Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is an upcoming first-person shooter video game that is being developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It will serve as the sixteenth overall installment in the Call of Duty series as well as a “soft reboot” of the Modern Warfare sub-series. It is scheduled to be released on October 25, 2019, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
The game is set to take place in a realistic and modern setting. For the first time in the franchise’s history, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will support cross-platform multiplayer. Activision has also confirmed that the franchise’s traditional season pass had been scrapped, enabling the company to distribute free post-launch content to all players.
The game’s multiplayer has been revised to allow for more tactical gameplay, including a focus on map exploration, door breaching, and a night-vision mode that removes the HUD. The mini-map has been removed in favor of a compass-style marker. Multiplayer also features the return of Killstreaks, more recent Call of Duty titles having used Scorestreaks instead. The online modes allow for a larger range of players within a map than previous installments, with a new mode called “Ground War” featuring over 100 players, while conversely another new mode, “Gunfight”, tasks two teams of two players against each another in a match lasting forty seconds per round. The game includes an extensive weapons customisation system, such as allowing some guns to hold over 40 attachments. The introduction of multiplayer matches has also been revamped; while in previous titles players would remain motionless on the map as a timer would count to zero, players will instead be flown into the map via helicopter as part of an animation.
Modern Warfare will be the first game in the series since 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts not to feature a Zombies mode, instead featuring the co-op Spec Ops mode present in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The Spec Ops mode shares its narrative with both the campaign and multiplayer.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Plot
Modern Warfare will be “heavy on troubling, realistic emotional moments”, being compared to the thematic elements of the controversial “No Russian” mission from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The plot will feature a unified narrative across the campaign, co-op, and multiplayer modes.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Characters
The game will feature the return of Captain Price (portrayed by Barry Sloane rather than Billy Murray, who previously voiced him) from the previous Modern Warfare games; however, the character has been rebooted. One of the villains is a rogue Russian general inspired by Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz.
The player controls Sergeant Kyle Garrick, a former British Army officer, for the first half of the campaign and then shifts to Alex, a CIA officer, in the second half of the campaign. The game also features Farrah, the leader of the rebel fighters, who is a non-playable character.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Development
The game was developed by Infinity Ward, following their 2016 entry Infinite Warfare, and continuing in the “three year development cycle” tradition for the franchise. Beenox, Raven Software and High Moon Studios provided additional development. The game uses a brand-new engine for the series, allowing for the use of more detailed environments, advanced photogrammetry and rendering, better volumetric lighting, and the use of ray tracing. On May 30, the game’s official trailer and release date were unveiled. According to narrative director Taylor Kurosaki, Captain Price will be featured in a retconned narrative “where the events in the previous Modern Warfare timeline have not occurred.”
Studio art director Joel Emslie described the game’s narrative as “much more grown-up [and] mature”, designed to elicit a more intimate and emotional response from players through a depiction of conflict based on contemporary events (such as terror attacks in London and the Syrian Civil War) rather than the original trilogy’s reliance on bombastic set pieces. Campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff expressed his desire for video games to go further in exploring otherwise traditionally taboo topics in the medium, noting that television series and films such as Homeland, American Sniper, and Sicario told “relatable, realistic, relevant, and provocative stories that really touch people.” In avoiding telling such stories insensitively, consultants were brought in from multiple cultures; for example, conflict related to the Middle East in the game is located in the fictional country Urzikstan rather than based on any specific real-life location. Half of the game has been described as having morally complex choices, and the narrative has resulted in making several playtesters cry.
Some controversial aspects of the game were removed prior to its release as the developers were unsure of how much potential emotional discomfort they wanted to effect; this included a line in which a Russian soldier ponders handing over a captured girl to his commanding officer, implying pedophilia.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reception
Following previews at E3 2019, the game was subject to some controversy in response to it tackling realistic and mature subject matter, such as presenting child soldiers and the ability to shoot civilians (of which included infants). Escapist Magazine’s Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw described the gameplay demonstration as “fifteen minutes of cold intense ruthless killing” and IGN felt it was the most divisive game of the event.
Other critics also gave mixed opinions. Recalling the past successes of video games as a medium to provide social commentary on war and conflict, such as Spec Ops: The Line, This War of Mine, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Emma Kent of Eurogamer criticized a level in which the player controls a child soldier, which she felt inappropriately merged sensitive subject matter and over-dramatized violence into a boss fight, creating “a Frankensteinian, dissonant mess.” Kent described another level involving a stealth operation inside a building as having a “heavy-handed” emphasis on avoiding civilian collateral damage, although praised it as “a good exploration of the way terrorists are embedded within civilian communities.” Cade Onder of GameZone similarly commented on the civilian collateral damage and child soldier level, opining that the former lacked tension because there was only one civilian present, thereby only granting the illusion of choice, and the latter turning “an otherwise very real and grounded moment […] into a very video game-y moment.” Also comparing it to Spec Ops: The Line, Onder reflected on whether killing too many civilians would merely result in a game over, causing ludonarrative dissonance, and how the linearity of the game may prevent it from reaching its narrative ambitions.
Notes and references
Additional work by Raven Software, Beenox and High Moon Studios
Schreier, Jason (May 24, 2019). “The Next Call of Duty Is Called Modern Warfare (Yep, Really)”. Kotaku. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
Chalk, Andy (May 24, 2019). “The next Call of Duty is just called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”. PC Gamer. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
Phillips, Tom (May 24, 2019). “This year’s Call of Duty is called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”. Eurogamer. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
Stevens, Colin (May 30, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Cross-Play Allows All Formats to Play Together, Based on Control Input”. IGN. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
Forward, Jordan (June 4, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare isn’t “pulling its punches – we’ve had playtesters cry””. PCGamesN. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
Hurley, Leon (June 13, 2019). “Call of Duty Modern Warfare will have branching dialogue and performance depending on your actions”. GamesRadar. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
Kim, Matt. “CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE WILL LET YOU RELOAD WHILE AIMING DOWN SIGHT”. IGN. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
Yin-Poole, Wesley. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer feels fantastic – but there’s cause for concern”. Eurogamer. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Tui, Tim. “Hands-on with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s intense, gripping multiplayer”. PlayStation.Blog. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Yin-Poole, Wesley. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare lets you see your teammates through walls”. Eurogamer. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Wilson, Tony; Hornshaw, Phil (July 12, 2019). “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Gunfight Mode Revealed – GS News Update”. GameSpot. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
Makuch, Eddie. “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Doesn’t Have Zombies Mode”. GameSpot. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
Fischer, Tyler (June 9, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Confirms Spec Ops Is Coming Back”. Comic Book. Retrieved June 10, 2019.
Kain, Erik (June 13, 2019). “Infinity Ward Reveals Co-Op Mode For ‘Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare’ And It Isn’t Zombies”. Forbes. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
Mamiit, Aaron (May 26, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to Take Cues from 2009’s No Russian Level”. Digital Trends. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
Fischer, Tyler (May 24, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Is Inspired By Controversial “No Russian” Level in MW2″. ComicBook. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
Hurley, Leon (May 30, 2019). “There’s a new Captain Price in Modern Warfare 2019: Meet Revenge, SIX and Hollyoaks actor Barry Sloane”. GamesRadar. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
Hume, Mike (May 30, 2019). “‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ trailer revealed, release date Oct. 25”. Washington Post. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
Morgans, Matt (June 14, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Villain is a Rogue Russian General”. VGR. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
Hurley, Leon (June 12, 2019). “Every Modern Warfare story detail, level and character we got from our time at Infinity Ward”. GamesRadar. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
McWhertor, Michael (February 6, 2014). “Call of Duty moving to 3-year, 3-studio dev cycle, Sledgehammer on 2014 game”. Polygon. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
Livington, Christopher (May 31, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare arrives October 25, and here’s the trailer”. PC Gamer. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
Jones, Ali. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare finally has a new engine, with 4K and raytracing”. PCGamesN. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
Madan, Asher. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare engine has been in the works for 5 years, to be used in future games”. Windows Central. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
Meyers, Maddy (June 12, 2019). “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Developers Are Still Deciding How Disturbing To Get”. Kotaku. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
Houghton, Rianne (June 13, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to feature controversial playable scenes with a little girl”. Digital Spy. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
Constantine, Riley (June 13, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Pummels Yahtzee”. The Escapist. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Is the Most Divisive Game of E3 – E3 2019”. IGN. June 13, 2019. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
Kent, Emma (June 20, 2019). “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the problem with its child soldier level”. Eurogamer. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
Onder, Cade (June 18, 2019). “Preview: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare isn’t as bold as it thinks it is”. GameZone. Retrieved June 23, 2019.