An Interview With Jordan Hirsh on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s Multiplayer
There’s a been a lot of speculation about what Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was going to be, but thanks to Activision’s Call of Duty XP Fan Event, we now have a much greater idea of what we’re getting. We’ve seen rigs, gun tiers and fantastic maps, but there’s still plenty of speculation to be had about how these things will work together to bring us the latest multiplayer experience. Luckily, Infinity Ward Multiplayer Project Director Jordan Hirsh was kind enough to sit down with us and answer some of our burning questions about what we’ve seen so far.
Arcade Sushi: So one of the new multiplayer modes is Defender, in which teams vie to pick up a drone and hold onto it as long as possible in order to score points for their team. When you’re the person carrying the drone, your weapons are unavailable, but we noticed that you can also throw the drone at an enemy in front of you, forcing them to drop their weapons and then gun them down and pick it back up.
Jordan Hirsh: Yeah, that’s one of the strategies we worked out to make sure the ball carrier isn’t completely powerless. It’s one of a couple things they can do. You can either melee enemies or, if you’re good enough, throw them the ball, force them to catch it and turn the tables. We’re expecting to see some interesting plays out of that. Maybe if a player knows the throw is coming, they might boost jump to evade gunfire and toss it right back. We feel like it’s going to create some cool moments.
AS: With the crafting features, we’ve seen the four different tiers represented. How do you go about getting those different rarities of weapons?
JH: The way that you craft is you play the game and earn salvage, which is the crafting currency used throughout Infinite Warfare. You can look at rarity tiers for just about any gun and the cost for each tier is dependent upon the tier. If you see one you like and have enough salvage, you can purchase your way up to it. If the ERAD submachine gun is your favorite, you might pin down a tier in the list for that gun and save to purchase it as soon as you can.
AS: And is salvage solely earned in multiplayer or can you earn it across multiple modes --- single player for instance?
JH: We’re thinking about implementing salvage from single player, but nothing’s in place for it just yet.
AS: Does every single weapon in the game have four tiers to explore?
JH: Yes they do. Even the secondary weapons have four tiers. There might be a heavy launcher that doesn’t, but pretty much every gun in the game is covered.
AS: We’ve seen that Rigs are a big part of Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer. They give players boosts based on their playstyle. How did they come to be?
JH: Rigs came in pretty early in development. We were going down the path of more class-based gameplay, and so we began to think about what sort of player archetypes we wanted --- like mobile gunners and snipers, the sort of player types you’d expect in Call of Duty --- and then once we had the broad archetypes, we started to get flexible. Since this is essentially Call of Duty in space and all of the soldiers would be in suits of some kind, it made sense to create different armor systems with cool abilities for players to play around with.
AS: So there are definitely Rigs that have a bit higher of a skill curve. For instance, the Warfighter’s Claw is much more straightforward than the Phantom’s Ballista. What steps are you guys taking to ensure that one Rig doesn’t dominate the playing field?
JH: A lot of that will be in the Traits outside the Payloads. The Claw and the Ballista can’t be used all the time, but the Traits are always working. To that point, the Phantom has some really powerful Traits in terms of situational awareness and knowing where enemies are, which is helpful to pretty much everyone and not just the Phantom.
AS: So there’s a conscious effort to build some Rigs as sort of support classes as opposed to outright aggression.
JH: For sure. We didn’t want all of the Payloads to be ultra-powerful for that very reason, but there are also some bragging rights in being able to use some of those more difficult Payloads effectively.
AS: Are all the maps designed with all playstyles in mind or are there some that cater to one over another?
JH: There are definitely maps tuned towards favoring one playstyle over another. Frontier, for instance, is really close-quarters and it’s going to be really great for submachine guns and shotguns, and if you’re really good at sniping you can use its long lanes to pick players off. More medium-sized, open maps are probably going to favor the assault rifles as a dominant strategy.
AS: During the reveal of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, there was an emphasis on designing killstreaks that would work planetside and in the depths of space. Will there be combat or maps that take place in orbit or in free space?
JH: Yeah. We have a map that takes place high above Mars on a big station where they’re building ships. You’re not quite in outer space, but you’re out there.
AS: Does that affect the gameplay at all? Are there zero gravity maps or anything of the sort?
JH: No, we’ve reserved that for single-player right now. We looked at doing that, but in the end we decided we wanted to focus on player versus player, gun on gun, and for that we wanted to keep the playing fields level, which would have been really difficult if some maps were zero gravity.
AS: Is there anything out of the ordinary from the single-player mode that comes across to the multiplayer mode?
JH: Only a little. We focused on making multiplayer a very competitive thing with few gimmicks to get in the way, but there are a few gameplay elements from the single-player that make their way over. With the Apex killstreak, you use a Jackal aircraft to kill enemies and the controls and visuals for that were very much inspired by the single player version of it.
AS: What can we expect for expanded functionality? Split screen, theater mode or anything of that sort?
JH: Multiplayer in Infinite Warfare will support split screen play, although we don’t have any plans for a theater mode right now.
AS: What about a spectator mode? With the emphasis on eSports right now, will there be any way to tune into professional teams and matches from in-game?
JH: We are working on a spectator mode. It’s still too early for details yet, but we’re gearing up a mode that will be used for CODcasting and connectivity with the professional scene. Unfortunately, we don’t have anything to tune into live matches in-game, but a lot of eSports UI is in development right now and we’ll be able to talk a lot more about it soon.
This interview was completed at Call of Duty XP 2016. Travel and accommodations for Call of Duty XP were provided by the publisher.