Here we are, another year and another version of Call of Duty hits the shelves right before the holiday season. With this time of year comes a fair amount of debate between those that are fanatics of the series and those that are not. It is usually debated between those that lament over the lack of a single player story line and those that are in it just for the multiplayer. After a while, the debate calms down and we move on with our lives; rinse and repeat. However, this year, the franchise has moved in a slightly different direction with the veteran studio, Infinity Ward, at the helm. Instead of pushing out another Modern Warfare game, Infinity Ward created the Infinite War saga, and with a few changes to the formula, it is a much better series for it.
As eluded to before, the single player campaign has not always been the main focus of the Call of Duty series. Activision knew that there were a ton of people playing the multiplayer and they just assumed that the focus should be where the people were playing the game the most. While that is true, there was still a large majority of players looking to Call of Duty to provide a decent narratively driven experience. Whenever this was not the case, this vocal minority, myself included, would call Activision out and challenge them to do better. I firmly believe that this game, Infinite Warfare, is the answer to that challenge. It features a full-length campaign but it also features several side missions which range from 5 to 15 minutes of gameplay which is something Call of Duty did not do. These short side missions keep the story moving, but allow you to dive a little deeper into some of the other aspects of fighting including dog fighting and stealth missions.
Speaking of the side missions, these added missions turned out to be an excellent addition to the game. In particular, the dogfighting missions were a lot of fun to play and controlled impressively well. Usually, when game genres are blended, you lose some quality from both genres you are borrowing from which ends up killing the experience as a whole. However, the dogfighting in the game turned out to be surprisingly strong, well-balanced and tightly-controlled. You do spend a fair amount of time in your fighter, but that time does not feel wasted or over-used. It adds a nice splash of variety in one of the largest first person shooter franchises out there. It’s a welcome addition and I hope they keep up that line of thinking.
Moving off the main campaign and over to the Zombies mode, there is still a lot to be excited about in survivor mode. While this mode does not really stray too far from what you have come to expect from the series, it is still worth noting that the mode is still a quality experience. There are plenty of activities and songs to unlock as you make your way through the hordes of enemies. There are even several different easter eggs to find and you decipher the game and crack the code the developers left for you. While I am not a big fan of the mode personally and I feel your time is better spent playing the campaign, I can still appreciate the care the developers placed in developing this mode and you can feel that there was a lot of time put into the survivor mode. If this kind of gameplay is something you are interested in, this is something you should certainly check out.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the multiplayer, there is very little innovation. The games feel very similar to the last installment with a strong sense of deja vu when it comes to the game types. This is certainly the most disappointing part of the game, and honestly, probably the most dangerous to not get right. As we mentioned earlier, there is a huge fan base that only plays the multiplayer, so with this game not having a strong multiplayer mode, we are sure this will bleed into the sales of the game. While the mode is certainly functional, it just fails to bring anything new to the series and relies on the innovations of previous games. You still can only choose between iterations of deathmatch, capture the flag and other tried and true modes. What makes matters worse is when you look at what the single player manages to achieve and innovate on, it would have been great to see some of that spill over to the multiplayer like the dogfighting or zero-G combat. Instead, you are playing on the same terrain as you always have and that really isn’t exciting for the hardcore fans.
Overall, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare feels like a step forward in some ways and a step back in others. The single player campaign is easily the best single player experience Call of Duty has ever had. The characters are memorable and relatable, the story is strong and keeps your interest and there is lots of variety in combat, side missions and main missions alike. The Zombie mode is also strong with a fun, interesting theme, lots of gameplay to wade through and secrets to uncover. However, the multiplayer stays stagnant and flies too closely to the multiplayer we’ve been playing for years with the Call of Duty franchise. It serves a purpose, but fans of the series are likely to hate what’s going on here and will only polarize a fan base. As for our official recommendation, it really depends on whether you’ve traditionally liked Call of Duty games. If you are a big fan, we would not recommend this game for you. However, if you are looking for a great experience with a single player story, this is a great place to go. It’s something we never thought we’d say, but this year, those words ring true.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare developed by Infinity Ward, published by Activision.
- Strong Single Player Campaign
- Zombie Mode is Still Fun
- Side Missions are Great
- Weak Multiplayer
- Multiplayer Feels Outdated