Throughout this console generation, the Call of Duty series has been set mostly in futuristic times. Even when they went back to WWII in 2017, they went back to the future the year after. Now the developers at Infinity Ward have decided to bring the franchise back to the modern times, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Not to be mistaken for their 2007 hit Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, this latest entry is a reboot with a new story, new game modes, and new ways to play.
No Russian, Except There Are Many Russians
Starting with the campaign, it is quite literally set in modern times, with the first mission taking place on October 25, 2019, the same date as the game’s release. Though the events that take place in the campaign are heavily based on real-world conflicts, you can safely bet that the Russians will be the main antagonists once again. Regardless of that, Modern Warfare’s story is much more grounded than the previous trilogy’s, meaning you won’t see Russia invade the United States Red Dawn style. However, it does open with a terrorist attack in London, and this is just the first of many shocking moments the campaign has in store for you. There’s even a mission where you play as a small child as their home gets invaded.
The campaign has you play as three different characters, but the real star of the show is Captain Price himself. Other Modern Warfare characters make their appearance in this reboot, but they are not the same ones from the original trilogy. The only things they have in common are names and sometimes facial hair. These characters don’t go through too much development, but I am interested to see them more in a sequel or even trilogy. It even ends on a not-so-subtle cliffhanger.
While it’s hard to top Call of Duty 4, I do feel that Modern Warfare (2019)’s campaign is the best one of this console generation. Almost every mission feels different from one another as they incorporate unique elements for each. For example, an earlier mission has you take control of R/C planes with C4 attached to them, and another equips you with a long-range sniper rifle akin to the “All Ghillied Up” level from the original Modern Warfare. My biggest complaint however is that it only took me 5 hours to complete on the Hardened difficulty, and I died more times than I could count playing that. Call of Duty campaigns have always been short, but it’s time for them to be longer. I was not ready for this one in particular to end when it did.
Modern Warfare features a variety of different modes, more than I remember previous installments having. The fan favorite Special Ops returns but in a new way. This time it has its own story where you and three other players are thrown onto a map to fight off AI opponents to complete objectives. This mode is incredibly challenging and very fun, allowing you to use different killstreaks against a large group of enemies. I know I’ve missed using an AC-130.
The two other modes in Co-Op are Classic Special Ops and Survival, the latter of which is a PS4 exclusive mode. I don’t like this business practice, especially if it’ll be PS4 exclusive for a year, just in time for the next Call of Duty. At the same time though, it’s really nothing special. You just fight off a horde of bad guys until you die. The Classic Special Ops mode is already very similar, as your helicopter crashes within enemy territory and you have to prepare for an onslaught of troops. This is frankly more challenging and exciting than Survival, so if you’re playing on a platform that isn’t PS4, you aren’t missing much.
Which reminds me, even though I own an Xbox One X and PC, I have no regrets playing this on a PS4 Pro, as the game looks and runs perfectly. I can’t speak for the standard PS4, but if Modern Warfare looks THIS good on current-gen hardware, I’m looking forward to seeing how the next Call of Duty will look on the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett.
Though Black Ops 4‘s Battle Royale doesn’t carry over into Modern Warfare, a new mode called Ground War makes its debut. Think of it as a 64-player Domination set in a large map with vehicles, helicopters, etc. While this may work for a game like Battlefield, it doesn’t work for a game like Call of Duty, unless you like getting killed on the street at every turn. At least it still runs well despite all the 64-player action.
I much prefer to play the traditional multiplayer modes, which are at their peak in Modern Warfare. Including the traditional Team Deathmatch and Domination, a new mode called Cyber Attack feels like a modified version of Search and Destroy. Players have to plant an EMP at the enemy base unless they kill all the members of the opposing team, except this time every player can be revived. It’s a serviceable mode in case Search and Destroy stresses you out too much… like me.
Speaking of stressful, another new mode is Gunfight, where two teams of two are put on small maps with one life per round. I don’t play this mode as often due to the high stakes, but it’s still a great way to test both your skills and luck.
Though I’m not the best player, Modern Warfare feels like the rejuvenation the series has needed for quite some time. Even after watching multiplayer videos before the game’s release, I struggled to go back and play Black Ops 4 because I just wanted to play Modern Warfare. The gunplay feels rock solid and the time-to-kill opponents has been significantly improved to the point where I feel like I have a fighting chance against a group of enemies. It certainly helps that you can sprint faster and mount your weapons for enhanced stability, which you will need because the weapons have actual recoil this time.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is far from perfect, but it is still the best the series has had to offer this generation. While some of the creative decisions don’t pay off very well- such as the Ground War mode and Russians being the bad guys again- there is still a lot to enjoy with this game. I appreciate how they redesigned the gunplay and brought the setting back from the future into the modern times. I look forward to seeing how Infinity Ward continues this reboot in the next game while also learning from the mistakes of this one. There is a lot of potential here and it’s making me more excited for the future of Call of Duty.