It’s no secret that Call of Duty’s main draw is its multiplayer campaign. For years, fans of the series have flocked to new entries, jumping at renewed opportunities to trounce their friends and random internet strangers in military firefights. The fervor for Call of Duty outside of its dedicated fan base might not be as huge, but developer Infinity Ward has breathed new life into the series while avoiding all-out change. That’s no easy feat, and while the multiplayer remains largely unchanged, Infinite Warfare does try wonderful new things with its single-player campaign that you really shouldn’t miss.
In the distant future, humanity has colonized the solar system as the population exceeded its ability to support itself on Earth alone. Fitting with other games of this nature, acronyms abound. The United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) and their space military buddies, the Solar Associated Treaty Organization (SATO), work together to make sure that everything is running smoothly. It does for a time, until Jon Snow — I mean, Rear Admiral Salen Kotch — unleashes the Settlement Liberation Front (SDF) to gain control. That whole premise might sound cookie cutter, but fortunately Infinite Warfare’s campaign shines in the little details.
Apart from the villain, who is mostly a limp caricature, Infinite Warfare features a diverse cast of characters who, while not particularly nuanced, are entertaining at least. But the main appeal isn’t really the characters or the captivating story, although everything is overall well-written. Instead, the setting itself is a much needed change to the series. The game looks absolutely beautiful, letting you explore Jupiter’s frozen moon, Europa, and other stunning outer space vistas.
And while Infinite Warfare is set in the future, the game takes place in a time when space travel is still rough and wild. Spaceships shudder through the vacuum at light speed with rickety jolts, metal creaking as your vessel settles back into cruising speeds. Soldiers are still very fragile, helmets shattering easily upon impact. At every turn there’s a reminder that the forces of nature are much greater than the insignificant wars humans are waging. It’s a fresh, gritty turn on sci-fi, a genre commonly bent on shiny chrome finishes and smooth sailing among the stars.
Space changes things up in other ways as well. Anti-grav grenades make crowd control just a bit more exciting, sending groups of enemies floating helplessly into the air. Occasionally you’ll get the opportunity to fight in space in just your suit, stomping across the top of tilted space stations in your mag boots. It gives just enough of a twist to make things interesting.
Dog fights in outer space are great, too. Reyes, the game’s protagonist, gets control of the Jackal, a speedy little ship that turns on a dime and handles beautifully. Targeting is easy, and there’s nothing more fun than a frantic game of outer space cat and mouse. The campaign is essentially a beautiful outer space playground — something we haven’t really seen before in a Call of Duty game.
When it comes down to it, Infinite Warfare’s campaign is Call of Duty all the way through, but it’s also one of the most interesting in the franchise to date. You can chalk that up to Infinity Ward’s decision to explore a futuristic space setting that’s a departure from the typical military shooter. But it also did so in an imaginative, convincing way, both through its gorgeous set pieces and maps and the small details in combat and storytelling.
Infinite Warfare is refreshing and captivating, and it gets better the further you wander into the five- to six-hour campaign. You’d be remiss to pass on the single-player for the multiplayer. After all, the solar system needs saving.