E3 2016: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Will Open New Doors, Literally

We’ve all heard the complaints. You’re overwhelmed, caught behind enemy lines in Call of Duty when suddenly you reach the worst thing ever: a door. You look around and see your leader is nowhere to be found. You can’t possibly turn the knob yourself. You just can’t be capable of that kind of leadership ability. You are a follower. For a lot of CoD being a follower and not a leader can “lead” to these bottleneck moments.

When former Naughty Dog employees Jacob Minkoff and Taylor Kurosaki joined Infinity Ward to craft a new kind of shooter experience, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, being able to open doors was, thematically speaking, priority numero uno. “In a CoD story campaign, typically the player is the new recruit," Minkoff said, "but now [in Infinite Warfare] you are finally a captain. A leader. You are not following but giving orders, choosing where your team goes. You are the 'tip of the spear', so to speak."

This single idea put the direction of this holiday’s Call of Duty installment in many uncharted directions. Minkoff observed that the war genre in films, books, and television have two pillars: the Black Hawk Down kind that tells a story from the POV of a grunt (which is how CoD has mostly been) and the Saving Private Ryan one where the main character is a leader such as Tom Hanks’ Captain John H. Miller, one who is responsible for the lives of his men, but in the end, believes that the mission comes first. Minkoff combined the two. Infinite War is about the transition from grunt to leader.

Wisely, this story is not about backstabbing or double-crossing. There are no 24-style moles in the group. This is a straight story of good versus evil. The evil part of the equation is the settlement defense aka “SetDef,” a group of Martians that seek to control precious resources. The good are a multinational team of soldiers, banded together in a near future organization known as the UNSA on Earth. You play Lt. Reyes from the U.S. while your superior is British-born Admiral Raines.

Spoiler alert: I fear Raines is not long for this game, as Reyes will be thrust to command not only his battalion but also an immense carrier spaceship called the Retribution. As Captain Reyes, you can plot where to go and, yes, pick missions to tackle from space with a galaxy map. (Like plotting a course on the Normandy in Mass Effect.) Priority missions will come as directives from other superior officers, but optional, non-linear missions will pop up too. Different rewards can be obtained by doing them, be it scuttling an enemy ship, getting enemy tech, or taking out a SetDef team through ship assaults.

Then there are the dogfights in space, shown at the Sony press conference last night. You’ll have command of a smaller ship called the Jackal. The aerial maneuvers on display seemed cool, but I was told that, thankfully, this is not the bulk of the campaign. Most of the game will still look like the shooter we all know and love with a strong cast of characters like “ETH.3n” the perfect soldier. (It’s a robot!) Designed with a personality contrasted to adapt to the soldiers.

All this and more will drop November 4, 2016, as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare releases on Xbox One, PC, and PS4.