Call of Duty Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer will feel very similar to series veterans that find themselves purchasing the yearly editions of the military shooter, like I have. This is because Infinity Ward’s latest entry in the series does very little to differentiate itself in terms of core game design from last year’s Black Ops III. Rather then continue to innovate or tweak the existing formula ever so slightly towards a more arcadey / MOBA-esque feature set like Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare before it, IW opts for what feels like an almost a complete copy & paste of last year’s mechanics with some of the extra interesting flair and aesthetic choices removed entirely.
I don’t feel like whenever I boot up the latest iteration of Call of Duty that I am expecting a fundamental shift in how the game functions – this is a series that has made its bread & butter out of a simple to pick up twitch shooter formula: you chose your load-out, aim down the sights and hopefully decimate your opponents (or get killed five thousand times if you’re me playing this year’s installment for the first time). Unfortunately for Infinite Warfare it copies these mechanics from last year’s entry almost to a fault – you’ll chose one of three “rig suits” which allow for extra perks & a super weapon that charges over time, the standard expected gun attachments, kill-streaks and ancillary tactical grenades. Infinite Ware’s class creation system bring absolutely nothing new to the table and while the inclusion of Black Ops II’s “Pick 10 System” is a welcomed inclusion, it is not a fresh approach to load out creation. Player movement also feels near identical to Black Ops III’s improvement upon Advanced Warfare‘s EXO-Suits. Soldiers are able to dash with four degrees of two dimensional movement and can use a built in thruster for wall jumping and accessing vertical sections of the map.
Compared to Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare before it, Infinite Warfare actually offers players less choice when it comes to their in-game avatar and the special abilities that they are able to wield. Upon choosing one of three starter RIGS your character’s appearance will change in accordance with your choice- you can be an armored dude, another armored dude or a robot. Contrast this with Black Ops III which provided players an “unlock token” upon leveling up, which they could use to chose a brand new multiplayer character – each with their own personality, aesthetic and choice of special power-up. These characters could be further enhanced with the player being presented the choice of spending another unlock point to earn a second special power-up. Going back a couple of years. Advanced Warfare offered players the ability to customize their avatars with sliders for skin color, gender, optional accessories, patches, outfits and more. Sadly BO III‘s MOBA style heroes are missing in action and so is Advanced Warfare‘s much more in-depth customization options and in their place are DUDE, other DUDE and ROBOT WITH GUN.
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare offers the standard suite of modes that you’ve come to expect from the franchise. The venerable Team Deathmatch and Free For All modes that have been with the franchise since Call of Duty 4 make their obligatory appearance in this year’s title and it is my opinion that like in years past , these two modes will probably be the ones with the highest population. Kill Confirmed from Modern Warfare 3 also returns – a mode where players drop a set of dog tags upon death and the team that collects the most dog tags in a match before the timer expires wins. Hardcore variants of these modes plus others like Search & Destroy and a new alternating attack/defense mode round out the offerings. Like the rest of its’ multiplayer suite Infinite Warfare gives us exactly what we’ve come to expect from a Call of Duty title without any of the pleasant surprises.
Possibly the most egregious thing about Infinite Warefare’s multiplayer isn’t the removal of customization character with their own unique gender & aesthetics or the lack of innovative multiplayer modes but the sheer determination for which Activision is gunning for player’s wallets with this latest edition. Leaving aside the fact that the Legacy Edition (which in fairness contains two complete Call of Duty titles) costs $109.99 CDN, but rather the return of micro-transactions that began life as reward boxes containing aesthetic items all the way back in Advanced Warfare.
Infinite Warfare continues the tradition of offering randomized loot boxes in the form of “Supply Drops” which can be either purchased for real world currency via Steam, PlayStation Network or Xbox Live or by using in-game “keys” which are earned at a rate of 1 – 1.5 keys per match. A “common supply drop” which contains 3 “common” rarity items, and if you’re lucky and have prayed to the RNG gods possibly a rarer item, can be had for ten keys. A “rare supply drop” costs 30 keys and is guaranteed to either give you a rare skin or “scrap” for use in Infinite Warefare’s new crafting system.
Crafting? In a COD game? How could that possibly work? Well, once you’ve either paid real world currency or spent between 2 – 15 hours per box earning enough keys to collect the scrap that you will need to upgrade each individual gun a number of times. Each weapon has its own progression tree, offering soldiers ever increasing small bonuses for increasingly larger amounts of scrap, which can only be acquired through the supply drops. As if this type of micro-transaction grinding wasn’t prevalent enough in non premium priced titles, the last unlocks for some of the standard weapons give them permanent statistics upgrades. This means that your fully crafted assault rifle might have no fall of range for damage or other stat bonuses. Yup, forget game balance – if you’ve got enough time or money you can literally unlock more powerful versions of the base weapons everyone else has.
Overall Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s multiplayer mode provides those looking for a fast paced experience with more than enough unlocks, perks, weapons and other trinkits to stay entertained until the next huge AAA shooter comes along to claim COD’s throne. For players, like myself, looking for some innovation in their yearly COD experience – Infinite Ware sadly will not deliver on these expectations. Going into IW‘s multiplayer it is best to think of this year’s entry as an expansion pack to last year’s Black Ops III – the base mechancis remained almost unchanged, although some of the cooler flair is lacking. RNG boxes and crafting new weapons might leave a sour taste in the mouth of those who favor balance over the pay-to-not-grind psychology that RNG supply boxes encourage. At it’s core Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer is a solid entry that gives players more of what they love.
Activision Publishing provided Broken Joysticks two Legacy Edition copies of Call of Duty Infinite Warfare for our consideration, review and content creation.