Anyone who’s picked up a controller on a regular basis has probably heard of Call of Duty. Since its debut in 2003 a new title has been released in the series every year like clockwork, with each series offering a single player campaign with all the screaming, explosions and ridiculous military jargon one would come to expect from the series. However, the real meat and potatoes of the franchise has always been and likely will always be the multiplayer. You customize a few gun loadouts to your preferred method of murder and deal death indiscriminately until satisfied. It’s a simple concept that I personally ignored in the past in favor of the single player action. I would typically rent the game on a weekend, run through the campaign on normal once and promptly never touch it again. That is until last week when I picked the game up for dirt cheap from a friend. I went through my aforementioned motions until the credits rolled and since that only took a few hours, I thought to myself, “Why not try the multiplayer for a minute?” I jumped into quickplay with the defaults and suddenly it was 11:30PM and my wife was politely reminding me that I do in fact have work in the morning.
All of this is to say that I can’t stop playing this game and I have no idea why! As such, in an effort to understand how I came to be hopelessly addicted to something I’d previously ignored for years I thought I might take a closer look at what it is about Modern Warfare that has ensnared my attention so completely all for your amusement…and my sanity.
The first thing that came to mind as soon as I booted up the first mission was “this game is gorgeous.” The last time I could actively recall playing Call of Duty was ironically the original Modern Warfare back in 2007. So imagine my surprise when I laid eyes on this newest entry for the first time. Each map is absolutely packed with details. From the store front interiors of Picadilly to the ruined majesty that is Aniyah Palace, whenever you’re not aiming down the sights waiting for someone to pop their head out of a window or doorway you are treated to some of the best looking murderboxes that I’ve ever seen. I can say with all honesty that the look of this game was my primary motivation for seeking it out and I was not at all disappointed.
After spending my first day or so with the game I started to really dig into customizing my loadouts and finding what works best for me and hoo boy let me tell you there is a lot to choose from here. Now I fully realize that saying a game about shooting people in the face has a lot of guns in it might seem a little redundant, but this game has a ton of great guns and I haven’t even unlocked them all yet. Each one feels unique in a way that at least warranted a try; even if I didn’t wind up putting them in rotation they still felt fun to experiment with.
Somewhere around the eighth hour of my rapid descent into Infinity Ward’s bang bang, shoot shoot, bullet bullet gun adventure, I realized that I was hooked by just how good the progression felt in this game The dopamine hit comes along with every unlock animation, every XP bar that fills up and my personal favorite the classic “Call of Duty Guitar Riff™”. Each time I completed a match and unlocked some new weapon or skin I wanted to do it again right away, immediately falling into the “one more match” mentality to the detriment of my sleep schedule and overall work life balance. This game consistently rewards you for playing it, so much so in fact that I purchased my very first battle pass in any game ever, for the sole purpose of never running out of rewards to obtain.
Brain chemistry aside, this mutiplayer experience is amazingly stupid and I mean that in the best possible way; from rolling out giant R.C. Cars with a gatling gun on it, to just setting a claymore in front of a heavily trafficked door and getting a notification that some unfortunate meat sack met his end well after the fact. Just about every time I enter a match I’m almost guaranteed to experience something that will have me cackling like a psycho in front of my television. The dumbest moments are the best moments in my opinion and the primary reason why I never turn on the realism game modes that this entry into the franchise offers.
Looking back, I now realize that perhaps I’ve always judged Call of Duty a bit too harshly. I was that one guy in every group of friends who looked down on the “CoD Bro’s” whilst constantly playing Team Swat on whatever version of Halo was big at the time; failing to realize that I was essentially just taking the Halo out of Halo and making it more like CoD. While it is tempting to lament all the time that I lost with Call of Duty titles of days gone by, instead I will move forward with a big stupid grin on my face, confidant in the knowledge that 2019’s Modern Warfare truly is a peak Call of Duty experience.