On the 4th November, offices around the world will have to make do with one less employee for the day, as players around the world will undoubtedly end up calling in a sickie as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare hits the shelves. The latest in the long line of winter shooter blockbusters, we got to see the game in action at the recent gamescom show in Germany, and learn a little bit more about its various modes, features, and special editions. If you haven't been keeping up to speed with all things Call of Duty, there's a lot to get down, as Infinite Warfare looks set to be one of the most complex games so far.
Campaign: Sci-fi, not split-screen
For us, the bread and butter of a Call of Duty game has always been the story driven "campaign" - the hollywood style, adrenaline fuelled blockbuster of epic proportions. This year's game takes on a distinctly more sci-fi appeal than previous games, and is centred around a spaceship called the Retribution, one of Earth's last remaining warships. You play as Lt. Nick Reyes, a soldier who finds himself suddenly inheriting control of the ship when his captain's killed on a mission.
At gamescom, we saw a search and rescue mission play out, as Reyes took his crew down onto an asteroid that housed a mining base which had suddenly "gone dark" - which in plain English, means they'd lost contact with the crew. Now hurtling towards a sun and spinning out of control, the asteroid's day-night cycle has become roughly a minute long - and daytime temperatures reach over 900 degrees. Although whoever decided to build a mining base on an asteroid should probably be shot, as they've already shown a stunning lack of foresight, seeing as they aren't exactly known for being the most stable of things, it's up to you to go in and put things right.
The level we saw played out looked more akin to something like Alien than a Call of Duty game. Very, very dark, with the only real light being from the glistening space equipment as it caught the light from the rapidly approaching sun, it had a feel more like a horror game - even something like Dead Space - than your traditional Call of Duty, yet the gameplay was pure COD through and through. Following your squad through the level, everything was very highly scripted, and it's simply a case of moving from one set piece to another. As an example, when it came to going outside and braving the heat, our demoer simply stood until the rest of the squad gave the signal to run, and legged it with them, making it hard to tell how much of the game is going to be "on rails", and how much freedom there'll be for making your own cool moments. Another set piece followed soon afterwards, as your squaddie turned round to talk to you, only to be promptly attacked by a mining robot that had come to life... Seemingly becoming sentient, the robots had wiped out all life on the mining colony - and now they were coming for you.... Unfortunately, that's where our campaign demo ended.
However, Infinite Warfare's campaign looks set to be mixing the old with the new. While much of the game looks heavily scripted, we're promised a few major deviations - now, rather than specific levels, the game will flow freely from one event to the next, with a minimum in the way of loading times - while, as the captain of the ship, you also have access to your very own space fighter, known as the Jackal, which you can take out dogfighting. Fingers crossed there'll be more freedom to all this than there seemed to be in our demo.
Zombies goes 80s
One of the bigger disappointments with Infinite Warfare is that its campaign will no longer be playable in split-screen, as was the case with Black Ops III. Instead, if it's some local multiplayer fun you're looking for, it's the zombies mode you'll want to get stuck into (at least, in two player split-screen co-op, or four player online) - and this year's version is looking even crazier than ever before. Yes - the "fend off the waves of zombies for as long as you can" survival mode is going back to the 80s, for a mode dubbed Zombies in Spaceland.
As if the day-glo, 80s theming wasn't enough, Infinite Warfare's zombies mode is actually entirely set within a bizarre theme park, with the developers promising to make it as 80s as it's possible to get. While the initial trailer was set to the beat of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and starred zombies in leg warmers, the theme park itself looks set to provide plenty of fun on its own - including a rollercoaster you can ride, while shooting at targets.
Oh, and there's David Hasslehoff too.
Multiplayer: Beta and beyond
Naturally, it wouldn't be a Call of Duty game without a substantial multiplayer offering - after all, that's what the majority of its players seem to spend most of their time doing. Activision only very recently lifted the lid on the suite of multiplayer options Infinite Warfare will offer at its recent COD XP event - the biggest new feature of which seems to be what are known as "Combat Rigs". Essentially a range of character classes that come with "perks" (or special abilities) and weapons designed to let you play in a certain way, from the Merc, who comes with a riot shield they can use to seemingly one-hit-kill enemies, and the FTL, that has the ability to slide, these "rigs" will offer a way to tailor the game to suit your play style. For more, you can check out the trailer here - and if you fancy trying out the multiplayer for yourself, all you need to do is place a pre-order for the game at your local retailer to reserve a spot on the beta test. Set to go live on the 14th October on PS4, with the Xbox One version following shortly after, it's a great way to try before you buy.
Version and Remasters
Weirdly enough, one of the things fans are most excited for about Infinite Warfare isn't so much the game itself, but the fact that Activision will be producing a legacy edition, which comes with a remastered version of one of the most popular titles in the series, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. With slightly improved graphics, the remaster will deliver the full story mode along with 10 of the game's popular multiplayer maps at launch, with the remaining six following in December, free of charge. In order to get the remaster, though, you'll have to shell out for one of Infinite Warfare's more expensive versions. The game itself will come in four editions - one digital exclusive, one retail exclusive - as follows:
- Standard Edition - just the game itself, available both digitally and physically, from £44 on Amazon.
- Legacy Edition - bundling Infinite Warfare with the Modern Warfare remaster, this will set you back £69 on Amazon - meaning Activision think the Modern Warfare remaster is worth £25.
- Digital Deluxe Edition - a digital exclusive, this version will set you back £79.99, but bundled Infinite Warfare, the Modern Warfare Remaster, and a Season Pass, nabbing you all the future map packs Activision will inevitably release over the coming 12 months.
- Legacy Pro Edition - a physical, GAME exclusive, the Legacy Pro Edition comes with Infinite Warfare, the Modern Warfare Remaster, the Season Pass, a steelbook, the game's soundtrack, and some "digital bonus content" for £109.99.
Which version you go for will depend on how much appeal the idea of paying an extra £25 to play through a game you probably already own (at least, if you're a Call of Duty fan) has - although judging by the popularity of remasters, we can see the Legacy Edition selling quite well. Set for launch on the 4th November, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is looking nothing if not different - and we'll bring you a full review as soon as it's out.