Can Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare beat its negative reception?
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is released on 4th November for PS4, Xbox One and PC, and it’s fair to say even Activision would admit it’s been a rocky road to release.
Development for Infinite Warfare has been on-going since 2014, which coincided with the announcement by Activision that the Call of Duty series would follow a three-year development cycle. Once a year, every three years, either Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games or Treyarch would be responsible for developing that year’s Call of Duty game.
Infinite Warfare is the third game in that cycle, developed by Infinity Ward; their first Call of Duty offering since CoD: Ghosts.
Infinite Warfare reveal: opening shots fired
Activision began to tease Infinite Warfare with a new ending for Black Ops III’s Nuk3town map; showing a spaceship on top of the map. The game was then leaked via PlayStation Store in April, however, it was shortly after the official announcement trailer hit YouTube in May 2016 that the backlash began.
With over 34 million views, the trailer quickly rose to the 2nd most disliked video on YouTube of all-time, with over 3 million dislikes to date. It is the number one disliked video trailer for movies, games and TV on YouTube.
It’s fun to hate, apparently
With such an initial negative reaction, surely the game doesn’t stand a chance? Well, not necessarily.
The Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare reveal trailer may be present in a lot of lists it doesn’t want to be in, but if we are to use YouTube likes and dislikes as a measurement of success, then we need to look at the flip side of all this. To date, the trailer currently stands at over half a million likes, making it the most liked Call of Duty trailer ever.
Therein lies the problem with using the data from a little thumb up and a little thumb down to gauge whether a game is worth buying or not. You can interpret the data in a number of ways. Fortunately, Activision and Infinity Ward know that the traditional market for a Call of Duty game will pay it no attention anyway. They target the casual gamer, Mr Joe Bloggs off the street who probably buys three games all year, two of which are Call of Duty and FIFA.
Reaction videos from big YouTube personalities don’t help the situation, but it’s not their fault. A YouTuber’s job is to generate views, and a good way to do that is to latch on to a popular topic. Sitting on the fence won’t generate views, so they make reaction videos with catchy titles. And the best way to make their reaction video stand out is to over react. Let’s not forget, at this point, they aren’t even reacting to the game, just the trailer.
Unfortunately, rather than make their own opinion, the viewers of these videos are more likely to go along with the thinking of the YouTuber (who are more than likely acting, so we don’t even know if the opinion they are giving is what they truly feel), and as we know, these same viewers are also more likely to be vocal online. This is called Influencer Marketing, and it’s why a number of game developers now get YouTube personalities onside during the build-up to a game release.
This is what we are seeing with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and it’s also what we saw with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. The same comments of ‘CoD is dead’, or ‘this game is garbage’ from people who haven’t even played it yet were all said about Black Ops 3 too. BO3 went on to be the best-selling game of 2015.
Mistakes have been made
There’s no doubt that mistakes have been made in the run-up to Call of Duty’s release date. The sci-fi theme in FPS games has been done to death in recent times by games such as Halo 5, Star Wars: Battlefront, Titanfall and Destiny. That’s not even mentioning Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Fans have been clamouring for something different to get their teeth into, and they looked to the leaders of the FPS genre (Call of Duty and Battlefield) to deliver it.
Unfortunately, CoD didn’t deliver what they wanted, but, the sci-fi setting has worked well for Activision, so it could be argued why not refine rather than revolutionise? Black Ops 3 didn’t move the franchise forward at all, but it was still the best selling game of 2015.
Activision may have actually made a clever decision by sticking with what they know. Rather than competing against Battlefield 1, there is room in gamers libraries for both of these games now as they offer two different experiences, Battlefield for your realistic WW1 style combat, and CoD: Infinite Warfare for your refined sci-fi FPS game.
One area that Activision did get it wrong is with the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare remaster. Long considered the best Call of Duty game to date, fans were salivating at the thought of getting to play a remastered version on the latest generation of consoles. So the anger when they found that the only way to get a copy of the remastered game is via purchasing a Legacy Edition of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and that they need to keep the disc of Infinite Warfare to play their copy of Modern Warfare remastered is understandable. In an age where fans are sick to death of being forced to buy more to get the gaming experience they want (think DLC), Activision would have done better to release the game as a standalone copy, possibly further into 2017 when hype for CoD: Infinite Warfare dies out. Whether this will eventually happen remains to be seen.
Striving to offer the best gameplay
Infinite Warfare may not be a game changer in the FPS genre, but it’s clear that Infinity Ward is striving to create a game that people will enjoy. Indeed, the studio has promised a long list of changes to be made based on gamer feedback after running two betas.
Tweaks to gameplay, such as reducing aim assist on snipers until the optic is fully drawn (to reduce quick-scoping) and improving shotgun damage, shows that Infinity Ward understand that sometimes it’s the details in the core gameplay experience that will either keep gamers playing or drive them away. With other improvements including improvements like reducing the time it takes to join a match, it’s nice to see that Infinity Ward was not just using the betas to advertise the game.
So will Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare beat the negative reception on release? Probably not. There will always be people who need to feel justified in their derision of the game, stemming from a trailer released way back in May. However, if you are looking for hours upon hours of enjoyment, where you won’t struggle to find a game due to empty servers, then you can’t really go wrong with it. My copy will be tucked nicely in between my Xbox One and a copy of Battlefield 1.