: Modern Warfare Remastered
Well, it's no secret that this is one of the most anticipated "bonuses" that comes with a deluxe version of a game. Being able to play what many see as one of the most influential COD games in history in high definition, has many COD fans very excited. We got to play the multiplayer mode on two maps. We played Domination on "Crash" and Team Deathmatch on "Backlot". I have to say that as soon as we got into the menus the memories of many late nights flashed in front of me.
As you enter the map it is very evident that this does not look like the Modern Warfare you played in 2007. The visuals have been brought up to today's standards and the game fits in very well with this current generation of consoles. You'll notice new textures, new lighting, and everything looks to have a fresh coat of paint. Trust me, once you start playing and running around the levels you know so well, it becomes evident that the game looks so much better. And that is not only where the game has changed. The sounds have also been improved. We were given a chance to hear original versus remastered sounds, and the difference is night and day. Guns sound better, environmental effects sound better, and more prevalent, and the all-around audio experience is vastly superior.
Sure, the visuals are good, the sound is good, but how does it play? Well, it plays like Modern Warfare in 2007. Here is where it becomes a somewhat mixed bag. The game in 2007 was solid, and became the online shooter to beat. It was fast, had some great levels, and fans loved what Infinity Ward did. When you compare it to current shooters however, you'll have to take a few steps backwards in terms of features, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad experience.
In 2007, when this game hit store shelves and the world of online gaming, it was a blast. I can remember spending many late nights with a core group of friends fragging enemies, holding down specific points (Remember the craziness of Zone B on ‘Crash'?), and shooting up a storm. When I had the chance to replay the game with the improved visuals and sound, it was still a blast, but man you can feel it is a game that was created 9 years ago. Fans who have been playing COD for a LONG time will feel it too. One of the first things people were saying was that they tried to double jump many times as they were making the adjustment from the current CODs back to Modern Warfare. It was funny to see people automatically try to do this. As well, the game is still quick and quite fluid, but it just didn't have the feel, control wise, of the current COD games, which is to be expected. That being said, I still had a blast, and there is no doubt that others will too.
One thing that I did note was that the grenade launcher (aka - NOOB TUBE!!!) seemed to be dialed down a bit, which is a good thing. You have to be more accurate with it. So those just thinking they may run around with two instant kills may want to think again, as you will have to be a little more accurate than just pointing and shooting.
Overall I think that fans of the 2007 release of Modern Warfare will LOVE the remastered MP portion of the game. It brings back so many memories of a time nine years ago when COD made the change to modern guns, settings, and gameplay. For those that have never played Modern Warfare in the past, online with friends, will enjoy the multiplayer offerings as it will give them a glimpse of how we "used" to play in the "old" days, but with updated visuals and sound, bringing the online MW experience into the world of current generation consoles.
Zombies in Spaceland
Finally, it would not be a COD game without the all too familiar zombies mode, and Infinite Warfare is no different. What is different though is the setting. Zombies in Spaceland takes place in a 1980's theme park. It's a refreshing change from previous zombie modes where you would find yourself in an old prison or war torn countryside. The premise of Zombies in Spaceland is simple; you and three other actors are invited to a mysterious theater where you expect to audition for a role; however, you are magically whisked off to another world, which turns out to be the aforementioned theme park. Of course you have to fight for your life as you battle wave after wave of zombies.
Your adventure in Spaceland starts of fairly simple, as you are forced to find the power switch for the park and you must stop the first few waves of zombies from entering. Here you are given the chance to get accustomed to a couple of basic weapons as well as earn some money to open the gates and start your journey through the theme park. We were only provided a snippet of the what was to lie ahead, and it was pretty big, so how big the whole world of Spaceland actually is is anyone's guess.
One thing that was very clear during the couple of playthroughs that we had is that there is a warped sense of humour in Zombies in Spaceland. From having to battle exploding Killer Clowns, using interesting weapons to kill zombies (exploding 80's ‘ghetto-blasters') to following the directions of the theme park's DJ, who is actually played by David Hasselhoff. You'll find the level design choices just as interesting; from battling zombies in the park's souvenir store to being able to ride a roller coaster and shoot zombies while doing so. Heck, even death is handled different, as you find yourself in the ‘Afterlife Arcade' and you can try to earn the chance to come back to life by playing theme park arcade games such as throwing basketballs through hoops or playing skee-ball. It's these types of things that make this upcoming zombies mode so interesting.
Having played various zombies modes in other COD games, I found that I wasn't particularly attracted to them. It's not that they were bad, it was just that I didn't find them to be my thing; however, Zombies in Spaceland seems to have my attention. I don't know if it is the setting, the characters involved in the game, the humour, the colourful visuals, the 80's music, or everything combined, but I found that I had fun and wanted to play again and again. This latest iteration seems to inject some much needed life into the zombies mode. With that in mind, I'd say that I think it deserves your attention too.
So there you have it. We played a lot of different COD game experiences while at COD XP, and it shows given the massive size of what is written above. In the end there will be no question that there will be haters out there spewing negative words about the whole COD: Infinite Warfare package. I kind of understand why though as the franchise sees a yearly release, but that doesn't mean I agree with those views. From what I played during our preview event I was pleasantly surprised. The game levels of Infinite Warfare, even though still designed with COD fare, are well planned, pretty to look at, the Combat Rigs and all associated with them are pretty well implemented, and the gameplay is fast. And of course you can't forget the weapons crafting and mission teams, which brings you back to play more. Modern Warfare Remastered is a trip down memory lane that, even in multiplayer mode, continues to be fun. Finally, the new zombies mode, Zombies in Spaceland, is a nice change in the history of mode and is yet another reason to shoot wave after wave of zombies dead.