Published on September 22nd, 2019 | by Sean Warhurst
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta Impressions
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta is now open to the public after last week’s closed Beta and this week’s two days of PS4 exclusivity, giving fans the opportunity to dive in and experience Infinity Ward’s latest effort firsthand.
After playing through what’s on offer over the last two weekends, I’m cautiously optimistic that this latest iteration of the series offers up enough QoL changes to appease long times fans without alienating newcomers, but there are definitely a few areas that will need some minor tweaking before the game drops.
Dropping into a multiplayer session, it’s obvious right off the bat that the TTK (Time to Kill) is much quicker than any of the previous games; this is kind of a double edged sword, in that it lends a sense of realism to proceedings but can also be incredibly frustrating when you’re on the wrong end of the barrel.
Generally you’d expect the developers to dial back on movement speed and the like in order to accommodate the shorter time it takes to down an enemy, but Infinity Ward has elected to maintain the same gameplay tempo without compensating for the changes to the gunplay, which makes for some balancing issues.
Still, minor quibble about pacing aside, the gunplay itself feels much more robust here, and I found my performance was positively affected almost immediately. Usually it takes me a bit of time to find my feet and familiarise myself with the maps on offer but here I was sitting comfortably on the top of my team leaderboard almost every game, and I’m far from an excellent Call of Duty or FPS player.
Gunplay as a whole feels much more accessible and is seemingly heavily dependent upon short placement, meaning that a single well aimed headshot can easily down an enemy. Of course, previous games have had similar mechanics but here it seems much more pronounced and, again, helps to add to the realistic quality of the combat… It still sucks being headshot by a sniper sitting at the other end of the map, however,
Killstreaks also seem easier to obtain and offer up a nice variety for players to mix and match to suit their preferred playstyle.
Another big change which has received a lukewarm response from the community is the removal of the minimap, although I personally rarely used it in previous games (I know, I know) and there is still a map that appears once a player activates a UAV, so I honestly barely noticed its absence; however, it appears that the community at large laments its absence, so I guess I’m in the minority here.
Instead of the map there is now a compass that indicates the direction gunfire is coming from, a rather simple system that I found to be fairly effective, but again, I’m far from a Call of Duty traditionalist, so your mileage may vary.
The Beta included a handful of maps with a variety of modes available, from the prerequisite Team Deathmatch to new takes on multiplayer such as “Cyber Attack”, which sees two teams of six attempting to escort a bomb into enemy territory, which is essentially a spin on Sabotage mode albeit without any respawns.
The map design itself seems to not be so beholden to the usual three lane structure many of the maps tend to fall into. Of course, there are elements of that design philosophy to be found here, as it’s the go-to standard for a reason, but Infinity Ward seems to have taken their time in order to offer some verticality and a little more variety to the environments you’ll find yourself running around.
I also really enjoyed the addition of maps set at night, which forces your character to equip night vision goggles in order to see.
A major point in favour of these new maps goes back to my previous assertion that I could dive into this game and perform much better than I usually do, which is partially due to the intuitive design of the maps themselves; it’s easy to get around and pinpoint areas of hot activity and incredibly quick to commit the layout to memory, something I personally struggled with in previous games.
There are myriad customisation options on offer here in regards to your weapons and I find that I prefer the lack of specialist classes in favour of unique abilities and attachments. I mean, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any major way but just feels more manageable for the average player to wrap their heads around.
Overall, I’m a fan of the more stripped down approach Infinity Ward seems to be taking with the franchise here and look forward to seeing how these quality of life changes carry across to other modes such as this year’s Blackout iteration and the returning campaign; again, there are some areas that could do with a little more focus, such as dialling back movement speed and possibly increasing reload times (seriously, some weapons seem to take an age) but I’m confident that Infinity Ward has the chops to pull everything together and make this one of the best and most responsive feeling Call of Duty experiences to date.