That debut trailer didn’t do it justice
As someone no longer actively invested in the Call of Duty series, the saga surrounding the massively-downvoted announcement trailer for Infinite Warfare has been rather amusing. The absurd scale of it, for one — it’s the second-most disliked YouTube video! — but also Activision’s response to the vocal negative reaction as “you’ve gotta love the passion of gamers.” It has been a ride.
Now that we’ve had some time to digest the new game’s shift in setting and also see more representative footage not shrouded in quick cuts or a horrible cover song, folks are beginning to chill out a bit. At least, the “Ship Assault” gameplay out of E3 has a far less extreme like-to-dislike ratio.
I got an extended look at Infinite Warfare during the show and, well, I’m torn. One level was a more traditional on-the-ground scenario where soldiers battled bots with hyper-powered weaponry on the rapidly-deteriorating streets of Geneva. The player character worked his way from a makeshift bunker up to a fortified tower, hopping behind cover to call down air-to-surface missiles, hacking an airship into self-destructing, and occasionally setting loose this explosive spider-walker device.
Despite the sci-fi flourishes and set dressing, it very much resembled a typical Call of Duty skirmish. Action-packed, but linear. Predictable. Thankfully, that wasn’t the whole showing. Eventually, the player’s ship touched down, he hopped in, and he was off to space.
The transition up into orbit was seamless (albeit scripted-looking), and the sequence soon opened up into a free-form dogfight. That’s when I started to get excited. Your vessel can charge forward like you’d expect it to, but it can also at any time enter a “hover” mode to circle strafe. The latter setting was put to good use against an imposing battleship that couldn’t be chased down and quickly rocketed to death like the smaller targets. For as weird as it is to see arcade-y space brawls in a Call of Duty game, it seemed oddly at home here, and I’m sure that was no small feat to achieve.
The other part that had me interested? Side missions. No, really! As the captain of the UNSA Warship Retribution, you’ll be able to pull up a galaxy map and take on extra encounters to earn more weapons and customization items, and also get a better sense of the larger story. It sounds as if the narrative will lead you down the same path either way — this is still CoD, not Mass Effect — but even a small added layer of player choice in the campaign like this is appreciated.
I came out of my appointment more on board with Infinite Warfare‘s futuristic direction than when I entered. My main concern is that, for as much as it retains the CoD DNA, it might hit this funky middle-ground where it doesn’t quite branch out far enough for some lapsed series players (like me) while simultaneously going too far for current fans (hence the YouTube rage). Can’t please everyone!
On that note, Infinity Ward isn’t saying anything of substance about the multiplayer until the Call of Duty: Experience 2016 event this September in Inglewood, California, and I can only imagine how long-time fans are going to react to that reveal. Also, the bundled-in Modern Warfare remaster? Looks real nice. It’s a shame Activision is sticking with its restrictive release plans for the time being.