Modern Warfare had the untested challenge of reinvigorating its multiplayer component, which had become content with tweaking its pick-ten systems and mixing up slightly different weapons. Where each instalment brought new flashy gimmicks, such as exo-suits, new settings and Battle Royales (which I both loved and hated), Modern Warfare feels stripped back and basic. Instead of these gimmicks, it focuses on the most important element of a first-person shooter: the gameplay.
Weapons feels individual and weighty, movement is fluid, and animations are terrifically satisfying. This updated and revamped gameplay is why after 117 matches and near 18 hours with ‘boots on the ground’, I am still having the most fun I have had on a CoD multiplayer since MW2.
Where gameplay succeeds however, other elements do not. With a selection of ten maps at launch, and an extra two added since, the map design is simply put, terrible. Quite often my team and I would be completely unable to budge opposing teams from spots. Although the slower and more realistic pace of the gameplay may have some influence, the maps tend to promote camping, with almost all having popular spots. Of the base maps, I found myself enjoying any which hosted the traditional three-lane design (Rammaza, the new Shootout, Gun Runner etc.). However, several maps sport a more realistic design, which I believe do not work for Call of Duty. Certain maps allowed for widely covered areas perfect for snipers, and quite often whole teams would be pinned into one area, which also calls the spawning system into question. Piccadilly in particular I found almost unplayable on most matches (I have yet to play on this map, since the update was release).
The change in map design brings to light the issue of identity within Modern Warfare’s multiplayer component. It is clear to see that rival Battlefield has had some influence over the game, with the newly introduced Ground War being emblematic of the large teams, bigger maps and vehicles typically associated with that franchise. While I know some friends that enjoyed Ground War, I found myself veering towards the smaller, more contained maps with modes such as Kill Confirmed. I even eventually stopped searching for the larger 20 player versions of TDM and Domination, as I grew further dislike for the larger maps. While the gameplay, I believe, found a healthy mix between both CoD and Battlefield, the map design shows that the two are entirely different beasts. It primarily still feels like a CoD game, but any time the more Battlefield-esque element introduce themselves, the game begins to fail, and I found myself wanting to boot up Battlefield V instead.
While it infuriates in some of its design, it counters this with its plethora of additional modes, such as the immersive Realism, and the intense Gunfight. Even the addition of night-time versions of maps is a nice way to plump up the multiplayer offering, which lead to regular discussions within parties, of what we actually wanted to play.
When we decided what we wanted to play a big focus, of course, are the guns. Each gun has its own levelling system, which unlock attachments such as sights, stocks and barrels as you progress. All attachments have simple statistical effects, which let you steer your gun into a play-style that’s right for you. More so than in any other CoD, I found myself experimenting with different weapons and tweaking them to find the right loadouts for the maps and modes, rather than just sticking attachments on with no concern. The ability to edit your classes during matches also allows you to make any changes on the fly. Where in many other games all Assault Rifles or SMGs are pretty much the same, each of Modern Warfare’s guns played differently, and again encouraged experimentation. With these guns, kills are satisfying, reloading looks and sounds incredible, and even sights have a bigger impact.
Modern Warfare is a packed multiplayer experience, and the best the franchise has seen in years. Since its release I have many late nights wired to the screen, barking orders at my team. While it has many issues concerning its redesign of the franchise formula, I am still eager to get a game in, and for once it has me excited for the future of Call of Duty.