Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s open alpha has been live for a while now, and after spending a few hours with the brand-new 2v2 gunfight mode, I’m incredibly excited to get my hands on more Modern Warfare.
Being a yearly franchise that’s been running for almost two decades at this point, it’s no secret that Call of Duty is in serious need of revitalization to help the series reach the highs that it used to achieve during its heyday. In the months following Modern Warfare‘s reveal, the developers have announced numerous welcome additions, including cross-platform play and the removal of the season pass, which has been a series staple for quite some time. After getting some hands-on time with Modern Warfare‘s surprise open alpha that was revealed at Gamescom earlier this week, I’m feeling good about this year’s reboot.
Gunfight is a 2v2 multiplayer mode that puts players in tight, close-quarters maps with no respawns. The first team to eliminate the other wins the round, and the first duo to win six rounds takes the game. To spice things up, if people are still alive after 40 seconds, a flag spawns in the center of the map and a team must either capture the flag (which only takes a few seconds) or eliminate the remaining opposition. On top of that, loadouts and attachments are randomized each round, so one round might equip each pair of players with scoped Desert Eagles while another will provide players with shotguns or assault rifles. It’s fast, frenetic, and tense, and the mode makes a welcome addition amongst more traditional Call of Duty modes.
Gunfight is the perfect mode to showcase the new tweaks and changes made to this year’s Call of Duty. Being a lightning-fast, tense experience, gunfight helps Modern Warfare‘s visceral gunplay and fantastic sound design shine. The removal of the minimap adds to the stress, forcing you to track where opponents are based on gunshots and footsteps. Mounting corners, a new feature that lets you aim around a corner while still remaining partially in cover, allows you to hold angles and maintain accurate fire over long distances. Each of Modern Warfare‘s small changes to the formula pair excellently with gunfight, and the mode perfectly captures the intense tone that the developers are going for this time around.
What really impressed me after finally getting my hands on Modern Warfare was how powerful the weapons sound and feel. The first time I fired a Desert Eagle, I was taken aback by the huge recoil and loud boom of the gunshot. It was almost as if I was playing Killing Floor rather than Call of Duty. Sniper rifles are an absolute pleasure to use, and shotguns are devastatingly dangerous, especially with the buffed range they’ve been given in this entry. Call of Duty always does shooting and sound design really well, but Modern Warfare might have the best feeling firearms in the entire series by a large margin. Landing a kill has never felt more satisfying.
The maps are all specifically crafted for gunfight. They’re all really small, and while most of them still follow the traditional three lane map design philosophy that has plagued Call of Duty for years, they’re still fresh enough to remain exciting. “King” is an indoor map similar to “Killhouse” form the original Modern Warfare. “Speedball” is an outdoor firing range with tires and concrete slabs strewn about for cover. “Pine” is a forest map with a vantage point overlooking the map on each side. “Docks” features two buildings with a bridge connecting them. A fifth map, “Stack,” is set to be added to the alpha later this weekend, so I’ll provide an update after getting a few games in after it goes live.
Of course, the alpha isn’t perfect, and there are some pretty glaring issues that desperately need to be fixed. Footstep audio is completely broken, which is a disappointment considering how essential footsteps can be in locating your opponents. During my time with gunfight, I’ve come across a few AFK players and rage-quitters both on my team and the enemy team, which is really frustrating given that one player is pretty much half a team. Infinity Ward has acknowledged these issues and is committed to fixing them, and they’ve had a pretty good track record with getting fixes live quickly in the short amount of time the alpha has been available, so I wouldn’t expect these problems to persist for too much longer.
What I’ve played of Modern Warfare so far has me incredibly excited for the upcoming multiplayer beta. Gunfight is fun, but I doubt I’ll stick with it once I have access to the full Modern Warfare multiplayer suite. It’s an excellent mode to showcase everything that’s new, and it’s really helped me appreciate all the changes Infinity Ward has made to make Modern Warfare a thrill to play. I see myself putting a few more hours into this weekend’s alpha and a ton of hours into the full game. There’s still a new map and a special variant of gunfight being added to the alpha this weekend, so check back after the alpha has concluded for more comprehensive impressions.
UPDATE: The fifth map, “Stack,” offers an interesting mix of low and high ground, and while it may not be the best gunfight map in the alpha, it’s not the worst either. “Gunfight OSP” was added as well, a variant of gunfight where each team starts without weapons and must pickup guns from certain locations on each map. It’s a nice change of pace from regular gunfight, and being given a bit more freedom as to what weapons you can choose from each round allows for more flexible strategies. I still think I prefer normal gunfight over OSP, but OSP is a welcome breath of fresh air after hours of gunfight.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be available on October 25 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game’s multiplayer beta will begin on September 12 for PlayStation 4 and September 19 for all platforms.