I have to admit there was some concern with the future of the Call of Duty franchise. Black Ops 4 focused heavily on multiplayer, co-op zombie and the new Battle Royale mode “Blackout”. Excluding the campaign was risky and undoubtedly divided the community. Luckily for us, Infinity Ward not only included a campaign but they improved on the formula by leaning more toward the realistic approach to Modern Warfare, hence the name.
In the campaign, you play as Alex, a member of a special ops team assigned to recover containers of dangerous chemicals used to create a deadly gas. During the mission, your team is attacked by an unknown group that are able to retrieve these containers while also killing members of your team. Alex’s commanding officer then assigns Modern Warfare series fan-favorite Captain John Price of the SAS (Special Air Service as a team leader in the retrieval of the stolen chemicals. This mission will take Alex to real locations such as London and fictional locations like Urzikstan. The story includes a few twists as you hunt down Russian mercenaries and encounter a connection with the terrorist group called Al-Qatala. Your team joins forces with a rebel group lead by Farah Karim in an attempt to bring down both evil factions.
The story is fast-paced and gets straight to the point of each objective. Every mission serves a purpose to the overall plot. You may have heard there are some “controversial” missions, such as when you play as a child or when you have to make tough life or death decisions. I felt these elements were not added for shock value, rather they add to the character’s story. Unlike the previous Call of Duty campaigns, this one has some actual validity in the sense of what one would do to survive and how one would act when confronting a murderer. I applaud Infinity Ward for implementing a quality story and I hope when you play this game you take the time to think about the situations these characters are in to better understand their actions.
The overall campaign experience would feel incomplete if it did not contain visually stunning environments and responsive gameplay. The London bombing mission is frantic, chaotic and intense. You are trying to take down terrorists at night in a busy shopping area with civilians running in every direction. The new “mount” feature is a great addition to the gameplay and especially useful in these situations where the objective is not to shoot anything that moves. You can now mount to building corners, door frames, and low cover points by holding the left trigger and clicking in the right thumbstick. This will allow you to better focus your shots but remember you are not fully in cover. You can still take damage while mounted so use this new mechanic wisely.
Overall, the gunplay feels fluid and reactive. However, I did notice my character’s sprinting ability has been slowed down a bit compared to the previous Call of Duty titles. The campaign consists of 14 missions. Upon my completion, I noticed each mission offered different gameplay scenarios. One, in particular, stood out and in my opinion is one of the best Call of Duty missions that I have ever played. It’s titled “The Embassy”. This mission throws a variety of new gameplay elements at you in creative and well-fitting ways. Telling too much would spoil the experience but I can say that it’s extremely fun and rewarding if completed correctly.
In the multiplayer realm, Modern Warfare has added a new mode called Ground War. This is a 32 v 32 in an urban map with drivable tanks and helicopters. Now if you are a fan of shooters than I’m sure you have seen modes similar in other games but what makes “Ground War” unique is its map design and size. It’s a large map but well compacted in a downtown heavily developed area. There are wide streets, narrow alleys, blown-out cars and open buildings which you can take cover or set up shop to snipe. At the heart of the map is a huge skyscraper in which players can rain grenades and sniper fire from the roof. Once spawned in you will instantly feel like you are in a chaotic war. It’s a feeling that I’ve never experienced in a Call of Duty title. All your favorite traditional modes make their return such as
- Team Deathmatch
- Kill Confirmed
- Free For All
- Gun Fight
They also added a “quick play” option which will drop you in any one of the above-mentioned modes including Ground War. Upon this review, a new mode called “NVG” was added. In this mode, all the maps are played at night and require night vision goggles with realism rules applied. Now I’m not sure if this is a permanent mode or just available during Halloween weekend. There is no Battle Royale mode which shouldn’t come as a surprise since Black Ops 4 Blackout mode still remains popular in that genre.
Spec ops will also return in Modern Warfare, but unfortunately, not all modes are available at launch to all platforms. The new key modes are the following:
- Classic Special Ops
These are co-op based modes with classic special ops containing mission-based objectives and survival being a stand your ground and survive waves of NPC enemies. Survival is exclusively on the PlayStation for a full year. I can understand why exclusivity deals are made but I can’t understand the justification of putting an entire mode behind one of these deals, especially since Modern Warfare supports cross-platform play with Xbox and PC. The sad truth is when this exclusivity deal ends another Call of Duty will have already released and the interest to play this mode will be gone.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is what fans of the franchise have been asking for. Not just for a campaign but one with substance and conviction. Ground War is beautifully chaotic and a welcomed addition to the franchise. The removal of a season pass also removes the fragmentation of the community which has now grown substantially thanks to cross-platform play. Modern Warfare lives up to its namesake in every aspect and offers a content enriched package that checks all the boxes of what makes a game a must-have title.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for the PlayStation 4 provided by Activision.