So, the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare loading… Beta has finished. And naturally, it’s time we looked at migrating hosts… the pros and cons of this ‘game-in-progress.’
All jokes aside, even though the Beta had been out a little while before coming to Xbox One, (the platform we played on), the server issues still hit you like a slap in the face. For us, the game seemed to run well for a game or two… but after that, it crumbled in on itself. At times it doesn’t even make sense - one or two people will have a perfect connection but everyone else will be one-baring… then it will switch sides. But that isn’t the end of it;
Lag… lag… LAG!
Whether it’s as simple as rubber-banding or as bad as the game completely freezing up, it seems like every minute there is something lagging. Sometimes it’s even things that shouldn’t have any issues server-side, such as your weapon’s model. It’s not often, but at times it does seem like your weapon is displaying at half the fps rate of the rest of the game. It just never feels like a consistent 60fps. Or even 30 at times for that matter.
It’s worth noting that we struggled to find a game in any game mode apart from Team Deathmatch.
In a few words; the Infinite Warfare multiplayer Beta gameplay-wise, is Black Ops 3, with a subtle change sprinkled in here and there. The movement system from Black Ops 3 returns, giving players access to exo-suit abilities (essentially a controlled double-jump and boosted slide). The specialist system also returns as ‘Combat Rigs’. There are six to choose from, each with three different usable abilities and three different passive abilities. Each rig can also be customised to look the way you want it to, although this is not available until you unlock some of the options, either by leveling up or by purchasing them from the quartermaster (the new supply drops).
Before even thinking about the Combat Rigs, it seems as though Infinite Warfare needs some fairly heavy re-balancing weapons-wise. While most weapons do have a use somewhere, there is generally a few which completely outclass the rest. There is also the age-old problem of people choosing to ‘quick scope,’ which proves a major problem in this Beta. It feels like the only way to counter someone using a sniper is to use a sniper yourself and get lucky with your connection, unless you are extremely skilled with other weapons, but even then it feels like a chance game. The problem here is this, in turn, makes other people feel the same way - that the only way to counter you is to use a sniper. And before you know it, the whole lobby is running around shooting people with a sniper rifle from two metres away. While it is a preference matter, we believe it would be fairly safe to say that most of the time, this ruins the flow, and therefore fun, of the game - Call of Duty games are already fast-paced enough, speeding it up, even more, does not help.
This leads us on into the topic of the Combat Rigs. Each rig has three payloads to choose from. Many of which are high-damaging, but low ammo count weapons - basically a sure-fire way of getting a kill as long as you aren’t reckless with the way you use them. For example, one payload allows you to use two rapid-fire machine guns, but they are only useful in very close-range encounters. Whereas another ability gives you a handgun that seems to shoot incendiary rounds. It can be used at close-medium range and is a one-shot kill. These play into the game fairly well, but they end up adding even more to attempt a balance. With so much in the game, it is arguably impossible to find a perfect balance… and this obviously causes issues. Being the Beta, there are even more unlockables that are not available until the final release either, which is a slight cause for concern.
Supply drops in their current state seem to be in a pay-to-win situation as well, with the store being unlocked during the Beta. Infinite Warfare now gives you legitimately better versions of weapons, not just with cosmetic upgrades. For example, while playing, we unlocked an amped up version of an SMG that unlocks the de-atomiser (essentially this game’s version of a tactical nuke). This is less of a dramatic change for most players since you generally won’t be getting 25 consecutive kills with only 1 weapon, especially with the scavenger perk not being available in the Beta. And even for those who do get this ‘secret’ kill streak, all it does is kill the enemy team once. There are other upgrades such as reducing weapon spread however, which really does give people a tangible advantage… not just in a pay to win sense, but also in a high level sense. In previous Call of Duty games, being a higher level did not necessarily mean someone had better gear, now, it seems that this is not the case.
There a few nit-pick points to mention with the weapons as-well. Things such as guns having more kick in the future, seemingly randomised flinch (so there’s no way to counteract it - which adds even more of a chance/luck aspect), and what sounds like a re-used audio sample for the ‘Omni’ handgun. (The reload audio sounds very similar to the ‘Colt M1911’ from Black Ops 1).
While we are nit-picking; the spawning system does not work well at all, at least in team deathmatch. The way it works at the moment - you basically have to already be jumping around before you even spawn to make sure you are not caught out by another player rushing past. A lot of the time it isn’t too bad, but get into a game where the other team knows what they are doing, and they can effectively keep you dead for the entire game. Gravity also doesn’t really make sense, unless there is a missed explanation. On the remake of terminal, you are stuck to the ground, even after being killed (it is based on the moon), and on a space-station map, you are stuck to the ground but as soon as you are killed your body floats off into space. What?
Other than the unbalanced nature of so many different weapons, the biggest weakness of the gameplay in Infinite Warfare is arguably the servers/net code. It’s a problem that previous games in the series have suffered as well, with you constantly feeling like you made it to cover before someone killed you. Or getting killed before you even see the enemy. It is true that a lot of it comes down to the player’s connection, but part of the responsibility also falls on the game’s servers.
As you load up the game, the music kicks in… and it actually isn’t half bad. It gets you amped up to play, and is nearly worth listening to on its own. It is certainly a big step up from previous Call of Duty games to say the least. Past the music, it’s a little bit irritating to see the Store already open during the Beta (kind of makes you question the priorities of the Beta), but the menus themselves work fairly well. They are a little overwhelming at first, with the newly introduced menu narrator constantly interrupting, and tutorials popping up every other button-press. However, once you work out where everything is, it’s all highly functional.
The in-game ‘pause’ menu isn’t anything new, every Call of Duty shares a very similar in-game pause menu. However one thing to pay attention to this time around is the ‘film grain’ and ‘motion blur’ options. No question about it - you want to get rid of these both before you even start playing. Not only do they distract you from the game and make it look a lot worse than it is, they seem to actually effect your performance, on Xbox One at least. One of the main downsides to the menus is the clustered nature of the different leveling systems. There’s just so much to level up separately, which IS a good thing for the longevity of the game… but upon your first inspection it’s extremely intimidating. But again, once you work it all out it’s functional enough.
Another new addition to the game is the intro to every round - after choosing your class, (during which you cannot cycle all the way through your classes, which is extremely frustrating until you accustom yourself to it. E.g. you cannot keep scrolling up to get to the bottom of the list. It stops at the top), the game plays a unique technologically-themed intro, based on which Combat Rig you’re using. It nearly makes it feel like the start if a single player mission, which is a nice touch.
There’s no easy way to say it - the matchmaking that was displayed in this Beta was flat-out bad. Not once were we thrown in with fair and even teams. There would always be two or three people carrying the entire lobby for the duration of the game. There is a very high chance that this will be remedied with the final release due to so many more players, as well as more time to analyse player’s’ skill levels… but only time will tell if it is the game’s fault or not.
Let’s be honest, this game’s main opposition - Battlefield 1, easily wins out in the graphical department. But that doesn’t go to say that Infinite Warfare looks bad. It is actually a pretty decent looking game, and as long as the motion blur and film grain settings are turned off, it’s extremely clear and sharp - exactly what you want for a fast-paced FPS.
READ MORE: Battlefield 1 Review
Overall, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Beta, had a lot of great ideas, but the execution wasn’t on par. With so much different equipment and things to level up, it would be nearly impossible to balance everything… and it shows. The game’s servers also suffered quite a lot throughout the Beta, and it’s slightly worrying to see that, considering the Beta most probably had less players overall than the full game will have.
It’s honestly hard to say how smooth the launch of this game will be, especially with it competing with the Battlefield series once again. It’s very possible that it will be a raging success, but for one of the first times, it’s also very possible that the newest Call of Duty title will struggle against the other releases bloating the launch period. The only thing we can do, is wait.
All screenshots captured by author. This analysis was conducted using the Xbox One version of the Beta, experiences may have varied per platform. BLOT Was provided with an access code to the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Beta for this analysis.