Over the weekend Infinity Ward and Activision gave gamers their first look at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. With every Call of Duty game, the multiplayer is generally the first focus for players. Which necessitates a beta test for the game. The beta lasted from Thursday to Friday. Following that test, the developers will go back and make fixes and changes based on player suggestions. The full game releases on October 25th. Included in the beta were the normal game modes for a multiplayer shooter. The big inclusion was the ground war mode. This was the first look for players at the new game mode exclusive to Modern Warfare.

What did I think of my extensive time playing the beta? In short, the game looks and feels fantastic. I’ve been playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 for almost an entire year now, while that game rekindled my love of the Call of Duty games, it has deeply frustrating issues. Playing the beta for Modern Warfare was like a breath of fresh air. But let’s get into specifics.

Gunsmith Is the Truth

This isn’t necessarily the biggest change to the Call of Duty formula from Modern Warfare, but it’s one that’s simple and complex all at the same time. If that doesn’t make a lot of sense, I’ll explain it. Normally you would just create a class for a multiplayer shooter and pick your gun and different attachments and all that. In Modern Warfare, you change how the gun functionally feels when you stick all these attachments on it. Want to make your AK-47 into an AK-74u? Pick a shorter barrel to the gun and make some other changes and that’s what you get. Gone are the days of not being able to run all the perks and other equipment you want because you need attachments on your gun. You get five slots for the gun to customize it the way you want.

In the beta, there was a cap of level 30, so not everything was unlocked but after using the MP5 for a little bit, most of the attachments were available. Gunsmith looks like it’s going to change the way that the multiplayer feels by not constraining you to just the guns available. This was a much welcome change that makes me excited for the full game to release.

The Regular Maps

There was a four map rotation for the beta for most game modes. Pictured above was the Azhir Cave map. In addition to that map the others were: Hackney Yard, Grazna Raid, and Gun Runner. These maps weren’t really anything to write home about. They had better designs that most of the Black Ops 4 maps but they weren’t amazing. The worst designed of the bunch was Grazna Raid. It was just a camper’s paradise. If you haven’t played any Call of Duty games before, camping is somewhat of a problem for players who don’t actually like to have fun. You get to sit in a corner and just shoot people that come around a corner before they have the time to react to you. This map has close quarters and dark corridors that don’t let you see if someone is hiding.

Hackney Yard was a small map that lent itself to close quarters combat which isn’t necessarily the best for Call of Duty. The others were sort of cookie cutter and I’m sure Infinity Ward was holding off on other maps for the full release. I didn’t get a chance to try out the 3v3 maps for the beta but from what I’ve heard they’re not groundbreaking but still functional.

Ground War Is the Future of Modern Warfare

If Blackout was supposed to pump life into the Call of Duty formula, Ground War is what’s going to do that. Even with the one map in rotation for the beta (Karst River Quarry), this was what I spent the most time on. Ground War is simply the main event of the game. In the Beta it was 32v32. You and your other teammates run to capture and hold points on the map. There are five in total. You have tanks, ATV, and APC vehicles at your disposal. It’s a mad dash at the beginning of the game to capture points. This develops into hard fought battles to keep the points held. In a combination of the best parts of Battlefield and Call of Duty it makes for a long and sweet game mode.

Just stopping and listening to the battlefield noise, you’re greeted with tons of gunfire, tanks rolling, helicopters and killstreaks flying about, and boots slamming the ground. It’s a symphony of gunfire and completely awesome. I was wary of some of the other complaints I had heard from early access players. Ground War assuaged those complaints and more. It was an intense experience that I couldn’t stop myself from putting down. Here’s to hoping the full game has even more maps and functionality for Ground War.

Slowing Down the Pace, But Also Speeding It Up

Battlefield spawns were an issue throughout the beta. In Ground War you can spawn on people who are deemed to be battlefield commanders. These spawns were sometimes misleading as you’d spawn just as they got into a firefight. This leads to chaotic action but also usually a quick death. This isn’t a major issue, Infinity Ward can fix it with the release coming up.

You die incredibly fast in this game. Going from what seemed to be glacial time-to-kill in Black Ops 4 to the lightning fast kills in this game was definitely jarring. I think a balance between the two is necessary. For the larger maps and game modes it was definitely frustrating to die immediately upon sight by the enemy. Then you have to respawn and sprint over a large distance to get back in the fight. Luckily this is another tweak they can make to the game before it releases.

The game’s pace overall is a bit slower than the normal Call of Duty, it’s not Battlefield slow, which is a godsend. These issues that I found with the multiplayer in the beta aren’t enough to extinguish the real greatness that’s in play here. The cross-play function was seamless and it didn’t feel like PC players had the upper hand when I was playing.

Final Thoughts

The Modern Warfare beta was a huge success overall. The game feels fresh and new compared the the recent games in the series. Ground War is likely to be a shot in the arm to keep the series running for years to come. The issues I found with the game were minor and easily fixable from Infinity Ward. Playing on am Xbox One X, there weren’t any issues I found with graphics or performance. The game ran smoothly and I cannot wait for October 25th to arrive so we can all jam some games together. This was a great sneak peak into the game.

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All images are courtesy of Activision and Infinity Ward.