Author Topic: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3  (Read 366 times)

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Offline General Battuta

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Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
What do I mean by 'mechanical FS3?' It is a game which leaps the FreeSpace mechanics forward in the way you'd expect from a true sequel.

Up front, I'll say there's one area I think is a regression. Warships don't really interact with each other at all outside of scripted sequences. Those sequences are spectacular, but they're not mechanical. It's pretty cool that you get to shoot the beams on the game's equivalent of the Lucifer but it's not really gameplay.

Flight Dynamics

In FreeSpace 2, your fighter moves forward, turns, and boosts. Your speed is set by a granular throttle. Your turn rate isn't tied to your speed, so the effectively fastest way to turn is at zero speed (turret mode). The core tension in the game is between the need to point your nose at the enemy to attack and the need to turn away to defend.

In Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (IW henceforth), your Jackal can swap between atmospheric-style forward flight and 6DOF mode, like a helicopter or a BSG Viper. This is done with really excellent simplicity — there's no glide toggle, no mode switch. If you're pressing the forward button (W), you're in classic flight. If you're not, you're in 6DOF mode. It's completely natural.

Defending yourself against an attack from behind is, like in BSG, just a matter of letting off the throttle, flipping around, acquiring the ship shooting at you, and side-thrusting/reverse-thrusting while counterattacking. But this isn't risk free: your attacker already has you acquired, and gets a pretty good chance to kill you as you stop accelerating away, flip around, and search for them.

More importantly, this totally mixes up one of the core parts of FS2: making attack runs on capships! I'll defend the bomb run as a Fine mechanic, all in all. It's cool to line up on your target and burn in, trying to get a lock while under flak and beam fire. But the process of resetting — getting distance again, turning around, reacquiring — can get pretty old when you have to do it again and again. Twenty years later, I'm thoroughly sick of it. In IW, you sidestrafe around your target like an attack helicopter, dueling with its turrets and spewing out countermeasures while it tries to kill you back. You're always looking at the target, always aware of what it's doing.

In general IW is much faster and more aggressive than FS2. There's a checkpoint system, which makes it less annoying that you both kill fast and die fast. I don't think that a faster pace is strictly better than a slower one (notably, many attempts to make FS2 'faster' by cranking up velocities and distances actually create a slower experience than the core game's in-your-face Tempest spam), but it's an interesting change.

Countermeasures

Missiles in IW are extremely deadly, and capships in particular like to spam them at you (which adds to their credibility as something more than props). Your countermeasures actually seek out and intercept the incoming missiles, which is very cool.

Targeting

FreeSpace 2 has an infamously huge number of targeting controls. IW has one: focus on the target in your reticle. This gives you, as far as I can tell, a little bit of follow and autoaim.

IW also has no radar. The radar is in the game world: all enemies are marked with icons which tell you their type.

What I like about this targeting change is that you spend no time at all staring at the little box in the bottom left of your HUD while fiddling through targets. What I don't like is that I can't quickly target my attacker, but the game, usually, gives you an arrow to help point them out. IW has no escort or intercept tasks, which is a shame (there's a reason I say a mechanical sequel), so it's hard to know if the 'use your eyes' targeting would fare well there. I think it would. Giving bombers distinct icons would probably work fine; that's more than Ace Combat does and it's generally not hard to locate bombers in those games.

Subsystem targeting in particular is just miles ahead of FS2. No, you can't cycle through subsystems without looking at the target. But the models are detailed enough to make it plain what everything is: just look at what you need to kill and press right mouse/left trigger. (An advantage IW has here is that you are faster and more agile than in FS2, which makes it easier to travel around a ship and find the turret/subsystem you want to kill).

I can't tell you how enormously more accessible this makes the game, without actually costing it any depth. It strips away an entire layer of abstraction. You no longer need to learn how to use the radar and targeting box at all. You instead need to learn the skills the game requires of you anyway - navigating the world and looking at it.

Health and Ammo

IW has a truly excellent support ship (really just an animation, I suspect, rather than a simulated ship in the 3D space) which flies up in front of you and docks to your prow to slip you more missiles. You also have regenerating health. I don't know if I like this more than FS2's regenerating shields, but it's fine. It's fine.

Enemy Design

All you'll fight in IW's space combat are enemy fighters (Skelters) with regular or ace pilots, enemy gunships (A-JAKS, whatever that mean), and enemy warships ranging from destroyers to full-on carriers. The Skelters are fine enemies; they're small, nimble, and incredibly aggressive with their use of 6DOF flight. They die satisfyingly quickly if you can catch them, especially if you nail them with a heavy anti-warship weapon.

The larger warships are the real stars. They have lovingly detailed arsenals, with at least three different kinds of anti-fighter gun and VLS silos which seem to fire at least two different kinds of warhead. In combat they're constantly barfing dakka and missiles in all directions; someone at Infinity Ward really enjoyed modeling all the little guns and making them work! They really seem like lively, intelligent foes which want to survive and win. My only complaint is that they don't maneuver much, and you'll never, afaict, see them roll or pitch to protect themselves. You'll kill a lot of smaller warships, but carrier death is reserved for major plot points.

If IW were a full-on space shooter I'd wish for many more enemy types. Alas, it's not.

Weapons

You get six possible primaries, three for the antifighter slot and three for the anti-capship role (though both can cross over in a pinch). They're all great, as you'd expect from Call of Duty weapons. I particularly love that some of the heavier cannons will propel your ship backwards. All of them are much more tactile than FS2's guns, with viewshake and tons of particle effects, but you'd expect that from 20 years of progress. Of real note is the excellent sound design.

Star Citizen bull****

Look, I wouldn't want this in an FS3 sequel, but I'll point out it's there. This game doesn't just have 'FPS levels' and 'space levels'. You will, at scripted points, transition seamlessly between your fighter's cockpit, to the hull of an enemy warship, to the interior compartments, and back to your fighter. You'll blast from planet surfaces up into orbit without load screens or mission breaks. The illusion is seamless. It's all scripted, but it looks amazing. Most of the game by playtime is on foot FPS-only levels, but the space levels are what I'm concerned with in this review, and they're not 'just' space levels, they're space-and-shooter interplay. The FPS space mechanics also give you full 6DOF control, as well as a grappling hook, mag boots, and self-steering thruster grenades.

Conclusion

To me, the flight dynamics and targeting changes are the biggest claims IW makes to being a true mechanical generation 'past' FS2. It has some genuinely good space shooter design. If you ever see the game on discount, I strongly recommend it. It's a great campaign, tepid villains aside, and a wonderful look at what could've been if space shooters kept rolling.

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
Interesting. Thanks for sharing.
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Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
How much time until you get to see this in action completely? - I think I can get a first hand look via Steam Libary Sharing but that requires a bit scheudling...
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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
I think a good part of that could be brought to FSO too, and possibly already has been to some degree.

 

Offline Nyctaeus

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
I'm actually willing to play this because everybody was spamming "what kind of bull**** is this?" while it actually looks like a piece of very solid game. I never bothered to buy it before, because I will not spend 260PLN/60USD for Call of Duty game but now prices are acceptable. Critics and reviews of serious players are also positive. Your opinion is also pretty... Convincing in this matter.
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Offline Colt

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
I'm actually willing to play this because everybody was spamming "what kind of bull**** is this?" while it actually looks like a piece of very solid game. I never bothered to buy it before, because I will not spend 260PLN/60USD for Call of Duty game but now prices are acceptable. Critics and reviews of serious players are also positive. Your opinion is also pretty... Convincing in this matter.
TBF much of the criticism was directed at it being another futuristic game when the genre was flooded with such games (CoD included, with Blops2 and 3, Advanced Warfare).

How much time until you get to see this in action completely? - I think I can get a first hand look via Steam Libary Sharing but that requires a bit scheudling...
I don't have the game, but I recall from youtube walkthroughs that the second level has a brief space combat section at its end. After that the game allows you to do primary and secondary missions, where most of the space combat can be found in the secondary missions. I think the game is something like 50/50 FPS/Flying.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2019, 04:50:11 pm by Colt »

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
The multiplayer was genuinely not very good, in my opinion. I don't know if it was a performance problem specific to my computer, or an actual change to the game's netcode and lag compensation, but it felt bad in a way Black Ops 3 didn't. That sealed IW's fate because most of a COD's long-term value is in the multiplayer.

 

Offline Novachen

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
The main problem of IW multiplayer was, that it is nothing like the story campaign. The sci-fi military space battle thing was not present in the MP... and that was totally disappointing.

Even it is hard to say to talk about "long-term" value, as this long term lasts only for one year until the next game come out...
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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a big post, you had mentioned them repeatedly in various circumstances, but never concentrated all of it in a single dedicated place, so that's cool. It would have been cool if IW had been turned into its own CoD sub-series, à la Modern Warfare or Black Ops, see how they would have refined that stuff further.


The main problem of IW multiplayer was, that it is nothing like the story campaign. The sci-fi military space battle thing was not present in the MP... and that was totally disappointing.
My guess is that these battles were so heavily scripted that they felt it's be too costly to refactor into something that could be plugged into multiplayer, and/or that while they had plenty of experience balancing standard FPS for multi, they felt that they wouldn't be able to do the same for the space battle stuff or didn't have time to figure out entirely how to translate that gameplay into multi. Or something...

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
I don’t honestly think the space combat as presented has enough depth for a multiplayer mode. I’m here talking it up for what it does well mechanically but it’s still a little too thin to be stretched that far.

 

Offline Vidmaster

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
@Battuta: Recently saw your in your Twitter feed that you checked out Infinite Warfare again...   and now there is a post here, so I shall give my opinion as well. TLDR; I really loved this campaign, the best Call of Duty in years. Replayed it four times since release.

Mechanically speaking, the fighter combat in the game is basically a brilliantly presented, fleshed out Mini-Game. The scenarios are heavily scripted, most of the battle around you is just for show, a large part of the mode is sort of a quick-time event (e.g. the countermeasures) but given the insane speed and presentation, the sheer assault on your senses more than makes up for it. Which is actually a good description of many modern CoD Campaigns  :D


I agree with Battuta that a Multiplayer Mode was out of the question given what is in the game, but of course said mode could have been fleshed out even more. Infinity Ward did not, because in the end, CoD adheres to a very specific FPS ruleset and giving the fanbase that is priority number 1 and thus above everything else. There is probably a billion dollar investment in each of these games, counting marketing, translations and the whatnot, and the franchise was still risk-averse at this point.

I want to add the following things your analysis:

* yes, the support ship is just an animation
* no, there is no targeting of anything, just a really well working highlight-system and great 3d Models
* as you are probably aware though, there is an almost cheat-like Lock-On Mechanic basically lifted from "Ace Combat: Assault Horizon", designed to give a cinematic experience and to facilitate actual kills for the average gamer (because ships are super fast)
* Fun Fact: Playing the game in the Specialist (I think?) Mode actually removes the Lock-On entirely, giving the space combat and *ENTIRELY* different feel. It probably also makes it unplayable for the average gamer who lacks 20 years of flight sim reflexes.

The presentation of these sections is top-notch, the sense of speed is terrific (especially in debris fields), the controls are, as pointed out by Battuta, brilliantly done and the entire mode is just plain fun.

Again, do not assume this is a Freespace-like space shooter. But I am in agreement that various parts of the mode are indeed very interesting when viewed through an FS2-lense.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 10:51:05 am by Vidmaster »
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Offline deathspeed

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Re: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is mechanical FS3
I going to have to check this out.  Still $60 on Steam, but I'll see if I can find it cheaper after I get home from work.
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