BETA REVIEW: ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ – Tried and True (Xbox One)

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is published by Activision, and developed by Infinity Ward, High Moon Studios, Raven Software, and  Beenox. It’s almost time for the latest tour of duty with the long-standing Call of Duty franchise as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s release approaches. Before deployment though, gamers got to get hands-on experience with much of the multiplayer for the upcoming release. While there was no Battle Royale mode present over the weekend, the beta hosted a bevy of modes for players to sink their bayonets into. So let’s take a look and see what Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta had to offer.

The Modes

Team Deathmatch and Domination

Over the course of the four-day beta, players got to kick the tires on a total of eight different multiplayer modes. With how long it’s been since I played a Call of Duty game, I decided to start with the basics. A healthy dose of Team Deathmatch and Domination began my tour of duty.  Both modes played just as well as you would expect from a series with over 15 entries under its belt. The maps were extremely well balanced. With numerous paths through each map, players could choose exactly how they wanted to approach an enemy position.  Even though both Team Deathmatch and Domination game modes used the same maps, neither mode suffered for it despite each game mode having very different objectives.

While initially these modes were only offered in daylight versions, the beta later introduced night time versions to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta. Bathing everything in the hazy green of night vision, or the extreme shadows of normal vision, this gave the maps a very different feel and increased the challenge substantially.  My tension levels ran high as I tried to spot the enemy; even with the return of the mini-map which was absent for last weekend’s beta, I still struggled to land my shots. This is definitely a mode for those looking for a challenge.

Headquarters

After I played my fill of Team Deathmatch and Domination, I jumped into Headquarters mode. This mode changed up the formula by creating a hard defensible position that both teams fought to capture. Once captured, the capturing team then had to defend this position. This defense could last up to a couple of minutes, provided the opposing team didn’t overrun it sooner. While the defense is going, players on the defending team that die do not respawn until the headquarters goes down. While a team controls the Headquarters, they accumulate points based on how long they control it. Once a Headquarters goes down, a new point is chosen on the map and both teams rush to take over that position and the cycle starts again. The first team to accumulate 200 points wins.

This was easily my favorite mode of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta. The established position being fought over allowed the game to have a more cohesive feeling to the battles, as opposed to the random mayhem that dominated most of my other games. Although I often died during defenses, the brief pause I had to wait before respawning allowed me to gather my bearings before returning to the battle. This was very different from the quick respawning and rush to get back into the fray normally experienced in other game modes.

Ground War

Ground War was a massive battle experience in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta. Pitting teams of 32 players against each other in sprawling maps was an exciting experience. With APCs and choppers being available to players, the battles in Ground War took on a different feel than just a match of Domination with more players on a larger map. The two teams vie for control points until one accumulates 250 points from controlling designated points on the map.

The extensive experience the developers have at making these types of games definitely shined through in this mode. They know how to keep players in the action, which can be a struggle with such huge maps. Allowing players to spawn into maps off an unengaged ally helped shorten travel time back to the fight. What’s more, I never once spawned onto a player just to instantly die, showing the quality of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s ability to determine which players are safe to spawn onto.

2v2 Modes

The brand new edition to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer was the new 2v2 game modes. These pitted teams of two in matches where each player has only one life per round. Once a player falls, they can’t respawn.  This kept the tension high and encouraged me to be a bit more methodical with my approach. These matches played out until one squad won six matches.

There were two different variants to the 2v2 game mode Gunpoint. The first would randomize the starting load-outs of players between matches. This kept a team from being able to dominate a match by leaning on their favorite weapons. I greatly appreciated this decision as it encourages players to experiment, not just in the 2v2 modes but also elsewhere. If you plan to play 2v2 you’ll need experience using a variety of guns, motivating players to use more guns in other game modes to prepare for 2v2 modes.

The second variation of 2v2 in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta started player’s off without any weapons on their characters. Starting without weapons was a stressful notion. At least at first. While the first couple plays felt like a Hunger Games inspired rush to grab a weapon, the terror subsided quickly as guns always spawned in the same spot and at a short distance from the player. It effectively worked as another randomizer as the only real question was what gun would spawn in the spot nearest you.

EMP

EMP was the only mode that I found myself actively disappointed with in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta. While each team is tasked with getting an EMP device to the enemies base and guard it until detonation, I never saw this occur. Since teams can also achieve victory through killing the opposing squad these matches deteriorated quickly into Team Deathmatch games in all but name.

Improvements from Beta Week 1

The biggest complaint from the fan base coming out of last week’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta was the absence of the minimap. I can gladly say that the developers heard the complaints, leading to the return of a permanent minimap in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta. Friendly players are always visible and enemies appear when firing weapons or if a friendly drone is overhead providing reconnaissance. While I always applaud developers trying new things in long-standing games, I think this was the right call. The situational visibility of enemies strikes a good balance between having a god’s eye view of the battlefield and having a match degenerate into utter chaos without any information.

There was also a lot of complaints from the first Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta concerning the inconsistency of spawn points. I must admit I don’t know if I could identify this problem if I ran into it. Where I was spawning seemed consistent and I generally had my bearing as to where I was going.

My Conclusions

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta was a great experience for me. Just as with my recent experiences with the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint Beta, this game’s shooting isn’t my usual cup of tea. The high level of twitch reflex shooters are famous, or infamous for requiring, are fully present in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer. While I initially struggled heavily with my responses to rapidly developing situations, I found myself learning quickly. Before my time was over with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, I wasn’t doing nearly as bad as I did at the start, though I was still far from good.

While all the mechanics are honed to near perfection, at this point it still feels lacking in depth and variety. With the exception of Headquarters mode, every multiplayer option boiled down to kill the enemy as fast as possible. This lack of variety would be hard to keep me coming back for more than a few hours per mode. However, as a series, Call of Duty has one of the largest multiplayer followings in gaming. Given this, I can accept that my opinion may put me in the minority. If Call of Duty’s multiplayer has always been where you thrive, I don’t see you being disappointed with what Call of Duty: Modern Warfare brings to the table. If you are searching for something new and exciting, this game might fall a bit short.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare releases on October 25th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Rating: 8/10  familiar experiences