There’s a lot of talk in some circles about the quality of modern games writing. Personally, I can’t really weigh in because I don’t know that the writing’s gotten any worse so much as the focus of the writing has changed. To put it another way, I find it difficult to follow most modern game review sites because they’re interested in different things than I am. A site might care deeply about whether or not the latest Dark Souls-alike has an easy mode, for instance, while I’m just concerned about whether it’s the fun sort of difficult. With such significant differences in priority, reviews from such an outlet wouldn’t be of much use to me, so I tend to just ignore them.
With that in mind, it can be difficult to get a solid take on whether or not the latest Call of Duty would be a good time. Some sites are very interested in the campaign’s political messages, for example. That’s not really my thing and I don’t know if I worry too much about what video game people think about politics. Others are generally anti-Call of Duty on principle, but that’s not me either. To put it another way, Call of Duty is a series with a lot of baggage surrounding it for a lot of people, so I think it’s best to try it out for yourself and see what you think. As for what I thought…
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is essentially a re-imagining of 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, likely the most popular Call of Duty subseries. This time we follow several warfighters as they deal with the terrorist group Al-Qalata. It’s a bombastic, cinematic romp through a series of very expensive setpieces. You’ll shoot dudes, hold a key to interact with things, walk slowly as characters exposit at you and periodically do shocking things in first-person to get the usual suspects all riled up. New characters and old team up; I was especially fond of newbie Sgt. Garrick, a Special Air Services soldier who’s prime protagonist material and who tends to be playable in the most interesting scenarios.
It’s that tiny bit more graphic and the smallest bit more political to keep the thinkpiece factories a-churning, but those fundamentals are present and accounted for. It’s the sort of Call of Duty experience you’ve come to expect for years now, and if you’re into it then Modern Warfare’s campaign is absolutely going to suit your needs. Speaking of campaigns, the single-player experience returns after last year’s Black Ops 4 multiplayer-only experiment. Favorite areas included the terrorist attack on London, where you have to battle through armies of fleeing civilians, and a stealth mission where you hide in plain sight in a village occupied by Russians. All in all, it’s a great experience that suggests that Black Ops 4 just might have been better if it had included a campaign.
On the other side of things, you’ve got your multiplayer present and accounted for as ever. It’s the essential low-time-to-kill experience, allowing you to spawn, blast away and respawn as quickly as you can cram Doritos and Mountain Dew down your gullet. Modern Warfare is interesting in that it includes cross-platform play between the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game across all multiplayer modes. It’s a fantastic addition that makes this game a far more enticing purchase in general, since you’re bound to have friends to play with, and it’s also fantastic that you’re able to disable this option. Note that if you don’t use a controller on PC, you’re probably not going to see any console players as the game generally keeps you and your broken mouse aiming away. That’s kind of brilliant, really.
Your typical deathmatch and team deathmach options of varying sizes, up to 64-player brawls, are available if you just want to get some shooting done. Blackout battle royale, sadly, is not present, but new features include the Gunfight mode, a short-form 2v2 setup that makes for very quick and intense matches, and Realism, which wipes out nearly every HUD element and drastically amps up the tension as a result. You’ve also got drastically more advanced weapon customization options, though I found that a better grasp on the basics – map awareness, watching my corners – tended to carry me much further than fiddling with my guns for hours.
On the cooperative side of things, you can play through a series of Spec Ops missions designed for co-op. I found these to be a little underwhelming compared to the hard-hitting campaign, especially given that one set of these missions is a PS4 exclusive because we’ve been doing that kind of thing since 2014 or so.
Presentation? Well, it’s the biggest AAA release of the year from one of the biggest AAA companies. It looks freaking amazing. Everything looks good. Everything sounds good. You don’t need a soul-crushing death PC to play it. It’s lovely. On console Modern Warfare also fares relatively well, though I’d suggest playing on one of the half-step consoles like the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X if possible to get the most out of the game.
There you have it, really. For my money I still think Black Ops 3 is the best Call of Duty has ever been, but 2019’s take on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare certainly ranks up there highly with some of the greats. Captain Price shows up again, you can play with friends (and enemies!) regardless of platform and the digital gunplay is still top-class by any standard. Other people might care about other things. I care about whether or not I’m having a good time. Modern Warfare certainly fits that bill.