COD: WWII’s 'Infected' Mode Was Fun, But Unbalanced

Illustration for article titled COD: WWII’s 'Infected' Mode Was Fun, But Unbalanced

Zombies have invaded Call of Duty: WWII multiplayer for the month of June. Week one’s Infected mode was fun, even if it didn’t always feel balanced.

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The Attack of the Undead event arrived on May 29 with an eerie update to the game’s Headquarters social space, adding fire and caged zombies. The event brings new weapons and gear with an undead theme, and this time we get the addition of face camo to customize your soldier with camo or skull designs.

Infected, where one randomly chosen player is tasked with infecting and turning a group of survivors until everyone is infected or time runs out, is a popular Call of Duty mode, but the fan-favorite made its WWII debut with a zombies twist: Players actually turned into zombies when “infected” by patient zero. One player was randomly selected to turn into a zombie at the start of the match, and that player had to run around trying to kill and turn survivors to join their team as fellow undead.

This was obviously the perfect party mode to revive for a Zombies-multiplayer crossover, but WWII’s Infected wasn’t without its flaws. Matches were often quite imbalanced towards the survivors, making it tough for zombies to win.

Zombies didn’t have any ranged attacks in WWII’s Infected, having to rely on their enhanced speed and an axe to melee the living. In most previous versions of Infected, the infected players were equipped with guns or at least throwing knives, which was important to avoid a total campfest. Which is what WWII’s Infected became.

Illustration for article titled COD: WWII’s 'Infected' Mode Was Fun, But Unbalanced

Many maps have a tunnel passage or rooftop that’s perfect for camping, where survivors can easily post up and pick off any zombie threats. Yes, the zombies have a speed advantage, but that doesn’t really matter if they can’t get up a ladder before getting shot down. With no ranged weapons, all the zombie players could do was march off like lambs to the slaughter.

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Gibraltar is a map that almost always saw the entire survivor team camping together in the tunnel passage with S-mines galore. In order to keep the game going, the infected must turn more players into zombies players to extend the time, meaning many games on Gibraltar or Gustav Cannon lasted just two minutes.

Sledgehammer did provide the incentive of random care packages for survivors to collect, rewarding with scorestreaks like flamethrowers or V2 rockets. This would sometimes lure players out of their hiding spots for long enough to get a kill as a zombie. However, I played games where survivors hunkered down on top of the cannon on Gustav Cannon and didn’t bother with the scorestreaks at all.

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Zombie players could also place a skull head on the map that acted as a respawn point, which was basically the same as the tactical insertion equipment used in Modern Warfare 3. This helped zombies work together as a horde to push the camping location, but choosing a spawn point didn’t help much on a map like V2 with multiple tiers and ladders. I dreaded being a zombie on V2.

Infected felt most satisfying on the flat or smaller maps like Flak Tower or Pointe du Hoc, where survivors couldn’t get in many hard-to-reach areas. The games could still end pretty quickly, but there was usually more movement from the survivors. Or at the very least, you could have a better chance of flanking their camping point for a nice killstreak. It was all about using your zombie super-speed to catch the little campers while they reloaded.

WWII’s Infected could be really fun or painfully boring depending on how quickly patient zero could get a kill. I would love to see this mode return in the future, but I think the matches would feel more balanced for the zombie side if at least Patient Zero started with a ranged weapon. This would make it easier for the first zombie to get some help to keep the match alive. Spawning with two throwing knives would greatly increase the odds. And while some people might prefer the short matches, I think WWII’s Infected would also benefit from a larger player count than just twelve. This could generate more action, kills, and experience points than we saw in this past week’s games.

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The Attack Of The Undead event also added the Groseten Haus Zombies tutorial map as a multiplayer map for a non-zombie playlist of mixed modes. It’s a really small map, and it makes for a really savage game of Domination. Hordepoint replaces Infected as the zombie-themed mode for this week, which is basically the objective-based Hardpoint match with a twist: Players will have to capture and defend map locations from the opposing team and zombie attacks. Call of Duty: WWII’s Attack of the Undead will continue through June 26.

DISCUSSION

SHG came into making this mode with the right idea, trying to change what’s already known, but clearly didn’t playtest it enough to realize it’s not fun at all to just throw yourself into a bullet blender hoping your teammates won’t get shot and will be able to infect other players.

Thing about reinventing the wheel is, the wheel didn’t need fixing. You can make the wheel turn more efficiently, but there’s a very good reason Infected was only changed incrementally from MW3 up to Infinite Warfare: it worked and people liked it. Keep the pace of the mode and add your own flair, SHG, but don’t do silly shit like arming the survivors with shittons of weaponry and taking away the one ranged tool the zombies had to deal with campers. That’s turning the wheel into a cube.

Problem: Too many maps in the game have areas with just one entrance, meaning it’s super easy for the survivors to just camp out in those rooms (such as the overlooking rooms on Dunkirk).

Solution: Make rooms and locations with one entrance inaccessible so survivors can’t funnel zombies into a chokepoint. Remove the ladder on the rocket on V2 so survivors can’t climb to the top and get an easy win.

Problem: Spawns are too open. Survivors on maps like Gibraltar and Groesten Haus can easily just camp in spawns, surrounded by mines. Additionally, survivors get two mines, which are already very powerful, in addition to a gas grenade, Type-5 SMG (best SMG for ranged combat) and Combat Shotgun (best shotgun in the game).

Solution: Give zombies throwing knives so they can combat teams that choose to hide out in open areas, forcing them to defend themselves in riskier areas. Take away one mine from the survivors and reduce base ammo survivors have to one magazine per weapon, giving them Forage so they have to go out and pick up ammo off their kills, putting them at risk.

Problem: Zombies are too fast if they have throwing knives as well. It’d imbalance the mode too far in their favor.

Solution: Reduce the movement speed of zombies to 104% or 107%, so they’re not overwhelming fast but can still outrun a fleeing survivor.

Problem: Survivors should not be able to get a streak from care packages that straight-up kills every zombie. That’s incredibly dumb.

Solution: Get rid of the V2 from care packages! Why the hell was it in there in the first place? The tripmines and flamethrowers are strong enough as is.