This one breaks out.
It seems that every year, gamers get a new Call of Duty game that tries to beat the infamous “Call of Duty cycle”, where the franchise’s latest entry fails to create its own lasting identity. Said entry falls to the same shortcomings: lack of support, questionable add-ons, and ultimately being littered with gameplay-altering microtransactions. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) seems to be the most likely candidate to escape from that horrid cycle.
The reuse of the “Modern Warfare” title is a testament to said series, acting as a precursor to the original trilogy. Combat returns entirely to the gimmick-less, boots-on-the-ground gameplay that most fans of the series loved and missed. Anyone who has enjoyed Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare series should check this game out as it is reminiscent of prior installments in its Campaign and Multiplayer component, even if this title falls flat with Co-op gameplay.
Multiplayer is what Call of Duty was built for and it will be what most players return to on a regular basis. The multiplayer has its issues, which is to be expected, but overall, it’s great. Modern Warfare (2019) probably the best Call of Duty game this generation has seen, and I’d say for a boots-to-the-ground experience, it is the undisputed best. Modern Warfare is running on a brand-new engine. The look of the guns, the maps, and everything in-between is something to admire. It’s the biggest jump the series has seen. The sound design is sharp and immerses you in each battle. The gameplay is fluid and enthralling – and players are no longer limited to enjoying that experience with same console users.
CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE (2019) HAS CROSS-PLAY. It does not matter what system your friends use to play Modern Warfare (2019), be it console or PC, because players across platforms can interact in the same multiplayer lobby. I think this is a good implementation for the Call of Duty Franchise in the long run because as It will keep their player bases together, adding to the longevity of the game’s life cycle.
Another major change is that Activision/Infinity Ward have made pledges to have continuous support to their title. This will include patchwork and outlining its roadmap of content rollout. There is no more Season Pass, Map Packs, or Loot Boxes. Instead, all content that affects gameplay — such as weapons and maps — will be free for all players and/or unlocked by playing the game. Thus, the player base is not split up. Infinity Ward will be adding a ‘Battle Pass’ system to unlock cosmetic items only. We’ll have to see the course of microtransactions and how they will factor in later, but this is a good sign for things to come.
Now let’s talk about how the game plays. The gunplay is slower-paced with a fast time-to-kill (TTK), thus making engagements more tactical. Typical run-and-gun style of play will find you getting killed more in this iteration. Also, there’s a new mounting feature that allows you to peak around corners and over barrier to allow for snappy close quarters combat and long-range aim stability. This emphasizes how much positioning really matters.
Modern Warfare (2019)’s gameplay is defined by its gunplay, with the multiplayer offering players many options to choose from. Some weapons are better for different situations compared to others – and that’s a good thing. No one wants a game where one gun can do it all. Each gun feels and sounds like it has its own identity. Unequal damage outputs with different rates of fire, recoil patterns coupled with their loud, unique blasts make all the guns feel like they have their own weight and power. And guns become personal with the intricate weapon modification system.
Gun customization has never been so deep as it is with the new Gunsmith feature. It is enjoyable levelling up guns in the game, constantly being rewarded many new attachments for your weapon. Some guns have access to roughly 60 different accessories, and they all change the look of the guns, the way they work, and how you handle them. You can have one attachment in up to five categories and it does not affect how the rest of your loadout is set up. You can also now change your guns or the rest of your loadout mid-game to test out your new rewards, or to counter enemy tactics. This is by far the best gun-related implementation the franchise has seen thus far.
I have mixed opinions on the selection of maps available at launch, but generally they’re not great. Players shouldn’t be too concerned considering Infinity Ward/Activision do plan to release more maps for free, which will include some old classics. Many classic game modes return in quickplay. Some game modes are permanent, whereas others are rotated. My biggest gripe with the rotation is that there is no option to separate standard ‘6v6’ from ‘10v10’, which is a clustered mess for some of the maps in those playlists. Map voting has also been removed, but that’s probably because you get into a new lobby every match. These maps are well put together visually but are flawed in some key design elements.
Gone is the structured flow of your typical three lane maps which is okay, but out comes open spaces and lines of sight from high windows. Traveling from building to building is hard with the increased TTK. This problem may not be as apparent in the smaller lobbies, but it is much easier to notice in the larger ones. ‘20v20’ game modes use a poorly designed set of maps that, at times, feel like a walking simulator. You are constantly spawning far away from the action and it’s dreary to waste time returning to the battle, especially when running with a heavy gun. There is a ton of open space you trudge along, and you are bound to be picked off with minimal effort. The new Ground War is even bigger. It’s essentially a mimicry of the ‘Battlefield’ feel, 32v32 with parachutes and vehicles. The larger open lanes, with the plentiful count of players, coupled with a myriad of lines-of-sight, and a low TTK all make for two options, camping or unfavourably gambling your killstreak on the evasion.
While the new Ground War has potential, the other new game modes are fantastic. Gunfight debuts in this iteration, similar to Face Off in MW3 or Cage match in MW(2007), and everyone should check it out. It is composed of 1v1 and 2v2 battles on small maps, where elimination and survival are the only objectives and it’s awesome. The short, quick matches have you rapidly deciding whether you should stay back or make a push, and you’re given a random loadout each time.
The adrenaline never lets up and it really shows Call of Duty at its purest form. Cyber Attack is the new mode that works similarly to Search and Destroy with respawns turned off, but you can revive your dead teammates. It’s incredibly satisfying to build your reinforcements back up and to strategically hold locations where you’ve downed enemies. Realism/NVG mode is on night versions of maps with limited HUD and increased damage; hardcore players will have a refreshing take on a tempo they are familiar with.
Overall, the multiplayer is refreshing. It is a graceful refinement of the formula that this series is built on. It’s full of substance and will constantly have you jumping back in for another go.
Activision is no stranger to sparking controversy. The developers were not kidding when they claimed the tagline “Going Dark” for the newest addition to the Call of Duty series. It’s nice to see the campaign return after a break from last years Black Ops 4. It’s action-packed, adrenaline-building, gruesome, and at times uncomfortable, which makes it the most memorable Call of Duty campaign of this generation of consoles.
There is a running tension that stays with you throughout your playthrough, whether its from high intensity gun fights to being covert around in the dark to sneaking around trying not get caught. The level designs are gripping and there are some fun non-shooter elements that are very enticing but are ultimately a tease because said level designs don’t last very long. Modern Warfare (2019) ultimately reminds you that it’s still a first-person shooter and you must go back into war. The cutscenes are gorgeous and the visuals make you slow your pace as you trudge through in between battles just so you can take it all in. The lighting looks beautiful on the well-crafted character models and environmental assets. The sound design is loud, brash, and captivating. You really can find yourself immersed in a firefight.
While I feel that the campaign looks and feels great and is definitely a Modern Warfare series experience, I feel it lacks those defining high intensity moments from previous iterations like the nuke scene in MW(2007) or the Eiffel Tower falling in MW3, and the final mission feels like it does not provide the same level of satisfaction or closure. But it still follows through with some depictions of gruesome events and war crimes that ultimately try to set the tone on a path of darkness rather than flashing lights.
The story took around 7 hours to complete and was gritty from start to finish. “We get dirty, and the world stays clean,” is assured by Cpt. Price as he flips on his night vision goggles, as you embark on your journey through story pieces that make you uneasy and keep you on the edge of your seat. The missions find you questioning the ethics of the actions that you carry out throughout the narrative, often giving you choices that don’t necessarily change the outcome of your playthrough but make you teeter the line of what is right and what must be done to get the job done. Other sections of the game make you feel sympathy for the innocent casualties that are caught amidst the war. All the grime and dirt, blood and tears that are smeared across the chapters will make you will feel uncomfortable.
You can make notice about some of the controversial headlines, such as the rewritten history on the Highway of Death, and the over-the-top patriotism, but if you take it as a standard Call of Duty campaign experience of a modern geopolitical affair-inspired war story, you will have a blast. The gameplay, gunplay, storyline, visuals, cutscenes, and sound design are stressfully exhilarating, and it is absolutely worth a playthrough. You are not missing out on the story if you have not played the previous Modern Warfare campaigns.
Each year a game within the franchise will add a third main component alongside the Campaign and Multiplayer. In this series, MW2 added Spec Ops missions, a plethora of co-op levels having you complete various objectives. MW3 did the same and added a survival mode, where you fight waves of enemy infantry and helicopters across multiplayer maps. With the new Modern Warfare, it seems that these options have been gutted or removed entirely. Co-op mode is the biggest disappointment in the package by a mile.
Missing are all the missions that you’d try to conquer by competing for best times and achieving 3 stars. Classic Special Ops has one mission, and it has no difficulty setting. You fight enemies with a lack of direction and after a few waves, it’s over. This is supposed to be the successor and it heavily falls flat. Survival mode (PS4 exclusive for now) is lacking all the polish that MW3 had. Even if it was a direct copy, it would have been a lot better. AI design is poor. If your target is hiding far away, they will not come to you. You will have to chase them down, sometimes far away from supply stations. Players will not always be able to restock their supplies for the next round, which is crucial for survival.
The four Co-op missions are the meat of this component and they can only be completed online. They are hard because enemies spawn infinitely at an alarming rate from areas you thought you cleared out. This causes you to continually be attacked from all angles, slowing down your ability to progress throughout the map. Coordination is key, so practice with teammates is a must to get through these challenging missions. It may be the best part about the Co-op component, but not a reason why you should get this game. Hopefully they add more missions, but for now Spec-ops doesn’t hold any real value. Furthermore, for some baffling reason, while the Multiplayer can support two player split-screen, Co-op does not. So gone are the days where you can have a couch co-op experience, a dying trend in shooters, but something Call of Duty had nailed in the past.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare sparks that nostalgia of the older iterations, while also proving that it is not the same game that’s pumped out yearly. The pleasantly crafted campaign levels are gritty, unsettling, and make for a wild ride from start to finish. The multiplayer is addictive, the gunplay is fluid, and the new engine is beautiful, but is hindered by launch map selection. The Co-op is worthy of a look, but don’t expect it to blow you away as it does not offer much. Overall, it is one of the best Call of Duty titles of this generation.
Rating – 8.5/10