If you haven’t heard of the Call of Duty franchise by now, you must be living under a rock with dial up internet. It has pretty much been a staple in the gaming community since its initial release in 2003, which was only for PC. It would take another year for it to finally hit the home console systems, which at that time were the Playstation 2, Nintendo Gamecube, and the original Xbox! Crazy to think how far we have come in two generations of console life cycles, and that really shows off with this latest installment of the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I have played most of the games that have released for home consoles, but really got away from the series when it went to the futuristic warfare. I was a huge Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 player but was sad when they went the world war route with the last two installments of that series. I really feel with Modern Warfare, it will bring back the fans of pre-Black Ops and fans of Battlefield.
Title: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Developer: Infinity Ward
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: October 25, 2019
Game Provided By Activision for the Purpose of This Review
The name should give it away, but in case you didn’t know, the COD series finally returns to its Modern Warfare roots! When I heard that COD was returning to the modern series, I instantly got excited for it. After playing through the Alpha and Beta, I was sold to the idea that I’d be going back to a franchise that I enjoyed so many years ago. I know most of you are here for my thoughts on the multiplayer (MP) experience, but I am here to tell you, the campaign is not to be overlooked! For fans of the campaign side of this series, Captain Price makes his triumphant return and is now voiced by actor Barry Sloane, who does an amazing job with the voice acting. Overall, I felt the voice acting was spot on. It never felt like it was just being read off a script with the actors going through the motions. They felt engaged and their voice emotions were on par with the actions and events their characters were dealing with. The campaign is an amazing rollercoaster ride of emotions that I thoroughly enjoyed and was always wondering what was going to happen next!
Before you can even jump into the campaign, you are prompted with a screen that warns of the mature content of the game. It instantly reminded me of the mission “No Russian” from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In that mission, you play as an undercover CIA agent who participates in a terrorist attack at an airport in Moscow, Russia. Before the start of that mission, you were prompted with a screen explaining the severity of it and could skip the mission all together without penalty. That was then, this is now, and I am glad Activision did it because there were a few times I was even shocked with the “realism” of the game and the things my character, at the time, were a part of or had to endure. This shouldn’t take away from how great the game is, but it’s a nice heads up to those that are unaware of the sensitive nature of the game.
The campaign starts with an edge of your seat cinematic clip that really helps set up the next few missions and all the hell that’s in front of you. From “going dark” and using night vision goggles as you stealthily complete your objective, to standing in the middle of chaos in downtown London having a hard time telling who is civilian or the enemy, this game has it all! There were, at times, a bit of confusion figuring out exactly what I was supposed to do, but I feel like that is the nature of the game. Events that happen aren’t supposed to be clear, cut, and dry and sometimes it takes a moment or two to figure out the exact objective, but I enjoyed that aspect. The locations, landscapes, and non-playable characters (NPCs) of the world that you embark on throughout the story, look absolutely amazing. I would find myself looking through a sniper scope checking out the scenery off in the distance just to see how it looked, and then using which way the wind blew the grass to determine how to take my shot. I say that just so you can understand how great the game looked and how much detail went into the surrounding environment.
During the start of a mission, I found myself watching two NPCs hammer out a few concrete blocks to make a hole in a wall to use in an upcoming ambush attack. Adding these details, along with how great the game sounds, you really feel immersed in the environment while playing through the story. Again, I know a ton of people buy this specifically for the MP, but fans of the Modern Warfare series will love the campaign and without spoiling it, recognize a few characters that pop up or are referenced throughout. Overall, I really enjoyed the campaign and really with one good sit down gaming session, you could have it completed. It took me around 6 hours, and that was normal difficulty on a PlayStation 4 Pro.
Alright, time for what everyone has been waiting for, the MP part of the review! Full disclosure, I’m not some super badass that has a stellar kill to death ratio (KDR). I’m happy if I finish with a 1 KDR, and for the multiple hours I’ve sunk into MP, that’s about where I’m at. For the most part, I have really enjoyed my time spent playing MP. There are a few issues that can make the experience a tad bit frustrating, but overall, I feel it is a very enjoyable time. I can’t start talking about MP, without talking about how incredible it is to have cross play in this game! It’s very easy to play with your fellow friends playing on PC and Xbox One. All you must do is add each other as friends on your Activision account, which can be done in the MP section of the game. Cross play is something you can turn off if you choose, but I will say, it even goes one step farther. If you are worried about PC players that use keyboard and mouse, you can choose to remove that from your cross-play experience. For example, me playing on PS4, could have it set up to play with Xbox one players and PC players that are using a controller. I have it set to play with everyone and I haven’t found this to be an issue with any certain player.
Jumping into the MP section of the game, there are a ton of game modes that is sure to tickle anyone’s fancy. Team Deathmatch, Cyber Attack, Domination, Search and Destroy Headquarters, Kill Confirmed, Realism, and NVG (Night Vision Goggles) are all 6 vs 6. If that isn’t enough for you, there are also 12 vs 12 versions of Team Deathmatch and Domination and for all you Battlefield lovers, there is a mode called Ground War, which features 2 huge maps with vehicles, and is 32 vs 32! Let me tell you, this game mode is insane but a ton of fun. My only gripe is that they let the tanks reload way too fast which makes them more powerful than they already are. If they can tweak that, this would be an even better game mode than it already is. For those of you looking for something not as player crazy, Gunfight is a new mode to the Modern Warfare series which is 2 vs 2. It features round based matches with rotating weapons and very short matches. Communication is key in this game mode, so I would recommend playing with a friend that you can talk to. I played both ways and it seemed so much easier having my teammate call out locations of the enemy!
Cyber Attack is another new mode to Modern Warfare. It pretty much plays like Search and Destroy, which is where one team is trying to plant a bomb and the other is defending, but with Cyber Attack there are revives and both teams are trying to locate the bomb and plant it. This was probably my least favorite out of the new game modes to the series, as I am not also a fan of Search and Destroy. I don’t think there is anything wrong with these game modes, it’s just not my cup of tea. The last new game mode to the Modern Warfare series I want to talk about is Realism. It also comes with a nice twist, night mode. Realism is a team deathmatch mode, with standard health and increased headshot damage. It also takes away the HUD (heads up display), unless a killstreak that utilizes it is used (UAV, personal UAV, advanced UAV). It really slows the pace of the game down and I really loved that about this game mode. It really suited my playing style and I found myself getting better the more I played. The night mode of realism is super sweet! There are certain buildings where you can turn the lights on and off and that can really blind you if you have your night vision goggles on. It does take some time getting your eyes adjusted to playing in this mode, but I found myself really enjoying it. It was a nice switch up from the run and gun modes.
For you long time fans of the series, you’ll be surprised to know that there is no longer Prestige mode. I am actually a fan of this because I tend to play better with guns that I like to use. I hated to prestige and then grind out again for a favorite gun to use. What Activision is using to replace the Prestige mode is what more studios are leaning towards, and that is a Season Pass system. Ranks 1 through 55 are considered enlisted ranks. Each time you level up, it unlocks new weapons, grenades, and equipment you can use. Each weapon has a level that will unlock new equipment that can be used with that weapon. There are also camos you can unlock for your weapon and these are unlocked by completed various ways of killing. Examples are hip fire kills, kills with no attachments, mounted kills, double kills and other various way. Once you hit rank 56 you will be considered in the officer ranks. This is where the seasonal pass kicks in, which will be ranks 56 though 154. Each new officer rank will unlock a challenge and once that challenge is completed, that will then reward you with a medal ribbon. Every time you complete 10 challenges, that will reward you with a season emblem. From my understanding, every new season will reset each player back to rank 55 and new challenges and rewards will be ready to unlock with each new officer level achieved through multiplayer.
As far as loot boxes and microtransactions go, there really isn’t any. The only think you can purchase in the COD store at the time of this writing is the Call of Duty Endowment Defender Pack. It will cost you $9.99 USD and includes the defender pistol cosmetic weapon variant, weapon camo, watch, weapon charm, weapon sticker, 2 environment sprays, 3 emblems, and 2 calling cards. According to the description, 100% of the proceeds received by Activision go directly to helping the veterans in the U.S and U.K find high quality civilian jobs. As a son of a father that put 20 years into the military, this hits close to home. I must applaud Activision for making this the only additional purchase at launch of the game.
Besides the campaign and multiplayer, there is one last mode in the game, Co-Op. Now I thought it meant I’d be able to play campaign story missions with friends, but sadly that is not the case. I do understand because the campaign was built around playing as one character and that would be tough to incorporate there being two of you, but I feel like it would have been fun to run the story with a friend. There are however, four missions you can play with three other players in a Co-Op mode called public match. They are loosely tied to the campaign missions, so I suggest playing that first before jumping into these. I also recommend playing with people you know or have a headset, as I feel you get the best experience from that.
There are different classes you can run, and I found when I played with randoms, everyone selected the same class and it would hinder how far you could progress in the mission. Communication and different roles are key if you plan on making it to the end of these missions. It’s a nice change of pace from playing MP, while still getting to enjoy the game with friends. The other two game modes in Co-Op are Survival and Classic Special Ops. Survival is unfortunately a PS4 exclusive until October of 2020, which I completely disagree with this, but more on that later. Both of these modes pretty much have the same mission, except Survival is a let’s see how many rounds I can last compared to Special Ops that does have an end. The only other difference really with these modes, is that in survival mode is rotated between a few maps and you earn money for kills that can be used to purchase new weapons, kill streaks, grenades and ammo. In classic special ops, you start off with a pistol and pick up different weapons that are laying around the map and from the dead bodies of the enemies you kill. Also, between waves, a helicopter will drop in random killstreaks that can be picked up and used. Again, the co-op section of this game does add some more game value, but I really feel can only be enjoyed with a group of friends because communication and running different builds is the key to success.
While the game has enjoyed huge success in its first few weeks of launch, it has had some controversy. The game is currently not being sold in Russia on the Playstation store because of the way Russians are portrayed in the game. Some users have accused Infinity Ward of spreading ‘American propaganda’ and trying to rewrite history. It has to do with a campaign mission titled ‘Highway of Death’ that is loosely based on the real Highway of Death which is an 80 mile stretch of road located in Kuwait and Iraq. The game has also caught slack for including a killstreak in multiplayer that uses white phosphorus to kill your enemies. Many feel that such a cruel chemical in real life, which is known to cause terrible and life altering injuries to the human body, should not be in the game as a glorified killstreak. The game also has a few issues affecting the multiplayer experience. Between overpowered weapons and spawn camping, there have been a few games where it has been completely one sided and not enjoyable at all. Like I had said earlier in this review, there have been many updates to this game and Activision is listening to the community and fixing the issues that are plaguing the experience. While it does get frustrating to be a part of those matches, I have also had more matches that have been full of great game play and both teams have been in it till the very end. The multiplayer experience, I feel, will only keep getting better with time as Activision is very active in the community feedback and making the necessary adjustments.
Before I wrap this up, there have also been changes to certain game modes that can be played in the game. When I started writing this review, there was a realism and night version of that in the playlist. With the last update, those have been replaced with shoot house and hardpoint. Shoot house is a new three-lane multiplayer map that puts you in real close quarter combat. The few games I played, I found myself in the action almost right away and enjoyed it. Hardpoint is a capture and hold the zone mode and has been in the COD franchise before. So it appears that modes outside the standard ones will be coming and going as Activision sees fit. I do like this, as it will help keep things fresh.
Overall, I really have enjoyed my time with this game. The campaign was very enjoyable and definitely worth a playthrough. The voice acting was spot on and the visuals were amazing. Obviously, the multiplayer is the bread and butter of this franchise, and I have really lost track of time during my gaming sessions playing this. While it does have its flaws, I find the positives outweighing the negatives and with all the updates that Activision has been pumping out, the negatives will soon be an afterthought. Co-op is a nice change from the craziness of multiplayer and is a fun time with 3 friends. If you had taken a break from this series like I had with all the futuristic hoopla, then this is the game to bring you back to the series. It has got all the Modern Warfare you loved from the prior series with much better visuals and sounds. So crawl out from the rock, update that dial up internet, and be ready to sink a ton of time into this amazing game!