So far, everything that Activision and Infinity Ward have revealed about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare seems specifically tailored to court controversy. By focusing on the “realistic” grittiness of the single-player campaign, they’ve invited a lot of questions about their intentions with this reboot of the franchise’s most celebrated subseries. Now, they’ve finally unveiled the game’s multiplayer—in the most underwhelming way possible.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s first multiplayer mode, Gunfight, is a weird choice as a first reveal for what will surely be one of the most successful multiplayer games of the year. Gunfight features two teams of two in elimination-based rounds set on close-quarter maps, and all four players are randomly assigned the same weapon at the beginning of each round.
In other words, it doesn’t feel like a Call of Duty mode at all.
During a press briefing that took place about a week before the initial May reveal, we got to play a few rounds of Gunfight. As much noise as Infinity Ward made about tying together all aspects of Modern Warfare, from single-player to co-op to competitive multiplayer, Gunfight feels completely at odds with everything else we’ve seen.
One of the major reasons Gunfight feels like such an outlier is its basic premise. Using the settings from the single-player as stages for the multiplayer makes sense on a narrative level. Pitting four players against one another in a cramped, makeshift death arena makes very little sense from a storytelling perspective. As much as Infinity Ward is pushing Modern Warfare’s more grounded, “ripped from the headlines” approach to portraying conflict, Gunfight makes an almost contradictory first impression by being so arcadey in nature.
At least by showing off Gunfight, Infinity Ward is finally giving players a look at the enhancements made to Modern Warfare’s gameplay. Controllable recoil patterns, more realistic player movement, ADS reloading, and a lack of a minimap all make for the most tactical experience in a Call of Duty game. Call of Duty is—and, to a certain extent, will always be—about running and gunning, but Modern Warfare feels like a slight departure.
Lately, the shooter that’s taking up most of my time is Battlefield V, but Modern Warfare seems to be keeping true to many of the promises that DICE made and didn’t keep. This year’s COD is a slower, more methodical, team-based experience. It’s impossible to say how the gameplay will translate to the game’s more traditional modes, since Infinity Ward has only revealed Gunfight so far, but based on what I’ve played so far, I will probably be switching to Modern Warfare come October 25th.