Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was announced a few months ago with the promise of not only a return to form for the series that launched the franchise into global stardom, but with the pursuit of the most realistic iteration yet. After four hours with Modern Warfare’s multiplayer, it’s safe to that this game is on its way to capturing the glory of 2007’s Modern Warfare entry but its promise of realism is lost in the chaos of standard Call of Duty firefights.
During our time with the game, we played five different modes varying both in map size and player count. The classic modes like Team Deathmatch, Headquarters and Domination are exactly what you’d expect — which means that while nothing new, they’re still some of the most engaging modes in the game — but it’s the new modes like Gunfight and Cyber Attack that shine.
In Gunfight, it’s you and your teammate versus two opposing players. There are no loadouts and instead, all players are given the same loadout each round. This evens the playing field and allows player skill alone to determine who takes the win. It’s engaging, fast-paced, strategic, and likely the mode we’ll be playing the most this October.
Cyber Attack is basically Search and Destroy — a 6v6 match where to win the round, you can either kill all enemy players or detonate/defuse the single bomb on the map. This mode works great for larger parties wanting to play something more strategic than Team Deathmatch.
These five modes feel great on maps that avoid the symmetrical three-lane design the Call of Duty franchise has relied on for years. Instead of calling out left, mid or right, my teammates and I were focusing our efforts on capturing strategic positions, like a map’s only two-story building, to bring about full-team power plays that feel more like Halo or Doom than they do Call of Duty.
Those modes and maps, though, wouldn’t shine nearly as brightly if it weren’t for just how old-school Modern Warfare feels.
Like last year’s Black Ops 4, this entry is boots-on-the-ground again, which basically means no advanced movement a la jetpacks, double jumps and wall running. That was expected, though. We don’t see Call of Duty bringing back advanced movement any time soon.
What wasn’t expected was how different this boots-on-the-ground experience is compared to last year’s Call of Duty. TTK is down, weapons sound, feel and react like weapons would in 2019, Specialists are gone (thank goodness) and the superhero feel of the franchise is gone. This is all to say that in Modern Warfare, you feel like a modern soldier, a mortal person trained to excel with a gun on the battlefield.
This feeling is accomplished in a number of ways and chief among them is the game’s promise of realism, which is exactly what made 2007’s Modern Warfare work so well.
Now, whether or not this game is truly realistic is certainly up for debate (and up for debate by people who actually know what war is like — not 24-year-olds like me who engage in combative “war” in front of a TV with a controller in hand), but it’s clear that Infinity Ward did their research.
The guns react as they would in real life, showcased by new Down The Barrel gunplay, which basically means the gun recoils first before that kick is transferred to your character, whose head and body are knocked back with each shot. This will make more sense when you get your hands on the game.
The guns sound absolutely incredible — low-key, the sound design of this game was a major highlight — and the bullets are more physics-based than ever before. In fact, every bullet shot in the game is now a projectile that actually traverses through the air.
Weaker bullets can’t penetrate as easily as stronger bullets, the sound of a bullet hitting metal is significantly different than the sound of a bullet hitting wood and these observations only scratch the surface of just how much effort went into making this the most realistic Call of Duty yet.
Surprisingly, the game’s promise of realism is showcased best in the new Realism mode and that mode is best at night. Some maps can be played at night, or at least feature dark areas like a cave where you must equip night vision goggles.
When you do this, you’ll see gun’s laser quite clearly. This laser plays an extremely strategic role in the darker maps in that when you aim, your laser will turn on and potentially alert enemies of your position.
Because of this, you must take caution to aim only when you’re ready to engage in fire. After some time, our team found itself using our lasers to lure enemies into a certain section of a cave, only to light them up from behind shortly after.
This gameplay was enhanced by the game’s Realism mode, which is new for Call of Duty. It’s basically hardcore Hardcore. There’s no HUD or UI, no hit or kill markers and no health regeneration. It’s brutal and terrifying and it adds a new feel for those wishing to raise the stakes.
Despite the promise of realism, though, all of the little details we learned about got lost in the chaos of Modern Warfare’s multiplayer gunplay. Sure, more realistic approaches were taken and the game was built around real-life research but at the end of the day, when you’re playing Modern Warfare, you’re still sprinting around the map, vaulting over fences and onto roofs, lobbing grenades, shooting at whatever enemy you see and just generally, attempting to look and play like a badass.
This isn’t a knock, necessarily. It’s just to say that when you play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you’ll likely forget about the neat and well-designed elements of this game that the developers clearly spent a lot of time creating in the chaos of the moment-to-moment gameplay.
Fortunately, that moment-to-moment gameplay feels true to the series’ name. It feels modern beneath the surface, due in part to the game’s approach to realism and anti-superhero soldier antics, and in the way it plays and looks so similar to 2007’s Modern Warfare.
If you’re looking for a drastic change in the multiplayer of the Call of Duty franchise, you’d do well to play a lot of Black Ops 4 first because when comparing last year’s title to this year’s forthcoming entry, the changes certainly are drastic. But, as a whole, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is still Call of Duty and your enjoyment with the game later this October will largely be defined by what Call of Duty multiplayer means to you.
For more information about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer, be sure to search for whatever you’re looking for on Twinfinite. There, we’ll cover not only multiplayer updates but news about the game’s single player campaign as well.
Here’s where you can start with that coverage:
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s Multiplayer: Every Little Detail We Learned From the Demo
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Ground War Mode Will Support Over 100 Players
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Open Beta Coming to PS4 First This September
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Reveal Trailer Shows Juggernaut, Tanks, ATVs and More
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Dark Edition Revealed, Will Include Actual Night Vision Goggles