Infinity RPG, Modiphius, 2018, £19.99 Website
Reviewed by Seth Stauffer
Set in the far reaches of the cosmos, Modiphius’ 2d20 version of Corvus Belli’s space opera wargame, Infinity, provides gamers with a formidable core book. Numerous politically motivated factions compete to claim territory, vie for superiority, or simply just for the right to be left alone. Life as we know it became fundamentally altered through technological breakthroughs and significant shifts in political power. There’s a lot to Infinity, but some things stand out more than others.
The book is a comfortable read, although the sidebars are plentiful enough that they could have been written into the text itself, and simplified the layout. Otherwise, the tone of the game is well represented in the art, coloration, and even the font. Additionally, the game is likely intended for adults. Not necessarily because the themes are too mature, but because the sophistication of the language is likely above that of a younger player.
True to its skirmish roots with a strong military element, Infinity pushes “combat” by using such conflicts such as hacking and psyops. Diversifying combat creates fun ideas, and Infinity, for example, makes use of firewalls as armor against hacking in the same capacity kevlar might stop a bullet. Having rules for conflict beyond shootouts is refreshing, and gives the game greater depth of play.
Character creation yields potentially antagonistic interests between individual player characters (PCs). If two players create characters from rival factions they may be actively trying to undermine each other throughout a campaign while simultaneously aiding their group. Compounding these complex relationships are Infinity’s careers. This might imply expected archetypes such as “soldier”, or “police officer”, but there are others. Infinity offers career options such as “Lobbyist” or “Politician”. The idea that you could be playing a character that needs to appease constituents is both novel and unexpected for a space opera game steeped in military confrontations.
The game’s setting is particularly detailed, and is perhaps the most elaborated upon feature of the book. Not only have specific sites been created, but reasons for those sites to exist are present as well. However, this is also where Infinity’s largest issue is evident.
The chapter on setting (The Human Sphere) is just under 200 pages. The table of contents has the section spanning pages 140-325, and if you add in the approximately fifteen pages of history that begin the book, then that comprises over ⅓ of the 523 page PDF referenced for this review. Perhaps the core book could have presented one highly contested location that could serve as the backdrop for the game, and the additional setting material could be mentioned, but only truly developed in supplemental books.
Along with the sites, the world-building for Infinity included terminology specific to the game. While not problematic, and the game does include an index, it might have been better to include a glossary as well. As enjoyable as reading the jargon was, after a few hundred pages remembering it all became a bit cumbersome.
The core rule book for Infinity is admittedly a bit intimidating. There is simply a lot of game that was written into this one book. It boasts great potential for customization and fun tactical gameplay, but at times it feels like it’s trying to do too much. Infinity’s incredibly well-conceived and nuanced setting offers an exceptional opportunity for gaming, especially for people short on time for prep. While the core book might be a bit off-putting because of its scope, this game is ready to play immediately and provides enough material to be playable for a long time in a single text.