Courtesy of Activision

Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” is aptly named: old but new. The infamous first person shooter brings back loads of old mechanics such as killstreaks, frag grenades and, of course, modern terrain. With that said, it’s hard to believe that anything new could be introduced in the series, but since its drop on Oct. 25, Infinity Ward has delivered. Finally putting Activision’s wealth to work, “Modern Warfare” encapsulates how modern gunplay should feel through its photorealism, reimagined gun mechanics, new game modes and a huge world of gun customization. Still, all of these experimental changes are focused on Infinity Ward’s vision to make tactical play style more dominant. Although there is nothing wrong with this decision, it’s constant encouragement for tactical gameplay unintentionally promotes camping and alienates an aggressive play style altogether.

Starting with the good news, implementing strategy is a fun change of pace. Having to check corners before slowly advancing is wildly different from the run and gun of Treyarch’s “Black Ops 4.” Thanks to the reformed gun handling, not all guns feel the same. You can no longer spray and pray with AR’s like the Scar or Oden because it is riddled with recoil. The 3-burst FFR 776, the game’s FAMAS, is able to compete with full-auto weapons due to its precision. The .50 GS, the game’s desert eagle, holds insane stopping power but spam-shooting it will add major kickback, so one must use it carefully. SMGs, such as the AUG and the MP5, might have a faster fire rate but with limited range. Most of these guns sound and feel overwhelming but a fast time to kill makes up for it. If the fan favorite Search and Destroy mode didn’t scare you already, the reimagined gun handling will send goosebumps up your arms.

The game also makes a notable leap in new game modes. Gunfight, Cyber Attack and Realism all break the redundant expectation of recycled content “Call of Duty” has been throwing at us. Cyber Attack is very similar to Search and Destroy where teams must “destroy each other’s data” by planting a bomb at the enemy’s base. Only this time, teams are not on a turn system and players can be revived. I personally like this since I am not that good at Search and Destroy and hate having to sit out for entire matches. It also makes sense for “Modern Warfare” to have another tactical style mode based on the play style it encourages. Realism seems to be their most popular new mode. Players are stripped from all heads-up display (HUD) elements, forcing players to rely more on visual cues. All in all, this makes battles feel natural and immerses players into the beauty of the game’s graphics. 

Gunfight is my all-time favorite mode and is essentially why I bought the game. It is a fast-paced 2v2 where the first team to get to six rounds wins. In any other game mode, people are likely to stick to their sturdy ARs, SMGs and snipers but since everyone has the same loadout in Gunfight, players get to familiarize themselves with the power (and fun) of these guns ranging from kitted pistols to naked marksman rifles. This also makes for a high skill gap. Players’ ability to push or hold back at will and their use of throwables could be the make-it or break-it moment in a round.

Unfortunately, Infinity Ward goes overboard with changes that can render players immobile. Campers are going to be found in any shooter but it seems most players I have encountered, enemies and teammates alike, are at a standstill — and maps are a big influence. Grazna Raid is a congestion of ruined buildings riddled with accessible windows in every direction. We do not have multiple eyes to check each window before getting sniped or sprayed from one of them. Piccadilly, although a three-laned map, really only focuses on the middle lane which serves as a long and wide curving street. Campers practically stay at spawn and by the time you see the glimmer from their sniper scope, you’re dead. In my own experience, spawns haven’t been switching nearly enough as they should. The winner is usually the person who has the first big killstreak, which forces people to prone and snipe back. In the game’s new 20v20 team deathmatch and domination, you would think bigger player count means less camping; but, maps like Aniyah’s Palace have very flat terrain at spawn points and only a couple ATV vehicles to bring you to the palace (where all the action is). The Palace itself has a long balcony on the second floor and the only way to access it is through the entrance stairs. Essentially, whichever team holds the second balcony wins as they can easily spray from above. Infinity Ward keeps three-lane maps all too familiar to the franchise with a map design that makes it easier for people to sit and wait. 

Although the abundance of customization for guns, perks and new field upgrades (classes that can be related to “Black Ops 4” specialists but weaker) makes the player feel in control, more options mean more opportunities for Meta’s (strong tactics created and operated in contrast to the game’s intention). Creative campers combine the perk Shrapnel (one extra lethal frag) with the munitions box (a field upgrade resupplying players), which essentially gives campers an unlimited restock on claymores. Aggressive moves to counter this, such as mobility and aiming down sights, are slower. Attachable lasers only slightly improve the poor hip-fire accuracy. Flanking is soiled with new character callouts like “Enemy spotted!” and “Contact!” which can be heard by teammates and enemies alike. Despite the impressive balance of most weapons, all four overpowered shotguns are amongst the strongest weapons. Reload speed is no consequence to the ridiculous quickness and power of the shot. All shotguns exceed short range and can almost do the same amount of damage at medium range. One of the shotguns, the R9-0 is a 2-round shotgun so if players miss their first shot, they can hit their second. This hinders the use of SMGs regardless of how great they are and gives campers crouched in a corner extra assurance.

VERDICT: Although creative leaps in new game modes and the use of new 2019 technology makes the game worth a peek, Infinity Ward takes great strides in slowing down the pace of “Call of Duty,” which unintentionally encourages camping and makes for bland gameplay.