In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, you might not have known that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has sprung a surprise alpha for its 2v2 mode called Gunfight on the PS4. After playing a fair amount of matches, killing and dying repeatedly, we now have our Modern Warfare alpha review (impressions) for you to check out.
First off, the main thing to remember is, this impressions piece talks about the alpha, which in itself is a very limited sample size of Modern Warfare’s multiplayer. There are no killstreaks, no loadouts, no perks, and so on. Even the maps we can play around in are built for the Gunfight (2v2) mode, which is a big departure from your usual Call of Duty map.
While that might be the case in terms of content, we do have a firm grasp now on how movement works, how the guns feel, how the overall gunplay is different from past Call of Duty games, and more. Rather than dwell on what we didn’t experience, or talk about the different maps, we’re instead going to focus on what makes Modern Warfare different from past entries in the franchise, and how it actually plays.
New Engine, No Problem
In case you didn’t know, Modern Warfare marks the debut game of a new game engine for the franchise. I’m not talking about a game engine update or revision, but rather, an honest to goodness new game engine that the studio made a big deal about (understandably so).
On my PS4 Pro, the visuals don’t jump out as something that’ll outright impress anyone, but you can tell it’s a new game engine. This new Call of Duty game engine apparently supports ray tracing (PC), spectral rendering, and other sorts of technical jargon This means that it should look super sexy, which the franchise isn’t exactly known for.
Another thing that people might notice that’s possibly due to the new game engine is how the audio is in the alpha. To be more specific, the gun sounds are on another level in the Modern Warfare from my experience. Each gun has a large, booming sound that you’ll immediately associate with guns, and it doesn’t sound “toy-ish” or rickety like in past Call of Duty games.
Gunplay and Movement Overhauled
Possibly the biggest change ushered in by Infinity Ward is how the gunplay, and overall movement feels and works. On the gunplay front, the guns feel heavy, and have more recoil than your standard Call of Duty game. Assault rifles pack a punch and their recoil shows it as well. Don’t expect to spray and pray like in previous Call of Duty titles. While some might be annoyed at just how heavy and “unwieldy” these weapons are in-game, it is quite a refreshing change of pace from not only past Call of Duty titles, but shooters in general.
In the Gunfight game mode, which is the only one available in the alpha, the maps are a lot more cramped than your usual multiplayer Call of Duty match. Even in Gunfight, you’ll have to fire in bursts if you want to hit your target at a considerable distance. I assume that we’ll have to even be more on-point in your standard multiplayer match where distances play a larger factor.
While the recoil has been upped by Infinity Ward, it’s not uncontrollable, either. Long-time shooter fans should easily be able to adapt, and for the most part, this is a step in making multiplayer “feel” different. What hasn’t changed though, is how hit registration works. Like in past Call of Duty games, it’s still spot-on, and each hit has a satisfying “meat-y” feel to it.
Speaking of gunplay, if you disliked Black Ops 4’s high TTK (time-to-kill), well, that won’t be an issue in Modern Warfare. So far, so good, the TTK in Modern Warfare feels right. While that in itself, is subjective, personally, I don’t feel it’s too quick, or too long. Catching someone unaware usually means they’re dead, but at the same time, engaging someone and getting hit doesn’t mean insta-death, and you can run away if tagged usually.
While the gunplay changes might seem for the better for the most part, one thing that the community might be split on is the movement system. In Modern Warfare (at least based on the alpha), your characters move and feel much slower compared to past Call of Duty games. Running feels slower, there’s momentum swings when you stop on a dime and change directions, and so on.
This translates to the gunplay as well. From my experience, almost every weapon (save pistols) takes longer to ADS (aim down sight) than compared to other Call of Duty games. Don’t expect to just run and gun like in past franchise entries, as running and immediately stopping to ADS when meeting someone head-on usually means you’ll be dead before firing off a single shot. Of course, there are perks to combat these, and given we don’t have perks or loadouts in Gunfight, we can’t say for sure how much this change feels in your standard multiplayer game.
The Dawning of Something…
Like the changes or not, Modern Warfare is the dawn of something new for the franchise. There’s a new game engine, we’re back to boots on the ground, the gunplay feels new, and more. Of course, whether the player base — who’s used to the franchise staples and are usually abhorrent of changes — embraces these changes is something we don’t know until after launch, or maybe until the beta is made public, and we get a bigger taste of multiplayer.
From what I’ve played so far, the changes made are for the better; it’s Infinity Ward bringing back boots to the ground but at the same time, shaking things up to offer players something fresh, which the franchise needs more of given how the shooter fans of today have a lot more choices compared to years past.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare alpha played on PS4 Pro. Downloaded the client for free on the PSN Store. Played solo and with a squadmate. Tried the different guns, and maps. Level progression not available in the alpha.