Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare Multiplayer Hands-On Preview

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One important thing I’ve learned over the course of my time as a game journalist is that a lack of experience with a certain franchise doesn’t disqualify someone from reporting on it. There are often calls to give reviews to the people who know or like the series best, or for people who lack skill to stop reporting on games entirely, but these are misguided suggestions at best.

When it comes to criticism and reporting, the take of a person who hasn’t had a whit of time with a franchise before reviewing its latest entry is just as valid as someone who’s seen 100 percent of everything the previous games had to offer. For every clamoring fan who’s wondering whether the latest really is the greatest, there’s another reader saying “Hey, I’ve never played this franchise before, but I’ve heard good things… Do you think this is something I’ll enjoy?”

I say this because getting a hands-on preview of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer at CoD XP 2016 was my first experience with the series in quite some time. This is a franchise that I only occasionally dabbled in when my friends forced me to join, and the last time I can remember touching it was almost a decade ago when I tortured my pals in World at War’s Nazi Zombies mode by being the worst ever. Because of that, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started up this new multiplayer mode — well, except for the fact that I was pretty sure I’d have my ass kicked. The result honestly surprised and delighted me; while I’m unfortunately aware that not all of the community will be welcoming, the chance for casual and hardcore players alike to enjoy Infinite Warfare seems to be high.

Looking at your options when it comes to the new combat rigs, it looks like the multiplayer here has taken on an Overwatch-like simplicity that can be expanded for those who are interested in doing so. Yes, I realize these games were developed concurrently, and sure, this may not have the character of a game like Blizzard’s FPS, but there’s an elegant ease of use here that made it feel accessible and not at all fussy to me.

Each of the roles can be quickly summed up for a newcomer: you’ve got the offensive Warfighter, defensive Merc, assassin-like FTL, speedy support Stryker, close-quarters brawling Synaptic and long-range Phantom. Each of these has three payloads and three traits to choose from, so even casual players can get in on the fun of picking what best fits their play style.

Of course, as far as the seriously dedicated are concerned, there’s the weapon crafting system — which has the potential to be a really addictive prospect when the full game is released. I wasn’t able to test it out in my particular play session, but from what I’ve seen in the trailers and heard from the developers, it sounds like it’s going to add a layer of complexity that hardcore fans will really love.

What really matters at the end of the day, of course, is how the game plays. I’ve been a bit baffled about the backlash from some fans; I even saw one comment today decrying the game as so different it should be in another series. I might not be an expert on Call of Duty, but I did play this game and Modern Warfare Remastered back-to-back (keep an eye out for that preview!), and from my time with both of them I can safely say that Infinite Warfare feels like a natural extension of the ideas that the series has explored in the past.

To be sure, this game’s got all the cool mobility options that made Black Ops III and other recent titles so fluid and smooth. There’s sliding, wall-running, clambering over obstacles and boosting to reach high places, and it makes navigating the maps a fast and furious affair. I did get creamed early on due to the breakneck speed of the action, but it’s surprisingly easy to get into.

I made sure to try out all the combat rigs as well and experimented a bit with their different loadouts and traits, and I found that each one did create a unique and interesting experience. Some are a bit more intuitive than others — newcomers can happily control a damage-dealing Warfighter with some success, while experts will want to go after more complex and technical roles like the FTL (whose series of sliding kills during the trailer caused the audience at the keynote speech to erupt in applause and shouting).

It was really refreshing to have a good time with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, especially after so much time away from the series (and so little experience with it in general). I quickly picked up the three-lane structure of the maps and how that affected the flow and direction of combat, and I couldn’t help but admire how much meticulous detail Infinity Ward has used in structuring things — from the combat rigs and their customizable aspects, to every deliberate nook and cranny in each map — to reward players for taking advantage of their preferred play style and the space around them. It’s a design philosophy that rewards competitive play, to be sure, but it’s also streamlined and intuitive enough for just about anyone with even a little FPS experience to pick up and get into for a few matches.

We’ll see how things continue to develop as we get closer to Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s November release, but what I played of the multiplayer so far seems to signal another remarkably-polished entry in the series — and one that can be easily enjoyed by casual FPS fans in addition to those fuelled by the spirit of serious competition.

Now, I may have started this preview by explaining that even my inexperienced journalistic take is valid after some research, and I feel compelled to conclude with a word to those on the other side — the similarly-inexperienced, but close-minded folks who never bother to look into things before disparaging them.

This is a franchise that gets way too much vague criticism from people who don’t even try to understand it, and while I don’t consider myself a fan, I still challenge anyone who uses tired lines about “grey, edgy, dull shooters” to sit down for a bit and give this one a shot. It might not be your thing, but if you’re paying proper attention, you’ll see how much time and dedication the developers have put into every last detail here — time and dedication that I’ve really come to respect.

Be sure to stay tuned to We Got This Covered for more coverage of Call of Duty XP 2016, including previews of Modern Warfare Remastered and the Jackal VR experience for PlayStation VR.