Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta

The last couple days I’ve been playing the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Beta on PC. I’ve had some discussion about it in Discord with some friends. Well mostly me sending long form messages in general chat. I figured I would reformat those messages into a post.

From what I was hearing from the hype I expected different. Before I get into what I expected and how it actually was, let’s discuss the hype.

The Hype Beast

As someone that has studied business, when it comes to the hype, its not what the hype is about that intrigues me for Call of Duty. Its that there is always hype for the game no matter what specific thing people are hyped for. The hype for CoD tends to be higher than any other franchise. The hype may be CoD’s strongest marketing tool.

I remember playing Call of Duty 3 through Black Ops 2. I believe, the summer of 2012 was when I sold all my consoles becoming a PC gamer. After that I only played CoD in passing on a friend or family members console and last year during the Beta for Black Out. I stopped playing in 2013 and every year that question would arise about summer time “Are you getting Call of Duty?” This was no different than any of the previous years even when I did play.

At this point I wonder if its a routine built into this multiplayer culture. This hype feeling isn’t outdone by any other game in the industry. It doesn’t matter how well the previous iteration did. Whatever the reception the game gets when it actually releases, this hype washes it all way. It seems as the flop never outshines the hype.

The thing is they manage to do it every year.

The Trademark Game Play

For me, CoD has always just had a very distinct feeling for its core game play across all iterations. The way it feels when you jump, move, run, die, shoot, aim, even the way those sound. And all these things tend to lead to a faster snappier, some may say twitchy, game flow.

Now maybe they would slightly change one of those things but probably not much. A slight change in core game play could be why some iterations haven’t been received well. These things typically don’t deviate much because that’s what people are looking for when it comes to the franchise. People think they want new but its not usually in the core game play where they are looking for something new. Its usually in a game mode or added mechanics. If you want new core game play then switching to Battlefield or some other shooter may yield better results. Its not like all of sudden they are going to make Call of Duty a Medieval Action Adventure. They keep the tried and true game play and bring that forward trying to find new game play to add to the formula.

It still feels like Call of Duty to me.

Like the saying goes, “Its like riding a bike.”

I kept hearing the gun mechanics and the way it felt was better. Maybe, because I haven’t put hundreds of hours into the last six iterations, I’m just more used to the way it was before. And this is why it could feel the same to me. From my discussions with friends this may be the direction the developers were intending. If the developers were trying to get the same feel that the early iterations had then this would completely make sense why it feels like same old Call of Duty to me.

Like I’ve said from Call of Duty Ghosts to Black Ops 4 I have very little hands on time. The most of that time would be about five hours during the Black Out beta. Black Out felt like a battle royal done in Call of Duty style. So for better or worse Call of Duty Modern Warfare feels like its retained that trademark game play that Call of Duty, at the very least, had when I was playing it regularly.

Call to Duty

Friday night a friend and I jumped in for our first game of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare PC beta. We wanted to get right into it. First game was Team Death match. I got six kills right away and remembered to use my kill streaks after my first death. I ended the match with a kill death ratio somewhere near 1.5. I was right back into the swing of things. I think we played one or two more Team Death matches before trying Ground War.

Call of Duty’s Ground war is a 32 versus 32 player match where the two teams fight to control five points on the map. I seen tanks, ATV’s and a helicopter. The respawn mechanic was top notch. Being able to spawn on certain teammates which I assume is your squad, vehicles, and control points make for smooth game play. This game mode was very cool and a lot of fun. My biggest complaint was coordination. There would often be twenty players in one location, a few snipers or stealthy guys trying to flank, and some guys in vehicles. Whether that means being able to mark a location for you squad to attack or defend or some other method of organization would help.

Saturday, the second day of the beta. Nostalgia had warn off. Early in the day I played by myself. I was able to play two games. The first game was absolutely terrible. The game mode was Head Quarters on the map Azir Cave. In this game mode you try to hold a randomly designated location with no respawns for the defenders who initially have to capture the point first. Once a team captures it they become defenders. On this map there is a small cliff side with a town and a cave with a handful of tunnels. My team was not doing well. When the enemy team held points inside the cave they were racking up kill streaks. This lead to us being decimated before even being able to get to the cave. Then when they defended points outside of the cave we were stuck inside. Not only was it very frustrating, there were a couple players just utterly awe stricken with how bad the game mode worked on this map and letting everyone on the team voice chat know it.

The reason I remember the first game that night was because how bad it was. The next game the same game mode on a different map was much closer. In the end we lost with most of the players on my team doing average. However the enemy team had one guy who ended up with 55 kills. I think the next closest guy which lead our team with 26 kills and me having 14.

As zen and stoic as I’ve become when it comes to gaming I was not having a good time. Reflecting afterwards I felt terrible the way it was making me feel. Games don’t make me feel that way anymore and it made me not want to play again.

But…I did later that night.

Again this time I had a friend with me. This was his first time playing in a long time as well. We started off with Team Death match and he too was right back into the swing of things. The next match was Cyber Attack. This game mode is where one team has to plant a bomb/hack and the other tries to defend against it. Its first to win five rounds. This seems very similar to the old Search and Destroy with some changes. Typically, you only get one life per round in Search and Destroy. In Cyber Attack you get one life but you can be revived by your teammates if the opportunity arises. This match came down to us winning 5 rounds to 4.

I wanted to give my friend a chance to try out Ground War so that’s what we played next. We loaded into a game already underway and our team suffering. I began trying to organize like I do and trying to take out the tanks that were holding us at bay. We started to turn the game around and turned it into a good match but in the end we lost.

These matches were much more enjoyable than the previous matches earlier in the day. So much better that it changed my mood about the game entirely. Warming me up for that big question.

Reflection

Now that I’ve recapped some of my matches I want to reflect on my experience with this beta weekend and previous iterations.

Looking back at all the multiplayer shooters, Call of Duty is/has the most consistent feel and has had some of the greatest multiplayer shooter iterations I can remember. You could probably even say its the greatest shooter franchise there is. Playing a shooter with friends Call of Duty does it better than anyone else. And now with the introduction of cross platform play that’s even more true.

Even with all that its just not the style of shooter I prefer anymore. Over the last few years I’ve gotten into more military simulation style of games. They tend to have a slower style of game play, more coordination, and longer fire fights.

In CoD, the close quarters maps, run and gun game flow, plus the time to kill means if I see you first you’re most likely going to die. Its the same if you see me first. What makes it even more frustrating is spawns where sometimes you spawn in behind an enemy or they spawn in behind you. In one of my kill cams I spawned in behind an enemy, killed him, an enemy teammate spawned behind me, killed me, my teammate spawned in behind that enemy, and killed him. Bam, bam, bam. Just like that three players didn’t even have a chance. Now this is been a common problem through CoD history. Since its the beta I assume that respawns adjustments will be made so its not so bad as that one instance. The sad thing is its always been a problem going back to the original Modern Warfare.

These things don’t account for ping issues, de sync, lag, and other server problems. All of those things are problems that don’t seem to be going anywhere because they are prevalent in all the previous iterations and many other multiplayer games. It also doesn’t account for balancing of weapons, maps, and the inevitable micro transactions to come.

The Big Question

You’re all hyped up.

You get in to play and its good fun.

The nostalgia wares off.

You remember all the things you hated about the game.

Some of your friends want to try the beta. You reluctantly play with them.

It goes really well. You’re surprised how much you enjoyed it.

You start thinking.

I had fun but is it just going to be a fad game that everyone grabs and then stops playing after a few months? Just like other Call of Duty’s and many other games. This is hard to answer because it typically can only be answered by joining in on the fun while it happens or waiting and seeing.

Also I want slower more meaningful game play. Remember Cyber Attack? Having only one life is reminiscent of PUBG and needing to be deliberate with your choices.

I also like more coordination, strategy, and teamwork. What about Ground War? There is definitely opportunity to provide leadership to the other 30 or so players on the team. Which is reminiscent of leading a squad in the game Squad.

So.

Are you getting Call of Duty Modern Warfare?

That’s a good question.

PUBG is said to have the best shooting mechanics of any shooting game right now. Its randomness and open world like game play has this way of creating amazing stories like no other game. But its punishing. We’re also starting to see some burn out from PUBG. On top of that CoD offers 6+ slots for a team versus PUBG’s 4 slots.

I have a lot of friends interested in getting this CoD. Some of them have already pre-ordered.

As for me? I have the itch. Let’s see if its still there in a month.

Before I end this I just have some additional insight.

A suggestion for myself, and maybe others, if we get this game. When you really want to get some good gaming in pick the game modes that need strategy and teamwork. If you just want to hang with friends, chat, and play something while doing so, pick the fast paced chaotic game modes, turn the audio down, and hang with your friends.