(I know, you didn’t expect to read about CoD here, did you? We all have our guilty pleasures!) Finally! It’s been 10 years since the last time Call of Duty managed to feel fresh and captivating. I still have fond memories of one sunday afternoon trying out the beta for Modern Warfare 2 back in 2009 after missing out on the previous title and finding it so incredible that- fast forward a couple of weeks and I was running after up prestiges and unlocks faster than a crack addict to his next dose. Modern Warfare brings a mixed bag of emotions, it’s clearly trying to ride the old nostalgic horse but is it enough?
Since the colossal disaster that was Modern Warfare 3, Activision’s approach to the series was to trow as much shit at the fanbase to see what sticks. Directionless, uncharismatic, Shovelware. Modern Warfare ditches out the “boots on the ground” World War 2 setting, the ridiculous power ups and verticality of Advanced and Infinite Warfare, the fish AI of Ghosts and the Battle Royale bandwagon of Black Ops 4 in favour of a decade old familiar approach with a few new twists that not always hit the mark.
The new map mode featuring 64 players is a failed attempt at tackling the Battlefield franchise in it’s own fight. Instead of a Joel Robuchon mash what you get is a scruffy mess that would make Gordon Ramsay insult the bane of your existence. The close-quarters design of CoD gunplay renders itself disappointingly unable to handle long range firefights, with guns proving too innacurate and powerless at such long distances. Killstreaks are all over the field of battle with UAVs, Missile Strikes, Choppers, Planes. To avoid the golden shower of killstreaks players mainly sat on their asses, camping. It can lead to some interesting situations and can be fun for a while but it tends to get boring very fast. It feels like an after- with very little-thought. I doubt any consideration was put into balancing the gunplay for the mode. Efforts would have been better spent doing something else, like creating interesting maps.
I only got to play a couple of them during the beta and they seem pretty much okay-ish. After a couple of rounds I got to know my way around, start to improvise some strategies and flanking routes. It wasn’t long until I was summersaulting my way over random scrubs on the scoreboard. The game probably won’t ship with the next D_Dust or Metro levels of iconic that you can find in other games but the maps available suit the close quarters gameplay extremely well. Nothing memorable but nothing terrible either, they kept on bringing back MW2 into my mind.
The gunplay is still solid. Having stripped the game of modernesque, weird-ass laser guns and all that, Modern Warfare brings back the good ol’ lead flingers. There’s a timeless charm to this kind of metal spewing. Small recoil pattern combine with a very fast time to kill open up the stage for some cowboy-level shit: Entering a room with 4 enemies- trow a grenade, unload your mag on the first 2, bring out your pistol and bust a cap on those unfortunately enough to still be breathing. In those 2 to 3 seconds you get an adrenaline rush few games are able to provide. Weapons feel powerful with the sound effects packing a powerful “unf” to every pull of the trigger. The classic and orgasmic “Tsk! Tsk! Tsk” sound when you hit an enemy reinforces the positive feedback from every connected shot. Gun sounds seem more dynamic than in previous entries with their accoustic changing depending on the environment. A weird comparission kept on coming to my head while playing: Guns in this in Call of Duty are a lot like the cars in the Forza Horizon Franchise: Each one handles with a familiarity you expect even tho they are different enough that you can distinguish and use them according to your taste.
You’re now able to use the environment to support your weapon, which allows you more stability and cover during your shots. This seemingly out-of-place mechanic, mainly used in more slow-paced shooters raised my eyebrows but blends itself pretty nice into the game. A snappy fast animation lunges you into the corner of a building and it allows for smart players to easily and aggressively hold defensive positions.
Grenades got smacked with the glorious nerfhammer: a long fuse makes them a lot more unreliable, easy to escape and it ends up leading to a steep decrease in spam. The famous spawn-trow-grenades-and-hope-for-the-best-before-you-die-and-do-it-again is useless. Yes, shame on me, I tried.
While the gameplay was praised with compliments from everyone I know, Unfortunately, the innate distrust in Activision’s shaddy and shitty micro-transaction shenneningans is keeping most of us at bay for the time being. Recent controversies envolving rumours that Activision will leg-drop loot-box exclusive weapons don’t ease anyone. I can see a great CoD entry in the series that will- once more- be ruined by the corporate greed to snatch a few extra bucks. I’m not holding my breath and neither should you.