Modern Warfare is an esteemed addition to the Call of Duty franchise. The game has received numerous awards, like being the best-selling game of 2019, and has broken a number of records. Infinity Ward continues to pour more content into the game in order to keep players’ attention. But it is still far from perfect. Persisting issues have now become long in the tooth: SBMM continues to be a controversial topic, spawns are still a mess, and the overall pacing of the game isn’t desirable. What can the developer do to keep the momentum going into 2020 and retain players?
Content by the buckets
Infinity Ward has offered more content and more community engagement than ever before with Modern Warfare. Weekly updates since launch and season one have continued to add new game modes, maps, cosmetics and more to the game. Tons of challenges and officer missions offer a constant incentive to play, while challenging people to approach the game in a different way than they may be used to.
The cosmetic choices in Modern Warfare are staggering. There are so many different bundles to buy that they can’t even all be displayed at one time. Each day the game cycles through different cosmetics, as well as providing more options after you buy some. You can unlock watches, operator skins, weapon skins, charms, stickers, and weapon variants through the store or the battle pass. This has been a fun and consistent way to keep players on the game and working toward desired skins.
And, if cosmetics don’t tickle your fancy, maybe the fact that this Call of Duty is running on an entirely new engine will. The gunplay in Modern Warfare feels incredible. The way weapons recoil and react to being fired feels powerful and exciting. The movement feels good next to the time-to-kill and size of most of the maps. The game feels crisp, responsive and smooth which is easily one of the most important aspects of any game.
It’s no question that Infinity Ward has content and play incentives down to a science. But while the feel and ever-expanding look of the game continues to improve, there are still aging issues that need to be addressed.
Pacing and audio
Modern Warfare has received a massive amount of flack when it comes to pace. Multiplayer matches can feel slow and campy, which isn’t something plenty of Call of Duty players find enjoyable. Call of Duty has always had the reputation of being a fast-paced, run-and-gun type shooter franchise. Modern Warfare took a more leisure approach to that. The slower movement speed isn’t the only thing that promotes this campy playstyle. It has a lot to do with the overall design of the game’s maps and mechanics, which promote a sit-and-shoot style of gameplay, rewarding campers and punishing those on the ground.
One of the biggest complaints following Modern Warfare is the volume of footsteps. I’m not sure why this Call of Duty title is so particularly loud with everything, but it is, and footsteps aren’t excluded from that. I don’t blame players for using this to their tactical advantage. It would be a lie to say that I don’t use it, but it isn’t exactly an ideal experience — especially considering the issue above.
This simple mechanic has a ton of control on how games are played out no matter if its Search and Destroy or respawn game modes like Hardpoint. Being able to hear your enemies’ elephantine footsteps when rotating to new or different objective reduces the practice or need of map awareness. Infinity Ward has been pelted with demands to make Dead Silence a perk rather than a field upgrade to combat this issue, but this request seems a little heavy-handed. This would require a pretty drastic change to the game, which is likely why Infinity Ward is being ironically silent about the recommendation.
Another audio cue and overall annoyance in Modern Warfare are the doors. Call of Duty has never given players the ability to open and close doors as a multiplayer mechanic. I don’t necessarily hate the inclusion, but I do think it needs some tweaking. This is another mechanic, much like footsteps, that provides an advantage to defending — or camping — players who already have a massive advantage over attacking players in defuse or retake situations.
I believe this can be easily fixed though. Fully sprinting through a door should provide an audio cue, naturally. However, walking up to a door and using the action button to open it shouldn’t. This change would still require players to slow down a bit without forcing them on an unfavorable route to avoid a door. All while the change still provides an advantage to the defending player.
Other contributing factors to the slow pacing is how strong the Ghost perk is and the absence of the original Call of Duty mini-map. Players have the ability to sit in the same corner without ever being seen on radar regardless of their actions, or lack thereof. This makes UAV killstreaks worthless. There have been so many instances where I call in my UAV to not see a single red dot ping on the mini-map because every one is using Ghost.
Once again, I don’t blame those using the perk. I use Ghost simply because it’s silly not to with Modern Warfare‘s current design. But it’s just unfortunate that that is the current state of multiplayer matches. The community is calling for Ghost to be nerfed to how it acted in Black Ops 4, which would only hid the player if they were moving. The community is also pleading for Infinity Ward to bring back the original mini-map, but this is another drastic change that I don’t see the developer implementing.
SBMM and Ranked
I know, I know. SBMM has to be the most controversial topic surrounding Modern Warfare since launch, and many people are tired of hearing about it. Both sides of the aisle have valid points on its use, which makes coming up with a conclusion that much harder. SBMM prevents new players from getting stomped on every single match and ultimately leaving the game for good, but on the other hand it makes good players have to try-hard every single match, which is exhausting.
Infinity Ward has still yet to one hundred percent confirm if SBMM exists, but players are more than convinced that it does. There is something though that could be implemented — more like should — in Modern Warfare that would solve the SBMM issue. It’s called Ranked playlists.
With Ranked, true silver players will play with other silvers, and diamond players play with other diamonds. SBMM is no longer a factor when Ranked is available for players. After being a Call of Duty fan for over a decade, I am still baffled that ranked playlists aren’t launched alongside with the game. I understand that the true competitive maps and game types aren’t quite decided at launch, but you don’t have to have the competitive playlist to have Ranked.
Offer Ranked with modes that already exist with the game. I get not offering ranked modes for every single game mode, but do it for the ones that make sense: Domination, Search and Destroy, Hardpoint, Team Deathmatch, FFA. Ranked Search and Destroy would be a hit, I guarantee it.
Let’s be very frank for a moment. The spawns in Modern Warfare are awful. There have been so many clips released that show the insane spawn logic in this game. Hell, I’ve even had multiple spawn in my crosshair over and over again, and not just on Shipment either. This makes respawn game modes a pain to play when trying to flip spawns to hold current or predicted objectives. It is obvious that Infinity Ward is aware of this issue, because latest patches have attempted to fix them — key word being attempted.
Modern Warfare truly has the potential to be one of the greatest Call of Duty titles of all time. The game has returned to its roots and has hit the reset button with the new engine and fun gunplay. Players have wanted this type of Call of Duty for a long time now. But, if Infinity Ward continues to leave its core issues untouched, we will see it as another bad and broken Call of Duty game to be ridiculed and remembered as a disappointment.