Sep 2 2016 - 7:03 pm

Infinite Warfare: What We Know

I had the chance to play Infinite Warfare multiplayer for the first time at CoD XP 2016. What does the future of Call of Duty esports look like?
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The future of the Call of Duty franchise rides on Infinity Ward’s execution of Infinite Warfare. The next title in the popular series will be released in early November, but Call of Duty fans such as myself have had the opportunity to preview it early at Call of Duty XP this week. My focus during the multiplayer introduction session: what will Infinite Warfare esports be like?

Surprisingly, the multiplayer introduction, attended mainly by press and YouTubers more interested in the casual side of the game, began with a review of what Activision has accomplished thus far with the Call of Duty World League. Sam Cooper, Senior Director with Activision, told the crowd, “The best players on the planet are here competing.” Many in the crowd were unaware that the Call of Duty World League Championship had already begun. Sam was right, the 32 best teams in the world were competing in the largest Call of Duty tournament of all time elsewhere in the venue and their focus was entirely on the tournament and not on what the future of Call of Duty had to hold. Luckily, I had the chance to test the waters for them.

The Big Questions

What are we getting with Infinite Warfare? With another Call of Duty title set in the future, you can probably guess. While this game is not going to put players in zero gravity environments like some people imagined, it won’t be going back to a full boots-on-the-ground either. To tell you the truth, Infinite Warfare will be very easy to adapt to because it feels exactly like Black Ops III. The movement system is unchanged: boost jumping and wall running are included and are still an important aspect of the game. Maps are built to encourage wall running flanks and boost jumping trickery - nothing we aren’t used to already. While the game has a overlying space-theme, even maps set in space are boots-on-the-ground. It’s as if the players, all of whom are wearing what appear to be space suits, have gravity boots on. Players that are killed on space maps end up floating in mid-air, at least according to the trailers (I didn’t play any space maps myself).

Will Infinity Ward put focus on esports? Yes, absolutely. Activision has made a giant step into the esports area this year with the Call of Duty World League, as evidenced by Call of Duty XP’s main event. According to Cooper, Infinity Ward is working directly with Activision to push Call of Duty esports further.

“2017 will be bigger and better,” Cooper said.

Activision are in it for the long haul, spouting off numbers they are proud of, such as having over 1,000 teams from around the world competing in various Call of Duty World League events and over achieving 1 billion minutes of consumed content.

Infinite Warfare Multiplayer

Activision started off by stating, “With focus on driving frontline engagement and rewarding players of all playstyles, Infinite Warfare is redefining [multiplayer].”

Ahead of actually playing the game, various aspects of the multiplayer experience were introduced to media in attendance.

Combat Rigs

Infinite Warfare is building upon the specialist system that Black Ops III introduced with Combat Rigs. Though only six different Combat Rigs have been introduced so far, each of them is further customizable. Each Rig has three “payloads”, one of which is a weapon while the other two are abilities. According to the presentation, Combat Rigs are “swappable on the fly”, though I didn’t test this when playing multiplayer. I did notice that several of the weapons and abilities are named similarly to those found on Black Ops III, but new weapons, such as an automatic gun that shoots in a wide spray, are also available. Each Rig also has three “traits”, which are basically passive abilities or perks unique to each chosen Rig.

Merc - focus on defense and suppressive fire

FTL - guerrilla tactics

Stryker - squad support, area of denial

Warfighter - mobile, mid range. Your standard Call of Duty soldier

Phantom - concealment, long range sniper

Synaptic - close quarters, speed

In terms of esports, Combat Rigs are an easy transition after playing with Specialists all year on Black Ops III. However, there are some traits that are unlikely to find their way into the competitive scene, such as one that regenerates health at a higher rate after taking damage in a firefight.

Weapons and Crafting

A variety of weapons will be available in Infinite Warfare. Your standard classes, such as Assault Rifles, Submachine Guns, Sniper Rifles, and Shotguns are included. Classic weapons, taken from previous Call of Duty titles, are also going to make an appearance. Because Infinite Warfare is set in the future, we can also expect some futuristic guns, such as Directed Energy weapons that can regenerate ammo after a cool down, therefore never running out of ammo. Guns with multiple functions were also mentioned.

Weapon crafting will be introduced. Players can “salvage”, or collect in-game crafting currency, that can be used to upgrade weapons. Certain upgraded guns will have their own perks and custom features. Weapon crafting focuses on variety, so a wide range of weapons will be possible. Guns rarity also comes into play, and Epic weapons will not only look cool but have their own additional special abilities.

I don’t have to tell you that this weapon crafting aspect should not make its way into Call of Duty esports. Base weapons only. And while nothing was revealed about the Infinite Warfare ranked play feature, we know there will be one and we hope upgradable weapons with special perks will not be included.

New Tech and Equipment

Weapons might be where Infinite Warfare goes overboard, but equipment is up there too. A variety of new tactical and lethal equipment are being introduced, including a black hole projector that pulls enemy players in and crushes them to death, and tracking grenades that seek out enemies that approach close enough. Adrenaline drip can be used to regenerate health and personal radar can be activated to point out nearby enemies.

Of the various equipment tested, only a few fair enough for competitive play. Instead of a flashbang, a blackout grenade can be thrown to disorient enemy vision, and dome shield, an upgraded trophy system taken from Halo, can be deployed to keep out enemy fire and grenades. With equipment that does a lot of work on its own after being deployed, the competitive community will have to test and decide what is competitive and what is not. In my opinion, we absolutely can not start the year without any base bans.

Maps

I think competitive players are going to be happy with the maps. Infinity Ward specifically stated that they are focusing on fast combat, so that every second counts. They are encouraging head to head encounters with small, fast paced maps. When introduced, each map was described by the following criteria: shape, number of lanes, and pace. Most maps had three main lanes and were medium to fast paced.

Because wall running is back, the maps were designed to encourage that as well. Prepare for more pro players falling off the map in clutch situations!

Game Modes

Ah, here we are. Infinity Ward failed us last time when they gave us Ghosts without even including Capture the Flag. Luckily they are putting effort towards esports this year. All of the current competitive game modes we use this year will also be included in Infinite Warfare. Hardpoint, Capture the Flag, Uplink, and Search and Destroy. The only mentioned change was on Hardpoint, where the entire floor will change color based on who controls it.

A new game mode called Defender, like Oddball from Halo, is coming out in Infinite Warfare and is a lot of fun to play. A simple game of keep away, but with guns and grenades.

One thing Ghosts did right was callouts. Except, the player avatars would yell out callouts, specifically enemy locations. Call outs will come back for Infinite Warfare, but it is not clear whether they will be voiced or if text blocks will be used. I personally prefer location names to be in text format, similar to how they are in Counter-Strike and Halo.

Edit: Callout locations will be displayed under the minimap. 

Overall Impressions

Watching the multiplayer reveal for the first time, I did feel skeptical. It looked too futuristic, with too many new and confusing abilities and equipment. Of course, those types of things are always showcased in multiplayer reveals because they just look cool.

In truth, I had a ton of fun playing Infinite Warfare. I was afraid that using the Playstation 4 controller would throw me off because I am used to Xbox One and that I would have a hard time learning the mechanics, but it actually felt extremely intuitive. The movement system comes out of Black Ops III but feels more refined and smooth. In my first multiplayer match, I led my team with 49 kills. 49! Either the other players were burgers or I’m a straight boss, but I attribute this to my many years playing Call of Duty and Infinite Warfare feeling like any other title in the series.

Infinity Ward was our champion in the past, and I think Infinite Warfare brings out all of the great aspects we have grown to love from their games. Hit markers feel perfect, the movement was flawless, and the guns were fun to use. While Call of Duty esports will end up being vastly different from the casual experience, we have a good game on our hands.


Try Infinite Warfare for yourself when the beta starts on October 14th! Let us know your first impressions in the comments below or on Twitter @GAMURScom.

 

Josh Billy is a long time Call of Duty fan and can be contacted by email at josh@gamurs.comor on Twitter @Orbit_CH3MISTRY.

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