Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Isn’t Being Held Back by the Stereotypes of Its Past
Despite sharing the same name as one of the most popular Call of Duty series, Modern Warfare is distinctively different in almost every way.
For the past few years, Call of Duty has had a bit of a reputation of being a “bro-shooter” or “twitch-based shooter.” There’s no doubt that all of them have at least some fun aspects to them, but a lot of people don’t really take them seriously anymore. With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, it seems like Infinity Ward is trying to put the COD series on the same pedestal that the original Modern Warfare series and Black Ops 1 and 2 were on.
Given the fact that we were so far removed from COD games being taken seriously, I almost had to see it to believe it. Luckily, I got a chance to do just that at a private screening of one of the game’s campaign missions at E3 2019 and now, not only do I believe it, but I think that there’s a possibility we could be on the cusp of one of the best Call of Duty campaign’s ever created.
My demo started on a city street with your character going to make some sort of arrest on an enemy’s van. As you walk forward, two people get out, dressed like civilians. With your pistol drawn and tensions rising, the van screeches off and explodes. We then cut to a couple of action shots on a city block, including one featured in the reveal trailer of the soldier jumping on top of a car and shooting it up with a FAMAS. A couple of shots and cuts later, we move on to what was more than likely later that night, where you, your squad, and the newly reinvented Captain Price start to infiltrate a house.
When this section started, I was immediately blown away by how visually stunning the game is. I know a lot of developers and journalists like to use the term “photorealism” but this is the first time where I actually believe it. Throughout the whole demo I was looking for major imperfections and I couldn’t find any. That’s how insanely detailed and good looking Modern Warfare is. Everything is so crisp and polished that I genuinely felt like I was watching body-cam footage from a soldier. While the game looks absolutely gorgeous it’s not the main reason I loved what I saw.
The infiltration of a house during this campaign mission is where the differences between Modern Warfare and its previous entries become more apparent. Shooting out lights, introducing real-looking nightvision, having the option to kick down doors or quietly open them, and destructible environments were all included in the demo in one way, shape, or form. I even saw NPCs reacting to footsteps in the floors above them. All of the features I just described are things that aren’t normally in Call of Duty games, which makes their introduction all the more special. Now, could this all be scripted for one demo? Possibly. That being said, the way it was presented and the way people have been talking about it online since its reveal almost two weeks ago makes me think otherwise.
Beyond all the aforementioned features, another thing I noticed was the sheer amount of ways you can take down bad guys. Typically in COD games, the player will go through a linear level taking out sections upon sections of bad guys with no difference to any of them. In Modern Warfare, the killing doesn’t seem to be as methodical. Reflecting what I’m sure real-life soldiers do, you have to adapt to your environment and enemies. Is there a guy hiding in a bathroom? Shoot the wall and get him before he gets you. Did an enemy just blast down a door with a weapon? Go prone and shoot him through the gaping hole in the door. Oh, and by the way, leaning is back from Call of Duty: Ghosts and it actually seems like it’ll be useful. Instead of having a small animation when you reach the edge of a wall, your character’s gun will actually move to the other side of the screen so you can hit enemies properly.
After making your way through multiple stories and multiple rooms, you finally reach the top of the building where a woman starts running for a detonator. Of course, she’s dead before she can even reach it thanks to you and your team. And with that, the demo ended. I’ll be honest, I was sitting in the room stunned. Every Call of Duty campaign trope (dramatic shouting back and forth, fast-paced action music, etc.) was gone. I know I said it earlier in this preview, but the demo I watched felt like body-cam footage from a soldier. It felt raw, it felt immersive, but more importantly, it felt real.
Unfortunately, I was only able to see this 15 minute demo so I can’t comment on anything else in the game, especially the multiplayer. That being said, I loved everything I saw. There was not a single thing in that demo that made me worry. Infinity Ward claims that it’s going for a more authentic and visceral experience with Modern Warfare and that it’ll make a critique on the horrors of war. With this demo, it seems like they are on the right track.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare releases on October 25, 2019, and will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.