Call of Duty has been pretty stale for a while. Since Black Ops II, none of the entries has contributed much to the series. Following yesterday’s unveiling of Infinite Warfare, Infinity Ward talked about what they want to bring to the series with what might be its biggest departure since their own Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Let’s not mince words, here. Call of Duty is still massively popular. It sells like crazy. For many players, their PlayStations and Xboxes are Call of Duty arcade machines. They just swap out the disc each year. But the series has been stagnant, with little truly new material, and it hasn’t seen growth (it’s only selling hojillions). To keep going, something has to change.
Talking to Polygon, Infinity Ward’s narrative and design directors, Taylor Kurosaki and Jacob Minkoff, talked about some of what we can expect.
Despite the distinctly science-fiction setting, Kurosaki promises a grounded experience that players want from the series. The setting allows the team to push the game in new directions, though. Minkoff talked about a “desire to experiment.” Fighting in zero gravity brought on the advent of grappling hooks and thrusters. We saw a tiny bit of this in Advanced Warfare, but they played only briefly into the single-player game, and the thrusters were merely a double-jump.
Minkoff also said that, despite the increase in scale, the team plans to rid the game of loading screens as much as possible.
“You can be on the surface of Earth, and you can launch up through the atmosphere into orbit, engage in combat in space, land on the flight deck of [your ship] the Retribution, go inside the ship, go up to the bridge, and order your ship to the next target of opportunity,” he said. “All of that completely seamlessly.”
Call of Duty games have typically been pretty linear, so promises of freedom like that are encouraging. With that said, the game is still a linear experience.
You play as Nick Reyes, commander of an aircraft carrier type of ship, the UNSA Retribution. You’re not just a grunt this time around, explained Kurosaki.
“It’s more akin to Saving Private Ryan,” he explained.
While you’ll still be in the thick of combat, Kurosaki says there’ll be lots of opportunity to make decisions.
“We want to put the players into the shoes of…Reyes, who is facing terrible extenuating circumstances,” Kurosaki said. You’ll have crew under your watch, and it sounds like your decisions can affect their survival, hopefully in meaningful ways.
The move further away from modern combat is sure to push some players away, but shifts like these give the series more opportunity to grow than it’s had in years. Advanced Warfare, the 2014 entry from Sledgehammer, started down that path, but it ultimately didn’t take things far enough to differentiate from its competition or its predecessors. I’d love to see Infinite Warfare do exactly that.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare hits PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 4.
[Edit: The article previously stated that Infinity Ward had developed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This has been updated for accuracy.]