Hands-on with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s intense, gripping multiplayer

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Hands-on with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s intense, gripping multiplayer

Infinity Ward packs in unprecedented weapon customisation, robust multiplayer modes, and game-changing combat

Names are loaded with meaning, and Activision said a lot with “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.” The name invokes Infinity Ward’s sublime Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which ranks among the most influential FPSs of all time.

Activision proved during a recent hands-on event that has more in common with that seminal game than just a name. It aims to similarly move the genre forward with bone-crunching audio and visuals, while doubling down on the weapon and loadout customization that immortalized Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Activision kicked off the event stating their mission — a unified experience for all Modern Warfare players. Season Pass is gone, and instead players will receive a mix of post-launch maps and other content for free. Crossplay widens the base by allowing console players to match up with PC players (with options to customise whether or not you face off with mouse-and-keyboard players).

The promise for a cohesive and intense Modern Warfare experience is enticing, but the proof is in Infinity Ward’s striking gameplay.

Your loadout defines your playstyle

Modern Warfare is a teeth-rattling return to the core gameplay that made COD4: MW legendary. The most impactful change is that now you can mold your weapon and overall loadout to your playstyle preference in their Gunsmith system.

Operators are cosmetic options with eye-catching skins and colourful voiceover (become a doomsday prepper or scrappy resistance fighter), but you won’t be harnessing special abilities with cooldowns. Instead, you’ll burrow into gunsmithing options that let you modify your firearms to an outlandish degree.

Want a shotgun with a sniper rifle scope or a laser-sighted LMG with a three-round burst? Go for it. Swapping between 30 to 60 muzzles, sights, lasers, Perks (quick reload for me!), and more per weapon is almost overwhelming at first, but the stats menu makes trade-offs crystal clear. Maybe that weighty fifth attachment isn’t worth the hit to your mobility, after all.

Customisation expands far beyond guns. Killstreaks return with a cathartic vengeance. Favourites like the UAV, Care Package, and tide-turning Juggernaut return. Rack up eight consecutive kills to unlock new tools like the Infantry Assault Vehicle – a light tank that can be piloted by one player while another unleashes the .50 cal on top. Potent field upgrades like stopping-power rounds and a recon drone to spot enemies are available after enough time elapses in a match.

Player Perks also enable useful passive benefits like tracking the steps of a nearby enemy or retaining credit towards a Killstreak even after death. The breadth of options speak to Infinity Ward’s aim to cater to any Call of Duty playstyle, be it sniping, run ‘n’ gunning, team support, or even camping.

A new level of warfare

Infinity Ward’s obsession with impactful, authentic gameplay drops players onto the battlefield. The Call of Duty series is already known for its stellar production value, yet Modern Warfare improves upon FPS audio and animation in stunning new ways.

The minimap is no longer present by default, tucked away to be earned through Killstreak rewards. Instead, a minimal compass at the top of the screen tips off enemy locations. My eyes remained transfixed on the unfolding action, no longer tempted to scan the minimap every other second. My ears also became more active to gather more info on enemy positions, and were treated by the new levels of gut-punching audio fidelity. Zeroing in on rifle blasts and crunching footsteps make locating enemies feel more earned and satisfying.

Animation improvements also pull players in deeper. More believable recoil makes shotgun blasts feel forceful enough to bruise your shoulder. Dropped enemies toss their weapons aside as they fall, adding satisfying visual flair.

Robust multiplayer mode variety

Activision gave us hands on with a handful of modes from Modern Warfare, ranging from time-tested Team Deathmatches to close-quarters brawls. The highlights:

  • 2v2 Gunfight: One of Modern Warfare’s newest and most addictive modes is also the simplest concept revealed for Multiplayer so far. In Gunfight, teams of two face off in short, intense rounds with cycling weapon loadouts on condensed maps. Wasn’t expecting to battle with just a scoped .50 pistol and a flashbang? Surprise! The result is an exciting, unpredictable, and intimate competitive mode.
  • 6v6 Cyber Attack: A round-based mode where each player has one spawn. Win by planting an EMP device near the enemy’s data center to win the match. The high-stakes objective and emphasis on teamwork makes each exhilarating round pass by lightning fast.
  • 10v10 Headquarters: A king of the hill-style mode where opposing teams track down HQs that populate the map, holding them down to earn points for victory. The constant journey across the map provides an intoxicating mix of wide-open firefights and close-quarter HQ defense brawls. Respawns are disabled for the team defending captured HQs, which makes for intense action when combined with the freshly removed minimap.
  • 20v20 Domination: The biggest match size for Modern Warfare revealed so far features 40 total players. The team confirmed that they are aiming to support over 100 players in this large-scale mode. We played on the sprawling Aniyah Palace – a ruined historical building surrounded by maze-like walls and wide-open spaces. Juggling five control points with teammates makes for a frantic scramble toward victory. Modern Warfare’s Tactical Sprint option – which grants an extra burst of speed while making you especially vulnerable – comes in handy here.

Modern Warfare’s multiplayer showing demonstrates that Infinity Ward aims to elevate the series’ successful core formula to new heights. This offering alone is enough to justify counting the days until it launches on PS4 on 24th October, and we haven’t even played single-player or Spec Ops yet.

Thankfully fans can get their hands dirty with weapon loadouts and dive into the multiplayer beta when it launches first on PS4 on 12th September.

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  • 20v20 Domination! Oh man! Love it!

  • Can’t wait to find out how far they push the Micro Transactions this year! I honestly have not played CoD since Modern Warfare and the business practices for these games are out of control by this point. If it’s not just a €70 purchase for an in game store, which gets stealth released after launch I might check it out. But who am I kidding, we all know what will happen to it I just don’t understand how people can still support this publisher.

    • I bought Black Ops 4 when it was on sale, black friday I think. Have not put in any money after that and still have fun when I play it.

    • Glad your enjoying it! Maybe I’m just an old jaded gamer.

    • Doesn’t matter, because with your purchase you still support Activision. If the customers want to stop these greedy practices, then they shouldn’t buy their products at all. But many don’t care, and so the gaming community gets what it deserves, I guess.

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