Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s aircraft will give you the “Top Gun fantasy”

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It happens every year. There’s a new Call of Duty announced – and that announcement is coupled with enough adjective-laden hyperbole to launch unemployed copywriters in to outer space. And usually, a trailer that’s exciting enough to tempt lapsed Call of Duty fans in to jumping back in.

Despite my own mutterings, I’ve very nearly always enjoyed Call of Duty games, though I tend to stay very far away from the multiplayer, which is a hive of scum and villainy. I’m one of those mythical single player Call of Duty players, who play it for the bombastic popcorn entertainment of it all. The single player offerings have, in my opinion, been a little dull of late though. It started with Ghosts, which featured an abominably clumsy narrative plodding pacing – and hasn’t quite righted itself yet.

Infinite Warfare, silly name and hyperbole aside, may be the one that gets it back on track. The thing that’s got me cautiously optimistic is the space battle stuff. If you watched the announcement trailer, you’d have seen our Call of Duty hero climb in to an aircraft and head in to space – opening up an arena for space battles. You’d probably assumed that, like most Call of Duty events, it’s all scripted. Apparently that’s not the case.

According to Infinity Ward design director Jacob Minkoff, it’s more “holistic” than that. The fighter – called a Jackal –”can transform between atmospheric flight mode and zero-G flight mode for when you have to dogfight in the vacuum of space,” he told IGN.

“It’s kind of the Top Gun fantasy,” he explained, saying of the Jackal that “it’s your fighter that you get to upgrade and customize. You get to walk along the flight deck and have the flight crew preparing it for you and saluting you and you get into it and you fly out into these crazy missions that you chose to go to.”

The “completely holistic” vehicle sections, Minkoff says aren’t shoehorned, as “they are seamlessly woven into the fiction of the character and the mechanics of the game.”

Because of that, “you can be boots on ground, fighting through the streets of a city on earth, call down your Jackal, get into it, fly up through the atmosphere, engage in a dogfight over the orbit of earth, finish that dogfight, land on the deck of the carrier, get into the carrier, go up to the bridge, and order your ship to go to the next mission and all of it happens seamlessly with no loading screens.”

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is still a linear story though, so don’t expect anything resembling an open world for you to explore. That said, there are non-linear side missions that you’re able to take part in to upgrade yourself and your ship.

“We are telling a linear story, but along the way you can choose to attack targets of opportunity, and attacking those targets of opportunity will reward you with various items and progression and loot elements that will help you to accomplish the next main mission that you accept from command,” Minkoff said, adding that “will also reveal optional elements of the story.”

Blowing stuff up in space in seldom not fun, so I’m…kinda keen. If you’re blissfully unaware, Minkoff is now design director at Infinity Ward after leaving Naughty Dog, where he served as lead designer for The Last of Us and Uncharted 3. He’s not the only former Naughty Dog staffer at Infinity Ward, joined by lead narrative designer Taylor Kurosaki, who worked as cinematic production for Uncharted 3 and editor on Uncharted 2.

Could their input help push this year’s Call of Duty in a different narrative direction? I suppose we’ll see on November 4 when the game hits.

Last Updated: May 3, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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