Call of Duty XP Wrap-Up: eSports, Laser Tag, and Zombies

An inside look at this year's fan-oriented Call of Duty event.

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Alongside the excitement surrounding PAX, Activision’s Call of XP attracted fans of the franchise to The Forum in Inglewood, California. The event centered on the Call of Duty World Championship, where the best teams in the esport fought for $2 million total in prize money. Team EnVyUS won the world championship after the final match against British team Splyce and took home the $800,000 prize on Sunday.

OpTic Gaming were the stars of the show on Saturday, making an impressive run in the loser bracket after a Friday loss against Team EnVyUS. Despite playing their first Saturday game at 9:30 am, OpTic Gaming filled the floor with fans cheering on the underdog team’s success.

However, the World Championship was only part of the Call of Duty XP as Activision brought much of the CoD world to life in The Forum’s parking lots. Attendees played paintball in a life-size replica of Nuketown, a popular Modern Warfare 2 map, complete with the iconic Nuketown sign and yellow school bus. A zip line ran high above, giving adventurous participants the chance to get a bird’s eye view of the event, which included wrestling juggernauts, crowds of zombies and a half-dozen military trucks.

From the air or the ground, it was impossible to miss the arcade themed tent housing Zombie Laser Tag, where fans could be part of real life Call of Duty Zombies and blast other players among the undead with laserfied M4 assault rifles.

Fans also had the opportunity to play demos of two of Activision’s upcoming titles. I tried out Modern Warfare Remastered for Playstation 4, which boasted an online experience exactly as you remember it from 2007--except with sharper graphics and updated user interfaces. CoD XP attendees demoing the game played a classic team deathmatch on fan-favorite map Crash and battled for control in hardpoint on the sniper-friendly Overgrown.

The multiplayer demo of Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Activision’s new science fiction addition to the franchise, also premiered at the event. When I went to try it out later Saturday afternoon, I was met with a much shorter line and far more play time than I had with Modern Warfare Remastered. That may suggest something about the relative excitement for the two games, especially as Modern Warfare is still so revered in the community.

Infinite Warfare plays like an entirely different game than Modern Warfare, giving players jetpacks, laser guns and deeply customizable classes to play with. I played on a variety of maps that varied from a cheeky 1950s style theme park to NASA inspired space station. Having fallen off the series after Black Ops, Infinite Warfare was instantly familiar and I was quickly able to start contributing to my team’s success. The XP demo featured the returning hardpoint game mode and the new mode defender that requires players to hold onto a drone for as long as possible.

The gameplay sticks to the formula that’s carried over since Modern Warfare, but still manages to be engaging and addicting. At no point in the demo did players get any insight into the story, so as someone unfamiliar with the state of the game, it was a bit disorienting to be thrust into a world with no context.

This being said, Call of Duty XP was an immersive and eye opening look into the current state of Activision’s reigning franchise. The event was packed with both intense fans and casual attendees, but it was impossible not to enjoy how much people love being part of the Call of Duty community. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare launches Nov. 4, and I think it’s going to make next year’s XP that much more exciting for eSports. 

Freelance Writer