I’m really glad I waited until after the end of the second beta weekend of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to write this preview. I didn’t have a good time that first weekend for a few reasons that I’ll get into shortly, but the second weekend was a much better time. The first beta weekend was exclusively for PlayStation 4 players, and the second weekend was for PC and Xbox One players. Not only that, but the second weekend was the first time that Call of Duty featured crossplay between PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, so it was great getting to check that out and see how it all worked.
Let’s get my negative impressions out of the way first. By the time the second day of the first beta came around, I was done playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I had issues with pretty much every aspect of the multiplayer. Map design, gunplay, gun balancing, time to kill; you name it, I didn’t like it. I’ve been really looking forward to going hands-on with multiplayer since I got to check out the single-player campaign at E3, and boy was I disappointed.
I didn’t fret though. I didn’t let it weigh on me (too much), because it seems like Infinity Ward was seriously listening to fan feedback. No, not much can be done on the map design front, but the other things I had problems with were addressed by weekend two. To be fair, I really like the look and feel of the maps. My biggest problem is that a lot of them seem to cater to people camping in corners. Camping, combined with the low time to kill means that 90% of the time, if I entered a building after running out of tactical and lethal equipment and someone was in there, I was dead.
Also during that first weekend I was having an incredibly difficult time controlling my weapons. I fully think that Call of Duty has had a hard time appropriately balancing weapons in regard to recoil, and that a lot of guns are lasers with different fire rates and bullet patterns. I play a lot of PUBG, and I’m used to unpredictable recoil patterns and large gun bounces between each bullet. However, the recoil on guns like the AK in Modern Warfare seemed crazy high.
Also during that first weekend was the first time players got to see what a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare round felt without a mini-map. Turns out, players hated it and Infinity Ward opted to put it back in for the second weekend. Sure, it’s useful to have, but I actually liked it without the map. It forced players to focus on placement and listen to sounds to identify threats, but I also think this led to the camping I was encountering.
Weekend two was much smoother. Not only was I playing on PC, but I was able to play with my Xbox friends! No, they weren’t as precise as I could be, but it was still amazing being able to play on my platform of choice with them on theirs. I’m not sure what will happen with my PlayStation 4 friends, since I could use the Xbox Game Bar overlay to get into an Xbox party to chat with my buddies, but I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes.
Anyway, weekend two saw better recoil patterns, and a ton more modes. Infinity Ward rotated out different playlists other than the static “quickjoin” option that was there the whole time. NVG was easily my favorite mode. Two different maps: Hackney Yard and Azhir Cave were included here, and had players equipped with night vision goggles go to battle on a night map. The real interesting thing here was that laser-sights can be seen by everyone, which was something I didn’t even notice at first, and helped me decipher enemy locations. NVG eliminated some of the camping I was experiencing too, because of the laser sight feature.
Ground War also joined the lineup, which had a ton of players battling it out over domination points in a Battlefield style match, with 32 players going to war over points using weapons and vehicles. This was my least favorite mode, and one round had me dying four or five times before I even saw an enemy. This was exacerbated by the low time to kill, which I’m hoping increases just a little bit by launch.
I also had a great time playing Cyber Attack, which is similar to Search & Destroy, but allows players to revive dead teammates. This gives the classic game mode an additional sense of strategy, without feeling hopeless if a few of your teammates die while you’re working towards the objective.
I was trying not to feel disheartened after the first beta weekend, especially after having such a good time in the 2v2 Gunfight alpha. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare sometimes feels much slower, and requires the occasional bit of patience, but also has opportunities for fast paced run and gun like Call of Duty players are used to. A wide variety of game modes has Modern Warfare poised for a great launch, and with Infinity Ward listening to player feedback, it might have strong staying power over the next few years.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launches October 25th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Preorders are available here.