Call of Duty: Modern Warfare review: A fresh and exciting reboot

Infinity Ward breathes new life into the long-standing franchise with a fresh and exciting reboot of one of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Title: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Windows
Release date: October 25, 2019

When Infinity Ward made the announcement that they would be returning to their roots, it piqued my interest. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is the first installment of the franchise I have extensively played since Black Ops 2. The original series consumed every drop of free time I had, and I have had a similar experience with this year’s Modern Warfare.

Infinity Ward has returned to what they know best, a solid campaign with a multiplayer suite offering a variety of modes. The game’s campaign is solid and gorgeous while giving fans of the older series hope for the next installment. Multiplayer remains a fun, core pillar of the game with progression giving players plenty to unlock on the way up through the ranks.

Furthermore, there are some fantastic new game modes. Gunfight and Cyber Attack are fun additions to the CoD formula, bringing new and exciting ways to play the game. While fans will enjoy the campaign and multiplayer, the Spec Ops branch is unforgiving and lackluster.

Captain Price Returns

After Treyarch opted to hop on the battle royale bandwagon with last year’s Black Ops 4, Infinity Ward has brought back a traditional campaign, and it’s both visually stunning and compelling. Cinematics are frequent, with each mission only lasting about 15 to 20 minutes, and they look absolutely spectacular in 4K.

Missions feel varied with unique twists, and Infinity Ward has pushed the envelope with their level design. The maps are well-designed with some offering fairly large areas to explore.

The story of Modern Warfare is gritty and grounded. It certainly has been inspired by today’s terrifying world, and it was eye-opening. Call of Duty is known for its blockbuster set pieces, but even with that, there’s a very grounded sense of realism in the events unfolding within the game.

This is, in part, thanks to a wonderful cast of characters. Captain Price, of course, steals the show as his demeanor and charisma shine in each cinematic. This is not to say that the other characters aren’t also great in their own ways. Unfortunately, Captain Price is the only one of the four main characters not playable during the campaign.

Call of Duty® Modern Warfare® (4) - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Infinity Ward

Flashbacks are an integral part of the campaign, revealing the story of one of the main characters, who is instantly likable. Her willingness to fight for her people and make the right decision gives her a personality that stands out from the rest. The other two characters are run of the mill military men, but they are delightful nonetheless.

Game Mode Galore

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series always had great multiplayer, and this year’s reboot lives up to its predecessors. The gunplay is solid, and the variety of game modes is large.

The newly added Gunfight is my favorite of the modes. Its two versus two random class chaos makes each game feeling fresh and exciting.

Cyber Attack is another interesting game mode that features search and destroy mechanics, but with the ability to revive fallen teammates. The option of reviving teammates adds a unique aspect because it could quickly turn the tide of a game. Of course, the classic game modes are there, such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Free For All.

A small quality of life change to game mode selection is Quick Play. All of the standard game modes are thrown into a quick playlist, but you have the option to filter out which modes you do and don’t want to play. It makes finding a game quick, and I never had to wait long for a match.

The only game mode that did not sit well with me was Ground War. Ground War was also present in the original games, but it only featured more players rather than larger maps and vehicles. This game’s Ground War is the weakest of all the modes because it doesn’t fit the Call of Duty formula. The maps are too big for the lack of players on the battlefield. The vehicles were easy to operate but that’s about all there is.

Progressing Through Maps

The best maps in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare are those in the Gunfight playlist. The maps are small, and the settings are interesting. A heavily foliaged hill and a wood-paneled shooting range are just a few options. When it comes to the Quick Play maps, they vary greatly. The standard map variation is poor because there are not a lot of them, but there’s also a night version of each.

Another issue with the maps is the spawn points. There were several times I spawned and instantly died, which was unsavory. This issue primarily only came up in Domination, but there were other occasions as well. This could be fixed via patches in the future, however.

Modern Warfare picks up the old progression system with each level unlocking some sort of  weapon, kill streak, perk, piece of equipment, or a field upgrade. Weapons also have their own progression system. The more you use a weapon, the more skins and attachments you unlock for them.

This leveling system pairs really well with the new Gunsmith ability. Gunsmith allows you to equip up to a certain amount of attachments to your gun. For assault rifles, you are able to equip up to five attachments at once, but you have six areas to do so. One of these areas is for perks. Weapons now have their own perk slot, which could include FMJ or even Sleight of Hand. These were great options to have, and I loved the large customizability of each weapon.

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Infinity Ward

Finally, Killstreaks and field upgrades are the last portions of your loadout. Killstreaks return with a large variety of killing machines to choose from. You are only able to select three different streaks, with each becoming available at a different amount of kills. A nice change is that you can not select from the same kill amount more than once, which evens out the playing field.

Field upgrades are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s reaction to abilities. These upgrades are obtained over time and range from deployable shields, munition boxes, dead silence and more. These pieces of equipment or abilities serve to be vital in combat, and I found myself using them whenever I could.

Dreadful Ops

Spec Ops is probably the worst mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which is a bit disappointing because the original spec ops branch of the Modern Warfare series was great. It took your attention away from standard multiplayer and offered different challenges than the ones in the campaign. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot does not do that.

Spec Ops gives players an option of four operations or classical special operations. The four operations stem from an end credit scene from the campaign but adds little to what was already told. The only pieces of the story are given over radio chatter, which doesn’t compare to the cinematics of the campaign. If you can’t manage to muster up three friends for Spec Ops, then you can queue with randoms.

Unfortunately, the difficulty of this mode ruined the experience for me. The missions were incredibly hard and I played each one several times with no hope of completing them. The missions are littered with enemies who seem to spawn faster than you can kill them.

There are roles within Spec Ops that help balance out each team, but I found little success with any of them. The enemies hit hard and fast, and the difficulty makes it hard to continue with the uninspired mission. If the enemies don’t get you, then the bugs might. There was an instance when I was downed and then quickly revived, but I no longer could use any weapons. But that wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the time I got stuck in a wall.

I had hoped the classical special operations would save its counterpart, but the wave-based mode is just an expanded portion of a campaign level. The campaign version had more depth than the Spec Ops mode, so I lost interest quickly.

A Classic Series Reborn

Infinity Ward has rebooted a classic series that many love and cherish. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series is arguably the best series in the CoD franchise, and Infinity Ward has certainly reinforced that here with a stellar campaign and multiplayer suite. The story is original with some old thrown in while multiplayer is solid even though not every game mode and map land perfectly.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Infinity Ward

8.5

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a fresh and exciting reboot that feels completely new yet satisfyingly familiar. It breathes new life into the franchise by updating and modernizing what many consider to be one of CoD‘s best sub-series. Not every new addition or tweak lands perfectly, but overall Modern Warfare is a great package.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.