When I reviewed it a couple of weeks back, I had mixed feelings about Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's multiplayer offering. On the one hand, it's incredibly slick, polished, and beautifully honed – but on the other, it's way too familiar: A retread of Black Ops 3 with a thin veneer of new features layered over the top.
Still, despite being somewhat disappointed with its lack of innovation, I've found myself sinking a lot of time into it as of late. Part of the reason for that is a purely personal one. As a hardcore escapist gamer, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ticks all the right boxes for me: The sheer pace of its action combined with the need to concentrate 100% of the time leaves me with no time to think about anything else. While I'm playing, my worries and woes temporarily disappear in a hail of gunfire and explosions. It's like a mental holiday.
But most of the reason why I'm playing it at the moment is simply because I'm having a lot of fun personalizing its selection of guns. As the Call of Duty series has evolved over time, it's become increasingly effective at giving you weapon attachments to play with, and they can be used to really finesse your weapon to support different playstyles. While some players like to use stock weapons and iron sights, I love to customize my firearms by loading them up with attachments – and this year Infinite Warfare packs an impressive array of options to that end.
I'm a big fan of the Quickdraw grip. In a game where the slimmest fractions of a second can mean the difference between life and death, lifting my weapon to aim down the sight a little faster is an option I pretty much always take for SMGs, and assault and sniper rifles. Being an older player, my reactions aren't quite what they used to be, so any advantage I can get to help me out-draw an opponent is a big help to me – slight though it may be.
Adding a Stock to a weapon is also something I tend to do. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's fast and fluid movement system lets players jump and slide at considerable speeds, oftentimes quicker than you can track them while aiming down the sight. A stock helps compensate a little for this, allowing you to more easily follow the actions of an opponent running at you from an oblique angle. Like the Quickdraw grip, a Stock gives a slight advantage, but one that I consistently find useful in the heat of battle.
I have a couple of loadouts tuned for close-combat play, one using an SMG and another using a shotgun, and I've slapped a Laser Sight on both of them so that they deliver tighter hip fire shots. Sometimes when I'm using an SMG I just find myself in a situation where I need to spray and pray, and having slightly better accuracy as I try to take down an enemy from the hip can mean the difference between getting that one critical bullet on target, and having it sail harmlessly by. For a shotgun, it can help focus your fire, ensuring a one-shot kill.
There are a variety of attachments that help modify damage, and I've found them quite useful. Speaker Amps, Particle Amps, and Rifled Barrels all extend stopping power range, while Hollow Points and Faraday Slugs boost headshot damage. Again, the advantage they give is slight, but on some maps where you have longer firing lanes, having extended range can mean that you can take down an opponent before they have a chance to do the same to you. What I haven't had the chance to check out yet is a Ram Servo. This creates additional reflections on energy shots, and increases damage against equipment. I'm not sure exactly how useful it is, but I take the point of view that increased damage is usually a good thing.
The Extended Mag and Fusion Mag both boost ammo capacity in different ways. The former is very straightforward and simply gives a larger magazine on your ballistic firearm of choice, while the latter enhances the recharge rate for energy weapons. I tend not to use these very often, favoring other advantages, but they can be of use in situations where you're laying down suppressing fire, allowing you to keep on firing when you'd normally run out of ammo and have to stop and reload.
Along with that variety of attachments, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare also packs a broad array of optics to help enhance your weapon and hone your playstyle. I like the fact that the Reflex Sight is unlocked for all weapons that can use it, making it an excellent default red dot option for those who don't like stock Iron Sights. Beyond that there are a few interesting pieces of equipment to go along with the usual selection of zoom/hybrid sights for long-range engagements. I like the Trojan, which highlights enemies – even through smoke and explosions. It makes it easy to track targets, and is especially beneficial when you're firing across a crowded battlefield. The Thermal sight offers a similar benefit, but with a slightly more zoomed-in view. I love using it on longer-range weapons like LMGs, where you can clearly pick out enemies who might be peeking from behind objects, or trying to ambush you by lying prone. For the most part, though, I tend to favor the ELO. This open sight gives you a crystal clear view of your enemy and can be customized with a variety of different reticles.
Add to that Infinite Warfare's impressive armory of Prototype Weapons, many of which have unique perks that can stack with the benefits offered by attachments, and you have a game that lets you tailor your loadouts to a quite extraordinary degree. Especially when you use them in conjunction with the Combat Rigs' payloads and traits, and selection of perks. To me, that customizability is Infinite Warfare's strongest aspect – it's a really well designed system that's built with the player in mind. Few other games offer options like this, and it's certainly captured my imagination and kept me playing.