That time of year is fast approaching once again. No, I’m not talking about autumn, Halloween, or even Christmas—although my subject of discussion today shows up just as reliably on the calendar each year. I’m talking about a brand new Call of Duty game, and over the past few weeks I took a test run of its new features, cross-play action, and more. Here are my Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta impressions following the most recent round of testing.
Beta modes and maps
Over the course of two weekends the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta offered up a wealth of different gameplay modes and maps. This includes staples such as Deathmatch, Domination, and King of the Hill style modes of play. In addition to these are newer modes such as Headquarters, (which is a lot like Domination but with randomly spawning control points), and Cyber Attack, where teams attempt to deposit an EMP in enemy territory.
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta doled out a generous number of maps to test out as well. Hackney Yard is set amid a London harbour with shipping containers and industrial fare, while Azhir Cave is conversely set in the middle-east and full of dark tunnels and sparse buildings. The vastly larger Karst River Quarry map is a freight yard consisting of tall buildings and enough space to maneuver modes of transportation such as ATV’s and helicopters.
All in all there is enough variety in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta to make a promising case for the full game release. Multiplayer beta tests can often feel stagnant, with only a few modes and maps that get repetitive even over the course of a single weekend. Here the Call of Duty team makes a strong case that a healthy amount of content and variety in the beta should translate to a sufficiently deep experience in the final release.
A young player’s game?
One thing I cannot help but note in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta is the speedy pace of gameplay. Personally I am far from a top-tier competitive FPS player. I do enjoy dipping a toe here and there, but in general my taste is more in the neighborhood of “Garden Warfare” (see Plants vs. Zombies) vs. “Modern Warfare”.
That said, either I’m getting older or the game is getting faster—or more likely, both! It seems like death comes more quickly than ever before in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta, with powerful weapons and clever hiding places allowing those keen players with the sharpest skills to dispose of casuals like myself like shooting fish in a barrel.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly begrudge no one. If anything it seems as though the franchise is leaning harder than every into its frantic fast-paced roots, rewarding aggressive play and leaving those who can’t take the heat behind. The return of killstreaks with deep rewards (such as the infamous nuke) further reinforces this attitude.
In the end, my favourite new feature may be the ability to open and close doors. It gives me the ability to shut myself in a room and say a prayer before someone inevitably frags me unseen from some dark corner. But in all honesty, I kid! (Actually, not kidding. Please send help).
One concept that the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta flirted with over the weekend was removing the mini-map from the HUD. Typically with the mini-map present players can see the location of teammates and enemies. Its removal in turn leaves players blind to their surroundings.
By now you are aware that I am no Call of Duty pro, so you may assume that I find this stressful. However, I actually quite enjoy playing without the mini-map. I would assume that its removal puts me at a disadvantage. However it also removes the advantage of other players in knowing where everyone is so easily.
Many players were put off by this foray into realism, but for myself I am a fan. Even if I am losing, I like the idea that I don’t stick out like a sore thumb on a HUD that breaks the realm of belief. It lends a dose of reality to the game and makes a progressive move toward games as a truly immersive experience.
Furthermore, when you respawn in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta, you actually get an overhead look at your teammates as you “drop” onto the map. I really like this new look as well, and it helps give you your bearings and plan your movement without giving you the ubiquitously omniscient advantage of a static mini-map.
Cross-platform play was introduced into the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta over the course of the 2nd weekend. The crossplay feature includes users from PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Players are identified by the platform they are using in the lobby.
Overall I am pleased with how crossplay works in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta. Matchmaking doesn’t seem to suffer much from the increasing scope. Once the match is on I’m not sure I would know the difference between crossplay and non-crossplay affairs.
One worry I had going in was that PC players would have an advantage. Mouse and keyboard controls are frequently believed to offer a distinct advantage over a gamepad. However, if such an advantage was there, it certainly wasn’t overbearing.
I can’t really say that I noticed any more deaths coming my way at the hands of PC players. Nor did I notice PC players consistently outperforming other players either. Of course this is just our first taste of crossplay, but it is important to note that the feature can be turned off entirely if the player desires.
Final thoughts on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta
I may not be the most skilled soldier, but I still had a lot of fun in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta these past few weekends. The pace of the game is fast to say the least, but there is plenty to see and do throughout various multiplayer modes and maps. I look forward to playing more in future modes that may eliminate HUD objects such as the mini-map.
Cross-platform play seems to perform well so far. Thankfully I didn’t notice a distinct advantage for PC players over those on console. I’m happy to say that gamers across all platforms had equal enjoyment in eliminating me over and over again!