Activision-Blizzard will be marching another step forward in the development of the Call of Duty franchise with "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare", which will be available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 25, 2019. Adopting a 'fresh and familiar' approach, Infinity Ward stripped Modern Warfare down to its roots that made Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare a franchise-altering title that defined an era of online multiplayer gaming and re-optimized the experience for the modern generation.
Getting the Band Back Together
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was created with Call of Duty 4 and its impact on gamers in mind, so Infinity Ward brought back plenty of familiar faces from the 2007 multi-platform blockbuster. Geoff Smith, who designed a majority of the CoD4 maps, re-joined Infinity Ward to work on the new title as a Multiplayer Design Director. Former Lead Animator Mark Grigsby was brought back as Animation Director.
The reunion brought plenty of talent into the room for Modern Warfare, but in addition, there was a familiar, invigorating atmosphere that remained throughout the development process. "Honestly, coming back to create this game, I felt that same feeling when we were working on Call of Duty 2, and then made the jump to Modern Warfare," said Grigsby.
"The question was ,'How do we take all of the good things about CoD2 and add onto it to make it a new thing?' We feel like back then we kind of a stepped up and raised the bar. We pushed the genre and put the franchise in a different place, and coming back this time around, I feel like we approached things in the same way."
Fresh and Familiar
Since Call of Duty 4's release in 2007, the franchise has been a huge success with a new installment coming out every year. When a game franchise is successful for this length of time with consistent annual releases, it's easy to fall into pattern.
"I think the tricky thing is that when you have a franchise that's been around this long, it's very easy to fall into just making a mod of another game," Mulitplayer Design Director Geoff Smith explained. "We wanted to strip stuff down and use that process as a re-imagining of what a Call of Duty Modern Warfare game is exactly."
The entirety of the new Modern Warfare was created with new engines in an effort to turn the competitive market on it ear the same way CoD4 did in the previous generation of consoles. When the original Modern Warfare hit the market, it played more smoothly than anything other game at the time, and looked twice as good doing it.
Infinity Ward also aims to unify the experience of all types of Call of Duty players. In Modern Warfare, if a player unlocks a collectible whether it be in campaign, multiplayer, or special ops modes like the previous installments' hit Nazi Zombies, the unlocked collectible in question will be available in all modes.
In another effort to further connect the widespread fanbase, crossplay will be available for players who want to party up across different hardware. While exact filtering systems have not been set in stone, players will be able to queue with each other based on console as well as hardware configuration (controller/mouse&keyboard).
In returning to its roots, Modern Warfare is bringing back Killstreaks, and features from the previous MW installments are sprinkled throughout the game. For example, those who want to forego Killstreaks entirely will have access to the Specialist class from Modern Warfare 3. "We wanted to make ourselves uncomfortable," Grigsby explained. "We push each other constantly to get out of our comfort zones and do something different."
Newer features include a new mode called Gunfight, which is defaulted to a 2v2 mode but can be adjusted to 1v1 or 3v3 as well. On the other side of the spectrum, massive games of Domination can occur, with five point maps featuring 20v20 competition. The variance in game modes and sizes meant that a variety of maps had to be designed for different modes and groups. Modern Warfare took the map design variety a step further, adding dark maps that require infrared lasers and NVG.
Other new in-game features include peaking open doors to partially clear a room, aiming while reloading, mounting one's weapon on a surface, and impact from all explosive causing nearby doors to open.
Guns: Modern Warfare's Main Character
While models of operators will be available for players to customize one's cosmetic appearance more than ever before, the guns themselves remain the main character of Modern Warfare. Due to the first person viewpoint and the highly customizeable loadout system being the trademarks of Modern Warfare, one's gun is often the closest personification to an in-game character as a player gets.
Guns will now be cutomizeable in more ways than ever before with the new Gunsmith system. Each weapon can be equipped with up to 5 attachments including lasers, sights, suppressors, and grips. Modern Warfare will also retire the Battle Pass from the franchise, and all unlockables can be acquired through experience by simply playing the game. That doesn't mean it's going to be an easy task, however — each primary weapon in Modern Warfare will have a whopping 30-60 attachments.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's high level of customization and fundamental cornerstones of multiplayer gameplay will no doubt make it an entertaining experience, but for every push towards entertainment, the pull of realism is also present.
"Griggsby is always pushing for the fidelity of weapons and making it real," Smith said, chuckling. Before he could continue, Grigsby cut in, "And he always tells me it's too slow and it needs to be fast. It's a balance of finding that sweet spot where it looks good but it also feels good when you're playing it." Still, while the realistic aspects of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise is important, the entertainment of the player experience is always first priority.
"Some departments would get way more into the realism in the audio and all that stuff, and we would have to remind them that we weren't making a military simulator game," Smith continued. "We want to make it approachable and fun and keep the arcade-style roots the game has always had. So there's lots of yelling at each other."
On the Horizon
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be released for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 25, 2019, and post-launch DLC for free download will be rolling out in the following months. While the game is less than three months away, everything except for the finest of finishing touches is ready to revolutionize the Modern Warfare gaming experience. Grigsby expressed his satisfaction in regards to the team accomplishing its goals and executing on its intended approach.
"We looked at how successful Call of Duty has been over all of thee years, and then asked ourselves what else we could to do to one-up ourselves. I think we've actually accomplished that here. It was the mindset and we're pulling it off."