The recent Gunfight gameplay for the upcoming Modern Warfare got me thinking; is this the big return for Call of Duty? Reactions to the reveal may have been mixed, but Gunfight certainly shows promise. A return to the core of CoD looks to be on the cards this year, with a strong focus on gunplay and lethality. The new engine tech, with its upgraded visuals and animations, has been met with a mixed reception. However, the changes will definitely make the game feel fresher than recent entries. In short, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has the chance to make CoD feel modern and relevant again.
One of the big new changes that is instantly on show is the new animation tech. A far cry from typical CoD, the weapons in Modern Warfare look weighty. I’m unsure whether this will affect the feel of the game, as the reveal didn’t go in-depth on the topic. New weapon sway, scoping-in visuals, and weapon recoil seem to be in play for MW. This could drastically change the way CoD feels, and segments of the community are wary of that. However, even as a champion of that low-latency CoD feel, I believe it’s time for some changes at a core level. If the new MW engine means a different feel for Call of Duty, then so be it. There have been over 10 franchise entries with a very similar gunplay style. Fans of the infamous CoD “feel” may well be disappointed with gunfight’s reveal, but a new engine has been long-awaited.
Engine and tech aside, Call of Duty has tried to change the formula this generation. Advanced Warfare added exoskeletons and jet-packs to the mix, flinging CoD into the future. Infinite Warfare went even further by taking us into outer space, while WW2 tried to re-capture the very beginnings of the franchise. While all of these attempts did bring changes, none really hit it off with the fan base. Advanced Warfare arguably went too far with its movement changes. By the time Infinite Warfare rolled around, fans of the series had already had enough with futuristic settings. Whilst WW2 made a valiant effort to bring things back to basics, many felt Sledgehammer’s efforts went too far, especially before any updates released. With the familiarity of the Modern Warfare setting combined with more substantial changes to the core shooting mechanics, this year’s entry may mark more meaningful changes for Call of Duty.
Right off the bat, Gunfight reminded me of Rainbow Six: Siege. The minimalist UI, new weapon animations and competitive arenas certainly had that flavour. Where CoD in the past few years has borrowed from games like Titanfall, Halo and Overwatch, Siege feels like a much better fit. Jetpacking never felt right on CoD maps, Sci-fi felt too removed from the core of CoD and Black ops 4’s specialists are one of the worst additions to any Call of Duty game. Yes, Call of Duty needs to create its own identity and ideas, but lending certain aspects from a grounded shooter like Siege shouldn’t do it much harm. After all, Ubisoft’s shooter has stuck around for almost five years at this point. It also regularly crops up towards the top of the Xbox Live gameplay charts.
A cohesive experience
Multiplayer aside, Modern Warfare is also looking to unify its other modes. Single-player returns after a one-year absence, along with the yet-to-be-revealed co-op mode. These three pillars can further drive home Modern Warfare’s revival, and if Infinity Ward is smart, that co-op mode will be a new version of spec ops. Anything too fantastical, like zombies or aliens, certainly won’t jive with the tone so far. Where Black Ops 4 feels like three distinct games rolled into one, Modern Warfare will link its three pillars with cross-progression. I enjoy blackout quite a bit, but barely touch the zombies or main multiplayer modes within Black Ops 4. This creates a disjointed game, and I feel as though Black Ops 4 could’ve easily been three distinct $20 experiences. In this regard, Modern Warfare certainly fits Activision’s tried and tested $60 package. However, content outside of that is changing, and hopefully for the better…
The season pass is finally gone! Modern Warfare will deliver a stream of maps after launch that will be free for all MW owners. Yes, Activision will likely find a way to make that money somehow, but it at least unifies the playerbase. Cross-play with Xbox One, PS4 and PC will also help to bring players together. Black Ops 4 is a bit of a mess of different post-launch content streams. It contains a battle-pass-like reward system, along with supply drops, direct DLC purchases and the Black Ops pass. The lack of season pass is the beginning and hopefully, Modern Warfare will address some of the franchise’s other monetization issues.
All in all, Modern Warfare appears to be the first Call of Duty this generation that can truly bring the right balance. The familiarity of the setting and appropriate influences from other titles in the genre, will combine with a new engine and a clear focus. The changes being made to link game modes and bring the playerbase together with cross-play and cross-progression will certainly help. Of course, we can never underestimate the powers that be over at Activision, who have a knack at messing something up with each CoD. That being said, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare definitely has a shot at being the most successful Call of Duty in a generation.