E3 2016: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Looks Back to Go Forward

There’s an excellent line from the character Quaithe to Daenerys in George RR Martin’s ‘A Clash of Kings’:

“To go north, you must go south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

In ‘A Dance with Dragons,’ the fifth book in the series, Daenerys is hopelessly lost. Meereen is on the cusp of civil war, she has chained two of her three dragons in a dungeon and has bowed to the Slaver’s every whim. The fiery conqueror that broke the slave trade and conquered three cities from ‘A Storm of Swords’ is gone. She has forgotten who she is. That makes the scene at the end of ‘A Dance’ when Quaithe reappears to Dany in a fever dream so powerful:

“Remember who you are, Daenerys,” the stars whispered in a woman’s voice. “The dragons know. Do you?”

It is only then that Dany remembers. She and Drogon meet the Dothraki in the sea of grass. She has remembered what she is, a conqueror willing to risk everything to save her ‘children,’ and to go forward she must go back to where her journey began, Vaes Dothrak.

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Daenerys story is reminiscent of Infinity Ward’s. The studio climbed into E3 2016 completely broken by its community. The developer that brought fans the original Call of Duty, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had seemingly ceased to be what it once was. Three years ago, Infinity Ward delivered what is arguably one of the lesser Call of Duty games, Call of Duty: Ghosts. The reveal trailer for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the second most disliked trailer of all time. For all intents and purposes, Infinity Ward had forgotten what made them the Call of Duty A-team.

Activision invited us to check out Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare at E3 2016, showcasing a new level early taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. After seeing the level, it’s safe to say that Infinity Ward has remembered who they are. Despite Infinite Warfare taking place years into the future and containing sci-fi elements, the game takes a lot of inspiration from the war that put Infinity War on the map in the first place, World War II.

First-off, Infinite Warfare will primarily be a boots-on-the-ground first-person shooter. Aside from the zero-g combat, which was showcased in the Sony Press Conference demo, all ground combat will primarily take place with Lieutenant Reyes feet planted firmly on the ground. This is best evidenced in Infinite War’s level design, which features tight areas that put the focus on a player’s ability to aim and smartly use their gadgets over double-jumping and performing sick executions. Now, there is that thruster spotted in the trailer. It was in the demo, but was mainly used to reach a slightly out of reach ledge. There was no wall-running or crazy acrobatics one would find in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare or Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

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The game comes off feeling very much like a war shooter. The shooting, despite some guns shooting laser bullets, feels absolutely brutal. A section featuring a very tight corridor saw Reyes pull out a shotgun that brutally mowed down enemies. The violence isn’t quite as brutal as Black Ops III, which featured limb dismemberment, but was effective enough to really drive home the fact that this is a full-scale war.

The moment that really sold us on Infinite Warfare happened towards the end of the demo. Reyes and the army of the United Nations Space Alliance made a valiant attempt to storm a hill. Heavily reminiscent of the Storming of Normandy, the struggle saw Reyes and the UNSA storm the hill as swarms of Settlement Defense Front (SDF) enemies try to hold them back. To reach the top, Reyes had to use every trick in the book. For battle he carried an Assault/Sniper Rifle hybrid, hacked robots to cause them to self-destruct, and even called in his Jackal to backup. It was a truly visceral experience, and had me very excited to actually play a Call of Duty campaign, something not felt since 2012’s Black Ops II.

Sprinkled into Infinite Warfare are a few sci-fi elements. These elements blend well with the war-like theme. One gadget shown was a spider-droid capable of finding enemies, latching onto them and then detonating. It was awesome, but just a few seconds later we witnessed an enemy spider-droid latch onto a civilian and blow him to smithereens. It was a sobering reminder that war has a price, even though the equipment is neat.

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Then of course there’s the Jackal and space combat. The demo ended with Reyes taking to space and participating in a dogfight. It was neat and it’s nice to see ground-to-space combat, something fans did not receive in a different AAA shooter.

Sadly, no multiplayer or co-op zombies was shown. We’re going to have to wait till the September Call of Duty XP event for that reveal. We also did not get a look at main antagonist, Salen Kotch, the character Kit Harington is playing.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has gone back to the beginning to look forward. After years of Call of Duty games that small groups battling larger groups, it’s thrilling to finally have a Call of Duty featuring all-out warfare. Infinity Ward has mixed World War II with sci-fi to deliver an experience that not only hearkens back to the good old days of Call of Duty, but also imbues it with something new and exciting. With boots planted firmly on the ground, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare looks ready to sprint to victory.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is out November 4 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.