Before Call of Duty: Modern Warfare hits store shelves on October 25, Infinity Ward has released the Modern Warfare beta on PS4 this past weekend. We’re fortunate to have played the game a lot — enough that we’re confident enough to weigh in on our Modern Warfare beta review (impressions, but you get what we mean).
Note that we’re only going to be talking about the available modes, weapons, perks and the like, so this impressions piece isn’t an actual review of the multiplayer mode, since one perk, one equipment, etc., can and will change the gameplay experience drastically. But for the most part, we’ve played enough of the beta to weigh in on the gunplay, actual combat, and list down what we like and didn’t like so far.
The first thing you’ll notice if you played the Modern Warfare beta is, it’s a lot slower than what we’re used to in terms of Call of Duty multiplayer — at least compared to the ones we got the past few years. Now, I’m not referring to the game not including boost jumps, wallrunning or whatnot, but the overall feel, movement, feels very weighted, though not clunky. It does take some getting used to, and while some might not like how slow it is, it fits what Infinity Ward is aiming for, which is more grounded warfare and be a bit more realistic than the past titles in the franchise.
Of course, there is a big factor that changed due to how slow the movement and even aiming down sights (ADS) has become, and that’s gameplay pace. Playing through the beta, it’s hard to just run and gun and do well like in previous Call of Duty games. In Modern Warfare (at least in the beta), you had to pre-aim (meaning walking while aiming down sights) to offset the slow aim down sight time, and the game has an overall feel of rewarding those with more passive play styles.
For now, it’s up in the air whether this move by Infinity Ward will pay off and whether die-hard Call of Duty fans will embrace it long-term. What I can say is, it’s something that does take some getting used to, and there is still an element of run and gun element in the game, though it’s a lot more deliberate now.
Setting Up Your Tent
Leading up to the “more deliberate” play style we mentioned above is how the game seems to favor guarding territories (read: camping) above all else. Putting in the Restock and Sharpnel perks, you can make sure an area is safeguarded from intruders. Couple that you can mount weapons on walls, ledges and such to significantly reduce recoil, and the slow ADS speed, and well, you get the idea.
Not to say that camping is entirely bad. I’m a firm believer that camping is a legit play style, though one that relies less on reflexes and more on catching enemies unaware.
That said, camping might get you kills but it won’t win you matches — at least in objective-based modes. However, based on my time playing, a lot of people didn’t really care that much about winning, which is par for the course when it comes to Call of Duty games.
Another thing worth mentioning that has significantly affected gameplay is how killstreaks have replaced scorestreaks. In the beta, attacking objectives will get you score, which is useful in placing higher in the in-game scoreboard, and that’s basically it. You won’t get nearer your killstreak reward, which means that less and less players are willing to give up their life to cap a flag, guard an objective and such.
While there will be a perk that lets players gain killstreak rewards by chaining points (called the Point Man perk), I do believe players who want to go after objectives shouldn’t be penalized by needing to have one of their perk slots allocated just for it. This is one of the cases where I hope Infinity Ward checks their data,and does something about it since we don’t need more hindrances for people to not go after objectives, right?
Gunplay on Fire
While this Modern Warfare beta impressions piece might have focused on some of the negatives so far, the game does nail a lot of things right as well, and chief among ’em is the gunplay. In the beta, the gunplay feels very, very satisfying. Bullets hit with a meaty thud, grenades and claymores explode in a satisfying way. The time-to-kill (TTK) is also in a very good spot too. It’s not as drawn out like in Black Ops 4, and it doesn’t feel too fast that you can’t escape enemies if they catch you, either. Possibly the two most important things that devs have a hard time getting right in multiplayer shooters, Infinity Ward managed to nail ’emstraight away.
Another thing that the beta did well is how fantastic the audio work is. Save for footsteps (which is something Infinity Ward has confirmed is being worked on), the gun sounds, explosions, and the like, all sound fantastic. Dare I say it, I think it might have the best gun sounds in any Call of Duty game to date — at least in my opinion.
The gunplay, TTK, and audio design all melds with the recoil system that Infinity Ward has excellently implemented in the game. While we didn’t get to try out all the guns, the ones in the beta felt different from each other, and each gave a nice kick when it comes to recoil, too. Once you’ve grown accustomed to its recoil though, getting kills with that particular weapon felt very satisfying.
If the beta is any indication, players will have a lot of fun understanding and mastering the recoils of each weapon. Not only that, but Gunsmith is another addition that should be the norm in all Call of Duty games moving forward. If you thought you could customize guns before in past Call of Duty games, you haven’t seen nothing yet! In Modern Warfare, each gun slot (barrel, grip, sights, etc.) can be customized with different parts. For example, you can slot in a muzzle break for the barrel, or put in a tactical suppressor, and each one brings in different pros and cons to the table. What’s interesting here is, two players can be using the same weapon but each one can feel completely different due to the attachments they’ve slotted in. There are literally hundreds — if not thousands — of combinations players can do for each gun.
Call of Battlefield?!
In the Modern Warfare beta, Infinity Ward unveiled the studio’s new large scale take on Ground War. In previous COD games, Ground War meant 9v9 matches. Well, in Modern Warfare, that jumped to being 32v32 skirmishes which even included vehicles!
Anyone who’s ever heard of DICE’s Battlefield franchise will immediately feel familiar with Infinity Ward’s take on Ground War, and it doesn’t shy away from it, either. There are five capture points (like in Battlefield’s Conquest game mode), there are vehicles, you can spawn on your capped flag or squadmate and so on. There are a lot of similarities to the Battlefield franchise, though I do admit, it feels not as balanced as DICE’s offerings (which is understandable since this is the Call of Duty franchise’s first take on large scale warfare), though it’s off to a good start.
From what I played so far, Ground War could be something truly special for the franchise, save for a few gameplay tweaks and such. That said, Infinity Ward should be applauded for trying something new and as ambitious as this. Once the final game is out, I can see myself jumping into the mode to break the cycle of playing 6v6 matches and whatnot.
Gunrunning Made Easy
While there are some parts of the beta I’m a bit worried about (spawns, enemies indoors can’t properly be seen, etc.), I’m confident Infinity Ward can iron these kinks out in time for launch. Hey, this is why betas are rolled out in the first place, right?
Save for those though, the studio has made some bold moves that I’m hoping will pay off in the long run. I’m cautious but optimistic in what I’ve played so far, and with a few nip and tucks, Modern Warfare could be one of the best Call of Duty multiplayer experiences we’ve had in a long while.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta played on PS4 Pro. Access provided by Activision. Modern Warfare is set for release this October 25 on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.