Previews

Bringing a gun to a spaceship fight: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare preview

There are two ways I’ve come to look at Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. One is just as a first person shooter game, measured and considered in its own right, and the other is as an entry in one of the most popular franchises in that genre’s history.
I think this partition in my opinion is important for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that it allows me to remain objective on a topic which can very easily be polarizing, and I would like to remain as far away from that position as possible.

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare places us in a sci-fi setting where humanity has broken into Earth based and off-planet colonial populations. From there the conflict is a traditional war over resources and a era-specific freedoms.

As a game, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare looks like it could be fun. Focusing on a small group of soldiers in a far flung future where resources have become scarce and Earth has been dragged into a civil war with the space colonies it established to mine them, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare intends to examine the perspective of the Scars squad in the wake of a devastating attack that has crippled their larger forces. With the loss of your ship’s captain, your character, Reyes, is field promoted into his place, and must lead his crew in a new guerrilla war in pursuit of an increasingly abstract victory and just to stay alive.

Within this setting, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare opens up a new interstellar map, where you can quickly transition between the vacuum of space and the familiarity of the Earth,engaging in missions where you can attack, investigate, and pirate your enemy, the Settlement Defense Front, to increase your squad’s strength and give them their best chance.

I didn’t get any hands-on time with the game just yet, but seeing the gameplay definitely made it appear well put together and exciting. The ability to raid enemy ships and locations, where you later decide if you want to pillage them for supplies and intel, or scuttle it to reduce your opposition’s forces seemed like a good time, and the zero gravity combat mechanics seemed well developed and opened up a great many environmental combat possibilities.

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Infinity Ward really wanted to showcase to us their focus on narrative and the connection between solders in a increasingly genocidal conflict. In the preview that we were shown their was very little mention of multi-player but instead how much effort was put into the core campaign.

However, the bad thing was none of this made me think Call of Duty, at least in any of the traditional senses.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare definitely appears to have thought out it’s plot in detail, but they are the details of many other sci-fi shooter games, which Call of Duty never really should be. Not being a big Call of Duty fan myself, this wasn’t something that made me outraged, and as a sci-fi fan I actually thought that I would enjoy it, but against the obvious comparisons with the Call of Duty games I have played (The original Call of Duty, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare) this seemed like the point where the franchise may have jumped the shark.

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Fighter combat seems to be a large part of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, which is said to be an intuitive transition that players of all types can get used to quickly. However, jumping in an out of heavily armed VTOLs capable of breaking Earth’s atmosphere is still a pretty big departure from even Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s setting. For a game coming packaged with Modern Warfare 2, this future release advertises its own heavy-handed shift in vision and execution.

The Call of Duty series has refined its most fundamental mechanics to the point where they feel copy and pasted from one to the next, and often in the best kind of way, but in the sense of its tone it has become increasingly erratic and having a harder and harder time really holding onto it’s best points. For better or worse, Call of Duty has always been about a relatability to the soldiers it’s representing, even when it’s taking certain liberties regarding the extent of their personal heroics. Even as a casual enthusiast of the Call of Duty series, I could tell something was out of step with the franchise’s theme, and even felt like my lack of conceptual irritation might be larger proof of that.

I might be able to draw more from these early impressions if I get a chance to spend some time with the game, hands-on, over the course of the week. [Which at the time of this posting, I did not.] But as it stands right now, the cool-spacey-sci-fi game that I see might be too great a departure from the meat and bones of the Call of Duty heritage to satisfy long time fans.

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