When I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s alpha, which featured the 2v2 gunfight mode, I loved it, but I was curious to see how the new mechanics and systems would fare in a typical Call of Duty multiplayer environment. Now that I’ve spent a good amount of time with the game’s beta, it’s safe to say that Modern Warfare doesn’t disappoint.
The excellent gunplay that I loved in the alpha is back in full force in the beta with the added benefit of being able to pick and choose whichever weapons and attachments you want to use. Guns look and sound incredible. The game is beautiful and performance seems to have improved since the alpha. Positional audio also seems to be a bit better considering I could actually hear where enemies were coming from, which is a huge upgrade over the muffled footsteps from the 2v2 alpha.
Weapon customization is exceptionally in-depth. The pick 10 system is gone, being replaced with a new system that allows you to equip five attachments per weapon. Every part of a gun, from the barrel to the stock to the sight, is customizable, and there is a huge assortment of attachments to suit your every need. Loadouts can also now be edited mid-match, meaning you can snap a new sight on your M4A1 in the middle of a game if need be. There is a ridiculous amount of freedom when it comes to personalizing your kit, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Modern Warfare’s full arsenal instead of the select few guns in the beta.
Movement is smooth too. Mantling over obstacles and climbing through windows is effortless, and sliding into cover is just as cool as always. There are now two levels of sprinting, the first being a more traditional sprint with the second being a faster dash that can’t be sustained as long. It’s easy to get where you want to be in Modern Warfare, and that’s super important this time around because the game heavily rewards good positioning.
Time to kill is incredibly fast, and being caught out in the open means almost certain death. I found myself utilizing cover more so than I would in other Call of Duty titles when I was playing Modern Warfare, and I wasn’t running and gunning as much as I normally would either. Also, being able to mount your weapon on surfaces to reduce recoil encourages players to hold angles and use cover. This is a slower, more methodical entry in the series, and that alone is enough to divide fans.
What really has fans divided though, is Infinity Ward’s decision to remove the minimap, which has been a Call of Duty staple since the original Modern Warfare in 2007. Now, all players have to orient themselves is a compass at the top of their screen. If an enemy shoots, a red dot will show up on the compass corresponding to their direction, but other than that, you’re not given any extra information regarding enemy positions. This slows down the game’s pace dramatically, and a lot of players have resorted to camping and holding down specific areas rather than sprinting around the map.
Not having a minimap is arguably the largest change Infinity Ward has made with Modern Warfare. It’s a tough transition, but once you get the hang of scanning windows and corners and learn the layouts of the maps, it feels natural. I personally like the change, but there are a lot of people who are adamantly opposed to the idea. The biggest problem with the lack of a minimap is the aforementioned camping problem, which is only accentuated by Modern Warfare‘s map design.
Modern Warfare‘s maps are much more open and vertical than in the previous Call of Duty games. Grazna Raid, for example, is a large urban map with lots of multi-story buildings with windows and vantage points. Hackney Yard is more compact with lots of interiors but also a few open areas. A fast time to kill paired with no minimap means players are likely to hide in advantageous spots rather than actively seek out other players to kill. This isn’t as bad in objective-based modes like domination or headquarters that force players to move to certain areas, but in modes like team deathmatch, people tend to not leave their spots. This leads to a much slower Call of Duty, and it’s one that’s so different from its predecessors that it takes some getting used to.
Once I adjusted to the new style of play, I fared much better. Methodically clearing rooms and efficiently utilizing grenades and equipment helped a ton, and I actually had to think about sightlines and things I wouldn’t normally consider as much in other Call of Duty games. I found my inner Rainbow Six Siege player taking control, especially when I partied up with a squad of friends, which seems to be the definitive way of playing Modern Warfare. Mechanically, the game is still Call of Duty, but the mindset with which you approach encounters and navigating maps is much more Siege than Black Ops.
Modern Warfare is a divisive entry in the long-running series, but I’ve been really enjoying my time with it so far. Of course, the beta only presents a slice of what the full game will offer, and only time will tell how changes like the removal of the minimap will affect the meta, but as is stands right now, Modern Warfare is pretty good. I’m looking forward to the full release even more now that I’ve gotten a taste of what the full multiplayer experience will be like.