Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare introduces a new multiplayer called Defender, which plays a lot like Halo's Oddball mode and is like a deadly game of keep-away.
To say that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s Defender mode is a lot like Halo’s Oddball might seem a bit reductive, but it’s also an apt comparison. In a lot of ways Defender is a futuristic version of oddball, which is also strange to say considering Halo’s setting. Nevertheless, Defender is the new showpiece mode for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare this year, and we went hands-on with it during Call of Duty XP.
The basics of Infinite Warfare's Defender mode are fairly simple: two teams duke it out while a drone charges in a centralized area on the map. Once the drone is fully charged, anyone can pick it up and once in their possession the drone will reward the player’s team with points. The player can simply run off with the drone or they can pass it to teammates to avoid danger, because of the runner is killed the drone drops and is free reign once again. It’s also possible to drop the drone and take out an opponent, since carrying the drone reduces attack options to a simple melee.
While the drone is in your possession, it’s best to be unpredictable, but to be aware that your position is always on the HUD. That’s where teamwork comes into play, and a strong group of soldiers can usually ensure their carrier is safe for an extending period of time. Regardless of how good a team is at playing keep-away, though, the drone will disappear and begin the charging process anew, ensuring that one team can’t control it for too long without having to fight for possession again.
The addition of the Combat Rigs in Infinite Warfare ensures that players have plenty of tools for gaining back possession of the drone, and luckily the Payloads don’t give the carriers any special protection…at least that we saw. Success in the mode is as simple as being shifty and unpredictable, and understanding where an opposing carrier might be headed.
For as much as Call of Duty players tend to favor kills over all else, it was a refreshing change of pace to sit down and play a few games of Defender. Yes, the mode isn’t wholly original, but it does feel “new” in the context of Call of Duty, and with the movement options (wall running and boost jumping) in Infinite Warfare there are some fun ways to juke out opponents.
The only thing that we aren’t sure of is how fun the mode will be when another team can simply dominate drone control. In our matches there was a nice give-and-take, but we could see the mode losing a lot of its appeal if the other team has an airtight strategy. But then again that’s true of any multiplayer match, regardless of the mode.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare releases November 4, 2016 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.