Preview

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered Multiplayer Preview: old tricks, new rigs

As another November approaches, so does a new game in the Call of Duty and the studio that started the franchise, Infinity Ward, is up this year out of the development rotation between it, Sledgehammer, and Treyarch. Will IW’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare redeem the studio after the disappointing and lackluster Call of Duty: Ghosts? Also, is the anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered faithful to how you remember it? To find out, I attended a press day at the Call of Duty XP 2016 in Los Angeles yesterday and went hands-on with the competitive multiplayer of both games.

INFINITE WARFARE COMPETITIVE MULTIPLAYER

Infinite Warfare continues the futuristic setting trend we saw in 2014’s CoD: Advanced Warfare by Sledgehammer and last year’s CoD: Black Ops III from Treyarch, but it’s taken even further with locales in outer space. This has given the developers some more creative freedom to add more variety and uniqueness to the available weapons, abilities, scorestreak rewards, and maps.

Let’s start with the soldier in Infinite Warfare and when you begin gearing yours up, it all starts with selecting one of six Combat Rigs. Rigs are essentially classes with abilities which support a certain play style. With each Rig loadout, you select two key components: a Payload and a Trait. Payloads are much more powerful than average abilities or weapons you must earn to use by scoring kills or objectives (think like Black Ops III’s Speciality ability or Destiny’s Super Ability). Meanwhile, Traits are abilities that are either persistently present or recharge every few seconds. The Rigs adds another component for more customizations for hardcore and casual players like myself to try out and experiment with. You can find a list of the Combat Rigs and their Payloads and Traits on the second page of this preview.


The typical gun types such as assault rifles, shotguns, machine guns, SMGs, and sniper rifles are present in Infinite Warfare and while some are like traditional bullet-shooting ballistic weapons, others are of the directed energy type thanks to the sci-fi setting. To add even more variety, weapon crafting will allow players to make primary and secondary weapons with distinct cosmetic additions and Gun Perks, which add more functionality or modified stats. Crafting is done through currency earned in-game called Salvage and I’m willing to bet Salvage will be purchasable with real money via microtransactions. The build of the game available at the event unfortunately did not allow us to demo crafting. I imagine there is most likely a high element of chance, as we were told there are four rarity levels to crafted weapons.

Your soldier can also head into battle with Equipment and a variety of Scorestreaks. A standout piece of Equipment is the Black Hole Projector, which creates a vortex capable of dragging nearby enemies out of cover. Traditional Scorestreaks like the UAV and airhead firing support return, but some new ones take advantage of the futuristic setting. One such example is the R-C8, a heavy-armored robot with an auto-sentry mode or can be manually controlled by the player to take down the competition.

Infinity Ward has added a metagame component as well in the form of Mission Team (which feel reminiscent of the teams in Pokemon Go). Players will choose from one of four: JTF Wolverines, Sabre Team 7, Orion Intiative, or Wraith, with each having its own unique personality, challenges, and commander character. Being on a Mission Team can earn you additional experience or exclusive unlocks, encouraging further playtime post-launch.


Players of past Call of Duty titles, especially last year’s Black Ops III, will feel right at home with Infinite Warfare. The franchise’s solid core mechanics are there: Shooting feels responsive and accurate, abilities and scorestreaks can give your team a needed boost, and the movement system from Black Ops III returns with all the wall-running, thrust jump, and power sliding you can handle. While I enjoyed my time with the multiplayer and found the gameplay sound, I couldn’t help but feel samey about a lot of it from what I played so far. Infinite Warfare is leaps better than Ghosts, but not as apparent of a drastic improvement when comparing it to the games in the past two years. From what I see, Infinite Warfare will be relying on the Combat Rigs, while the new weapons, abilities, scorestreaks, and equipments will be what stand out the most and mix the experience up yet we will have to wait and see if those will dynamically change the progression of battles.

MODERN WARFARE REMASTERED

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered brings a nice fresh coat of paint to a more traditional boots-on-the-ground gameplay sorely missed by many franchise veterans. These are one pair of boots that will fit well for anyone who spent hours playing the landmark Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare back in the later 2000s. The way the guns and movement look and feel, the design of the maps, the killstreaks, sights and sounds – all of it – remain faithful to the vision Infinity Ward had with the original 2007 game. I found myself quickly remembering the various paths and lookout spots of the MW maps.

The movement is limited or a bit clunky compared to contemporary Call of Duty titles. For example, mounting over objects is not automatic and requires you to face the object head-on to successfully clamber over it. Aside from a few small shortcomings like that, Modern Warfare Remastered still plays quite well and looks great thanks to Raven Software’s graphical touch-ups like improved textures and lighting.

Turn overleaf for Infinte Warefare’s vast layout of Rigs.

Travel accommodations and admission for the Call of Duty XP 2016 convention were provided by Activision.

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INFINITE WARFARE RIGS

Warfighter – The most accessible of Rigs, the Warfighter is designed for a mid-range, assault style player. Players should equip the Warfighter Rig to support the team by getting fast kills, quickly getting to an objective, and to always being on the offensive.

• Payloads

– Claw – rapid fire spread-shot weapon with ricochet ballistic rounds, designed to take out the enemy in front of you and around blind corners. Aim down sights for more focused damage

– Combat Focus – gain double streak points for a limited time

– Overdrive – grants a temporary speed surge

• Traits

– Ping – kills and assists activate sonar ping at the enemy’s death location, revealing nearby hostiles to teammates. Enemies killed by teammates after being pinged will give you bonus scores

– Persistence – where scorestreaks no longer reset when you die, but take higher point values to attain. You can only earn each of your scorestreaks once per match

– Resupply – Resupply lethals and tacticals by picking up scavenger bags after successful kills with bullet weapons


Merc
– Focused on heavy defense and suppressive fire. Best for the more defensive-minded player who loves big weapons that deliver max damage, and is designed to clear enemy threats quickly and with authority.

• Payloads

– Steel Dragon – heavy beam based weapon with multi-target tracking

– Bull Charge – equips you with an armored riot shield to penetrate enemy defenses, or quickly take out opponents that stand in your way

– Reactive Armor – this high-voltage armor system vaporizes incoming small arms fire

• Traits

– Man-At-Arms – Rig augmentations allow for carrying heavier loads with minimal effort. Start with maximum ammo capacity and weapons don’t impact movement

– Infusion – regenerates health faster after taking damage

– Shockwave – press a button in midair to activate a devastating slam


FTL
– A prototype battle rig, it utilizes bleeding edge technology to ensure combat advantage. Best for the player who is more of a run-and-gunner and who wants to get up close and personal with the enemy.

• Payloads

– Eraser – a compact experimental energy-based handgun that evaporates enemies

– FTL Jump – a localized FTL burst that moves you a short distance forward

– Phase Shift – displaces you into another dimension, avoiding damage. Other phased players can engage you.

• Traits

– Power Slide – enhanced sliding capability that increases speed, distance, and allows you to ADS while sliding. Also has a greatly diminishing boost cost

– Supercharge – killing enemies will drop cooldown packs that help your team boost their super meters

– Perception – receive HUD notifications when enemies off-screen are looking in your direction


Stryker
– Equipped with gear for enemy suppression and squad support. The tactical team-focused player should use this rig on the battlefield.

• Payloads

– Gravity Vortex Gun – Prototype launcher that fires a slow-moving projectile which distorts gravity, pulling in and damaging enemies

– Micro Turret – compact multi-surface deployable turret

– Centurion – destroys enemy projectiles and applies a powerful electromagnetic field

• Traits

– Trophy Drone – will destroy one incoming lethal grenade and then recharge

– Relay – placed equipment will alert the player when enemy targets are in sight

– Hardened – placed equipment and drones have increased health and can also persist through the player’s death


Phantom
– Specializes in concealment and long-range engagements. The stealth oriented sniper should employ this rig in combat. 

• Payloads

– Ballista EM3 – highly accurate electromagnetic projectile launcher with increased penetration capability, to take out the enemy and pin them to the wall

– Pulsar – advanced EM sensor allows you to visualize enemy positions

– Active Camo – renders you almost invisible

• Traits

– Marked Target – damaging enemies will mark them for death, preventing health regeneration for five seconds. Marked enemies that are killed by teammates will award you with a bonus score

– Heightened Senses – while in ADS with sniper rifles, gain increased audio from nearby enemies. Warning blips will also tell you if enemies are nearby

– Rearguard – spawn in with a back shield that protects against attacks from behind. While the shield is active, melee attacks from anywhere but the front are negated


Synaptic – A C6 Class remote operated drone, it is optimized for speed and close quarters combat. Best for the player who favors melee and SMG-ranged combat. 

• Payloads

– Equalizer – dual integrated machine guns with built-in suppressors for close quarters combat

– Reaper – switches to rapid melee combat mode

– Rewind – rewinds your position and replenishes health and ammunition 

Traits

– Combat Burst – after each kill, gain a brief boost to movement speed

– Rushdown – faster recharging jump pack that also damages enemies directly within the jump pack blast

– Propulsion – press a button to quickly dash in any horizontal direction