Posted by Matthew Bailey @MatthewBailey
I'm a total nerd, at least that's what my wife says. I'm happily married with 2 nerd-to-be sons. Avid gamer and movie lover.
Matthew Bailey

Call of Duty has been a global phenomenon for the better part of a decade, releasing yearly iterations developed by Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games. The franchise storyline has stretched across a vast era of time, allowing players to experience everything, from the hectic campaign of World War II to the possible future. And we have loved every moment of it.

For many CoD fans, there is no better time than October, when we start to feast on all the glorious news about the newest installment to the growing game collection. This past weekend was one of those glorious times when the game opened up for a beta access event, which gave a great glimpse into what we have to look forward to in a little over a month when Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is officially released.

If I'm being honest, I was a little leery of immersing myself in another Call of Duty title, because really, how many times can I be No Scope Sniped without rage quitting? I can truly say that after my first match of Domination on Throwback, I was hooked, but if you take anything away from this, it's the fact that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes everything that has made the franchise great and makes it so much better.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the next generation of FPS, and it moves leaps and bounds further than any previous iteration. Playing through the multiplayer matches made me recall the feelings I had when I first started playing the franchise with the original Modern Warfare.

Running through the 1950s-stylized map definitely brought back the frenetic action of past games. Peering around corners, unsure of what to expect — is there someone in the far window waiting to snipe me? Is there a good spot to sprint toward to get to better cover? Is there a Cryo Mine waiting for me? Is there a player lurking with a heavy machine gun, ready to plug me with 100 rounds? The tension is real in every match. What a rush.

Taking Infinite Warfare to the next level wasn't easy for the team behind the megalithic franchise, but they absolutely destroyed my preconceptions and doubts, and here's how.

Play It Your Way, Seriously This Time!

One of the major flaws of many FPS games is that no matter what type of weaponry you choose, your character still behaves in the same way. Other FPS games boast the ability to play online matches however you want, but they've always felt limited. So no matter how you want to play, you've always been limited to the same type of play. This is one of the monumental leaps that Infinite Warfare has taken. The developers are striving to make your player not only fully customized in appearance and weaponry, but also in how you play the game.

Infinite Warfare uses an updated class system — similar to Specialists in COD: Black Ops III — called Combat Rigs. Each rig has unique characteristics that promote specific play styles:

  • Warfighter — the midrange assault.
  • Merc — the heavy infantry.
  • Synaptic — a speed-focused robot, ideal for close combat.
  • FTL — the stealthy assassin.
  • Stryker — the support tactician.
  • Phantom — the distant marksman.
In-game screenshots via PSN @Axiomatic Chaos.
In-game screenshots via PSN @Axiomatic Chaos.

Before going into each match, you're able to choose a rig to utilize, and if through the game you realize that a different tactic is needed, you're able to switch between any you have unlocked mid-match. Through this rig change, you can completely alter the flow of a match, simply by switching up your gameplay and utilizing the rig's unique strengths.

Choices, Choices And Even More Choices

We all know that customization and personalization is paramount to our experience in Call of Duty — everything, from the calling card/emblem combination to the skin mod on our weapons of choice. The ability to customize down our playable character in multiplayer has been a pivotal piece of self-expression, and Infinite Warfare doesn't skimp out on the customization. Here's what you can customize this time around:

  • Your avatar.
  • Primary and secondary weapons appearance.
  • Prototype weapons.
  • Score streaks.
  • Payloads and Traits.
In-game screenshots via PSN @Axiomatic Chaos.
In-game screenshots via PSN @Axiomatic Chaos.

That list might not seem all that impressive, but within each of these sections there are a a healthy selection of options to customize and match your gaming preferences. For example, your avatar can be customized from head to toe, and that includes gestures that can be used in game to further taunt your opponents as they watch their KillCams. This is a pleasant addition and will surely make for some amusing videos being tossed around.

The customization really takes form through Payloads and Traits, because each rig that you use in a match has specific abilities and tactics that you can employ in battle. There is a synergetic feel to how each specific Payload and Trait can aid you, depending on your playing style. Your rig of choice could enable a Payload (usually a powerful weapon) that grants you a weapon to launch a small black hole that sucks nearby players out. Or you could have a pair or high-caliber SMGs attached to your arms. With each rig you can earn increasingly awesome unlockables as you level up.

In-game screenshot via PSN @Axiomatic Chaos.
In-game screenshot via PSN @Axiomatic Chaos.

Then when you add in the Traits feature, you could gain faster health regeneration or even quicker reflexes and mobility while running around the map — and these only serve to further your abilities in battle.

But the coup de grâce in terms of customization for your character comes with the Prototype lab found in the the quartermaster section. The Prototype lab allows you to unlock and craft unique variants to several weapons that then grant the player special perks (think Crucible Bounties from Destiny and you've got the gist). Currently there are four levels of crafting: Common, Rare, Legendary and Epic, and as you can imagine, with each crafting, the perk furthers your quest to dominate the battlefield.

Each and every aspect of your character has the potential to be customized to become the perfect slaughter machine designed specifically for you.

Maps For The Modern Age Of FPS

This was probably the final clincher for me. The development team spent a lot of time fine-tuning the maps for multiplayer, and it paid off in spades. All of the maps that are in Infinite Warfare are designed on a three-lane layout, very similar to a MOBA. The overall map designs of the four maps I was able to experience were stellar:

  • Frost — research facility set on one of Jupiter's moons.
  • Throwback — vintage 1950s small city.
  • Precinct — a futuristic downtown Tokyo with a central hub.
  • Frontier — a two-lane space station layout.
Image credit: Official "Call of Duty" website.
Image credit: Official "Call of Duty" website.

Each map had its own unique twists and turns, but it stayed true to the model the developers are pushing, and it really speaks to the direction they want the multiplayer to go. But just because the maps are well designed, doesn't mean you have to be an avid MOBA player to enjoy it (because I'm not).

The developers made very specific design choices throughout the maps to make areas ideally suited for speed, close-quarter combat and variety through any scenario. The same map can be an intense firefight on one match and a covert stealth mission on the next. That's the beauty of the maps in Infinite Warfare, because there is something for everyone, regardless of your play style.

All in all, I was infinitely pleased with what I found in the beta trial of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and if you missed out on this beta release, fear not, because there's another scheduled for October 21–24 and it will be available for both PlayStation and Xbox gamers.

Infinite Warfare officially releases in full on November 4. Are you ready for the experience?