The never-ending story that is the Call of Duty franchise. What can they do to keep it going?
First, if you haven’t already, watch the trailer…
It’s bonkers, right? Far into the future? Check. Space battles? Check. Travelling to other celestial bodies? Check. Call of Duty has gone beyond what I can even fathom was in their plans. What’s more is that Infinity Ward is setting its sights pretty high by claiming that players will be taking part in space battles and have agency over how the campaign plays out.
We’ll see how that goes…
I’ll qualify my skepticism with the admission that I am not a Call of Duty fan. The last Call of Duty game that I played with any sort of commitment was the original Black Ops, and the last CoD I played in the standard competitive multiplayer modes was Modern Warfare 2.
As I’ve stated extensively, I love science fiction. Considering that, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare looks like it could be pretty cool. The storyline definitely will need some major fleshing out though. Here’s an excerpt from Activision’s blog on the upcoming CoD:
Introducing an all-new universe, story, and cast of characters, Infinite Warfare will place players at the tip of the spear in a new war. After the nations of Earth unified as the United Nations Space Alliance to colonize the solar system and seek out precious resources, a fanatical and relentless enemy faction emerged from those living on the frontier—the Settlement Defense Front. Now, the Settlement Defense Front has struck back at the UNSA and sparked full-scale war. Players will take command of a UNSA warship and fight the Settlement Defense Front on Earth and across the reaches of our solar system through Call of Duty’s hallmark boots-on-the-ground firefights and epic new scenarios, like zero-g infantry combat and piloting a jet fighter both in and out of atmosphere.
Does that sound familiar? It might sound familiar because it’s the basic setting for Halo (pre-Covenant), Mass Effect, Titanfall, StarCraft, Firefly, and more. I mean, just substitute the names of the factions from the aforementioned IPs and you’ll see what I mean.
After the nations of Earth unified as the [insert unified human government] to colonize the [insert area of influence] and seek out precious resources, a fanatical and relentless enemy faction emerged from those living on the frontier—the [insert name for rebel group].
Sure, the fanatical part is some flavor to the formula, but still. I know, I know. That’s a weird place to draw the line in the sand for a franchise that focuses so heavily on multiplayer, but humor me a little. Now that I got that out, I can ponder my next concern…
WHAT CAN THEY DO TO MAKE IT UNIQUE?
I’ll address the concerns of CoD fans, and this is going to sound pretty odd. Infinity Ward needs to make Infinite Warfare fun for fans of the franchise. Infinite Warfare needs to feel like a CoD game and it seems like the devs are on the right track already. Infinite Warfare will have the standard multiplayer component and Zombies mode (ugh), so that hopefully will keep most folks happy. What can they do to make the game competitive with the juggernaut that is the Black Ops franchise though?
First, Infinity Ward needs to double down on the space stuff. Space battles need to be a major fixture of the game. No, space combat doesn’t need to have such a big part that it overwhelms the rest of it, but it needs to be more than what little attention is given to the CoD vehicle segments in other entries. The helicopter segment in the original Black Ops and the canyon flight in Advanced Warfare isn’t enough. A bullet point isn’t enough.
Second, zero-G combat definitely needs to be a thing. Especially in multiplayer. I don’t care if it isn’t super realistic, but to have a zero-G mode for multiplayer would be a gigantic feather in Infinite Warfare’s cap… Elton John levels of feathers.
Third, Infinite Warfare needs to have its lore laid bare if Infinity Ward wants people to take their new iteration of CoD seriously. This is something that plagued the release of Titanfall. Titanfall is a blast to play but it’s nearly impossible to give two shits about the setting because little is explained at any point. It’s the reason that Titanfall 2 is allegedly going to have an actual campaign. Destiny has suffered from similar criticism because it has its entire breadth of lore hidden in its grimoire cards that are only accessible on the ludicrously bad app or online on Bungie’s website. Infinite Warfare must avoid these mistakes like smallpox.
Fourth, the multiplayer must be up-to-par with Black Ops. For some reason that is beyond my understanding, the Black Ops games have a player base that is the definition of fanatical. Black Ops multiplayer and its Zombies modes are absurdly popular to the point that they’ve not only been included in every Black Ops release, but also added into Advanced Warfare and aped by Ghosts’ Extinction mode. And yes, I know that World at War contained the original Zombies mode.
SO WHAT’S THE DEAL?
I’ll put it as simply as possible. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare needs to deliver on the promises that Infinity Ward has made.
It needs to not suck and Infinity Ward knows this. I mean, it’s pretty clear that they know they screwed up with Ghosts, because Ghosts 2 isn’t coming out.
So there it is, Infinity Ward. Don’t make Infinite Warfare suck. And maybe change your studio’s name, because saying “Infinity Ward’s Infinite Warfare” is a mouthful and every 12 year old and 40 year old parent is going to call your game “Black Ops: Infinity Warfare” anyway.
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