Experiencing Future War with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
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Infinite Warfare is a future based Call of Duty game from Infinity Ward that was released on November 4th.  It is also a game that I was highly anticipating playing to find out how it will play and what the story was going to be.  After playing to the final mission I felt that the story and gameplay were both well done.  Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has many aspects that are different from previous Call of Duty games but also kept to the gameplay style of Call of Duty.  Except for being on other planets and in space suits, the boots on the ground felt more or less like typical unit missions that players would find in games like Modern Warfare.  However, this game goes beyond boots on the ground and takes players to space,  in air and space combat with Jackal dogfighting, the UNSA fighter jets,  and battleship to battleship assaults.  There is also soldier to battleship assaults, which are a challenge as you fight enemies in zero gravity and in space suits.

Earth CoD
Taking off from Earth in a Jackal.

What makes this a good game is the  story and the cinematography that went along with it.  The dialogue and characters were well written and the story gave a real sense of being in a future war situation.  I thought the characters were well developed and dynamic,  not just soldiers but real people.   During some moments of the game you could feel the tension and emotion of the characters, either they were arguing or something happened but it was captured.   The bad guys were ok though I did want more out of them in the story, such as more information on who they were or what they were really after.  All I got was they wanted to destroy Earth’s governments and take control of the inhabitants of the Solar System.  They are also a militaristic society that does not believe in freedom.  At least they were  humans and not alien invaders which took away a lot of the sci-fi aspect and grounded it into a plausible story.  I do wish the story was longer but it was focused on a particular goal, to protect freedom.  Another good thing about the game is the technology, it might be futuristic technology but made to look like aircraft carriers and closer to a modern naval vessel on the inside.  No Star Trek style technology here, though maybe closer to Battlestar Galactica.

The story first begins a bit awkward at first. We are in a drop ship hurdling towards Europa following a cut scene talking about the SDF (Settlement Defense Front) and then you jump to begin a mission. You play as a UNSA (United Nations Space Alliance) squad that is sent to secure a weapon from the SDF.  Here we also meet the main antagonist, SDF leader Admiral Salen Kotch played by Kit Harrington, known for his role as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. This was also more a tutorial mission to get players familiar with the factions, weapons, and gameplay and had only a brief part in the entire story.

As for the main characters and story, we meet them in the next cut scene in Geneva where the real story picks up with the SDF attacking Earth. With our heroes, Lieutenant Nick Reyes of the UNSA Navy and SCAR (Special Combat Air Recon) Team 1 Commanding Officer and Jackal pilot, Reyes’s wing man Lieutenant Nora Salter also of SCAR Team 1, and E3N or Ethan the friendly combat robot they escape Geneva and head to the Retribution.

Lt. Salter
Lt. Salter on the Bridge.

The Retribution is the command center for our main team of naval pilots and Marines. Reyes is Captain of the Retribution and promoted to Commander where he continues that role throughout the story. When first arriving on the Retribution we also meet Staff Sergeant Omar, commander of the Marine unit that will accompany Cdr. Reyes on away missions. Though it is  unconventional for Reyes as Captain of the Retribution to be on both boots on the ground missions and Jackal missions the circumstances around the story require good officers to lead the teams.  Reyes orders missions using the Bridge where either the main missions appear or after the primary mission you can order your people on side missions. Again all lead by our playable character Reyes.

I found Reyes to be a very intriguing character, unconventional but determined, and a very dedicated officer and one I personally liked playing. On all missions Reyes is supported by Salter, Omar, and Ethan so you get to know these characters well and form camaraderie between them, though arguments do occur.

Admiral Salen Kotch
Admiral Salen Kotch speaking through my Jackal HUD.

When looking at military tactics of both factions, the  SDF use more unconventional weapons and militarized security bots then the UNSA.  They do have fighter jets and a variety of different soldiers that are challenging for the UNSA teams.   Admiral Salen Kotch throughout the game is stationed onboard the Olympus Mons, the largest Battleship ever built, while our team is on the Retribution, which is designed to be an aircraft carrier.

The UNSA are the fighting force of Earth.  In Infinite Warfare we only see the Marines and Navy but they are the ones responsible for planetary missions, ship assaults, and Jackal missions.  They are more reliant on human soldiers than robots, though we have Ethan  and giant combat robots to aid in ground assaults.  Missions are fought using combat ready space suits  designed for space and the environments of the other planets and moons with differences between Navy and Marines.  The Navy require flight suits that are versatile for air and ground combat and the Marines more adapted to boots on the ground missions but also assaults on ships.

Retribution
Taking my Jackal for a landing on the Retribution.

As for the ships they have the feel of naval aircraft carriers in space. Jackals land like modern day fighters on an aircraft carrier and then brought down into the bay. So they don’t just fly into an open hanger. The Retribution has a crew where everyone has a specific task to perform for ship operations that coincide with modern day Navy jobs.   When walking around the ship it looks like a naval ship and not like a typical sci-fi vessel, except for it’s in space and has FTL (Faster than Light) engines.

Throughout the game the story plays out using cut scenes and cinematography. What I liked  about this game was having a 3rd person view of our protagonist during cut scenes. Here we get to know them instead of just a first person view of the world. It gave a more personable connection to the story by watching our guy interact with his crew and the Marines.

Bridge of the retribution
On the bridge of the Retribution and the mission center.

Except for the start mission there really isn’t any tutorial  in this game, which is great as a veteran Call of Duty player. The game does have in-game guidance with a white dot telling you the next step and sometimes a blue arrow pointing in the location of the white dot.  However, many times its finding were to go.  During missions players are instructed on controls for grenades and on screen guides when flying the Jackal, calling air support, opening doors, and fighting off enemies, and other uncommon movement.

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Later on in the game you get a meter that tells if enemies are noticing your presence and the HUD always has a list of lethals and tacticals with associated controls.

Omar and Reyes
Sgt. Omar and Lt. Reyes have a discussion.

One thing that I found about this game is  how difficult some enemies are take out.  This is were the right weapon and lethal comes into play.  Grenades are good, especially the seeker bots. You toss one and they seek out an enemy attach themselves and boom, goodbye SDF guy. The anti gravity grenades are awesome too; they stop enemies and make them float so you can take them out easily. Drones come later and they can be launched to kill unseen enemies, or when ammo is low and you need back up.  This game also lets you know which enemies are killed and injured with icons. It also, like other Call of Duty games, give grenade icons and also exploding vehicle and barrel warnings.

Ethan
Ethan with Lt. Reyes on an elevator to the hanger deck.

From the deck of the Retribution players find missions to Earth’s moon, planets, and other moons. There are also missions to board enemy ships. Both Space and ground combat are mixed with Jackal dogfights. On the Retribution you have access to main and side missions and the armory. At the armory players get to choose their loadouts and customize them. I found this a nice addition because I can choose weapons that I like, my grenades of choice, and choose a Jackal paint job. Players unlock weapons as they pick them up during missions, both main and side, and as the story progresses. If you want some very cool weapons do the side missions because they can be rewarding.   The armory is always the first stop prior to a mission and you can also test out weapons in the VR simulator.

Custom Loadout
My favorite custom loadout in Infinite Warfare.

My preferred weapons as of now include my primary weapon the full-auto energy rifle the Volk; it is a good mid-range weapon. For the secondary weapon I choose the best weapon I have ever seen in Call of Duty, or any first person shooter that I have played, the P-Law. This is acquired during a side mission and is a high damage plasma launcher. You fire once and it just explodes enemies, not just one but it has taken at least three at a time. You can use it on human enemies but it is fantastic for taking out armies of robots.  Just not to close or you will also explode.  Unfortunately, it has limited ammo but if used wisely can make missions easier to complete. I also have seeker and anti-gravity grenades, personal shield, and a custom Jackal loadout.

Jackal Bay
Entering the Jackal Bay on the Retribution.

Once you have your loadout head to the Jackal bay to board your Jackal or drop ship, depending if it is a ground or space assault. Space assaults are tricky, as they require you to eject from the Jackal and board a ship from space while taking out enemies. Grappling hooks are used for getting to the hatch or taking out SDF forces. Like Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare you get jump packs to jump higher and players can also wall run.

Jackal on Titan
My Jackal on Titan at an SDF mining colony with Ethan.

Jackal dogfighting, well dogfighting in general, is something I really like in this Call of Duty.  The Jackals are fun and new, but work like a real spacecraft would work in a vacuum. In space you would rely heavily on thrusters around the ship not wings and main engines. Because of the thrusters you have a lot of maneuverability, hovering, speeding up and slowing down, which can help in multiple high-risk situations. I found it to be a great experience and something that I enjoy about the game.

Titan Attack
Attacking the SDF on Titan with a giant combat robot.

The weapons are one of the best parts of this game, there are many varieties and they all have different functions, ranges, types of ammo, damage levels, and so on. On the very first mission players can use a heavy beam weapon called the F-SpAr Torch, which is also the Steel Dragon payload for the Merc in the multiplayer. Weapons come in as full and semi-auto, machine and submachine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, handguns, sniper to assault rifles such as the EBR-800, assault rifles, plasma weapons, launchers, cannons, and Jackal cannons and missiles. These weapons come as plasma, energy, and ballistic weapons. Players choose lethals such as frags, shock grenades, anti-grav grenades, and seekers. You can call in Jackal support or mark targets for the giant combat robot.  In the game enemies, even through walls, are visible and marked as red silhouettes. You can also hack SDF robots and use them against your enemy.

Low gravity
Inifinite Warfare has players in no to low gravity situations.

Like any military operation, you do missions as a unit. In Infinite Warfare as Captain you take point and lead the team with assistance from Lt. Salter, Sgt. Omar, and Ethan. Ethan is an asset whether you like him or not. At least most of the time Infinite Warfare keeps to a realistic military protocol. During large operations you will have a team of marines and jackal pilots with you, however, there are side missions where you go it alone for some of the mission.  For instance on one mission, Cdr. Reyes enters a ship separated from his unit, takes out enemies, then gets to the hangar and finds his team already defending hostages against the SDF. Ethan does guide you along the way but I was alone. So they went in as a unit and I, their captain, was made to risk my life to crawl around taking out enemies by myself.  Commander Reyes is one hardcore ship captain and Jackal Pilot. There are other missions that Reyes is alone, and a good opportunity to use the drone.

Choosing a mission
On the bridge you can choose a mission. Then you get a mission briefing.

Over all, except for some breaches of military protocol and a story that could have been longer, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare has a good gameplay and story. I also found some missions to be more challenging than others. The game also has a mix of planet and space missions, though for the side missions they are heavily focused on the ship missions.

Titan
Scene from Titan overlooking the SDF base.

One thing that really blew me away with this game is the scenes and cinematography. The graphics and artwork for the planets and ships is stunning. I felt like I was really on the Moon, Titan, Europa, Mars, and other places, including future Earth. They even played the low gravity or no gravity well for realism. Even the characters looked incredibly lifelike, the modeling is spectacular, and the motion capture was well done to have natural movement rather than stiff expressions like some games I have played.

Commander Reyes
Commander Reyes, Captain of the Retribution.

As for the individual characters, SSgt. Omar is such a no nonsense Marine who fought hard to accomplish the mission. I also liked how they did Lt. Salter, and you could tell she has a long professional history with Reyes. Reyes was well written and, even though he is unconventional, is becoming one of my favorite playable Call of Duty characters, second only to Soap MacTavish.

Infiltrating a ship
Infiltrating a ship from space.

Unless you really don’t like the sci-fi aspect of this game or just want Modern Warfare, I would recommend Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare or at least give it a chance. Maybe I am too much a sci-fi fan but I am also a Call of Duty fan and enjoy a good war game, especially when both are combined, and to me this was a good game and an enjoyable experience.

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