Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the thirteenth primary installment in the annual first-person shooter series. It continues the futuristic direction of the previous games, now introducing combat in outer space along with fights in zero-gravity environments. As usual it combines a single-player campaign, a zombies game mode and a full multiplayer mode.
The single-player campaign is set in a distant future where most of Earth’s natural resources have been depleted. Through the population and industrial expansion, United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) is established as a political organization to handle and negotiate all aspects of human space colonization. Different organizations attempt to control the colonies, most notably Solar Associated Treaty Organization (SATO) which is opposed by the hostile faction Settlement Defense Front (SDF). The game focuses on the moment when SDF attacks UNSA, severely weakening its defenses on Earth. The protagonist is Tier 1 Special Operations pilot Captain Reyes, part of the military outfit Special Combat Air Recon (SCAR) tasked with defending UNSA. Only two major warships survive the attack and Reyes is on one of them called Retribution. As one of the few surviving officers he soon receives command of the vessel which then acts as a central hub.
The different missions often stress a guerrilla approach with stealth elements against the much stronger SDF. In space this is done through sneaky light speed jumps. Most of the SDF opposition consists of drone soldiers. There are also aerial combat dogfight missions in space with free movement using a smaller fighter ship called Jackal. From the main ship’s bridge both primary and optional missions can be started, with the latter called Ship Assaults unlocking new perks, weapons and gear. A notable side character is Ethan, a fighter drone with a personality. Reyes can use a grappling hook to navigate zero-gravity environments combined with boosts. He also has a wrist computer to control machines and hack enemy gadgets. The campaign introduces two new difficulty modes: Specialist and #YOLO. In the first Reyes’ movement can be affected when he is shot in the legs, he can shoot weapons out of the hands of opponents and health regeneration is only possible through nano shots. The other one, #YOLO, introduces permadeath instead of restarting at checkpoints.
Online multiplayer continues many gameplay elements and mechanics introduced in the previous game Call of Duty: Black Ops III. This is apparent in the fast chain-based movement with slides, wallruns and boosts based on different Combat Rigs replacing the class system. The six Rigs are FTL, Merc, Phantom, Stryker, Synaptic and Warfighter. They each provide different options for different play styles. Permanent perks called Traits can be used in addition. Returning game modes are Domination, Hardpoint and Kill Confirmed. Two new ones are Defender and Frontline. Defender is a game about controlling a ball-shaped drone, combining Hardpoint and Uplink gameplay. Frontline is a more traditional team deathmatch mode where double points are scored for kills outside the home base where an armour bonus is provided.
New types of weapons are often energy based and there are Black Hole grenades that can temporarily alter gravity. The primary and secondary weapons have attachments and there is a new crafting system. Points earned during matches can be salvaged to access prototype weapons. That way four prototype versions of a gun can be acquired, ranked Common, Rare, Legendary or Epic. Each weapon provides different advantages called Gun Perks. Combat Rigs provide special weapons called Payload. They include the ability to briefly turn into a predator animal or the Claw as a weapon with bouncing bullets. The main ranked multiplayer is centered around the league play with a World League. Most of the special weapons can be acquired through keys used to open loot crates. They can also be bought right away with real money.
The cooperative zombies game mode has a humourous 1980s setting based on the premise of four actors. They think they audition for a movie, but end up is a creepy theme park where the director toys with them. Players earn weapons and break through barricades to access new parts of the park in multiple rounds attempting to survive as long as possible. New elements are a robot that can be helped to receive support troops and using the environment in creative ways to get rid of the zombies. There is no space combat in this mode, but the perks and power-ups are kept. Fate and Fortune cards are a new element, earned with every new level, similar to the Gobblegums in Black Ops III.