Call of Duty Modern Warfare — ‘Going Dark’, or ‘Not Going Far Enough’?
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the Call of Duty franchise. Its annual release schedule and DLC payment models never appealed to me. However, what brought me back to the series was its robust and euphoric FPS gameplay. Out of the entire Call of Duty lineup, there are only four games that I truly enjoyed: Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, and the new Modern Warfare with its edgy tagline ‘Going Dark’.
But what does ‘Going Dark’ really mean? Does it refer to shooting enemies in dark and dingy environments or does it hint at a deeper message?
Overall, the campaign is a breath of fresh air – albeit a brief one in an otherwise mediocre landscape. Set across multiple countries, it attempts to offer a fresh take on the war on intelligence. While it impresses in many ways, several drawbacks prevent it from breaking free of its self-imposed stereotype as a lackluster campaign.
The campaign innovates on several fronts with its missions. Upon starting the game, players are greeted with a ‘Mature Content Notice’ warning of the intense content to come. The game stays true to its ‘Going Dark’ premise, exploring the idea that people’s true intentions are never really known. This ties into the game’s proxy war setting.
As a reimagining of the Modern Warfare franchise, players are introduced to a new Captain Price, portrayed exceptionally well by his actor. Supporting characters such as Farah, Alex, and Kyle also deliver strong performances as soldiers in different roles and circumstances.
The new mission styles set in small environments, such as a few floors of an apartment building, are executed beautifully. The action is fast-paced and heart-pounding. The CGI cutscenes are stunning and represent a clear leap forward in technology. The gameplay itself is expertly designed to feel comfortable in both slow and frantic environments.
Unfortunately, the campaign doesn’t innovate enough to stand out as a worthwhile game mode. The structure and premise of the game are at odds with each other. The proxy wars and wars on intelligence should make players feel unsure and question their motives, but the linearity of the campaign removes any tension.
For fans of action movies, the campaign offers plenty of explosive and toned-down sections. However, for fans of non-linear storytelling, it falls short. While there aren’t many over-the-top moments that make you roll your eyes, there also aren’t many standout moments.
The game’s portrayal of the Russian army has been controversial and has drawn criticism from the Russian community. The central villain is comically evil to the point of being annoying. His hateful speech and disregard for basic human rights make it difficult for players to take him seriously.
Overall, while the campaign has its moments of innovation, it ultimately fails to deliver a truly engaging experience.
In this section, I’d like to offer some thoughts on how the campaign could be improved. First and foremost, I would like to see more at stake and for the story to change based on player choice. I want failure to have real consequences, rather than just a short quote and a return to the last checkpoint.
The story lacks weight and the shock factor it aims for often falls flat. Call of Duty campaigns have always had players being led by NPCs. When the game does offer some choice, it feels like the exception rather than the rule.
It’s refreshing to see the franchise return to a modern-day setting. Instead of focusing on improving graphics and effects, I believe the game should expand horizontally by emphasizing player choice. While soldiers in real life are expected to follow orders from their commanding officers, Call of Duty should not be compared to real life. Instead, it should be seen as an interesting dramatization of our world.
In addition to the campaign, the game also features online Multiplayer, Warzone, and Co-op modes. These modes offer enough innovation while maintaining a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. While I’m not a top-performing player online, I have improved through playing these modes and find myself coming back to them again and again.
My experience with the online modes in Season 5 has been quite positive. I’ve had almost no issues with netcode and the game’s meta keeps changing to keep things fresh. The battle pass system is fair and allows players to earn everything through gameplay. Infinity Ward and Activision have changed their DLC model and now release new, interesting, and accessible content with each season.
The gun customization is phenomenal and offers a high level of customization. Content is consistently released to motivate players to improve their gameplay. The ‘Skyrim-style’ experience system for guns allows players to unlock new upgrades and perks based on their skill with the weapon.
Not all modes are accessible at once, but there are always fun weekly playlists that are updated and innovated upon. Private bot matches allow players to try out any mode or get creative and make their own. Warzone is an amazing addition to Modern Warfare and ups the stakes with each season.
Overall, the online modes offer a rich and engaging experience with plenty of content to keep players coming back.
In Warzone, players have the option of playing standard battle royale with up to four players or trying the new Plunder mode. In Plunder, players constantly respawn and the objective is to amass the largest amount of cash by taking it from others. Of all the battle royale games I’ve played, Warzone offers the most variation and freedom.
The new ‘Gulag’ system is a nice addition for players who get unlucky and are gunned down early in the game. If your party members have enough cash, they can buy you back into the game and you can continue fighting for victory. Plus, Warzone is free to play, so there’s no harm in giving it a try!
The most notable aspect for me is the map structure in multiplayer mode. Apart from the small gunfight maps, most maps that came with the game are poorly designed and uninteresting to play on. They use a standard 3-lane structure, which can result in a guaranteed loss if the other team dominates a certain angle. Map movement is also challenging due to the excessive number of hiding spots that make players nearly invisible. I often found myself getting shot after taking just a few steps.
While the new maps offer multiple paths to counteract this issue, the respawn system can be unreliable and result in immediate death. Killstreaks can be overwhelming with VTOLs filling the sky or missile barrages targeting specific locations, making winning nearly impossible. These issues, combined with the numerous hiding spots, negatively impacted my online gaming experience. Fortunately, I started playing after the infamous ‘claymore meta’ had ended; otherwise, I may have quit.
The Spec-Ops mode feels like an afterthought and is not a significant part of the game. It consists of repetitive missions with little variation in gameplay, where players face off against an entire army with numerous enemies and tedious objectives. Although this mode is intended as an epilogue to the campaign, I only played it when there were weekly special rewards available.
The download size at season 5 is becoming unmanageable. Updates to the game are as large as entire games. If this trend continues, my hard drive may not be able to handle it. I hope this issue will be addressed in the future as it is nearing absurdity. Overall, the online experience is satisfactory, with my main concerns addressed in the ‘THE BAD’ section.
Featured image by: Toxic Player @ Unsplash
Game Review Thumbnail by: Daniel Stuben @ Unsplash
Game Trailer by: Activision
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
I would like to thank the developers who put in countless hours into developing and tweaking this game to make sure it is just right. I am well aware that game design is an incredibly difficult and labor-intensive task, and so far, — this game does not disappoint too much, as a new step in the next evolution of Call of Duty games. I’m quite happy with how this game turned out and am eager to see more of this style of game. And finally, thank you, dear reader, for reaching the end of my review of Call of Duty and have yourself a wonderful day.
- - Revolutionary Engine
- - Relevant Campaign
- - Fast Paced Multiplayer and Battle Royale Modes
- - Constant Updates
- - Active Community
- - Campaign Is Lacking In Length And Depth
- - COD Points System Puts Majority of Cosmetics Behind A Paywall
- - Night Mode Is Almost Never Played Online