Why does Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare look so familiar?

I just couldn’t place my finger on it, but I swear I had seen it before. The invading ships, soldiers with sullen, expressionless faces, and the brief glimpses of firefights all looked as if I had taken part in those set pieces before. Even what I thought was Bryan Cranston’s voice over sounded like something from previous entries. Granted, I’m not a major fan of the series, but the trailer for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare looked so familiar.

The latest entry in the annualized series, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare looks to promise players the opportunity of, well, infinite warfare. Not exactly, but from the trailer we see the main characters jumping into spaceships as they transition from ground combat to in-space dogfights. It’s the one set piece that I did not feel as if I had seen before, and that’s because we’ve never fought in space like this.

This first trailer does remind me of Modern Warfare 3, and its opening trailer. For those who may not remember, Modern Warfare 3’s trailer exhibits Makarov’s wanton destruction. His forces attempt to, and succeed in some cases, obliterate major countries in the Western world, including a devastated America and ravaged England. As the voice over in the early moments of the Infinite Warfare trailer reminds us, “This is a full blown invasion.” We’ve seen full blown invasions before that threaten our very way of life. Why does Call of Duty seek to keep reminding us?

It’s not like these games are made in a vacuum. Each advertising campaign, every trailer, and industry analysts compares the current Call of Duty iteration to its older brother that was just born the previous year. The sales figures alone may provide a good enough reason to keep repeating story beat after beat, but it still aesthetically seems very familiar.

From the destroyed buildings, to the tired, exhausted soldiers running from invading fire, I don’t think the trailer did a good job selling at what makes this game different enough to pick up. We’ve seen shots of soldiers saluting memorials before, soldiers helping the player to their feet, and have heard ominous voiceover reminding us how bleak the situation really is for the United States. Just upping the scale and throwing it a few hundred years in the future doesn’t really make it that difference.

Personally, I was expecting more balls-to-the-wall space action in this trailer. From the leaks, which were very reliable, I imagined full on laser guns, super mechs abound, and crazier weapons than what was teased from the beginning. It looks like you’ll use the same variations on AK-47s, command rifles, handguns, and similar guns from Call of Duty’s ever present arsenal. It’s a weapon layout that is around every year, and I hope the final product shows cooler weapons we haven’t seen before to remind us how far civilization has come in this futuristic expedition.

Additional details from Activision make this game sound a lot more promising. While we won’t see aliens, since this is set in our solar system, the game doesn’t seem as linear before. You’ll go back to your warship, take part in side missions, and even expand your own personal spaceship. The gameplay of Call of Duty, at least to me, is always pretty fun, with fast twitch gameplay and in-your-face explosives allowing me to enjoy the game for a few playthroughs, but it doesn’t leave any lasting impressions.  

Infinite Warfare, so far, looks like a typical Call of Duty affair, and I can see how that may be disappointing for some ever since the record breaking success of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Activision has confidently stated they are looking to try something new, and by all means go for it, but to me the trailer seems to be playing it very safe. Hopefully, succeeding trailers will show us something new, something that hooks us in, because that’s their job.

Granted, it’s also just the first trailer, so time will tell.

Liam Crossey is the Executive Editor of Features for The Game Bolt. Follow him on Twitter  for too many retweets.