Let’s pretend, for a moment, that the phrase ‘Infinite Warfare’ actually means something. Let’s pretend that it isn’t just the usual flavour text, tacked onto the title to mark a studio’s painful rebirth, while sparing older gamers the vertigo of actually reading the words ‘Call of Duty 13’. Let’s pretend that it is something tangible. Even navigable. The mathematical symbol for infinity is a figure of eight turned on its side. I gaze at that symbol and after a while, I begin to see something I recognise. A single, looping path, belted at the waist to create an intersection and thus, blind spots and flanking opportunities – a terrain for engagement which ensures a combatant can strike out at whim and find their way inexorably to a foe.
I see the bare vertebrae of an Infinite Warfare multiplayer map, a combat centrifuge in which every detail serves to situate and direct, propelling you onward and around as if by magnetism. I see Frost, with its alcoves occupied by worker droids (whose ceaseless plodding I still occasionally mistake for hostile activity) and its euphoric wall-running routes, whirling you down the flank like a pinball along a rail. I see Frontier, with its two main corridors arranged cross-wise atop each other, its low ceilings nudged by free-falling corpses. I see Breakout, a mountaintop lock-up whose transparent cells gaze out over miles of snow, scree and cloud – the designer’s joke perhaps being that a prison remains a prison, whether you’re scurrying along the outside of the cell with rifle in hand or staring glumly through the glass.
These are environments that instil a strange mixture of boldness and anxiety. Yes, there is no possibility of getting lost (should you ever lose your bearings, maps are now divided into zones that are named on the HUD), but by the same token there is nowhere to hide. Wherever you are in an Infinite Warfare map – save for when playing the surprisingly restful new mode Frontline, a TDM variant which gives each side a fixed spawning area in which your lifebar is dramatically extended – there is almost always somebody coming up behind you.