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CALL OF DUTY: INFINITE WARFARE Takes Customization to the Next Level (Preview)

From its spectacular trailer back at E3 to the recent reveal of the new 80’s-inspired Zombies mode, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has made a lot of waves online. Expectations are through the roof for this year’s CoD iteration. With Call of Duty XP kicking things off with a bang this morning with the Infinite Warfare Keynote, I can finally tell you guys about my time with both the multiplayer and Zombies mode! Here’s everything you need to know:

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Multiplayer is all about customization.

Yes, this multiplayer still uses the movement system that allows you to easily fly around maps via wall-running like some crazy futuristic ninja. The focus now is on letting players adjust their characters to their play style.

Whether it’s your avatar, your weapon, or your score streaks, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is all about letting you play how you want to play. We’ve seen the franchise begin to shift in this direction with recent releases, but Infinite Warfare takes it to the next level. First, there’s the introduction of “Rigs”, which are sort of like classes (similar to “Specialists” from CoD: Black Ops 3). You can choose to be a Warfighter (mid-range assault), Merc (heavy infantry), Synaptic (robot focused on speed and close combat), FTL (assassin), Stryker (tactical support), or Phantom (marksman) before going into every match. You’ll be able to switch between all of these mid-match as well.

Each one of these Rigs will allot you some choices to make between payloads (similar to Specialist abilities) and traits (continuous perks). The payloads and traits are specific to each Rig, so there’s synergy between everything. So, not only do you get to choose a Rig that fits your play style best, but you can also take it a step further and customize your attacks. There are over 50 different combinations!

Payloads are usually a powerful weapon that can only be used once your payload meter is filled up. Using it will burn the meter, but will give you a limited time with a match-altering weapon. For example, the riot shield-like one lets you ram forward, taking out anyone in your way. There’s also another weapon that launches a small black hole that sucks anyone nearby into the vortex to take them out. Hell, the Halo/Destiny-esque ground pound even makes an appearance. As for traits, the ones I saw were passive abilities, like regenerating health faster, or having more mobility when running around.

It doesn’t end there. You can also join a Missions Team, where you’ll be able to level-up and eventually earn goodies that you can use for more customization.

Craft your own weapons.

You read that right, now you can craft weapons. Basically there will be a crafting currency that you can earn and use to make “prototype” weapons that offer more features, and will even have a rarity level attached to them. Epic weapons (most sought after) will have special designs and will have some powerful abilities. This definitely feels like it was influenced by something like Destiny. But that’s not a bad thing, especially if it provides enough incentive to keep coming back. I’m currently optimistic about this new feature, but it’ll all depend on how it’s implemented, and whether it will affect the competitive balance.

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Maps for a modern multiplayer.

When the dev team was talking about how they went about building the new multiplayer maps, there’s one thing that really stood out to me: they were built with the three lane design in mind (sort of like a MOBA). Now, I’m not sure if that’s always been the philosophy, but it speaks volumes of the direction they want this multiplayer to go in.

Other design choices where made with speed, close-quarter combat, and variety in mind. For the most part it didn’t seem like it was just lip service either. One of the maps I played on was a space station that almost seemed like something out of a Ridley Scott film, where when someone was killed, their body just floated around for a while. The tight hall space and maze-like structure turned the team death-match into an intense firefight where yours  truly got 30 kills.

The pacing just feels a bit better overall. The other few maps I checked out, no matter how big or small, all seemed to share the same tight-quarters design that made for some intense moments. So far it seems like the map design is on point.

Not all is rosy, however. I did run into a few invisible walls while climbing up buildings. For a multiplayer mode that lets you run on walls, and climb onto buildings, it feels incredibly restricting when it looks like you can easily make it to the top of a building, but an invisible wall halts your momentum. I get that it’s not as simple as just letting people climb on anything, because the balance of the maps and so-forth get compromised, but competing first-person shooters (ahem, Titanfall) have figured it out. It might seem like a small gripe, but it’s certainly disappointing.

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Competitive CoD is here to stay.

With the championships being held at XP this year, you can tell that ActiVision is banking on these competitions becoming a much larger part of their strategy in the future. So it should come as no surprise that all of the e-sport multiplayer modes are coming back, with new ones also being added. I went hands on with one called Defender. The objective was rather simple: keep the drone (ball) away from your opponent while you accumulate points the longer you hold on to the ball. It reminded me of Uplink a bit, except more frantic, since it felt like one giant game of keep-away. There’s a lot of potential here, and I can only imagine how much fun it’ll be to watch professionals dominate this mode.

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Classic Zombies with a nostalgic theme.

The infamous Zombies mode is back, this time with an 80’s theme. Zombies in Spaceland is your classic Zombies mode that feels like the most popular iteration that came packaged with Call of Duty: Black Ops. We only got to play about 15 minutes of this and we didn’t die, so that’s something. Other than the incredibly silly (and fun) theme, there didn’t seem to be anything too different. There were some cool musical choices made that’ll make 80’s kids want to throw on their letterman’s jackets.

What really stood out was the wackiness of the actual Spaceland; it’s a colorful and fun-to-explore giant theme park. We were going down giant slides and riding roller coasters all while mulling down the undead, all while running around as some goofy character. It’s fantastic. The theme alone makes me want to get back into this mode. Not sure if it’ll be enough for everyone else, however.

Stay tuned for more on all things Call of Duty from this weekend’s XP spectacular! Are you a fan of the customization options? How about the new Zombies mode? What are you most looking forward to in Infinite Warfare? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Activision

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