When it launched in 2016, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was not well received. A full-scale PR disaster followed, with its reveal trailer accumulating 3.8 million dislikes on YouTube. Activision’s greedy plan to bundle Modern Warfare Remastered in an $80 version of Infinite Warfare backfired badly.
To add insult to injury, the $100 Digital Deluxe Edition, which comes with Infinite Warfare’s Season Pass, doesn’t cover the Variety Map Pack DLC for Modern Warfare Remastered. It’s a shame that Activision’s management of Infinite Warfare gives it a bad reputation because, at its core, this is a decent Call of Duty game.
Infinite Warfare Campaign
I can’t say Call of Duty campaigns mean much to me. Having played through them in my youth, I’ve seen everything they have to offer already. Now I just can’t pretend to care.
That’s why I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how decent Infinite Warfare’s campaign is. It’s by no means a narrative giant in the video game industry, but there are certainly some positives to speak of.
The overarching plot of going up the ranks, becoming a ship captain, and getting your allies back safely carries some relatively emotive themes. The protagonist, Nick Reyes, certainly tackles some difficult topics as he must choose between his crew and the greater good of saving Earth. His naivety is a key factor in the plot as it becomes increasingly apparent, despite the support of his allies, that he is too emotional and caring to ever make an effective war commander.
Overly Ambitious Storyline
A major shortcoming of the story is that it tries too hard to be something it never could be: an emotional blockbuster where character ties and deaths are supposed to have you weeping at every scene. Frankly speaking, Call of Duty does not have good enough writers to pull this off. Without spoiling it, the ending is especially awkward. It has you listening to voice messages of the family members of those Reyes killed.
Most of these characters get less than give minutes screen time, and yet I’m supposed to feel guilty about killing them? The only difference between all but one of them and every other generic soldier you kill is an arbitrary nametag.
The one exception is Salen Kotch, Infinite Warfare’s primary antagonist. He’s still not exceptionally well-developed, but I enjoyed his Hollywood-level dramatized evilness regardless. Described as one of the most intimidating men in the solar system, Kotch is a mean dude. He shows several signs of being willing to do anything to crush his opponents. I was plenty motivated throughout the story to end this guy’s career.
Also, robot Ethan is an absolute lad. A good character with a sharp sense of humor. That’s not something Call of Duty games since Modern Warfare have been doing well, so credit where credit’s due.
The Problem with Multiplayer
Call of Duty’s developer Infinity Ward hasn’t had the best of luck at producing strong multiplayer experiences in recent years. Gone are the days of Modern Warfare leading the FPS genre, staying leagues ahead of even its fiercest competitors. Both Call of Duty: Ghosts and Infinite Warfare are thought to offer one of the franchise’s less enjoyable multiplayer experiences. It’s no surprise, either, as Infinite Warfare is plagued with far too many problems.
The population is practically non-existent with full lobbies outside of prime time not existing. I tested this by searching at 4 a.m. on a Wednesday night on EU servers, and it took seven minutes to get a six-man Team Deathmatch. Only half a lobby getting filled in that time, even at off-peak hours, is worrying.
Don’t even think about playing any game mode that isn’t TDM or Domination, either. There’s just not the player base for niche modes like Frontline, Gun Game, and Gesture Warfare to function anymore. Ideally, Infinity Ward should cut down the currently huge playlist to funnel more players into the same modes.
There is also the problem of cheating in Infinite Warfare, which runs rampant, as in many PC Call of Duty games. In my first three games, all of them had a cheater. This isn’t as notable during peak hours, but during off-hours, it seems basically impossible to get a full lobby filled with legitimate players. It’s safe to assume that Infinity Ward isn’t going to revisit Infinite Warfare and fix this anytime soon. Its focus is firmly on releasing the Modern Warfare reboot in October.
If — and it’s a sizable if — you can stomach these problems, then you’ll discover a damn good multiplayer hidden beneath them. There are a respectable number of maps and an impressive variety of weapons to choose from.
Infinite Warfare has the most pro-consumer DLC weapons model in the Call of Duty franchise. Rather than having to rely on obnoxious predatory loot boxes to get guns, you can just complete relatively quick challenges instead. Take the ballistic rifle, Trek-50 for example. All you must do is complete 15 matches where you get at least 5 one-shot kills using sniper rifles. That’s not a hard challenge to do.
The multiplayer gameplay is extremely fast-paced, which isn’t to everyone’s preference. Those looking for an old-school boots-on-the-ground Call of Duty could feel shell-shocked from how different this is. As a huge Advanced Warfare fan, I enjoy it. I don’t think the movement is as refined as Advanced Warfare, but it does still offer plenty of mobility options.
Call of Duty games with high mobility tends to suit me better, as camping is far harder when someone can jet boost slide up to you in a split second. This free-flowing, fast play-style is arguably where newer Call of Duty titles are at their best.
Call on Duty: Infinite Warfare is not a top-tier Call of Duty game, but it holds some value still. Certainly, Activision hasn’t done it any favors with its poor launch and somehow even worse support. However, I was still able to enjoy the multiplayer when cheaters and a lack of population weren’t ruining things for me. The story was short, as expected from a Call of Duty title, yet sweet enough that I didn’t regret spending time on it.
I recommend the console version over the PC version, just because cheating shouldn’t be as much of an issue. The population should be better too, as I was still able to play Advanced Warfare on Xbox One comfortably years after its release. Even if Infinite Warfare isn’t a great Call of Duty, I have no doubt a dedicated community still exists.
Despite this, Call of Duty just isn’t what it once was. I think the likes of Overwatch, Siege and Titanfall 2 all offer superior competitive environments. Given its inferiority compared to modern competitors, it’s difficult to confidently recommend any Call of Duty, including Infinite Warfare, in 2019.