A quick look at Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s current state

Every year, a new Call of Duty (COD) title is released. Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games are the 3 studios that are responsible for the development of these games and they rotate yearly. Each studio is known for their own respective series, Infinity ward for Modern Warfare, Treyarch for Black Ops, and Sledgehammer for Advanced Warfare, all of which have continuously gone further and further into the future, with the exception of WWII which was also developed by Sledgehammer. Call of Duty Modern Warfare takes a step back from the futuristic and past wars, and lands right back where the franchise gained its popularity, which is present day Modern Warfare. After having played the titile, just how much does it separate itself from previous Call of Duty titles, both in terms of gameplay and the business model?

Game Review

Initial Impression

            I was fortunate enough to get the game upon release, and being that I an avid Call of Duty fan who follows the game on YouTube and Reddit, I have been able to experience every up and down of the game thus far. Since the game is so new, keep in mind that this is only my initial impression, and it’s not to say that Infinity Ward, the developers of this year’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare, cannot fix it during the game’s life span. I’ll first point out some of the general things that have impressed me and will then list out a few more serious problems that definitely need to be looked into as soon as possible should they want to keep their fan base content.

Pros

  1. Campaign

Before we get into multiplayer, we are technically supposed to play the campaign first to familiarize ourselves with the game and to delve into the immersive storyline. That was the yearly cycle until last year, Treyarch decided to remove the campaign in Call of Duty Black Ops 4 in favor of a Battle Royale Mode. Well, Infinity Ward decided that a campaign was needed this year, and a gory, dark and eerie one at that.

Friendly fire, civilian casualties and betrayals are all dark aspects of war that we as everyday citizens rarely ever hear of or see. Through Infinity Ward’s immersive campaign, we are educated about the true terrors of war. For once, we get to experience everything that comes with war, which isn’t just running and gunning down enemies. We have to always be conscious of our surroundings, even civilians, because anyone could be the enemy.

There is a mission that I would like to highlight. Spoiler alert ahead. This mission takes place in a building where the player, along with the team, have to make their way up a building to stop a bomb threat. However, there is no lighting in the building, forcing the player to use the night vision goggles, and there are also many civilians too. By pairing low visibility along with civilians, the risk of killing civilians spikes up exponentially, and this is the experience Infinity Ward wants to give us. As you traverse up the flights of stairs and rooms, there are enemies waiting behind corners, cabinets and even under beds. There are also female civilians too which are yelling and crying for help, further adding onto the chaos. It’s so easy to accidentally shoot a civilian, which even I did by accident, but the show must go on. That’s just the reality of war. Eventually, towards the top floors, you enter a room where a mother with her baby is right there as she’s trying to run away from you but because everything is so fast paced and loud, she seems like a threat for a split second so it’s very easy to pull the trigger on her. Not only are you at risk of killing the mother, but you can also kill the baby. If you do though, you will have to restart from the checkpoint though, so don’t worry, Infinity Ward isn’t trying to get us to kill babies. At the top floor, where the “bomb threat” supposedly is, you only see a woman, who is begging you to help her, as she inches further back. This could be interpreted as her being scared of you, a soldier carrying a gun, but you must quickly shoot her, as in reality, she is reaching for the bomb detonator. This mission itself is very hard to play because you have to be constantly on your feet and be aware of your surroundings. One small error, and you just may lose your life or take the life of a civilian. Everyone is an enemy.

  • Multiplayer – Gun customization

This year, Call of Duty introduced a completely new gun customization system. Previously, we had become accustomed to being limited to one or two attachments on our gun and/or sometimes a perk for said gun, depending on the title. This was done through what is known as the “Pick 10 System” in which the player gets 10 slots to load up on guns, attachments, grenades, etc. However, you were still limited to at most two attachments, such as a suppressor or extended magazine and one reticle sight attachment like a red dot sight. This year, there is no “Pick 10 System” but rather, there is now the “Gunsmith”. Players can now get 5 attachments on their guns, with one of them being a perk if the player wishes to have that instead of a 5th attachment. What I love about this system is that it gives the players true freedom when it comes to gun customization. You can literally take an AK-47 and then turn it into its SMG brother variant, known as the AK74-U by doing things like having a “no stock” attachment and by adding a “short barrel”. There’s endless possibilities and the players get to tailor their guns to their playstyle.

  • Multiplayer – 2v2 Gunfight Mode

With every new Call of Duty comes a new game mode. I mean, the developers have to at least try to be somewhat innovative, right? This year, they added a new game mode called the “2v2” Gunfight mode that is fast paced and fun. The title pretty much explains the purpose of the game mode as the battle takes place in an extremely small map where there are two teams of two and the first team to kill the other team wins. Should no one die, then a flag will appear in the middle of the map where one team will have to capture it in order to win. If the flag is no captured by either team, then the team with the most health will win. If, for whatever reason, no one does anything in terms of trying to kill the other team or capturing the flag, while everyone is at full health, which never happens, will there be an actual draw. What makes this game mode fun for me is that it’s not your typical run and gun Call of Duty game mode. It requires a bit of strategy, true gun skill and at times a bit of luck. The thing about this game mode is that either one team dominates, or it’s an extremely close game that goes down to the wire. The first team to 6 round wins will get the overall victory, so it is a bit of a marathon, but it’s at a stop and go pace so it makes it extremely bearable as games only last about 5-7 minutes. Due to the fact that there’s a bigger skill gap required here, as you only have one teammate to rely on, my friend whom I play with more often than not find great success. We’ve had games where we’ve won 6-0, but also had some really good close games where it ended up being 6-5 for either us or the other team. We can go up 3-0 from the get go and the other team can still mount a comeback just as easily. It would be fair to say that the unpredictability, intensity and skills required for this game is more tailored towards experienced players, such as myself. It would be hard to survive in this game mode if you’re a beginner. So my suggestion is that if you’re new to this game, then hone your skills in regular game modes and then find a friend who is around your skill level to play this game mode.

Cons

  1. Multiplayer – Dead Silence

The footsteps in this game are far too loud at the moment and the problem with this is that players with expensive headsets will be able to easily hear you out and prepare to shoot you as you run around that corner or hallway. As of now, dead silence is one of the many abilities known as “field upgrades” the player can get and use a certain amount of times in a game. In essence, it is only a measly temporary boost. If Dead Silence were to be a perk, at least players can have the option to keep it on permanently and sacrifice the use of another perk in the same category, balancing the meta. It is extremely annoying when you’re running around on a small map and all of a sudden, an enemy hears you and already knows where you are before you can even engage in a fair gunfight. So to reiterate, to solve this problem, Infinity Ward needs to make this a perk, specifically a  tier 2 perk so players  have to choose between Ghost (Players are invisible to UAVs) and Dead Silence as everyone uses Ghost as of now, so Infinity Ward needs to give the players an ultimatum. This would balance the game a lot more.

  • Multiplayer – Spawns

The spawns in this game are fine for the most part, but can get really atrocious from time, which has been an issue since the beginning of Call of Duty. It’s weird how they haven’t fixed this issue after all these years but it very much is still a problem. The spawns become an issue when I spawn in and die within 5 seconds, which happens fairly often and makes my deaths seem unjustifiable because I was already placed in a bad position from the get go. I’m not entirely how they would solve the issue, but they should really just emphasize not spawning us around enemies to start off with. Additionally, in bigger maps, we are spawned all the way in the back and have to run for 30 seconds just to get back into the action. To solve this issue, Infinity Ward can just spawn us a little bit closer. In the bigger maps, getting spawn killed isn’t really an issue because the map is so huge and takes a long time to traverse across, so they don’t have to spawn us all the way in the back of the map.

  • Multiplayer – Gun balance

So far, there is only one gun that is a huge issue in multiplayer, and that is the 725 shotgun. This weapon is essentially a shotgun/sniper because of its extensive range. I feel this is a nice vintage throwback to Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2’s Model 1887 shotgun, which was also a super powerful and long range one shot kill shotgun. This gun has infuriated many players as it’s the most commonly used gun. Everyone is essentially running around the map with this shotgun beaming people from afar. There’s no doubt that this gun will be nerfed, but all in all, gun balance is very important to the multiplayer experience because the point is to have as even of a playing ground as possible. So, Infinity Ward has already gotten off to a rocky start in this sector thanks to the overpowered 725 shotgun. They need to nerf this immediately and keep a closer eye on gun balance, and the way to do this is through weapon testing before releasing them because they may still be broken, as is the case with this gun in particular.

Business Model (Thus far)

            As of 11/08/10, there are no real in game micro-transactions for Call of Duty Modern Warfare. There is a single cosmetic pack that is $15 CAD, but with this being the only item available in store, it would seem that this isn’t Infinity Ward’s focus right now and hopefully will never be.

            The area of concern stems from this, however, in that we are unsure if Infinity Ward will eventually flood the game with micro-transactions. They’ve said that they wouldn’t add any, but we as a fan base find that very hard to believe. It’s true Infinity Ward has taken steps to bring back the vintage style of Call of Duty’s by setting the game in a modern day as opposed to the future or past, amongst other small tweaks they’ve done too to make us feel like we’re playing the original Call of Duty’s. To also save us money, they promised to give us free DLC map packs instead of making us purchase them individually or through the Season Pass. So, it would make sense in hindsight that Infinity Ward would not further add micro transactions because they are heavily catering to the fan base by both giving us what we have been longing for and saving us money. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they went back on their word and decided to squeeze every last penny out of us, as that’s what Treyarch did with Call of Duty Black Ops 4 last year anyway. They waited until December to do so and it only got worse and worse as time went on. Although the main difference between Treyarch and Infinity ward was that Treyarch never said they wouldn’t implement micro transactions.

Final Verdict

            Call of Duty Modern Warfare has the opportunity to be the best COD in the past few years, but Infinity Ward must fix the known issues as soon as possible and must be very careful with their micro transactions should they introduce them later on in the game’s life cycle. They’ve definitely taken steps to ease the situation up since the controversial choices that were made during the life cycle of Call of Duty Black Ops 4, which we as a fan base have very much appreciated. But the question remains, is this only temporary as they’re prepping us for a classic “bait and switch” trick as Treyarch did with Black Ops 4, or have they truly realized that it’s about time to right their wrongs?

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