Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is taking the juggernaut franchise even further into the future, introducing magnificent space dogfights and robotic adversaries in a world dominated by rogue federations stretched across the solar system. It's a stark difference to the muddy trenches of Battlefield 1, opting for fast-paced melodic gameplay over brutal, realistic warfare.
Watch the latest trailer:
Infinite Warfare isn't the only CoD coming this year, though. Infinity Ward has also given the long-awaited remaster treatment to 2007 classic Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Modern Warfare Remastered features the original game with all new visuals and a revamped multiplayer mode, but beyond that, it's exactly how you remember it. Unfortunately, Modern Warfare Remastered is only available to those who pre-order the Legacy or Digital Deluxe Editions of Infinite Warfare.
The multiplayer beta for Infinite Warfare is coming to PS4 on October 14, followed by Xbox One on October 21. The beta period on both platforms will end on October 24, just a week or so until the official launch. The beta will include three unique multiplayer maps: Frontier, Frost and Throwback. These are complemented by classic modes that many fans will find familiar, such as Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed.
By Sam White
Another year, another Call of Duty game. For those not au fait with the series’ latest (its thirteenth!) iteration, a bit of background to set the scene: Infinite Warfare’s reveal trailer was infamously ‘crowned’ the second most disliked video on YouTube. Ever. The reason, apparently, is that its fans deemed it too futuristic. But at least it’s not the most disliked, eh?
After a good few hours with the Infinite Warfare multiplayer beta I kind of see where these thumbs-downers are coming from. There’s no doubt that Infinite Warfare is a Call of Duty game through and through – that is to say, it’s still a damn fine shooter – but this is not a revolutionary sequel.
Instead, it feels like an extension of Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III. The biggest change this time around is the addition of six brand new classes, or Combat Rigs. With a jump into the space-faring, solar-system-colonising future, Infinite Warfare has several different suits that you can play as, all of which are designed to offer up interesting and compelling new ways to approach the battlefield.
Related: Battlefield 1 review
This is a great success. From the classic shooter feel of the Warfighter rig, which provides a balanced, jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none approach to play; to the more run-and-gun speed and close-quarters-combat offered by the Synaptic rig, Infinite Warfare’s loadouts system is vastly diversified with the addition of these new class-based suits.
There are six in total – FTL, Stryker, Phantom and Merc being the other four – and this means that you’ve always got something to experiment with if you fancy changing things up; they’re also paced appropriately, so you start out with three and unlock the others once you reach a certain level. Each has its own unique weapons, traits (three unique passive abilities that you unlock over time) and payloads (unique active abilities that you earn throughout the course of a game, and which give you a ridiculous power-up like a turbo gun, or an XP reward).
These diverse playstyles seep into the weapon design. Expect to see lots of variations on familiar themes – assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and pistols etc. – but Infinite Warfare adds in cool new ways to make these existing weapon types feel exciting; with energy weapons and melee weapons, as well as interesting grenades that all have unique effects like cryogenic freezing.
The payloads themselves also greatly differ – play as the Warfighter, for example, and your boost ability is a gun called “The Claw” that unfolds itself like a complex nanomachine and fires ballistic rounds that bounce off all surfaces. Play as the FTL class and you’ll get an awesome pistol dubbed “The Eraser”, which disintegrates enemies into a red dust cloud with just one shot. It’s suitably sci-fi.
Add all of these different rigs, weapons, traits and payloads to the mega fast pace of the game – wall-running, jet-packing and floor-sliding are all still intact from Black Ops III and Advanced Warfighter – and Infinite Warfare absolutely brims with a dynamic freneticism. This is the game’s greatest strength, and there’s something still wonderfully gratifying about hopping into the air, boosting across a gap between buildings, and popping off a couple of shots to take down an enemy while you’re in mid-air.
What I don’t love quite so much are the maps. On the one hand, they’re superbly realised from a physical standpoint, with all of the level design prowess that we’ve come to know and love from Infinity Ward – a team responsible for some of the best multiplayer FPS of the last decade – and more verticality to boot.
I’m just not completely sold on the aesthetic this stage. The three maps available in the beta all follow a different theme; a lot of metal, concrete and glass that suitably sells the futuristic sci-fi look, but doesn’t have the interesting dichotomy of something like Titanfall – a game that managed to create the sense of a near-future world, but did it while also featuring the beauty of nature within that sci-fi framework.
The most interesting looking map is Frost – a space facility on one of Jupiter’s moons, with the solar system’s big-boy gas giant looming enormous on the horizon. But my favourite map from a gameplay perspective is Precinct; the most recent to be added into the rotation. Set in Japan, it seamlessly balances more open-ended space perfect for long-range snipers, with tight corridors and close indoor spaces. There’s also Breakout – a super tight space facility way out near Neptune, with three corridors of varying length. This map suits the breakneck pace perfectly, but failed to hook me
Infinite Warfare is unmistakably another Call of Duty game. For most fans, this will be enough to return to what they know and love – its modes, maps and progression system are compelling enough reasons to stick around for the weeks and months to come. But this is also the year of Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, two supremely strong first person shooters, each of which are arguably less familiar and more inventive than Infinite Warfare. Whether Infinity Ward has enough up its sleeve, we’ll have to see, but the lure of Modern Warfare Remastered might just be its ace in the hole.
By Sam White
Almost 10 years later, Modern Warfare is no longer modern, but it still packs a hefty punch. This is a Remaster that does a fantastic job of revisiting one of the genre’s best single-player campaigns, and its Russian ultra-nationalists, radical Islamic terrorism and pursuit of a rogue nuclear device remains surprisingly relevant to today’s Middle Eastern turmoil.
It’s a no-nonsense campaign from start to finish, and it’s still got a pace that rivals even today’s fastest-moving shooters. From its opening Crew Expendable mission – a night-time tactical assault on a Russian tanker with an SAS squad – to the timeless All Ghillied Up – a stealth creep-a-thon through a ’90s-era irradiated Chernobyl and its surroundings – Modern Warfare strings together set-piece after set-piece and it does so with aplomb.
Related: Gears of War 4 review
Its characters, writing and missions are still excellent, towing the line between hyper-drama and authentic tension to create a real sense of escalating threats. From your time as Soap in the SAS, accompanied by the brilliantly badass Captain Price, to the more open assaults in the US Army with your time as Sergeant Jackson, Modern Warfare throws you around different parts of the globe. The differences in combat – from stealth infiltration to city-wide battles – keep the action hot for its short runtime.
It’s a testament to the supremely solid foundations of the franchise that Modern Warfare’s mechanics remain superb. It’s not a surprise, considering this is the game that revolutionised the modern FPS, but its gunplay is still slick and satisfying, whether you’re armed with a silenced sniper rifle or a chunky AK-47 that you’ve had to scamper across a firefight to grab because you’ve run out of ammo.
The level design most notably betrays this remaster’s age. Not only are the levels quite literally flat, without the intense verticality of more recent Call of Duty games, but they’re also hand-holdy to quite a degree. Your AI comrades do much of the cool stuff themselves. From Price’s constant calls of “Check your corners” to the breaching of doors, it often leaves you feeling more like a bystander who’s watching the action, rather than a soldier who’s actively participating in it.
This isn’t a huge problem, though, and it’s remarkable that Modern Warfare retains the militarised tension that made it such a breakneck shooter back in 2007. Toward the beginning of the game there’s an infiltration through a house in pitch-black darkness, where you use your night-vision goggles to silently take down the inhabitants in order to rescue an informant. Where successive Call of Duty games ramped up the action to an almost ludicrous degree – collapsing Eiffel Towers and all – Modern Warfare thrives on its smaller, more intimate encounters, and it’s moments like this that still stand out despite its more constrained action.
Related: PlayStation VR review
It also looks great, thanks to a fantastic remastering effort that feels more like a straight remake than just a port with some improved textures. There’s a far greater richness to the colour, while lighting and weather effects look spectacular – the waves cascading over the side of the Russian tanker at the beginning of Crew Expendable are just brilliant. The animations are far improved from top to bottom, with some fantastic facial movement that brings the characters to life even more greatly than before. It’d never be mistaken for the next Call of Duty game, but the fact that Modern Warfare is still capable of wowing after so long is impressive.
Of course, I’ve not yet had a chance to try out the multiplayer that made the game such a lasting success, so it won’t be until closer to release that I’ll be fully putting Modern Warfare’s greatest legacy to the test. For now this is a remaster that really gives this iconic game the attention to detail that it deserves.
It’s ironic that this year, of all years – as Call of Duty moves into the space age – that we’re looking back while the franchise attempts to reinvent itself once again. In a way, the franchise is still yet to hit the dizzying heights of 2007.