The Call of Duty series is making a huge leap into the future by taking its combat to the stars and implementing sci-fi into the crazy action that made it popular. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the thirteenth main entry of the annual shooting franchise from Activision, and the eighth title to be developed by Infinity Ward. Many have complained that the series has lost its steam over the years with the same generic approach to modern combat and quick reaction first-person shooting gameplay, but Infinite Warfare does more than just fill the slot of being the next big release of the franchise. A solid single player campaign, competitive online multiplayer, and the always popular cooperative Zombie mode deliver in big ways.
The single player campaigns of the Call of Duty games have always been overlooked in favor of their immensely popular online multiplayer. But you would be doing yourself a huge disservice by not playing through Infinite Warfare’s main campaign, which goes beyond the linear nature of the previous titles of the series. A futuristic story about a war between Earth and Mars compliments a hearty helping of firefights in low gravity and dogfights in space. The story feels heavily inspired by sci-fi series like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, with its gritty look at the future of human advancement and the harsh realities and effects of war.
However, some events in the plot still feel a bit cliché and forced like previous Call of Duty games. Character deaths don’t feel earned as much as they should, especially with those who are only given a very brief time for players to grow attached to them. It’s not the best storytelling around, but definitely a huge step up for the Call of Duty series as a whole.
The most interesting addition to Infinite Warfare’s campaign is the Jackal dogfights you engage in during some campaign missions. While they emulate a lot of air combat sections you might find in a variety of first-person shooters, the Jackal sections feel more intense and over-the-top because they take place in space. Controlling a Jackal and shooting down enemy fighters is great, especially when some of your mission objectives require attacking freighters and squadrons of enemies over the atmosphere of a nearby planet.
These sections were not difficult, but were still fun and didn’t go on for too long to become boring. There’s a small level of customization to the Jackal you can do before missions, including changing the weapons and giant decal on your hull. There weren’t a lot of weapons, but it was a nice touch to give the Jackal I used a little more personal flair before flying out on a mission.
Online multiplayer is where everyone will spend most of their time with in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. All of the big multiplayer game modes are present and accounted for, with a few extra ones added for some variety. Unlike previous games where you selected your weapon load out before a match, you have more options for equipment and perks that offer a wide range of abilities. Combat Rigs give different base templates for your character, which have varying perks and abilities that go along with the weapons and equipment you bring with you into battle. As you level up from playing online, you open up more Combat Rigs and weapons to use in matches.
Despite the large amount of options you have for online multiplayer, as well as the game modes to play in, there are still some issues with multiplayer that have lingered since previous entries of the series. Disconnections during matches are still a problem, as well as some slowdown depending on the quality of your internet connection. While playing online, I did experience a number of matches where the connection quality would take a nose for the worse and render the matchup unplayable. This wasn’t a frequent occurrence, but it did happen enough to become noticeable.
Another issue that has yet to be truly addressed with Call of Duty online multiplayer is the balancing of teams and player spawns on maps. There were lots of times I would find myself in a matchup with a team that was outnumbered and given a huge disadvantage. More often than not, this was almost a guaranteed loss with a few exceptions.
The respawn points in most matches I played still would have me appearing within the crosshairs of an enemy, which is still annoying even now in the series. Smaller maps suffer from this a lot more during Team Deathmatch and Domination, but it does happen more often than not on the larger maps as well.
Zombie Mode is still fun with other players. Though I couldn’t spend as much time playing through it as I did with the other game modes, mostly because of the lack of players in matchmaking. When I did get paired with some teammates however, I enjoyed the B-movie sci-fi take for this iteration of Call of Duty Zombies. Up to four players can take on waves zombies in a sci-fi amusement park, using different weapons and abilities you unlock as you progress through each wave.
Because of the quality of connection to other players, and the increasing difficulty of the zombies, I was only able to make it a little pass wave 10 in Zombie mode. There’s not a whole lot of fundamentally different aspects here, but if you enjoyed Zombies in the last few games of the series, you’ll feel right at home here.
If you wanted something different to happen with the Call of Duty series, then you’ll be happy to know that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare delivers on that front. You still have the fast paced shooting and variety of multiplayer modes everyone enjoys, but also a new setting that makes it feel refreshed and something new. The single player campaign is the best of the series to date with its futuristic sci-fi plot, despite a few narrative shortcomings. Online multiplayer and Zombies are still enjoyable, but come with a few lingering problems that will vary for some. It might be more Call of Duty for everyone, but Infinite Warfare doesn’t make that feel like such a bad thing after all.
This review was based on a digital review code of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for the PlayStation 4, provided by Activision.