Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Multiplayer Preview

Ned Jordan
In Short
A first look at Infinite Warfare's multiplayer gameplay from Call of Duty XP.

Call of Duty XP provided the perfect stage for Infinity Ward to give the gaming world its first look at the multiplayer side of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Before letting us loose on the game for some hands-on time with the multiplayer modes, the game's Multiplayer Designer Joe Cecot gave us some background information on the design philosophy that went into the multiplayer game and showed how that philosophy was manifested into the final game design. Infinite Warfare's multiplayer game was designed with a dual focus: the player and the play space. The focus on the player drove the design of the game's Combat Rig system. At first glance the Combat Rigs resemble the Specialists from Black Ops III, but the rigs are designed to suit player styles rather than imposing a style of play on the gamer. There are six rigs in the game:

' Merc: Designed for defense and suppression
' FTL: Geared towards a guerrilla fighting style
' Stryker: Squad support and area of denial class
' Warfighter: The mid-range generalist, supports the traditional Call of Duty play style
' Phantom: Stealth and concealment specialist
' Synaptic: Built for speed and focused on close combat for a run and gun style of play

Each rig also offers a degree of customization to further tweak it to fit your play style. You can select from one of two Payloads, one of which is a unique weapon and the other a special ability. The Payload slowly charges during a match, and once it is fully charged you can activate it at any time by pulling both bumper triggers at once. With Synaptic the choice is between the Equalizer, dual-wield machine guns and the Reaper ability, which turns Symptom into a lethal robotic dog of sorts, charging up to players at high speeds and unleashing a deadly claw melee attack. Stryker wields the Gravity Vortex Gun, which can launch mini black holes that suck any unfortunate nearby players into oblivion.

In addition, each rig also has three Traits available, only one of which can be active at any time. These are special abilities that let you further adjust your rig to your play style. For example, if you are planning on using the Phantom rig and playing as a sniper, then you probably want to select Rearguard which protects you from melee attacks from the sides and rear, but if you will be playing as a stealth attacker, then you may want to select Heightened senses instead which will mark sprinting enemies on your radar.

No matter which rig you choose, you'll be able to select from any pre-set loadout or create your own. If you want to use the close combat rig and carry a sniper rifle, you're free to do so. As for the weapons in Infinite Warfare, they are a mix of classic weapons and advanced ballistic and energy weapons. The energy weapons feel a little different than the more traditional weapons, but they're still satisfying to fire. They don't use traditional ammo, though, relying instead on a battery to power the weapon. The battery is drained while the weapon is fired, and it recharges when the weapon is not firing, so you'll need to be careful not to completely drain it when you need it the most. The weapons also feature some unique mechanics that are triggered with the Triangle/Y button. There's an NV4 assault rifle that can be switched to use a quick aim mode that sits halfway between firing from the hip and down the sights. I found it to be useful on the smaller interior maps that give you less time to react to the appearance of enemies. The Type-2 can be broken down into a pair of pistols, letting you switch its primary function from an SMG weapon to a short range pair of weapons in an instant. Infinite Warfare will also include a full weapon crafting system. You'll be able to collect salvage from the matches and use that salvage to create new weapon prototypes and variants. The crafting system wasn't enabled in the game build playable at COD XP, though, so I wasn't able to get any hands-on time with it.

Lethal and tactical equipment will be a mix of both equipment that will be familiar to Call of Duty players and advanced items new to the Call of Duty series. The biospike, seeker grenade, and flechette grenade are all new lethal equipment, and the new tactical equipment includes adrenaline drip, personal radar, and the dome shield. Tossing a grenade seems downright archaic when you can unleash a walking grenade that will make a beeline for enemies on its little robotic legs. There are new score streaks as well, the ultimate of which is the RC8 - an eight foot tall robot with a high-powered machine gun for an arm.

A new multiplayer feature revealed at COD XP but not available for play is Mission Teams. There are four factions in the game, JTF Wolverines, The Orion Initiative, Sabre Team 7, and Wraith, each of which is geared towards play styles and skill level. Before a multiplayer match, your chosen Mission Team will issue challenges and missions. Complete these and you'll earn additional XP for the match, and eventually be able to unlock special Mission Team unique weapons and gear.

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Now let's take a look at the play space in Infinite Warfare. Joe Cecot stated that the map design philosophy in the game is to focus on fast engagement and forced head to head conflict, or, in other words, getting players into the action faster and then keeping them there. Not all of the maps were revealed and playable at Call of Duty XP, but the few that did make their debut were all interesting.

Frontier is a circular, two lane map set within the tight turns and narrow corridors of a space station - a map that epitomizes the fast to fight philosophy of Infinite Warfare. One corridor runs below the others, forcing you to think in three dimensions as you pick up pings on your radar.

Throwback is a three lane map that looks like it is set in a neighborhood taken straight out of the 1950s, except that if you look up you'll see that the neighborhood is located on the inside diameter of a gigantic rotating torus. The 'familiar but alien' effect of this map is further enhanced when downed soldiers lose their artificial gravity assist and their corpses slowly begin to float upward.

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Frost is a three lane medium-sized map set at a research station on the surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa. The map has some verticality to it in that a number of the pathways are sloped and open into small open areas. It's hard not to think about the rebel base on Hoth as you run past the ice-covered walls along the station's frozen corridors.

Breakout is a large three lane map set at a prison facility on a remote mountaintop location on Earth. One of the lanes is broken into a long wall run, and if you fail to navigate this stretch successfully you'll find yourself plummeting down the side of the mountain to your death. This map delivers a little of everything from open areas to tight, room-to-room battle spots.

Terminal is a circular, medium-sized map created as a tribute to the Modern Warfare map of the same name. While this map remains faithful to the feel of the original, the setting has been change to fit the Infinite Warfare timeline as the Earth-bound airport of the original has been replaced by a spaceport on the Moon.

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As for game modes, everything that you played in Black Ops III will be returning in Infinite Warfare. There will be a few minor changes, such as the zones in Domination and Hardpoint changing color to reflect their status as controlled, contested, or enemy-controlled, and additional HUD indicators to help you find the next control point in Hardpoint. The Frontier map made for some intense matches of Domination as the control points were all relatively close to one another, with one point sitting in the corridor that ran beneath the main portion of the map.

Infinite Warfare will also introduce a couple of new modes, one of which was playable at COD XP. Defender mode is a game of keep away - a satellite appears on the map and once it is grabbed by a player a timer begins counting down. If the team is able to hold on to the satellite for a full minute it scores and the satellite is reset to its original stating position. If the player holding the satellite is killed and drops it, it returns to the original starting position after a short cooldown period. The player holding the satellite won't be able to fire a weapon, but the satellite can be passed around like a football. This mode looks like it will be winner ' I was able to play a number of matches of Defender on the Frost map and it was a lot of fun. The satellite would spawn in a cramped open area, and once one team was able to fight for control of it the runner would take off down a side passage while the rest of the team tried to cover all of the twisting passages that connected to it.

While the fluidity and mobility of Black Ops III's multiplayer is still a part of Infinite Warfare ' you get wall-running, mid-air boosts, and such ' the battles in Infinite Warfare have a different feel to them. The weapons, lethals and tacticals, and rigs have an impact on the gameplay and affect the tactics and flow of battle. I came away from my hands-on time with the game with a feeling that it's similar but different, and very much in a good way that has me looking forward to the next time I can get my hands on the game.

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Transmitted: 1/16/2019 3:05:20 AM