I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t another hate on Call of Duty article. Those are a dime a dozen and mostly hypocritical. The reality is, I’ve never hated Call of Duty and recognize the things it’s done within the industry. That said, I haven’t particularly cared for the franchise either.
A large part of that is due to the fact that I’ve never cared much for FPS games in general. They just aren’t my forte and while I play them frequently in the course of my duties for Cinelinx, I much prefer other genres. Multiplayer gaming still isn’t huge with me either, which so many modern shooters are geared towards. Because of this, I’ve never fully understood the appeal of the Call of Duty franchise, and unless I was working on a story tended to avoid them.
So imagine my own surprise when the “Ship Assault” gameplay demo for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare played during Sony’s E3 conference, and I found myself irretrievably sucked into it. I couldn’t take my eyes away, nor contain the joy/excitement I felt at watching the gameplay unfold. It was an odd feeling, but by the end of the video, I was entirely sold on the game and am eagerly awaiting my chance to throw money at it.
Over the last several years, many gamers have lamented at the lack of change within the Call of Duty franchise, feeling as though each year gives them a similar experience. Every time a new one was revealed, inevitably cries of “It’s the SAME!” were heard around the interwebs. This year, however, Activision/Infinity Ward is changing things up fairly drastically. It’s funny, though, as many of the same gamers who complained about the lack of change, then began whining about how different Infinite Warfare looked. Alas, that’s a topic for another article.
This shift in focus and moving into the science fiction genre piqued my interest like never before. When I saw the first trailer for Infinite Warfare, I could feel the stirrings of interest. The fact that the developers were willing to change up the format and backdrop so much gave me hope. I wasn’t prepared, however, for the gameplay footage.
The surface level changes aren’t the only thing pulling me in, however, and the gameplay made it clear this is a different kind of game. For one, the primary character you play (Nick Reyes) isn’t some random grunt in the larger war. No, you’re a CAPTAIN this time around. Normally, you play some random soldier who looks up to the more veteran companion to help guide you through the game and make the decisions. This time, it’s YOU who’s the veteran and leading one of the last warships for the UNSA (the good guys in outer space). This shifts the perspective quite a bit, offering players the chance to experience the story with a fresh/unique viewpoint.
The intro to the demo video shows us that Infinite Warfare eschews the linear structure of previous Call of Duty titles, letting players pick their own path throughout the game, and decide on missions from within your vessel. You use a star-map, not unlike the one in Mass Effect, to choose from various planets and missions in your war against the Settlement Defense Front. From what we’ve learned now as well, the activity on your ship we see in the video isn’t merely for looks, but plays an important role in the game. This is your “HUB” that you’ll come back to, in which you can interact with your crew and remember what you’re fighting for.
This adds an entirely new dimension to the Call of Duty franchise, opening up a wider range of options for players of all styles to enjoy, while trying to emotionally invest you within the story. I’ve always been big on story within video games and more often gravitate to games with an interesting one to offer (another reason I could never get into COD before), so Infinite Warfare‘s bigger focus on characters and story really appeals to me.
Then you get into the mechanics themselves and there’s even more to love. The “Ship Assault” demo showcased some fast-paced and frenetic action with technology galore. The science fiction really seems to be stepped up, while still feeling a bit grounded. The guns are obviously futuristic, but the sounds still have punch and realistic impact to them.
Though the demo showed a fairly straight path to ‘victory’, it’s obvious that these missions are designed to let you handled things however you want to. There are a multitude of options with which to accomplish your goal. From boarding enemy ships and taking control, to hacking enemy technology to work against them, or even the option hop in a starfighter (which the devs have revealed are fully controllable and aren’t “on-rails”) to thin out the crowd before doing anything else. There are a plenty of different choices gamers can make, which makes it fun for different audiences.
I myself am a HUGE fan of space/dog fighting games (Star Fox, Rogue Squadron, etc), and am keenly interested in this new aspect of Call of Duty. Based on what we’ve seen, it’s a component I can see myself getting lost in and spending a great deal of time with, while others might prefer the traditional boots on the ground approach. While I will obviously have to do plenty of missions without a starfighter, the fact that I have options to play the game how I want is exciting. It feels like Call of Duty is actively working towards bringing in more than the typical shooting crowd, and it’s something I can appreciate.
As I remarked last night, this looks like the Star Wars game I was wanting out of Star Wars Battlefront. It has a stronger focus on story and engaging characters, while letting you jump from planet based action into the stars and battle it out with other ships. You have a crew to take care of, you’re more than a cog in the wheel, and the non-linear play style makes for a broader appeal.
I’ve gone from being “meh” about the Call of Duty franchise in general, to being genuinely excited for what the future holds. Infinity Ward has sold me on Infinite Warfare and I hope the final game manages to deliver on what could be a real turning point in the series.
What do you guys think? Are you excited to take on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare when it lands on November 4, 2016?
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