Jet packs and magnetic wall running boots all tucked away, boots on the ground is back. So is finally Modern Warfare. And I’ve had the great pleasure of testing the alpha and two betas for three weekends in total. So what did I learn about this upcoming Call of Duty game? Will this be a return to former glory? Well, that can only be fully answered when we have our full review of the retail version that comes out late next month. But, for now, we’ll have a closer look at the alpha/betas, giving you our first-hand impressions of what I think so far…
ALPHA – 2V2 GUNFIGHT
Our first look at the new Modern Warfare (MW) gave us the taste of the new 2v2 mode called “Gunfight”. It’s round-based with random weapons in your arsenal. No loadouts, no respawns, no minimap, no killstreaks and first team to 6 points wins the game. The five small, tight and very symmetric close quarters maps are comparable to small paintball arenas, albeit more varied. It’s not your typical Call of Duty experience, but it’s fast-paced fun and very esports friendly– a unique experience within CoD that should be extremely popular on streaming platforms as it’s very straightforwardly and audience/viewer friendly. I’m looking forward to set up private 2vs2 matches, which will ruin more friendships than Monopoly and I can hardly wait.
Overall I had so much fun with this mode and had little to no technical issues other than footsteps audio being a bit all over the place and name tags displaying when out of sight, revealing your position unintentionally. These issues were fixed, but footstep audio is being closely monitored by Infinity Ward and will be continuously improved on.
ALPHA – GUNFIGHT OSP
The same as normal Gunfight, but with a twist: all weapons are pick-ups, giving this mode an old-school vibe. You will always have pistols close to your spawn, but going for the big guns is a risk/reward game in itself. Will you go directly for the big guns and skip the pistol, shaving off a second or two when rushing your foe? Or do you go for the trusted pistol first and risk the ballsy opponent rolling up on you with an AUG to your face? Your call! I honestly can’t decide which mode is more fun, this or regular 2v2 Gunfight.
The alpha was a great tease, but it didn’t let you experience the full re-imagined Modern Warfare multiplayer with its lack of standard modes. This is where the beta came in, to satisfy the masses and cure the itch.
BETA TIME – WHAT DID WE PLAY?
The two betas included a lot of familiar game modes. The beta also included the 2v2 Gunfight modes but since we already got that covered, so let’s move on to the list of the other modes I played in the beta builds:
- Team Deathmatch – Your only objective, find the enemies and shot to kill. Nothing new or exciting really. A standard in any FPS.
- Domination – Another classic. Hold capture points for to win and get annoyed over your teammates who don’t PTFO.
- Headquarters – Hold a specific area until it’s captured. Die, rinse and repeat. It’s more fun than it sounds, I promise.
- Cyber Attack – Similar to Search And Destroy, attackers plants a bomb on the objective to win while defenders will try do disarm the bomb or eliminate all players. Unlike Search and Destroy you can revive your fallen comrades, making this mode a bit more accessible to new players.
- Realism Mode – Stripped for HUD. No mini-map, no hit-markers, no crosshairs. Increased damage. The mode for the hardcore crowd
- NVG Mode – Play the nighttime version of maps with night-vision googles on. A claustrophobic and intense mode as aiming down your laser sights reveals your position to the enemy. Cool concept on paper, but it got old real fast with everything being dark or green. And the NVG really narrows down your field of view. I don’t see this becoming an extremely popular playlist based on those reasons, but I could be wrong.
- BUT WAIT.. THERE’S MORE: GROUND WAR!
Ground War is a massive 64 player mode. Sure, it’s not the first time Call of Duty exceeds their normal player numbers. Last year, the franchise decided to jump on the Battle Royale bandwagon with the Blackout mode that supported 100 players in one lobby. So why is Ground War special? Ground War is a page ripped straight out of EA’s Battlefield playbook, it’s basically a really large Domination mode with all the vehicular craziness. Want to blow people up in the comfort of your own tank? Knock yourself out. Want to flank the enemy as quickly as possible? Jump on my ATV, buddy! Or maybe you just want to dominate from the highest spot on the map with the sniper rifle. No problem, get to the choppa and you can parachute down to the perfect spot.
- If you can handle it, Ground War is the most action-filled multiplayer experience ever in the long history of Call of Duty. This will without a doubt draw in new fans to the franchise and possibly steal some from Battlefield since their latest iteration is really not doing so hot. Battlefield tried to steal COD fans with their Metro-type maps, and COD just returned fire, louder and more deadly. Your move EA/DICE…
I haven’t been this excited about Call of Duty since perhaps Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops 1. The series has felt like a copy/paste job for so many years with the exception of Blackout. So far, 2019 Modern Warfare ticks so many boxes. It’s got cross-play, cross-progress between platforms, a new engine to show off, amazing sound effects and more realistic map design where the traditional three-lane design has been scrapped.
- And let’s not forget about the gunsmith. There are so many attachments, all with their pros and cons. Gone is the pick-10 system, customize like crazy. Go nuts, make Xzibit proud. And as always there’s a lot of perks and killstreaks so you can create your own John Rambo. The beta was capped at level 30, so we didn’t get to try out everything. We’ll get back to all this with our review when we have the full version in our sweaty hands.
The elephant in the room during the start of the beta, however, was the mini-map, or the lack of one, to previse. Infinity Ward didn’t want us to blindly chase dots on the mini-map, so they replaced it with a compass on top of the screen instead. This was not well received by the community and could have been the start of the end for Modern Warfare. Luckily that didn’t happen because Infinity Ward listened to their fans and came up with a good compromise, mini-map was back but with a slight change that we all could live with. The mobs lowered their pitchforks, for now. But Infinity Ward’s work is far from finished.
- There’s a lot of things that needs to be fixed and/or adjusted. Spawn logic on some maps somehow got worse during the beta, resulting in spawn trapping which is infuriating and unfair. Some people were caught glitching under the Ground War map, racking up enough kills acquire the game-winning nuclear missile illegitimately. Again, Infinity Ward has acknowledged these issues and will put the massive amounts of data collected in the beta to good use when squashing these bugs. These are just some examples of what was broken in the beta build.
Some bugs got fixed during the betas, so Infinity Ward definitely showed us that they did pay attention to the feedback on Reddit and YouTube and they took action. And that’s a good sign at least. 4/5 Heckler & Koch MP7’s.