We covered the campaign for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in a separate review, so this portion of the review will strictly be covering multiplayer. While the campaign is pretty great, things falter a bit moving over to Call of Duty’s bread and butter. I really like a lot of the new mechanics in this year’s Call of Duty, but everything is outweighed by the rampant camping, low time to kill, and weapon balancing. At first I thought I was just still getting used to the gunplay and maps, but after 25 hours sunk into multiplayer, I think it just has some kinks that need ironed out by Infinity Ward.
Immediately before starting to write this portion of the review I was still knee deep in matches, because I can’t stop thinking about it during my day job. I’m going to use one specific round I played as an example. One map in particular really bothers me, and of course I’m talking about Piccadilly. After getting pushed on by the enemy, we were trapped in our spawn. One road leading to the main square was choked by every player on the enemy team.
Could we go through a side tunnel to escape the slaughter? Nope, there were three enemies in the small room waiting for us. Could we flash them, take them out and get by? Nope, because there were others waiting for us just around the corner by a group of buses. One enemy player pushed up a little farther, inserting himself between both spawn points in the vicinity, killing everyone that spawned on one side of a bus while several other players watched his back. That is until he called in a VTOL jet to take us out from above. All the spawn points in this side of the map were in the open, so as soon as we spawned back in, the VTOL jet took us down. It was an incredibly frustrating 15 minutes, and just highlighted some of the issues that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer has.
On top of spawn logic being broken, almost lobby has about 50% of players running the same weapon loadout: the M4A1 and the double-barreled 725. The M4 is incredibly powerful as it is, and with everyone who preordered receiving the XRK version (an even stronger variant of the M4), there’s no reason not to use it. I’ve also seen a number of people running around with a scope on the double-barrel (what I’ve affectionally been calling a “fudd gun”) treating the broken shotgun like a mid-ranged DMR.
As frustrating as the overused weapon loadout is, and the spawn logic needing work, nothing compares to the rampant camping that pervades Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer. This year’s Call of Duty has a wide variety of maps, but only a couple of them don’t encourage camping. There are pieces of equipment and perks that help players counter enemy camping, but perks have a cooldown and equipment can’t be used infinitely, which means you’ll be running into campers more often than you’ll have opportunities to take them down. No, camping is nothing new to Call of Duty, but to see it used to the extent that players have started to now is disheartening and feels like it’s coming down to both map design and time to kill.
I would have far less problems if things like Dead Silence hadn’t been moved to a “field upgrade,” short use abilities that have a cooldown, or if Infinity Ward would just communicate with their community. Some of the main things that players have been very vocal about haven’t been fixed yet, more than a week after launch. I know that Infinity Ward is listening and taking notes, but some sort of communication needs to happen so we know some of the changes that are coming down the pipe. Where are the weapon balancing updates? Where is the communication about footstep volume, or better ways to counter camping? These are things that would put my mind at ease moving forward, because I’m tired of using and dying to broken weapons.
But no, instead of communication, we get a handful of updates that take maps out of rotation that I actually enjoyed playing. I really like the move away from the three standard lane maps that Call of Duty players are used to. It encourages new playstyles, and more determinate plays. After a few days, maps were moved to different playlists, NVG maps were moved to “realism” (a mode with absolutely no HUD or point indicators), or some were moved to bigger 20 man modes. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Battlefield franchise, so I’ll stick to the 6v6 modes, and I really hate that I’m limited to just a handful of maps.
Because of map design though, the camping just exacerbates the problems that a lot of players are feeling. If I’m going to have a bad time, I’d at least like to play a few more maps. Instead, I’m groaning when I see all but two maps show up in a match. For whatever reason, the map voting system has been removed here. Probably to keep matches full, and so players won’t quit if the vote doesn’t go their way. This is a change I’d be 100% okay with, if they put some of the maps I really enjoyed, like Arklov Peak back in the 6v6 rotation.
It’s doubly frustrating when this is Infinity Ward’s focus. Instead of reducing the 725’s range, or switching up perks and Field Upgrades, playlists were their focus for the first week. The challenge system is different this time around, which is great, but none of them are tracking properly. Instead of fixing that, playlists are being added or removed. I know these things are coming, but here I am complaining that I just want some damn communication.
Luckily, there are some standout maps and modes that make everything worth coming back to in Modern Warfare. Gunfight is the real standout here, and something I’m really enjoying. Two teams of two take turns in a single life mode battling it out with the same loadout of weapons across teams. It’s the first team to six, and the matches are often as frantic and frenetic as I’m used to from Call of Duty. There are a couple dud maps in Gunfight’s rotation, but the gameplay here is so good that I don’t even mind playing those.
Then there is Ground War. It’s not a mode I really enjoy, but I can see the appeal of the big open map with lots of nooks and crannies to fight in. It’s basically Modern Warfare’s answer to Battlefield’s Conquest mode. Ground War is 32v32, and it is chaotic. Vehicles spawn around the map for players to take to the skies or drive into battle. Most of these matches end up with a large number of snipers on rooftops, but I often just adapted here and ended up having a fun time sniping. If the enemy team captures all the points, your team has about 45 seconds to capture one, otherwise a tactical nuke ends the round (this actually happened to me earlier tonight).
Here’s the thing though, I can sit here bitching and bitching about all my problems with Modern Warfare’s multiplayer problems. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it is damn fun if you’re willing to use one or two weapons. Hell, having problems taking down a guy with a riot shield? Plant a claymore in front of him and shoot it with your weapon. Each weapon has a metric ton of attachments and unlocks that players can earn that affect how every gun controls that you’ll spend a lot of time in the menus messing with your weapon for your perfect loadout. No, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer isn’t perfect, but the core gameplay here is so good that it’s pulled me away from PUBG the longest than any other game.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a PC copy of the game provided by the publisher. Purchases are available here.