Modern Warfare Character Animations Produce Weapon Sway, Affecting Lasers and Giving Away Player Position

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If you’re rocking the laser attachments in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you might want to see this. It seems your character in-game has an involuntary animation where they fidget a bit, and if you’re using the laser, this could give away your position. Check out what we mean below.

As you can clearly see in the video there is actually an insane amount of character sway compared to what players see on their screen. While the one taking aim appeared to have had a steady shot, in reality from the view of other players, this “steady” aim is actually all over the place. By our testing, the sway leans more right rather than left. Knowing this we then tested from different angles and found that you are less likely to have your position given away when you have a building to the right of you since drift is blocked by surrounding structures.

So why is this occurring? The answer very simple, as with the new rework of character animations Infinity Ward wanted to offer something more realistic and natural.  They spoke about this in a past blog post, detailing what they call “Active Idle.”

We developed a new level of model fidelity,” Grigsby tells us: “Back in the day, we saw a lot of idle [animations] that moved more like you were on the deck of a ship, swaying back and forth. You don’t usually stand still in Modern Warfare, but when you do, we wanted to make sure it looked natural; real quick movements using your muscles. We call this the ‘Active Idle’. When you go up the stairs, we added a bit of movement on the weapon to make it look like it’s not bolted to the camera. When you look around, we wanted to do a little bit of leading with the head, and then the gun travels behind. Our previous Call of Duty games had a bit of that, but we’ve actually deep-dived into it this time around.”

The problem is, whether it be intentional or not, as shown in the video above, this movement doesn’t translate to what the player sees. Typically there is a difference between what the client sees and how the severs interpret it for everyone else. It’s why when you shoot, bullet holes don’t always appear for other players or it is often that it looks like a player is shooting elsewhere.  Make no mistake that that doesn’t affect player’s hitboxes (from our testing at least), though how net code is handled and depending on what packages get sent could potentially play a role in that. I only bring this up as an example because while aiming appears off for some, it shouldn’t affect the overall gameplay. However, this is a different story when players have a laser sight equipped. While I don’t recommend one in the standard day matches, the night variants of maps have it as a preset attachment. This proves to be problematic as you want to be as stealthily as possible during these matches, and the laser sight works against you in more ways than you think. Basically some of those moments where you asked how a player knew you were there can be explained by this. Not all of them, but some.

And we believe this may, in fact, be a bug, as with past Call of Duty title’s the would generally halt, or bring the characters animations to a minimum when a player would ADS. We ran some tests on some of the past iterations and actually found the only other (to our knowledge) exception to this is Call of Duty: WWII, which shares similar character animations to Modern Warfare. You can watch the video below, do note that since I didn’t own Black Ops 4 or Ghosts, they were omitted from this video and breakdown, along with anything before Advance Warfare.


Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Character animations are noticeable here. You can see movement being made from both the lower and upper body of the character. t’s not drastic, but it is there. However, once you ADS this animation halts and transitions into the weapon as there is slight up, down, left, and right sway. You as the player can see this, enemies cannot.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 – There is minor character movement from both the perspective of the player and others. It’s there during the standard animation and also there when ADS.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – The idle animation here is kept at a very minimum level, mostly seen around the shoulders and arms. We believe there is some movement sway to the character while ADS, but it’s very minimal. From the player perspective, it’s visible, from others not so much to really notice.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remaster – The characters in the remaster actually have the most idle animations out of any COD we tested, backing up the claim that it looked like you were on a deck of a ship. It’s excessive, however, it immediately goes away once the player takes aim. This reflects from all viewpoints, the player, and other players. It’s not the most realistic of the bunch as there should always be some movement, but it does at least reflect accurately across all players.

Call of Duty: WWII – Much like Modern Warfare 2019, WWII has plenty of character movement prior to and after ADS. It remains mostly the same throughout, except for head movement wherein no ADS stance the character’s head will sweep left and right, this changes as they now sweep up and down. From the player perspective this isn’t noticeable, and in ADS, like COD4: Remaster it’s not even there. Other players do notice it, but seeing that there are no laser sights it doesn’t have an impact on gameplay.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – We’ve already seen this in the above video, this is just comparing it next to the others so you can get a better idea of why it’s an issue.

While it does make sense that there would be this difference because of how the character animation work, it’s frustrating as it is something the player believes that they have control over.

We hope this does get resolved in later patches, next I will be looking at an article we published a bit ago concerning player visibility and how it works in Modern Warfare.