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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare- Part IV Review and Reflection, Lessons on the Price of Aggression and The Costs of Conflict With Unstated Goals

“We get dirty, and the world stays clean.” –Captain Jonathan Price

Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, Garrick and Price break up the Al-Qatala meeting and manage to capture Jamal “The Butcher” Rahar. Interrogation is unsuccessful, so Price steps things up by threatening to shoot his wife and son, forcing Rahar to answer their questions truthfully. Although Garrick is tempted to execute Rahar, he ultimately lets him live, accompanying Price over to Baurci, Moldova, where Hadir has planned an offensive on General Barkov’s estate. While Price provides overwatch, Garrick investigates several locations and ultimately finds Hadir, who reluctantly tells the pair the location of Barkov’s chemical weapons facility in Borjomi, Georgia. The Russians demand that Hadir be remanded into their custody, and while Price complies, he asks that they be allowed to hang onto the intel Hadir had. With Farah and Alex, Garrick and Price mount an attack on Barkov’s facility with support from American forces and link up with Price’s contact, Nikolai, to retrieve explosives. The accompanying detonator is damaged during the fighting, Alex volunteers to stay behind and set them off, while Farah sneaks on board a helicopter and manages to kill Barkov. In the aftermath, the Russian government disavows Barkov, and Price works with Kate Laswell, a CIA Station Chief, to discuss the formation of Task Force 141 so that they can prepare for a major operation against the terrorist Victor Zakhaev. With this, Modern Warfare‘s campaign draws to a close, and while perhaps a more unconventional experience in that Modern Warfare‘s missions play out more slowly, the game nonetheless tells a compelling story about warfare, specifically how those who engage in conflict without an aim beyond subjugation and the destruction of a people will be doomed to failure: in an Israeli parable, a hunter tasks his dog with pursuing a rabbit so that he may have dinner, and while the dog was an apt hunter, the rabbit runs for its life, outpacing the dog, who was merely running to serve the hunter. Here in Modern Warfare, Barkov is portrayed as being someone who wished to eradicate Urzikstan and its people: his decade-long campaign against the nation is met with frustration because Farah and the country’s people are fighting for their lives, to preserve their home against a foreign aggressor. While Barkov only fights for glory and some twisted view of the world order, Farah fights because Urzikstan is the only home she’s ever known, and in this way, she and her rebels simply have the superior and resolve to outlast their foe.

While the outcome of a given conflict is determined by many factors, including equipment, training and tactics, historically, warfare is also fought on morale and motives. Quite simply, a nation or faction that wages war with a clear objective in mind, and has a plan for achieving these objectives will have the motivation to fight the war swiftly. Conversely, if no objective exists, and no plan exists, warfare becomes protracted, and the longer a given war drags on, the more likely it is that the instigator will lose. In Modern Warfare, Barkov’s motivations are self-serving and callous; he seeks to dominate and subjugate Urzikstan. From the player’s perspective, Farah and her people are fighting for a legitimate reason: she simply wants her homeland free of Barkov’s occupation. In knowing what’s at stake and what stands to be gained from resisting Barkov, Farah and her people are able to fight with uncommon resilience and determination. The same trends can be observed in reality time and time again: during the Vietnam War, the United States sent soldiers over to Vietnam to “contain communism”, whereas North Vietnam was simply trying to rally the nation together and survive. In the Soviet-Afghan War, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan out of concern that Hafizullah Amin was planning to support the United States and create an opening to install Babrak Karma, a Soviet-friendly leader. In both cases, the Americans and Soviets failed to account for the locals’ determination to resist and make their own way forwards, resulting in protracted conflicts that proved unpopular with the people back home. With parallels in history, Modern Warfare warns players about the futility of warfare. Generally speaking, one should not endorse warfare where diplomacy is an option, and further to this, those who do desire open conflict with another nation are likely those with the least understanding of how severe consequences can be for all parties involved. For instance, social media users tend to revel in warfare, seeing it as a treasure trove of footage for farming retweets and upvotes. Such a world-view is one completely lacking in empathy and represents poor conduct, standing in stark contrast with works of fiction that place people in the shoes of those who fight wars to emphasise how people should count their blessings where there is peace, and to never willfully wish for or instigate conflicts.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Upon arriving in St. Petersburg, Garrick is given a choice of sidearm. I went with the Desert Eagle: although harder to control than the other pistols, its stopping power is unparalelled. The aim of this mission is simple: capture Rahar. Killing him will end the mission, so one must be careful in their shot placement, and as soon as the meeting between Rahar and the other Al-Qatala members is disrupted, Rahar will take off, occasionally stopping to take a few potshots at Garrick and Price. In reality, the Desert Eagle can be suppressed, but the results won’t be quite as pronounced as video games.

  • After taking down the first foes of the mission, I picked up a P90 for additional firepower. On missions where improvisation is the name of the game, I tend to ditch the staring pistols immediately: automatic weapons and their large capacity make it far easier to deal with multiple foes at once. As Rahar beats a hasty exit, Garrick and Price follow him into the streets of St. Petersburg. There’s a distinct chill in the air about this day, and while the firefights in this mission are brief, it was a novel experience to have a running gunfight in a location I’ve previously never visited in a video game.

  • While games are intended to entertain, first and foremost, they do offer topics for conversation, as well. Once Price and Garrick corner Rahar, they will interrogate him: the stakes mean that Price has no qualms in using Rahar’s wife and son as bargaining chips. While the consequences of letting Rahar walk are doubtlessly severe, there is something reprehensible about threatening Rahar’s family to get the required intel on Hadir’s location. The moral ambiguity shown in Modern Warfare is a reminder to players that in warfare, good and evil is a matter of perspective, and moreover, even the so-called “good guys” will occasionally commit acts of dubious morality in the name of the greater good.

  • Seeing these messages in fiction is meant to show players that things are rarely as clear cut as they seem, and this is why in general, I don’t like making any judgements about foreign events. Tragedies and conflict stem from complex causes that interact to create a perfect storm, and it is often the case that the media will abstract out these causes, causing people to assume that warfare results from simple terms. The reduction of conflict to an “us versus them” mindset is deleterious and leads to dehumanisation of one’s opponents by removing important details from an issue.

  • Thus, when Modern Warfare gives players the full agency to shoot Rahar in the head during the interrogation, a part of me felt that, as one operative in the picture, it wasn’t right for Garrick to make this call. One aspect of Tom Clancy novels I’ve always respected is the idea that one’s enemies are worth more alive than dead, at least from an intelligence picture. Given that dead men tell no tales, it makes sense to keep someone around as a resource if they appear to be someone who may possess the key towards stopping worse atrocities. As it was, I decided to spare Rahar.

  • With Hadir’s location found, Price and Garrick head on over to Moldova. Garrick begins the operation with a suppressed EBR-14 and a suppressed X-16 pistol. Both weapons are whisper-quiet in the game, so when coupled with using darkness as cover, allows one to sneak through dim areas undetected. This mission offers some flexibility as to how one wishes to complete things, but the outcome will always be the same, with Hadir eventually being found. The EBR-14 is an excellent weapon, and because of how important stealth is here, there is actually no reason to switch off the starting weapons initially, since unsuppressed weapons will instantly give one’s position away.

  • The EBR-14 is most useful for taking out foes, while the X-16 pistol is a nice way of snuffing out lights that may give the player’s position away. During this mission, Price will alert players to the presence of a light detector on the left-hand side of the screen. When the meter increases, one is in a brighter area and is at risk of coming under enemy fire. IRNV goggles are used extensively in Modern Warfare, to a much greater extent than previous games, and while this emphasises the clandestine nature of special forces operations, this also precludes players from appreciating the visuals in Modern Warfare.

  • As memory serves, Modern Warfare is one of the first Call of Duty games to incorporate real-time ray-tracing into things. Without ray-tracing, some lighting effects look a little cruder: while ray-tracing often degrades performance, I’ve read that allowing the game engine to handle the calculation of lighting effects actually simplifies things for developers, who no longer have to go in and bake everything in. This, at least theoretically, would free developers up for other tasks. In Modern Warfare, real-time ray-tracing is very subtle, but in some games, like DOOM Eternal and Metro Exodus, the differences are night and day, warranting a revisit of these older titles.

  • I would eventually make my way over to the church to investigate the site, while Price stays behind to provide covering fire. On a few occasions, Price also will helpfully shoot out lights, creating more darkness that covered my advance. Upon arriving at the church, I managed to find a suppressed shotgun. Although with a lower rate of fire than the X16 pistol, it felt nice to have a reliable weapon that could one-shot any foe silently at close quarters. Indoors, I removed the IRNV goggles to get a better look at things, although given that some areas are quite dark even when lit, it became apparent that it was easier to keep my goggles on.

  • Throughout the Moldovan safehouse, Garrick will encounter hostages, both dead and alive. Each area will have one live hostage that Garrick will speak with, and initially, there won’t be any evidence of anything unusual going on. Players attempting to speed-run the mission won’t be successful: similarly to Bad Company 2‘s Sangre del Toro mission, one must hit all of the objective areas to learn the intel needed to get into the central house of Barkov’s estate. At this point in the mission, the number of foes increases dramatically, and semi-automatic weapons are less effective.

  • Fortunately, foes begin dropping suppressed automatics, and picking these up gives players a better chance of dealing with numbers. For individual foes, the EBR-14 remains more than adequate. One point of curiosity was that, no matter what weapons one picks up in this mission, all of them have the infrared laser sight module and suppressors. Although it gives the mission a bit of an unrealistic feeling in a game that is otherwise quite committed to realism, the tradeoff is that it gives players more options. For me, this meant, once I got my hands on an automatic weapon, the concern with being entirely stealthy evaporated, since I could now shoot my way out of tricky situations.

  • While Battlefield and Call of Duty traditionally feature campaigns that allow players to go loud, recent instalments have placed an emphasis on stealth. It is not lost on me that notions of stealth go hand-in-hand with the idea that military operations are supposed to be surgical in precision and minimise collateral damage: the fewer bullets one fires to accomplish their objective, the better things will be. Of course, the best solution is to negotiate things out so bullets don’t need to be fired at all. However, in a video game, intense firefights are what players come for.

  • Players seeking to experience this level of combat will still find it in the multiplayer modes: campaigns are designed to be introspective experiences. Here, I’ve gotten my hands on an AK-47 with an extended barrel, suppressor and 75-round drum magazine. With more than double the capacity of the Famas rifle, I felt confident in dealing with whatever stood between me and the objective. I did end up trying the Famas, but Modern Warfare configures it so it’s a burst-fire weapon only. Burst fire weapons have always been tricky to use in video games: in reality, they’re excellent because they allow for rounds to quickly be put on target, but games balance them out by making individual shots weaker.

  • Price and Garrick eventually capture Hadir, who was acting out of desperation: he saw the chemical weapons as a means of taking revenge on those who devastated his homeland and Farah’s life. However, Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote captures the consequences of this best: one must not become a monster when fighting monsters. Modern Warfare shows how even the most well-intentioned people can be compelled to commit atrocities in the name of their cause. However, there’s no time for argument: Barkov’s helicopters begin hammering the area with rocket fire.

  • The last segment of this mission abandons all stealth: one must get to a tunnel’s entrance in order to finish the mission, and in the chaos, while soldiers will fire upon Garrick, Price and Hadir, there’s no time to return fire. This is where an automatic weapon becomes useful: one can quickly deal with anyone between them and the exit. In the end, Hadir is captured and turned over to Russian authorities after Price negotiates for their being allowed to keep the intel from Hadir. Hadir’s story is that of a tragedy: while he wanted to avenge his people, in the process, he resorted to acts of extremism: one can understand where Hadir’s coming from, but this doesn’t make his actions defensible.

  • Modern Warfare‘s final mission is befitting of Call of Duty: in conjunction with the US Armed forces, Price and Garrick, Alex and Farah participate in a full-scale offensive on Barkov’s secret chemical weapons facility. As Alex, players begin with Hadir’s custom rifle and an M4A1 armed with an M203 under-barrel grenade launcher. This segment of the game is brutal: enemy fire fills the air, and I don’t mind admitting that I fell to enemy fire as a result of carelessness on several occasions here. This speaks to the importance of playing tactically, although I note that the allowance for respawns made every death a learning moment.

  • Respawning in games (or a lack thereof) are a core part of the mechanics: games that disallow for checkpoints and respawns are unforgiving and demand players to approach things with caution. Whether it be through the story or the mechanics, games can act as superb metaphors for life. However, there is a limit to this: those who cannot differentiate between reality and games will be met with frequent setbacks. One example that is especially vivid was a 2020 publication to The Economist, where an interview was conducted with activist Wong Chi-Fung. Chi-Fung an activist who also happened to be an avid fan of Gundam Versus, cited the game to be a parallel is his own efforts and stated that “when you get knocked down in one game, you just have to start another”.

  • The problem with seeing life as a video game is that real life tends to be unforgiving, and one cannot undo mistakes made in reality by loading a previous save. The Economist interview speaks to Chi-Fung’s immaturity – the interview was conducted while Chi-Fung is actively playing Gundam Versus, during which he is barely able to maintain his focus on the interviewers’ questions. As it turns out, Chi-Fung’s interest in Gundam is less about the mobile suits and more about the politics: he replies that “[Iron-Blodded Orphan‘s protagonists] embody the problems burdening each one of us” and indicates how his view of the world is vindicated when “the heroes are defeated, but the vanquishing regime adopts democratic reform anyway”.

  • It becomes clear Chi-Fung plainly modelled his brand of activism on a misconstrued interpretation of what is seen in Iron-Blooded Orphans and glorifies sacrifice even when it is meaningless. However, in other Gundam works, things aren’t so clear-cut: Gundam SEED‘s Kira Yamato abhorred violence and only fights with the minimum force needed to disable his opponents. In Gundam 00, Setsuna F. Seiei eventually works out that there are more ways of fighting than cutting down his foes with the Exia and 00 Raiser. Setsuna’s Gundams becomes one tool amongst several towards building a better future. Chi-Fung’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge that there are other ways to achieve long-term aims is shown when the interviewers ask about his thoughts on whether or not violent actions are justified.

  • Chi-Fung replies that he refuses to denounce violence because he empathises with their brand of thinking, and by tacitly endorsing violence as a legitimate means of achieving one’s aims, it is clear that Chi-Fung completely failed to understand the themes of Gundam. Similarly, publications can become out of their depth when dealing in these topics. The separation between fiction and reality is important because, while fiction often is a commentary on reality, they are crafted in such a way as to convey a specific idea, as well as showing the consequences of specific actions.

  • A part of this includes simplifying politics and abstracting out parts of a system so they fit the story better. The end result is that well-written stories are tight thematically, but they also make many assumptions in order to convey their themes. This is why when I go through stories, I always stop to consider the creator’s intents and their thoughts on a specific topic that the story covers, rather than attempting to cherry-pick elements to fit my own world-views. As it was, I found that The Economist’s article ends up being an endorsement of an unhealthy mindset: to the well-adjusted mind, fiction is about entertaining people, not about encouraging people to embrace violence for one’s own gratification.

  • I remark that, if The Economist desired an insightful and thoughtful conversation on games and the merits they bring, I’d probably be the better choice, although admittedly, my profile is much more unremarkable (for one, I’m a software developer). Back in Modern Warfare, I’ve finally cleared the seemingly endless waves of soldiers Barkov has at his disposal and finally enter the chemical weapons factory. Because the strike teams have no idea what they’re up against, they don gas masks. At this point in time, I was beginning to run out of .308 Lapua rounds for Hadir’s rifle and discarded it for an SVD equipped with FLIR optics.

  • The logic of doing so became clear shortly after: Barkov’s men disconnect the power, plunging the factory interior into darkness and giving the defending soldiers the upper hand. Having FLIR optics levels the playing field, allowing me to methodically locate and pick off foes without wandering into a trap. In Call of Duty, most missions can be completed without switching up one’s starting loadout, and in previous titles, I’ve gotten by reasonably well. However, this can create complacency, which in turn results in frantic moments if one enters a situation they’re not prepared for. Conversely, folks willing to experiment a little and capitalise on whatever options are available to them may have an easier time of things should a situation shift suddenly.

  • After exiting the factory’s power plant, Alex returns outside to link up with Nikolai, who’s provided both explosives and a detonator needed to bring the factory to the ground. Nikolai has featured in previous iterations of Modern Warfare, being a Russian informant who has infiltrated Imran Zakhaev’s faction and provides assistant to Price. In Modern Warfare, Nikolai’s role has changed somewhat: he’s now the leader of a private military company and has a strong sense of morality, doing what he feels is right to stave off chaos.

  • The biggest surprise in the finale mission was the appearance of a Juggernaut. This foe is probably the single toughest enemy in the whole of Modern Warfare, capable of absorbing an insane amount of damage thanks to their heavy armour. Luckily, this Juggernaut is only armed with the PKM, and is vulnerable to flash-bang grenades. I ended up defeating the Juggernaut using a combination of flash-bangs and the DP-12 incendiary shotgun, whose flammable buckshot deals damage over time. The Juggernaut’s appearance knocks Alex back and wrecks the detonator.

  • While Alex prepares to set off the charges manually, Garrick and Price have headed over to the pipelines. Garrick is initially armed with the FN SCAR-17 and an MGL-32 multiple grenade launcher. They come under heavy fire, and I responded by immediately ducking off to the side. At these ranges, I found the SCAR to be unsuited for combat and quickly switched over to the MP7. Although it takes a few rounds to down each soldier, the increased mobility and the fact that its hip-fire accuracy is reasonable makes it a better choice.

  • Per advice from Price, I ended up taking cover using the pipes and managed to close the distance to the gunner keeping allied forces pinned down. This allows everyone to push on forwards to the pipes that lead into the facility. In the end, I never ended up using the MGL, which only appears in the campaign. While it’s a powerful weapon, great for clearing crowds, Garrick doesn’t carry any more ammunition for it, beyond the six rounds it initially comes with. Here, I also found an M134 minigun; it comes with 320 rounds to start and is effective at close ranges, but the weapon also leaves one highly exposed in the campaign.

  • The Juggernaut killstreak, on the other hand, turns players into devastators in the multiplayer. I’ve noticed that it’s a bit of a Call of Duty tradition to save all of the most powerful weapons for the end of the campaign and only allow them to be utilised sparingly: besides ensuring the campaign stays balanced and satisfyingly challenging in the right spots, their appearance is probably also to entice players to venture into the multiplayer, where these weapons can be utilised.

  • Once Garrick reaches the pipeline, he will place the explosives onto the pipeline, and the mission will change over to Farah’s perspective. This is a classic Modern Warfare tradition: prior to Modern WarfareCall of Duty 4: Modern WarfareModern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 all featured a finale where players had to fight their game’s main antagonist in a desperate situation. Here in Modern Warfare, Farah sneaks on board Barkov’s helicopter and ambushes him. A lifetime’s worth of vengeance comes into play here, and while she’s much stronger than she had been the last time she and Barkov met, fighting Barkov still gives her some trouble.

  • In the end, Farah manages to kill Barkov. In his dying moments, Barkov continues to maintain his goal was to eradicate terrorism, and Farah kicks his corpse from the helicopter. The others subsequently detonate the charges, destroying Barkov’s factory and bringing Modern Warfare to a close. It seems that my timing for Modern Warfare was spot on: while I’d been busy, I still managed to finish prior to Modern Warfare II‘s launch. Overall, while Modern Warfare represents a change of pacing from earlier titles with respect to how the campaign is structured, it presented a very engaging story, and the gameplay was solid. With Modern Warfare in the books, I’ll probably spend a bit more time in Battlefield 2042 so I can unlock the Avancys and also resume my journey through Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

Although Modern Warfare represents only one perspective on warfare, it remains a very visceral presentation of things in a way that stands out from its predecessors. In this way, Modern Warfare‘s campaign gives players insights into why some wars unfold the way that they do: despite being significantly slower than the Call of Duty campaigns I’m familiar with, Modern Warfare ended up being surprisingly immersive for forcing players to move tactically and make calculated decisions about their next move. While I felt that Modern Warfare‘s campaign places more emphasis on night missions than its predecessors, and the scale of missions is far smaller than they’d been earlier, the characterisation and stakes are less grandiose, reminding players of how even the simplest of tasks require utmost coordination and patience. At the end of its campaign, however, Modern Warfare signifies that the story isn’t over yet; John “Soap” MacTavish is one of the operators that Captain Price is interested in recruiting, and the return of iconic characters in the future proved most exciting, especially in the knowledge that Modern Warfare II will be releasing later this month. At the time of writing, while I’ve had the opportunity to play the Modern Warfare II open beta and ascertain that my machine will run it without any problems, as well as how the game appears to be reasonably stable, I’m still deciding whether or not it would be worthwhile to pick the game up shortly after launch: at present, I am reasonably confident that I will have time to enjoy and write about the game in the upcoming months, but at the same time, I’d like to hold off and see what goes down in the campaign before determining whether or not the game joins my library. Previously, I bought Call of Duty games a few months later when they went on sale, and since I tend to play Call of Duty games only for the campaign, waiting for the discount is a logical choice. Modern Warfare II might prove to be the exception on account of how much fun I had during the beta, and while even the standard edition costs 10 CAD more than games would typically do at launch, paying about a third more to start my experience a half year earlier sounds reasonable if I am going to get into the Invasion mode earlier. For the time being, however, I am content to wait a little and see if the campaign and Invasion in the retail game will merit the additional cost of admissions, as well as explore Modern Warfare‘s spec ops missions and private lobbies further.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- Reflection on the Open Beta

“Nobody knows what anticipation is anymore. Everything is so immediate.” –Joan Jett

The excitement surrounding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (I’ll refer to the 2022 iteration using roman numerals to differentiate it from its 2009 predecessor) is quite tangible, and during the past weekend, the Modern Warfare II open beta was running, allowing me a chance to try the game out for myself: after building a new desktop machine and acquiring a RTX 3060 Ti, I’ve been itching to see how the latest iteration of Call of Duty would handle. The open beta represented the best opportunity to try things out, and while I spent only a few hours in-game, I now have a better sense of what the game requires from a hardware standpoint. On the average match, my machine effortlessly maintains 120 FPS with everything cranked up, and while I have played a few matches where latency was an issue, causing some rubber-banding, the game was smooth overall. Modern Warfare II handles extremely well; movement is crisp and responsive, while the gunplay is immensely satisfying. I never had any trouble moving my character precisely to where I needed to go, and Modern Warfare II‘s firearms feel consistent. While the beta only offers a small hint of what’s to come, Modern Warfare II is stable and performs well. Matchmaking was relatively quick, and once I got into a game, individual rounds were very tight and focused. For classic modes, new maps retain the classic Call of Duty arena-style design, offering fast-paced combat encounters where close quarters firefights and swift reflexes win the day. Modern Warfare II also sees the return of Ground War (a smaller version of Battlefield’s Conquest mode) and a sandbox-like mode called Invasion, which pits human and AI players together in a team-based battle on larger maps, which in turn provides a larger environment for experimenting with Modern Warfare II‘s longer-range weapons. The range of game modes seen in Modern Warfare II‘s open beta is a fraction of the full title, and while I historically have not enjoyed the smaller modes of Call of Duty, Invasion proved unexpectedly enjoyable, giving me a chance to get familiar with the weapons before hopping into a more frantic round of domination with a better idea of how to best use the tools available to me. Surprisingly, this time around, I found myself performing with some consistency: while veteran players and folks with a great deal of spare time will run rings around me, in more matches than I’d expected, I was also able to top the scoreboard.

While skill-based matchmaking meant I was more likely to pitted against players of a similar skill to myself, one aspect of Call of Duty returned to me in full during the course of Modern Warfare II‘s open beta. By default, the voice chat is enabled, and this meant, moments after slaughtering an entire team because of a bit of beginner’s luck on my end, I was screamed at and branded a cheater. In this instant, I immediately recalled why I typically don’t play multiplayer games with voice chat on. I endured the banter befitting of youth and young adults with far more time, and far fewer responsibilities than myself, for the duration of the round. After listening to another player on my team complain about how no one on the team besides himself knew how to play Modern Warfare II, I exited the lobby, dug around the settings and after a few minutes, located the options to completely disable voice chat. The remainder of my open beta experience was more peaceable, although it became clear that Modern Warfare II‘s UI is unintuitive and difficult to navigate. I’ve grown accustomed to Modern Warfare‘s UI, which, by comparison, is very clear and easy to use. The menu system in Modern Warfare II makes it difficult to access one of the game’s most anticipated features: the revised and updated Gunsmith. Modern Warfare II has streamlined the experience by developing a progression system in which one unlocks attachments for a weapon platform, and then these attachments are shared amongst all of the different receivers (weapon types) for that platform. This approach is intended to cut down on grinding, and shared attachments mean one is able to immediately kit out newly-unlocked weapons to bring their handling characteristics closer to what one already has for a previously-unlocked weapon for that platform. On paper, this means using new weapons will be a more enjoyable experience because one won’t need to go through the entire unlock process again. The Gunsmith upgrades are fantastic and cut down on time spent just unlocking stuff, allowing one to experience more of Modern Warfare II. This approach is quite welcome: contemporary titles often drag out the progression to encourage replay, but this makes for an exhausting experience, so seeing Modern Warfare II adopt a more streamlined approach is encouraging. For someone like myself, someone who’s got limited hours to game, a reduced grind means there is incentive to play occasionally without worrying about an overwhelmingly long journey to unlock everything; seeing this in Modern Warfare II does make the game’s multiplayer modes more enticing.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I decided to start my open beta experience in the Invasion mode and immediately found myself netting a few kills about human foes. The larger size of these maps, coupled with how players are spawned into things, means that one isn’t likely to die instantly after spawning in: this is something that had dissuaded me from playing Call of Duty, and even in bot-only modes, I’ve found that the small map sizes and relative lack of sightlines means that sniper rifles and marksman rifles are less useful in more traditional modes.

  • However, in Invasion, larger maps and the inclusion of AI bots mean that players have a chance to orient themselves and blend in. I started out with the M4, and this jack-of-all-trades assault rifle proved to be a perfect choice for combat at short to medium ranges. Throughout the open beta, the M4 became my go-to weapon choice for most maps and modes, and I ended up getting it to level sixteen before the beta ended. The fact that I could almost reach the level cap for the M4 over the course of two days shows that Modern Warfare II, at least in the beta, has a reasonable progression system.

  • If the pacing is similar in the final release, Modern Warfare II would be a game that works with my schedule: lengthy progression pathways dissuade me from gaming because I don’t have the same time I did back in the day, and games that allow me to play at my own pace usually have the most longevity in my books. Back in Modern Warfare II, after giving Invasion a go, I decided to return to the modes that I typically have the most trouble with. Close quarters environments mean map knowledge is vital, and in Call of Duty, I’ve not learnt the maps anywhere nearly as well as I had say, Halo 2‘s Lockout (which I can still draw from memory).

  • However, in the beginning, Modern Warfare II‘s skill-based matchmaking (SBMM, a means of matching players into servers based on their relative performance) system put me on a server with average players, and after spawning in, I achieved a feat that would not be seen again for the remainder of the open beta: I scored a Killtacular (in Call of Duty terms, a “quad kill”) after four of the enemy team’s players ran around a corner and surprised me, causing me to empty my entire magazine into them in a moment of blind panic. This ended up being the play of the game, and even though my team ended up losing, I ended up at the top of the scoreboard on my team.

  • Domination is basically a scaled-down version of Conquest, in which players must capture and hold points to score for their team. The way maps are designed, there are many flanking routes and plenty of cover around some objectives, giving defenders and attackers a fair chance at doing their part. The maps in Modern Warfare II are intricately designed and features a great deal of clutter, giving them a lived-in aesthetic that stands in contrast with the sterile maps of Battlefield 2042. While Battlefield traditionally excels with larger scale maps, ever since Call of Duty entered the battle royale market with Warzone, their large-scale map designs have improved dramatically.

  • While I don’t play Warzone and generally are not a fan of battle royale, I don’t mind admitting that Warzone is probably the best-designed battle royale game out there. Call of Duty‘s approach to the genre is skill-based: firefights can be turned around if one knows their map and weapons, and the game keeps things simple in its inventory management. Moreover, while Warzone does have weapon cosmetics, the emphasis on having cosmetics is reduced compared to the likes of Fortnite. Seeing MrProWestie and JackFrags in Warzone has piqued my curiosity for the past two years: ever since the global health crisis began, Warzone has offered players a novel experience to immerse themselves in.

  • I sat out Modern Warfare and Warzone in 2019 because my desktop wasn’t able to handle it, and while I don’t feel that I’ve missed out on Warzone, watching people play it did get me interested in giving Modern Warfare a go. Here, I managed to get a five-streak in a match of TDM. I rarely strayed from the basic M4 loadout during the beta because it had been so reliable, and in fact, the only limitation about the starting M4 loadout was the fact that one “only” gets a 30-round magazine. Against individual foes or a pair of enemies, 30 rounds is more than enough, but handling multiple foes in a spray-and-pray situation is quite tricky.

  • Unlike the Call of Duty: WWII open beta five years ago, where I fared extremely poorly, my performance in Modern Warfare II was somewhat improved to the point where I was having fun during my matches. The only exception to this was early on, when I hadn’t figured out how to disable the voice chat, and therefore, was privy to some of the nonsense other players were spewing. The Call of Duty community is known for situations where middle school-aged children play alongside adult players, and their actions on the voice chat have become quite unwelcome.

  • While I didn’t encounter any middle school-aged players, it turns out that the older players are equally as immature: when I joined a TDM round and got a few lucky kills on the opposing team, I was met with screeching and expletives. When I die in a given game, usually, I’ll either handle it quietly and move on (if I was legitimately outplayed), or laugh at the results (especially if I lost in a way that was unexpected or hilarious). Games are about having fun, and I’ve never felt that my sense of self-worth was determined by my KDR or W/L ratio in a given game.

  • Once I blocked out the voice chat in the Modern Warfare II open beta, my experienced improved dramatically. While a squad of friends would definitely find squad channels valuable, playing with what are colloquially referred to as “randoms” (basically, people one doesn’t know in real life or have any sort of online friendship with) means that little is to be gained by using voice chat, especially if said randoms are being immature and spamming chat with juvenile comments. Playing Modern Warfare II with just the in-game ambience and dialogue is more than enough, although on the flip-side, it does show that Modern Warfare II‘s voice chat system is working as expected.

  • The same couldn’t be said about Battlefield 2042‘s open beta: while the game was still functional and mostly stable, the beta from last year was nowhere nearly as smooth as Modern Warfare II. It is clear that, from the state of their respective open betas, Modern Warfare II is in a much better position for launching in October. Here, I’ve switched over to another domination match on what would become my favourite of the maps during the open beta: Farm 18 is an abandoned cement plant turned into a live fire training ground, consisting of a kill house surrounded by flanking routes.

  • In most of the games I’ve played, matches end up being quite close, and I found that while there were times where I ended up losing, my performance would never be so bad as to be demoralising (as I had experienced during the WWII beta back in 2017). I’ve heard that SBMM for Modern Warfare II‘s open beta was very aggressive – when watching MrProWestie, he’d remarked that after doing moderately well in a game, he was subsequently matched into a “sweat” lobby, one where everyone was try-harding to the point where even a full-time content creator was having trouble keeping up.

  • There were a few occasions where I did feel that SBMM put me into a game with players far more skillful or determined than myself, but even in these games (which were rare), I would eventually get into the swing of things and manage to hold my own. In the worst matches I played, my team still ended up losing by a few points, and similarly, in the best matches I played, my team won by a small margin. I did find that during games against tougher foes, I would always gain a sudden burst of performance and mow down foes one after another – while not enough to single-handedly turn the tide of battle or turn my KDR positive, such moments were fun and encouraged me not to drop out of a game mid-match.

  • Breenbergh Hotel was another map I particularly enjoyed. For domination, two capture points are located inside the hotel (one in the restaurant, and one in the lobby). The last capture point is located outside. The corridors and clutter in the hotel meant that long-range weapons aren’t viable here, and for this particular match, I spawned in with the base M4 without any attachments; I levelled up far enough to unlock custom loadouts, and as I worked on ranking up the M4, I eventually picked up the 45-round extended magazine for it.

  • Between the extended magazines and suppressor, I suddenly found myself much better equipped to score back-to-back kills before needing to reload: while tap-firing works well for medium range combat, in close quarters, the sheer chaos means that automatic fire ends up being the norm. Having fifty percent more ammunition to work with increases one’s survivability in these situations, and while the tradeoff is a longer reload time, reloading when out of combat offsets this particular disadvantage.

  • The new gunsmith has a similar UI to the gunsmith from Modern Warfare, but the largest difference now is that players can change out the weapon’s receiver. I didn’t get quite far enough to unlock the M16 receiver, but this approach represents a significant improvement over the original Modern Warfare, which had separate weapon unlocks for each individual weapon. Modern Warfare II allows players to unlock attachments for a weapon family, and then unlocking receivers grants access to some (or most) of one’s existing attachments. In my case, had I actually reached the M16 receiver, most of the attachments I already had for the M4 would carry over, allowing me to instantly start using the new gun without needing to work my way back up from the iron sights.

  • For kicks, I ended up equipping a slow-firing marksman rifle and got the first kill of that match. Such a weapon is unlikely to work out in the close-quarters environment that makes up the domination mode, but it was quite amusing to score kills in this way. The nature of Modern Warfare II‘s more traditional maps and modes mean that most players will prefer automatic weapons. To level up and experience longer-range combat, one must either play Ground War or Invasion, both of which provide a larger-scale match which changes up the play-style.

  • Prior to Modern Warfare, Call of Duty was known for valuing speedy reflexes above tactical play. While I’ve fared moderately well in these ranges as a result of preferring close-quarters combat from my Halo days, after I made the jump to Battlefield, I slowly acclimatised to more tactical, methodical gameplay at medium ranges. The maps in Call of Duty don’t always cater to this style, but I found that, rather than dying to a bad flank, I ended up suffering most at the hands of campers, who prefer remaining concealed in an area and scoring kills by ambushing unsuspecting players.

  • Camping will become a more popular approach in Modern Warfare II, since the minimap now hides all foes unless they’ve been spotted by a UAV or other equivalent means. The result of this is that the UAV became one of the more popular score-streaks, since it allowed one to reveal the position of enemies on the minimap for their entire team so long as the streak was active. In the absence of the UAV score-streak, I ended up using my grenades more generously, tossing them into a room and letting them detonate before I entered for myself.

  • One map I ended up playing a great deal of was Valderas Museum, which is a complex of corridors and rooms surrounding a large, open central area. The combat flows very rapidly on this map, so unsurprisingly, the M4 was my go-to weapon for this map: it fires fast enough to deal with foes at close quarters, but is accurate enough to pick off foes from across the courtyard. I ended up trying out the SMGs, and while they’re fantastic at close ranges (like their counterparts from Battlefield, they’re reasonably accurate even when hip-fired), larger maps with long sightlines make them a little less viable.

  • Besides the killtacular I got early in the open beta, I would end up scoring several double kills and triple kills once I found my flow – my customised M4 and its extended magazine proved to be an invaluable tool for clearing out capture points from attacking foes, while the ACOG sight gave me better clarity at longer ranges. Since Modern WarfareCall of Duty has done a fantastic job of ensuring all attachments have their pros and cons. While I cut my teeth in the Battlefield camp and prefer the larger-scale all-out warfare of Battlefield over the close-quarters chaos that characterises Call of Duty, recent Call of Duty titles have shown me how Infinity Ward is catching up in terms of engine sophistication.

  • After nearly a decade of being on the backfoot, I feel that Call of Duty has now matched DICE and their Frostbite Engine in terms of sophistication, and moreover, Call of Duty appears to be using their engine more effectively than Battlefield uses the Frostbite Engine – Battlefield 2042‘s beta suffered from performance issues that endured even into the game today, whereas Modern Warfare II was very smooth. DICE has worked tirelessly to fix these issues, although in my case, I’ve found that the massive upgrade in hardware is what allows me to play Battlefield 2042 now.

  • While the open beta was a fantastic way to ascertain that my machine can handle Modern Warfare II, what I’m most excited about is the campaign, which is the main reason why I play and enjoy Call of Duty. Call of Duty campaigns vary in size and scope, but they always offer an engrossing story that gives me a chance to discuss topics that I otherwise wouldn’t talk about – the political aspects in first and third person shooters invite conversation surrounding these matters, whereas most of the anime I watch tend not to cover such topics. I have found that anime tends to use politics to convey very specific messages, whereas Western entertainment is a bit more open-ended.

  • In earlier Call of Duty games, the “overkill” perk allows one to carry two primary weapons, and the default loadouts in Modern Warfare II‘s open beta similarly have two primary weapons. Here, I swapped over to the shotgun and promptly downed a foe defending one of the capture points. I don’t play the multiplayer extensively, so I don’t know which perks are the most effective for different scenarios, but I have heard that Modern Warfare II changes the way perks work: besides two base perks, players will automatically unlock two special perks to change the game dynamic.

  • I ended up returning to the Invasion mode so I could do some sniping, and en route to a good vantage point, I ended up being ambushed. The sniper loadout comes with the Signal 50 by default – this was the only long-range weapon available in the open beta, and it was obscenely powerful. However, being a sniper rifle, players are left at a disadvantage if they’re in close quarters. Fortunately, the sniper loadout comes with an automatic pistol which works in a pinch. Battlefield 2042 recently introduced the PF51, which fulfils a similar role.

  • The Signal 50 proved to be a remarkably fun weapon to use, and I ended up going on killstreaks with it. Here, I unlocked the Cruise Missile, which lets one drop a missile onto a target similarly to how Battlefield V allowed players to call in a V1 or JB-2. While higher kill streaks offer powerful bonuses, I found that overall, the best score streak unlock is the UAV owing to its ability to instantly reveal enemy positions on the minimap. The removal of enemies on the minimap after they discharged an unsuppressed weapon became a point of contention for long-time players. Some argue that this encourages camping, while others hold that this means players can equip other attachment besides suppressors.

  • One of my favourite moments during the Invasion game mode came when I managed to score a kill at 295 metres. Unlike Battlefield 2042Modern Warfare II retains a means of showing players the distance of a particularly impressive kill, and I admit that it was quite satisfying to land this kill. During this match, I ended up climbing onto the water tower at Sarrif Bay and spent the better half of the game sniping foes from afar.

  • Towards the end of the beta, I unlocked a battle rifle. Although I’d initially struggled with the weapon, after getting a few kills with it, I ended up hitting my stride. During this game, my team was outmatched, and I don’t mind admitting that I was more interested in trying out the battle rifle than I was in playing the objective. However, despite losing the match, I led the team on the scoreboard: I was finding that I was regularly finishing first or second in spite of my generally poor knowledge of Call of Duty mechanics.

  • Overall, I found myself having a great deal of fun during the Modern Warfare II open beta, significantly more than I’d anticipated, and considerably more than I did during the WWII open beta. I had sat out the Modern Warfare and Cold War open betas in previous years because I’d modified my previous machine in a way that prevented it from being updated to Windows 10. Last May, I ended up merging the user profiles back together and then updated my machine to Windows 10, but by that point, the i5 3570K was beginning to show its age. With my new desktop, I’m looking forwards to having the hardware needed to run games for the next six to eight years.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with one final kill from the Hurricane SMG and remark that I’ve just finished Modern Warfare‘s campaign. I’ll write about my thoughts on this come October, and in the meantime, I’ve got one more post lined up for September – I’ve finished Spy × Family‘s first season and found it a remarkable anime, so I look forwards to sharing my thoughts on why this anime is universally acclaimed, as well as some of the things that Spy × Family does especially well from an espionage and surveillance perspective.

With the open beta in the books, I now have a much better sense of what Modern Warfare II entails. Beyond my usual reasons for keeping an eye on a Call of Duty title, I know that Modern Warfare II now offers a fantastic alternative to the close-quarters combat of the usual maps, and the unforgiving environment of Warzone, which requires a squad and time commitment to yield maximum enjoyment. Invasion has proven to be a surprisingly enjoyable change of pace: maps are significantly larger than the typical maps for domination and TDM, giving one a chance to snipe and use vehicles, but at the same time, the allowance for respawns means that there is tolerance for making mistakes, and applying learnings from said mistakes immediately. The last time I played a Call of Duty open beta, it would’ve been five years ago, when WWII was released. Back then, the multiplayer gameplay proved underwhelming and clunky. However, it is plain that Activision has improved their game considerably since then: Modern Warfare II looks incredible, and for the first time, I see myself playing a Call of Duty game’s multiplayer component. In conjunction with a campaign that looks excellent, there is a very good chance that I will be checking out Modern Warfare II shortly after it launches. Between a promising title and the hardware to do so, I am presently leaning towards picking the game up after I’ve had the chance to to preview the campaign’s content and see for myself how things handle following launch. I’ve traditionally picked up Call of Duty games for their story missions and therefore don’t get much replay out of the games, but in the case of Modern Warfare II, between the presence of multiplayer modes that interest me, in conjunction with a Spec Ops mode and the fact that I’ve enjoyed all of the Call of Duty campaigns I’ve previously played, I am reasonably confident that Modern Warfare II would be a game that engages me. All that’s left now is for the early-adopters to give me a bit of additional insight into what I’d be getting into, and then I’ve got enough to make a decision as to whether or not Modern Warfare II is worth the full price of admissions, or if it will join my library at a later date.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare- Part III Review and Reflection, Remarks On The Horrors and Desolation of Warfare

“If you can transcend from the dark rut of disempowered thinking to the bright light of an empowered agreement with reality, you will see opportunities, not barriers. You will see the finish line, not the hurdles.” –Steve Maraboli

Having lost their target, Garrick, Alex and Farah coordinate to take The Wolf out in Urzikstan. The ambush is unsuccessful when General Barkov’s forces appear and fire upon both the rebels and Al-Qatala. During the fighting, Farah learns that Hadir had been the one who orchestrated the theft of the Russian chemicals, and he uses it to kill all of Barkov’s soldiers. In a flashback, Farah and Hadir were orphaned during Barkov’s operation and were captured. While imprisoned, Farah eventually became recognised as a commander for the rebels and managed to break out of prison. In the process, she encounters Captain Price. In the present day, Garrick and Alex mount an assault on The Wolf’s Compound, and although they are successful in apprehending The Wolf, Hadir is nowhere to be found. Farah’s organisation is subsequently dubbed a terror group, and Alex decides to remain in Urzikstan, against orders, to fight alongside Farah’s forces. Meanwhile, acting on intelligence that Hadir may have been responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Russia, Garrick and Price head to St. Petersburg, where they meet up with Nikolai, one of Price’s old contacts. Having finally resumed my journey, I’m three quarters of the way through Modern Warfare, and the game’s gritty portrayal of warfare sets it apart from the cinematic set pieces of earlier titles. Here in Modern Warfare, the ugly side of conflict is shown: war isn’t heroic and only serves to perpetuate more conflict. It’s a different thematic direction than the older titles, acting as a sobering reminder of the horrors that can arise from war in a significantly more visceral manner than did the earlier Call of Duty games. Modern Warfare is especially effective in its messaging because of its first person perspectives; through giving players a chance to play as Farah when she witnessed her father’s death, and again as a prisoner in Barkov’s prison, Modern Warfare strips away the agency from players.

When Farah was a child, she lacked the physical strength to take down a Russian soldier in a direct confrontation. The powerlessness is apparent: although Farah has a makeshift knife with her, it takes several attempts, and during the whole ordeal, Farah must hide from the soldier. Until now, players have grown accustomed to being able to expertly sneak up behind a foe and take them down in a single, swift stroke. However, Farah doesn’t have this power as a child, and in this way, eluding the Russian soldier turns Modern Warfare into a game of suspense and patience. Similarly, when Farah does find a revolver, the recoil is so great that missing any shot results in instant death. The first person perspective also gives players a brutal insight into why Barkov is an enemy. At his prison, Farah is powerless to fight Barkov and can only endure as Barkov’s men torture her for information. The inability to do anything to better her situation in this moment speaks to the sort of despair and resilience she and her fellow rebels must have experienced until they had the opportunity to break out and fight back against their oppressors. Depriving agency from the player, when done in moderation, is an especially effective storytelling mechanism: in a game where players have the power and tools to make a difference, taking this away really emphasises the abject terror of being unable to defend oneself. This approach is known in liberal arts as a “disempowerment fantasy” by denying freedom and creates the impression that goals cannot be achieved. Although some folks are of the mind that disempowerment fantasies make for superior games by forcing players to feel bad about the characters, the reality is that, when poorly executed, disempowerment fantasies force players to acknowledge their perceived inabilities. However, when done well, as is the case in Modern Warfare, showing moments of disempowerment also encourages players to delve further into the story and appreciate what is possible when one is provided with the means of make a difference.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The eighth mission is predominantly a sniping mission, and players will gain access to Hadir’s custom sniper rifle, a bolt-action rifle that fires .338 Lapua Magnum rounds with armour-piercing capabilities out to 600 metres. The mission is an extended version of One Shot, One Kill and similarly requires players to adjust for both wind and bullet drop. To be successful in this mission, Farah’s advice should be taken: she will provide all of the information one needs to estimate distance and projectile deviation, and players will have a chance to get a few practise shots off before The Wolf’s convoy shows up.

  • Aside from Hadir’s rifle, Alex also has access to a handful of other weapons. The AK-47 grenadier varaint with a red dot sight is also provided, and with its large magazine, it’s a suitable weapon for short and medium ranges. Picking off the Al-Qatala fighters from range is straightforward enough, especially since they will take cover among the structures in the town below: hitting moving targets when the wind shifts is tricky, but for the most part, the Al-Qatala fighters stand still, giving one a chance to line up their shots.

  • It’s now been two weeks since I installed the RTX 3060 Ti, and having now had the time to test its performance, I’ve found that the card has proven to be exceptionally capable with the tasks I’ve sent at it. Modern Warfare handles extremely well, and the rendering artefacts that had been present previously are absent now. Weapon models therefore look extremely polished and sharp. The GTX 1060 had no problem with framerates, but I imagine that it might’ve had trouble rendering some of the textures. The RTX 3060 Ti is about 133 percent faster and is better able to handle lighting effects, so this isn’t too surprising.

  • From a temperature perspective, my RTX 3060 Ti idles at around 50° and reaches 65°C under load. Altogether, I am very satisfied with the video card’s performance: the improvement is roughly similar to when I made the upgrade to the GTX 1060 from the GTX 660, which was present in my original build from 2013. That machine had been built for moderate gaming, and while it couldn’t run period titles with everything set to ultra at 60 FPS and 1080p (for instance, the GTX 660 struggled with Battlefield 4), it had proven to be more than enough for the games I’d been interested in.

  • The release of DOOM in 2016 was eventually what convinced me to upgrade, and for six years, the GTX 1060 had continued to be my workhorse GPU, handling everything I tasked it with, including Metro Exodus and DOOM Eternal. While the old GTX 1060 is still in fighting shape, my decision to upgrade came from the fact that I was looking to get something that could handle VR more effectively on top of being able to mess with real-time ray tracing. In this way, much as how DOOM led me to upgrade to the GTX 1060, it is fair to say that DOOM Eternal and Half-Life: Alyx encouraged me to step up to the RTX 3060 Ti.

  • Back in Modern Warfare, the mission to apprehend The Wolf gives players a chance to experience Zero Dark Thirty for themselves: after cutting the lights to The Wolf’s hideout, the Infrared Night Vision (IRNV) goggles come on. In this state, players cannot aim down sight, but instead, make use of a special laser sight that’s only visible when IRNV is enabled. This mission’s emphasis on room clearing and stealth brought back memories of Zero Dark Thirty‘s portrayal of Operation Neptune Spear, where JSOC coordinated a successful raid at Waziristan Haveli to neutralise Osama bin Laden.

  • Similarly to Zero Dark Thirty, I waited for teammates to breach the parameter before entering, clearing out each room with caution: women and children are present on site, and some women will reach for nearby weapons. While it’s a snap decision to fire upon any combatant who’s armed, seeing unarmed women initially can throw players off. These aspects of warfare are conveyed to players through this mission, and it is in this way that Modern Warfare is able to excel as a game, by giving players a glimpse of how difficult it is to make decisions in the moment.

  • For this mission, as Garrick, players are equipped with the M13, which is outfitted with a reflex sight, suppressor and 1 mW laser, which can only be seen with the IRNV goggles. The M13 in Modern Warfare is based on the SIG MCX and while it’s a select-fire weapon chambered for the 5.56 mm NATO round, in the campaign, it’s configured to only fire in semi-automatic. The choice to constrain players to semi-automatic in the campaign is deliberate, meant to remind players to pick their shots carefully.

  • The lights momentarily come on after the first building is cleared, and a sweep of the premises finds that The Wolf is nowhere to be seen. Here, I look back into the electrical room, where a hot water heater can also be seen. The composition of this photo actually reminds me of the basement to the building that housed my first start-up, a former nurses’ quarters that had been around since the 1920s. A year ago, I revisited the site with a friend and found the building to be demolished: it must’ve sat empty since we’d closed up shop during the September of four years earlier.

  • Here, I pass through a room filled with computer equipment, storage media and physical files. Such a room would represent a treasure trove of information surrounding terror cells, but in this moment, the mission’s objective is to locate The Wolf. Moving through the cramped hallways and dark rooms in this mission was quite claustrophobic, and there are several moments where I used my flashbang grenades to buy myself some breathing room before entering a room with an unknown number of occupants.

  • As I climb the stairwell to the final floor, I noticed that it turns to the right, and in a moment of déjà vu, I gripped my mouse a little more tightly in anticipation of an unseen foe that was almost certainly around the corner. Moments later, the operator in front of me double-tapped an enemy combatant, and then shot him a few more times for good measure, bringing to mind a moment in Zero Dark Thirty that almost certainly inspired this scene. However, unlike Zero Dark Thirty, The Wolf isn’t on the final floor, and with the second building cleared, orders are given to turn the lights back on.

  • In a scene reminiscent of Zero Dark Thirty, the other operators immediately begin taking the place apart and recovering everything of value – even though The Wolf isn’t present, the communications The Wolf have with his cells could provide valuable intelligence on what Al-Qatala could have planned for the future and stop them ahead of time. Typically, once the material is recovered, it is passed along to intelligence analysts, who then pick everything apart, turn it into reports that then impact what operations the government and armed forces subsequently action.

  • The mission’s perspective switches over to that of Alex, who accompanies Farah in pursuit of The Wolf through a subterranean network of tunnels. While a relatively small map compared to Call of Duty‘s larger missions, the urgency is still felt in this second half. The tunnels are filled with makeshift traps that Alex must disarm – Bad Company 2 had done something similar in its missions, where tripwires would set off explosives that could injure or kill the player, and this forces one to be mindful of their surroundings.

  • Alex starts with a pistol and shotgun, so I immediately looted an AK-47 from a defeated Al-Qatala fighter. The starting Model 680 (an 870 MCS) is a solid shotgun in the tunnels’ close quarters, as every pull of the trigger fires off a deadly cone of buckshot that will shred foes. However, as a pump-action weapon, missing in the narrow tunnels can prove fatal. This particular Model 680 is armed with a red dot sight, although traditionally, I’ve found that shotguns can be fired from the hip with reasonable accuracy and don’t need to be aimed,

  • One of the aspects about campaigns that I’ve not been terribly fond of in campaigns is how there’s almost no options for weapon customisation. One game that did a fantastic job of this was 2015’s Battlefield Hardline: the campaign was extensive and thoughtfully done, and as players completed assignments in the story missions, they could unlock accessories and attachment for their weapons the same way they could for the multiplayer. In this way, the game allowed players to kit weapons out precisely to their liking, and while players were rewarded for stealth, players can always revisit the game and go loud in every mission.

  • As I pass by a lamp in the tunnels, the Model 860’s smooth textures become thrown into sharp relief. I’ve enabled ray tracing simply for kicks, and while the effects are subtle, it is nice to see light effects being rendered in real time. If disabled, games will use baked lighting, and there are a few areas in Modern Warfare where these effects are most pronounced. I still remember a conversation with a coworker at my first start up. Back then, real-time ray-tracing was still a novel technology – the techniques had existed to do it, but it remained out of reach for most consumers because of the incredibly high hardware requirements.

  • NVIDIA’s Turing cards brought real-time ray-tracing to consumers two years later – these cards have dedicated hardware for ray-tracing, which carries out calculations in parallel with the tensor cores to improve performance. The Turing cards were revolutionary, and while the gains in performance haven’t been quite as impressive as the gap between the Pascal and Maxwell cards, modern cards mean that real-time ray-tracing will continue to be more common in games as a bonus feature for those looking to really immerse themselves.

  • The merits of having an RTX series video card are most apparent when one plays games with real-time ray-tracing, and shortly after the Turing cards were released, developers began releasing updates to their games to add real-time ray-tracing. Games like DOOM EternalMetro: Exodus and Battlefield V greatly benefit from this technology, and having seen the comparisons for myself, I feel that it would be worthwhile to go back and play these games again, front-to-back – the differences are so significant that these games feel like entirely new entries.

  • Having said this, even games without real-time ray-tracing benefit from the new GPUs. As I’ve found, Ghost Recon: Wildlands can now be cranked up to maximum at1080p and still maintain a consistently high framerate. With the RTX 3060 Ti, I’ve not had any concerns about whether or not certain areas of Modern Warfare, such as the part where the timber framing is set on fire as a result of exploding fuel barrels, would give my machine trouble.

  • The real-time ray-tracing effects in Modern Warfare are a ways more subtle than something like DOOM Eternal, and I imagine that, had I been playing the multiplayer or Warzone battle royale modes, I’d leave real-time ray-tracing off. However, in campaigns, where exploration and marvelling at the graphics is a part of the experience, I prefer to have everything cranked up as high as it goes. Here, as I make my way deeper into the tunnels, I couldn’t help but get Metro vibes. I was introduced to that series when NVIDIA was doing a promotion with their Kepler GPUs and got Metro: Last Light for free with my GTX 660.

  • At the time, the GTX 660 was counted as a solid value GPU for 1080p gaming back in 2012, although it wasn’t going to run everything in Metro: Last Light at maximum settings (if memory serves, achieving this required a single GTX 690 or a pair of GTX 680s in SLI). I don’t think I ever ended up revisiting Metro: Last Light with my GTX 1060, but in benchmarks, this card would’ve given me excellent frame rates. With this in mind, I feel that playing through Metro: Exodus with the RTX 3060 Ti would be a fantastic choice, and return to Modern Warfare, where I finally apprehend The Wolf and subsequently disarm his suicide vest with seconds to spare.

  • With The Wolf’s death, Modern Warfare flashes back to a time when Farah and Hadir were Barkov’s prisoners. Hadir sets in motion a prison break, and while the mission initially has players completely unable to respond to anything Barkov does, once an explosion outside forces Barkov to investigate, Farah is given a chance to escape. One of the challenges in this mission is determining what can be interacted with, but once players figure out how to escape the prison block and confiscates a sidearm after killing one of the guards, Modern Warfare returns to form – it’s time to dispense some payback.

  • As helpful as a pistol is, Farah and the other prisoners can deal some real damage once she unlocks a weapons case. It turns out the key Hadir handed her was for such a purpose, and while all of the AK-47s available are in their base configuration, they’re more than enough to get the job done. By this point in time, iron sights are no longer a problem for me, and I had no trouble in using them to cut down all of the guards blocking Farah’s escape.

  • Real-time volumetric lighting has been a topic of interest since the late 2000s, during a time when games still largely depended on baked lighting. However, while graphics technology has improved wildly in the past decade, the heart of what makes a game worthwhile is gameplay and immersion. This is why older games are still engaging and worthwhile even if they are inferior from a visual standpoint; of late, games have relied increasingly on micro-transactions and cosmetics to continue driving profits, and this comes at the expense of game mechanics and immersion.

  • However, when a base game offers a good experience, I have no problems with picking up additional content for that game – Ace Combat 7The Division 2Ghost Recon: Wildlands and DOOM Eternal are examples of games where the downloadable content proved fun and engaging, extending my enjoyment of a title further. I appreciate that as production values in games increase, there has to be some way of ensuring developers can keep working on their craft, so for titles I really enjoy, I do not object to dropping a bit more coin.

  • Eventually, after making my way outside, I managed to pick up an AK-47 with optics, helping me to pick off foes from a longer range with increased confidence. Out here, Farah and the other rebels find themselves pinned down by a sniper. While there’s no way to kill the sniper directly, firing on the scope glint will force the sniper to temporarily retreat, buying Farah and the rebels enough time to move from cover to cover. During this process, additional guards will appear, and at these ranges, I found myself wishing for a good submachine gun or PDW – traditionally, submachine guns excel with hipfire and are a great choice for surprise close-quarters battles.

  • During the fighting, Barkov can be seen evacuating the area on a helicopter. One interesting piece that Modern Warfare chooses to portray here in this mission is Farah’s inexperience with various firearms – reloading times are longer and have different animations. Moreover, Farah can’t reload while aiming down sights, and recoil is much more aggressive. Attention to detail had previously been Battlefield‘s forte, and during the Battlefield 1 days, YouTubers were fond of showing off subtle things Battlefield did that were absent in Call of Duty. Today, the tables have turned – Battlefield 2042 lacks the same nuance as its predecessors, and Call of Duty games actually have superior detail.

  • Eventually, Farah and her compatriots will reach the warehouse. She takes down the sniper, and although her group is surrounded by Russian forces, who’ve regrouped, Captain Price and SAS operators arrive. They dispatch the Russians and accompany Farah’s group deeper into the complex. At this point, there’s no more firefights to deal with, leaving Farah to try and find Hadir. This mission sets in motion Farah’s leadership of the resistance forces in Urzikstan, and marks the first time where Price, then a leftenant, meets her.

  • In the end, Farah rescues Hadir with Price’s help – it turns out the Russians had been working on their chemical weapons programme even back during this time. I imagine that Hadir’s exposure to the gas is why he’d been so keen on turning these same weapons back against the Russians. With this knowledge, we enter the final act of Modern Warfare knowing what the stakes are, and I am hoping that there will be a chance to go loud as players work to stop both Barkov and the chemical weapons that are still loose in the wild.

  • We’re now halfway through September, and on the gaming front, I’ve been spending more time with Battlefield 2042 – between the start of the seasons back in June and the fact my machine can actually run the game at reasonable frame rates, I’ve found the game to be reasonably fun despite its deviations from previous titles. The game is in a significantly better spot than it had been when it launched, and I’m finding it to be a fairly engaging experience; I could think of worse ways of spending an evening than playing round or two to unwind.

Three-quarters of the way into Modern Warfare, it becomes clear that this instalment in the Call of Duty franchise is quite unconventional and shows how the first person perspective can be utilised to create an especially visceral story. The missions are significantly more tactical and smaller in scale compared to its predecessors, and the pacing is considerably slower. Engagements are tighter and more focused, demanding one pay more attention to smaller details. While lacking the bombastic set-pieces of the older titles, Modern Warfare manages to remain engaging precisely because of its more methodical approach towards storytelling and showing the measured patience that goes into each operation, as well as how hectic firefights become when plans fall by the wayside. The slower pacing in Modern Warfare will likely continue into the campaign’s final quarter, although here, it is worth noting that all other aspects of Modern Warfare are faster-paced, whether it be the close-quarters frenzy of multiplayer, or the pure chaos that happens in Warzone. This represents a pleasant, more introspective way of playing a Call of Duty game, and in this way, Modern Warfare shows how even in a world where multiplayer games gain considerably more attention than single player campaigns, the campaign continues to remain relevant by utilising the same tools and elements in a game to present a completely different experience, one that is worth going through. I was quite surprised to learn that Hadir had been responsible for the theft of the chemical weapons, and as I head over to St. Petersburg, I am now curious to learn how this story concludes.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare- Part II Review and Reflection, Cleaning House and Reflecting on Call of Duty’s Ascent

“I think second place is the first loser in the competition.” –Wade Barrett

Following the terrorist attack in London, Captain Price and Garrick raid an Al-Qatala safehouse and, after clearing it out, locate intel on the location of Omar “The Wolf” Sulama. This information is passed to the Marine Corps, and Sergeant Marcus Griggs participates in the attack on Ramaza Hospital in Urzikstan to secure The Wolf. While the hospital is filled with civilians, the Marines manage to clear out the hostiles without any collateral damage. Griggs disarms a trap and captures The Wolf. Once captured, his second-in-command, Jamal “The Butcher” Rahar leads a mob in attacking the American Embassy in Urzikstan. Price and Garrick work together with Farah and agent Alex to repel the attack, but the embassy’s defenses are overwhelmed by The Wolf’s men and the angry mob outside. They breach the embassy, and this forces Garrick to help the ambassador’s aide, Stacy, get to safety after the attackers kill the ambassador. Once Stacy escapes, Garrick heads back outside to fend off the attackers. Using a flare to illuminate the ground and a laser designator to mark targets for close air support, Garrick helps to keep The Wolf’s men at bay. Upon returning to the embassy’s saferoom, however, The Wolf has managed to escape amidst the chaos. Three more missions into Modern Warfare, the story becomes a little clearer – the game feels more like an interactive, visual retelling of the foreign presence in the Middle East, and when players see things from the eyes of the soldiers rather than from a well-practised newscaster, the impact of the seemingly unending conflict resulting from over a century of foreign intervention resulting from foreign nations/ desire to control the incredibly vast reserves of oil underneath the desert sands. The consequences have been far-reaching and devastating, and games like Modern Warfare becomes a powerful, visceral means of portraying the conflict well beyond the simple delineation of suggesting that the foreign presence in the Middle East is purely to stamp out terrorism and then offering no explanation of why extremism and terrorism exists to begin with. As Modern Warfare progresses, it does appear that this game is taking Call of Duty in new directions, adding a much-appreciated human side to what had previously been a bombastic romp across the globe (and even space) to stave off total warfare.

Here at Modern Warfare‘s halfway point, the game has shown a remarkable departure from the previous titles: besides the conflicts being fought over issues that are more relevant to contemporary politics rather than grandiose plans surrounding nuclear weapons and sweeping geopolitical demands, Modern Warfare presents a much slower pacing with respect to firefights. The fourth mission represents an excellent example of this: Garrick’s participation in a raid on an Al-Qatala safehouse demands slow, methodical movements as players accompany Price on a room-by-room exercise to render the safehouse safe. There is no room for impatience or impulsiveness: blindly rushing into a room results in being ambushed at by terrorists from underneath a bed or hidden behind a doorway. This gives players a chance to appreciate that with rare exceptions, special forces operations are almost always slow, calculated and methodical. Operators fire with precision rather than wild abandon, and firefights are often decided without the enemy even firing a single shot in retaliation. Similarly, in situations where foes are dug in, they will not be fighting with any sort of integrity; Al-Qatala has no qualms in using civilians as shields, and careless weapon selection can leave players at a huge disadvantage. For instance, curious players thinking it clever to utilise a shotgun when raiding Ramaza Hospital will find themselves civilians in the process. Details like these, in conjunction with the fact that there’s no additional information beyond subtle cues for discerning where foes are serves to create an atmosphere of constant vigilance. In order to succeed in Modern Warfare‘s campaign, patience and focus is demanded of players – this is a far cry from the quick trigger finger and swift reflexes that dominate the run-and-gun tactics of the game’s more hectic and close-quarters multiplayer.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Captain Price has commented that the use of IRNV goggles makes it “too easy” in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but here in Modern Warfare, he has no qualms in using whatever tools are available to get the job done. With the goggles equipped, one is unable to aim down sights, and in the tight quarters of the Al-Qatala safehouse, it’s a slow going. This mission has the same aesthetic as the final assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty, when DEVGRU members and SAD operatives carry out Operation Neptune Spear.

  • Playing through this mission was able to convey the suspense that accompanies such a mission: while the night-vision goggles offer good visibility, the uncertainty of what lies around the corner made for a very slow going. Since I’ve no experience in this sort of thing, the mission felt quite suffocating, and I don’t mind admitting that I died on several occasions because I didn’t properly check a room to see if it were clear before entering it. In the end, though, I got things right, and my appreciation for the sort of work that Special Forces do increases.

  • The pacing in this mission meant it felt more like reading a book about such an operation, rather than playing it. Games typically do not portray missions of this sort precisely because it’s so slow and methodical that typically, it wouldn’t make for good gameplay. Battlefield 3, for instance, has a similar mission in which soldiers breach an apartment to capture a HVT, but players take on the role of a marksman providing support from a distance.

  • Once The Wolf’s location is known, Modern Warfare changes perspectives to that of a US Marine, who’s got boots on the ground in Urzikstan. The phrase “boots on the ground” was a significant part of Modern Warfare‘s marketting campaign – it simply means that the game was marking a return to its roots and focusing on infantry combat with a traditional movement system. Previously, 2016’s Infinite Warfare and 2017’s Call of Duty: World War II had not been too successful. The latter was criticised for being unremarkable, especially in comparison to Battlefield 1, while the former’s movement system was counted as being a knock-off of Titanfall‘s.

  • Conversely, in Modern Warfare, everything about the game is a return to the game’s roots, and improving what was already respected. The end result speaks for itself – the gunplay and movement in Modern Warfare is incredibly smooth and polished, while at the same time, adding a few new features here and there. Having now played Modern Warfare and returning to try out Modern Warfare: Remastered, the differences are quite subtle, but still noticeable. This both speaks to the improvements the newer games make, as well as how well-done things were originally.

  • For this mission, players start with the M4A1 with the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher. This grenade launcher was introduced in 1970 to replace the M79 and fires a 40 mm round. Although games like Battlefield 3 would later swap out the M203 for the newer M320, the M203 remains in use, as the M320 only began seeing use in 2017. In video games, under-barrel grenade launchers add additional anti-personnel firepower at the expense equipping a foregrip, which improves handling and mobility. In a game setting, the choice of a foregrip or under-barrel launcher is purely dependent on the situation – the extra firepower is useful for the campaign, but for medium range engagements in something like Warzone, a foregrip would be more beneficial.

  • The brown skies and ground gives this mission a distinct post-apocalyptic feel – there’s a distinctly Mad Max style about things as I head towards the hospital itself. Without 3D spotting or a radar, I’m left to carefully pick my shots and ensure I’m only hitting hostile forces. The lack of visual indicators means that foes blend in quite well with the background, and this does make for situations where leaving an enemy standing can prove disastrous.

  • Again, this setup means that players must move slowly and methodically, looking down-range and ensuring the area is clear before pressing forwards. The minimalist UI in Modern Warfare means spotting foes is tricky, but a clean HUD also means information is immediately clear to players. Previous Call of Duty games had a graphics-based UI, which had made it difficult to ascertain just how much ammunition or resources one had left to them, but since Call of Duty: WWII, the game has taken to displaying amounts with numbers, which makes things significantly easier.

  • During the combat, I find an EBR-14, a battle rifle chambered for the 7.62 mm round. Firing on semi-automatic, this rifle is a reliable choice for medium to long range combat, and typically fares best in situations with open spaces. Here, it is equipped with a holographic sight rather than longer-range optics, and with its semi-automatic rate of fire, is surprisingly well-suited for dealing with the interior of the hospital, where enemy combatants conceal themselves amidst actual patients. The semi-automatic fire means less chance of hitting a civilian.

  • While civilians must be avoided, there are some sections of the hospital where the enemy has set up machine gun placements. These lock down an entire hallway, and one must make use of the side rooms to sneak up close and drop the operator. As one closes in on The Wolf, soldiers will make use of a snake camera to see what The Wolf is up to, and the urgency in the moment increases – The Wolf is preparing to execute American soldiers, prompting one to speed up their attack.

  • Once the hospital is clear, players will capture The Wolf, bringing the mission to a close: the American marines are saved, and with a pivotal character in custody, Modern Warfare enters its next stage. Throughout Modern Warfare, I have been noticing that my GPU appears to have trouble with rendering the play of light off one’s weapon under certain conditions. Those spots become pixelated and rough, standing in contrast with the smooth and crisp lighting everywhere else in Modern Warfare. This has previously happened with Cold War, and I’m not too sure if it’s a consequence of my running an older GPU: updating GPU drivers doesn’t seem to have an impact on this.

  • While having strange lighting textures is a little jarring, this bit of visual discontinuity does not otherwise impact gameplay, and overall, Modern Warfare handles very well even on a six-year-old GPU. The GTX 1060 I purchased back in 2016 still manages to hold up, which is impressive: this mid-range card might not be able to run today’s most demanding titles at full resolution and settings, but at 1080p, it remains viable. Of late, GPUs have finally begin sliding back towards the MSRPs, and moreover, stock for GPUs has begun returning: my local retailer now has both the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti in stock again, and the latter had been a GPU I originally considered kitting out my current desktop with, being a solid upgrade to the GTX 1060 for 1080p gaming.

  • With performance hovering around that of the RTX 2080 Super for half the cost, the RTX 3060 Ti is an enticing card that fits my requirements: when I built my machine, I’d been looking for a GPU that would beat the RTX 2070 Super. However, while it is tempting to go out and pick up a 3060 Ti right now, Nvidia’s next generation GPUs are on the horizon: it is speculated that the high-end Lovelace series could be out before this year is over, and by mid-2023, the RTX 4060 could be available. Since my 1060 continues to perform in a satisfactory manner, there’s no rush for me to go out and upgrade.

  • The exact performance and specifications surrounding the RTX 4060 are unknown at present, and similarly, there’s been no word of a MSRP, either. However, if trends are anything to go by, the RTX 4060 could offer near-3080 level performance in some cases, much as how the 1060 was only about 5 percent slower than the 980 despite costing half as much. Assuming this holds true, the RTX 4060 would truly be a suitable upgrade for the aging GTX 1060 and allow my desktop some longevity. Having said this, my gaming habits are shifting as other priorities become more prominent: I’ve not played anywhere nearly as much multiplayer as I would’ve even compared to five years earlier.

  • Since DICE dropped support for Battlefield V, I’ve found more enjoyment in single-player experiences. Similarly, there’s more fun to be had in being outside for a good summer’s day compared to sitting inside in what is colloquially referred to a “sweat lobby” and getting nowhere. However, while I do not intend on spending anything approaching a substantial amount of time in multiplayer portions of games, having a reasonable GPU means being able to play single-player titles at my own pace, especially on cold winter days where being outside is uncomfortable.

  • Back in Modern Warfare, I’ve gotten through the embassy itself and helped navigate Stacey to safety, so things return to a more conventional mode of gameplay – I ended up ditching my pistol for an Uzi submachine gun. Contrary to my remarks in the last Modern Warfare post, unless a mission demands stealth, I will almost always change off a pistol for another weapon to increase versatility. Usually, a marksman rifle or submachine gun will fulfil this role: assault rifles are solid all-around weapons for medium range combat but can be tap-fired to reach out further, so depending on the mission, having a weapon to act as backup at close quarters, or reliably pick off long-range targets means being prepared for more situations.

  • If memory serves, Halo popularised the idea of being able to carry two weapons at once. This trend has since stuck with modern games, with the inevitable result that versatile weapons like carbines and assault rifles become an indispensable part of one’s loadout. Prior to this, in games like Half-Life and DOOM, one could carry their entire arsenal with them and be instantly prepared for any situation. Both approaches emphasise a different play-style: having every weapon available means the weapons themselves become more specialised, while limiting one’s arsenal means one must make split-second decisions about what to carry and then live with the consequences of their choices.

  • This approach is why weapon accessories and attachments have become so popular in games – in multiplayer, it allows one to tune a weapon to match a specific play-style, and while unavailable in older campaigns, more recent shooters have given players weapon variants that subtly alter the weapon handles. Here, for instance, I’ve got the M4A1 with the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher: the added anti-personnel firepower is great for crowd control, and this particular M4A1 has a fifty round magazine which, while increasing aiming down sight time, allows me to stay in a firefight for longer before needing to reload.

  • Having good weapons becomes absolutely vital during the second half of the mission, as one must now repel hordes of Al-Qatala forces. The fight starts with use of a mortar flare to illuminate the dark grounds, and here, I’ve picked up the EBR-14, which is outfitted with telescopic sights for picking off distant foes. With a large magazine and good rate of fire, the EBR-14 proved to be an immensely effective weapon for this segment of the mission. The flares used here are not unlimited in supply, and after expending them, one must contend with Al-Qatala fighters hidden in the darkness.

  • When I first played Call of Duty 4 back in 2012, I was impressed with how the game conveyed a sense of vulnerability and need for tactical play, since until then, I’d grown accustomed to having the Master Chief’s Mjolnir Mark VI and its recharging energy shields, which allowed me to soak up damage long enough to return fire, as well as having exceptionally powerful anti-tank weapons. Call of Duty 4 lacked these and forced me to play more slowly, but looking back, it’s still a pretty high-paced game. Modern Warfare‘s 2019 iteration, on the other hand, encourages smart, tactical play even during heavy firefights; this game does indeed follow in respecting its predecessor’s footsteps while at the same time, improving things.

  • As the fighting became more chaotic, I ended up ditching the M4A1’s grenadier variant for one outfitted for slightly longer range combat. After the Al-Qatala fighters rushing the embassy begin lessening in number, I receive an update: fighters have now hidden themselves in the construction site adjacent to the rooftop I’d been defending from, and what’s more, their numbers are overwhelming.

  • Initially, I’d picked up a light machine gun in anticipation of a protracted firefight. Light machine guns were my go-to early in my Battlefield 3 career because they had a high capacity, making them great for spray-and-pray play-styles befitting of a novice. However, light machine guns are balanced by making them heftier: aiming down sights and reloading take longer, and moreover, their recoil is heavier unless one is using a bipod. They still have their uses, and in games like Battlefield, they’re an excellent choice for suppressive fire. In close quarters environments, on the other hand, they’re less viable.

  • For this mission, one doesn’t actually have to fall back on engaging hostiles in the construction site: players will be given a laser designator which marks enemy positions for close air support (CAS). The entire aesthetic of this moment brought back to mind a scene from 2001’s Black Hawk Down, during which a pair of Little Birds provide CAS for a group of Marines pinned down by hostiles. After a Marine braves enemy fire to properly mark the enemy’s position using a strobe beacon, the Little Birds unload with their M134s and Hydra 70s.

  • As long as one has access to the laser designator, it makes sense to continue marking enemy positions for CAS to conserve on ammunition, as well as swiftly down multiple enemies at once. With the fire support, even the technicals that the Al-Qatala field are quickly destroyed. Once the pilots announces that they’re bingo fuel (a term which means “we’re at the point where we have enough fuel to return safely to base without running into trouble”, this is basically a safety factor), CAS heads off, but by this point in time, there’s only a few stragglers left to pick off.

  • There’s something about this level’s aesthetic that brings to mind precisely the sort of environment that I saw on television during the opening days of the Iraq War, when America began a bombardment of Baghdad in March 2003 by firing forty Tomahawk cruise missiles at the government buildings as a part of their Shock and Awe campaign. As of 2022, each Tomahawk missile costs two million USD – to fire forty missiles means burning through eighty million over the course of several hours. Sun Tzu’s Art of War states that war is inherently expensive, and historically, a protracted campaign increases the odds that a nation will lose said war.

  • The costs of war mean that nations usually do not wage it unless the gains resulting from warfare are sufficient to justify it. The campaigns in the Middle East don’t appear to have much strategic value at first glance, and a country won’t fight a war over something of insignificance. Although it’s easy to suggest that resources like fossil fuels are the driver here, Modern Warfare gives the conflict a more human side by showing Farah and her brother as fighting for their homeland, but this conflict is compounded by the fighting from various factions. So far, I’ve not engaged any Russian forces yet.

  • Once most of the hostile forces are down, Garrick is tasked with taking out a mortar position. At this point in time, the intense firefights have left me down to my last magazine, and I was left struggling to find a suitable weapon to take over for the M4A1 in my hands. Once the mortar is dealt with, the final task is returning to the embassy and securing The Wolf. The mission here at Modern Warfare‘s halfway point is much longer than any of the previous missions – this felt like the first real level in the game, and I was left excited to see what was coming next at every turn.

  • In general, I find that missions lasting between a quarter hour to half an hour to be the sweet spot, giving me enough time to immerse myself in the objectives and take everything in, while not being so long that I begin wondering when things will conclude so I can put the brakes on – I game for comparatively short sessions of half an hour to an hour, and are happiest when I can play a few missions before setting the game down and taking off to do other things like housework.

  • In the end, I ended up looting a heavily-modified AK-47 off a defeated foe. Like the AK-47 from Cold WarModern Warfare‘s AK-47 is an incredibly satisfying weapon to use, although generally speaking, I tend to avoid the AK and its derivatives in campaigns simply because the recoil is intense; in a scenario where I can’t easily see where my foes are coming from, I’d rather have a weapon with controllable recoil so when I do place my targets, I can reliably hit them.

  • Upon returning to the embassy, to Price and Garrick’s horror, The Wolf is gone, having been whisked away by his men while Garrick and the others were occupied by the counterattack. With things escalating here at Modern Warfare‘s halfway point, I’ve chosen a curious point to put the brakes on: admittedly, I’ve been moving through Modern Warfare‘s campaign at a much slower pace than before. This is because August is seeing me host Jon’s Creative Showcase, and on top of this, I’m also working on a large number of posts left in the month. As it stands, I’ve got enough time for everything, and while I fully intend to make my way through Modern Warfare, it’s presently a game of balancing everything on my plate and ensuring that I can keep pace with everything in the works.

Representing a refreshing change of pace from previous Call of Duty games, Modern Warfare is the latest Call of Duty title to join my library. It is not lost on me that, despite being no proponent of the multiplayer, I play a great deal of Call of Duty titles. In fact, it is fair to say that for me personally, I am a fan of Call of Duty as much as I am of Battlefield. Battlefield has traditionally been my go-to for its large-scale sandbox experience, since the scope of conflict allows me to contribute in my own way. However, Battlefield campaigns are typically weaker, and while iconic Battlefield campaigns are still quite enjoyable in their own right (Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 1 are outstanding), Call of Duty generally excels at creating an immersive, cinematic experience that really connects players with the characters (consider that Captain Price is so well-liked that Modern Warfare 2019 brings him back). In recent years, since the failure of Infinite Warfare, Infinity Ward had gone and rebuilt their game engine entirely, resulting in significant improvements to visual effects and physics – the new engine is said to be something that Infinity Ward is trying to standardise, such that all future Call of Duty games offer a consistent experience. Assuming this to be the case, Call of Duty is in excellent hands: Modern Warfare‘s gun-play is satisfying, responsive and powerful, and the same could be said of Black Ops: Cold War. Ironically, Battlefield‘s Frostbite Engine is beginning to show its age, and despite DICE continuing to try and improve it, its complexity has meant that games developed in Frostbite have become highly inconsistent. It does appear that at, after almost a decade of DICE and Frostbite dominating, Infinity Ward’s own technology has caught up, and Call of Duty is now on top again, speaking to how nothing lasts forever, and that today’s leaders won’t always remain at the top – to recapture the upper hand, the only solution is to keep innovating and daring to push the envelope further.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare- Part I Review and Reflection, Rising Tensions and Initial Hostilities

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” –Robert H. Schuller

On a covert mission to Verdansk, Kastovia to seize chemical weapons, Special Activities Division operator Alex is attacked by hostiles, who kill the marines accompanying him. They leave him for dead and secure the chemical weapons. Meanwhile, in London, SAS Sergeant Kyle “Gaz” Garrick is tracking a cell of suspected terror operatives from Al-Qatala. When these operatives launch an attack, Garrick is able to help the local law enforcement teams in stopping them. Alex arrives in Urzikstan and meets with Farah Karim, the rebel leader: she desires the overthrow of the Russian forces in the area, led by one General Roman Barkov, and in exchange for this, agrees to help Alex locate the missing chemical weapons. Alex assists Farah and the rebels in an attack on a Russian airbase, managing to secure both the airfield and armouries. However, the remaining Russian forces send in LAVs to attack their position, and Alex calls in air support from an Apache, which subsequently destroys the Russian vehicles. In light of these events, CIA Station Chief Kate Laswell gets in touch with Captain John Price to help secure the stolen chemical weapons and prevent all-out war with Russia. This is the first hour to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s 2019 iteration, a reboot of the Modern Warfare series that released back in October 2019. Unlike previous Call of Duty games, which ventured into the realm of the comic, Modern Warfare‘s 2019 iteration (Modern Warfare from here on out for brevity) returns players to traditional boots-on-the-ground gameplay in a realistic, modern setting. In returning to the Call of Duty Franchise’s origins, Modern Warfare represents a major step forward for Infinity Ward and Activision – their previous games had swung between future warfare and World War Two, but was met with polarising reception from a player base that felt Activision was releasing titles annually for the sake of releasing titles annually. Besides creating games that are increasingly shoddy and poorly thought-out, Activision’s approach also meant that Call of Duty players would constantly need to keep buying the latest and greatest title in order to find populated servers to play on. Modern Warfare changes this approach; the game sends players back to a time when it was felt that Call of Duty was at its best, and then modernises everything from the mechanics and visuals, to the setting and narrative to create an experience more consistent with contemporary expectations.

The older Modern Warfare games had placed an emphasis on how much could be done through the will of a single man, and then presented a story in which one individual, with the right determination, charisma and madness, could deal indelible damage upon the world, forcing individuals with superior determination, resolve and fortitude to take up arms and cross the line to thwart these machinations. The franchise is characterised by large-scale conflicts, weapons of mass destruction and the simple will to get things done. However, here in Modern Warfare, there appears to be a significantly larger human piece to things. Call of Duty is a first person shooter, and therefore, the game’s mechanics are built around a sure aim and quick trigger finger. The campaigns in the games, on the other hand, tend to warn of the horrors and desolation that accompany warfare. From the very themes that each game conveys surrounding the sacrifice and loss of each conflict, to the death quotes one receives for succumbing during a campaign, it is surprising to see Call of Duty remind players that warfare, violence and death is unanimously undesirable. The gameplay itself, on the other hand, never conveys this, and as such, Call of Duty always gave the sense that as long as one is blowing up bad guys, there might be a case where force and violence is justified. Here in Modern Warfare, this particular message returns: players are engaging Russian forces in the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Urzikstan to stop all-out warfare from erupting, and through the eyes of both Alex and Garrick, spot the sort of atrocities that are happening under Russian occupation. It is easy to suggest that the Russians are the antagonists at this point, but warfare is never that simple, and I expect that, in typical Call of Duty fashion, the game will find a way to show that, contrary to the idea that a first person shooter is about aiming and pressing left mouse, warfare is significantly more complex, and cannot be judged fairly until one has a more complete picture available to them.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Out of the gates, Modern Warfare represents a much slower experience compared to Cold War – in the latter, the first mission was a firefight on city rooftops, followed by a pursuit down a runway to capture a high-value target. Here in Modern Warfare, the first mission drops players straight into the thick of things, as operator Alex infiltrates a site suspected to holding chemical weapons. After a tense moment moving through the woods, Alex finally reaches a viewpoint and begins spotting targets on the ground.

  • Unlike most titles I’m accustomed to, which adds a little marker over spotted targets, Modern Warfare removes this element and hit markers entirely to create a much more immersive experience. Similarly, firefights are gripping experiences: gone are the days of run-and-gun, as one must now carefully poke around corners and place their shots before retreating to cover. This is a novel experience for me, since in most shooters, I’ve got enough armour or some sort of energy shield that allows me to take a few more hits before worrying about finding cover.

  • The August Long Weekend in the past two years were characterised by extreme heat warnings, and of spending time escaping said heat in the coolest part of the house. In 2020, I spent the weekend playing World of Warcraft‘s Blackrock Dungeon and Molten Core on my private server, and last year, I split things between exploring Northrend in Wrath of the Lich King on my private server and playing Cold War‘s Zombies mode to unlock the CARV.2, which is modelled after the Heckler and Koch G11 and forms the basis for 007 Agent Under Fire‘s D17, the best weapon available to players.

  • By Sunday, the skies had cleared back up, and the high was forecast to be 31°C. It was under clear skies that we ended up taking a Sunday drive to the deep south of the city, where I had the chance to visit the field and parking lot where scenes from Pure Pwnage‘s third episode was filmed. I had come across the location completely by chance, and as unremarkable as it is, it was fun to check out the spot where Doug and Jeremy talk games. The day had originally began out of a wish to visit Waffle n’ Chix’s in-store location, but an unforeseen mechanical issue caused them to be closed for the entire long weekend.

  • Instead, I ended up swinging by the Calgary Farmer’s Market to try out Two Two’s Fish and Chips, which had also been on my list of places to check out; their fish and chips is coated in bread crumbs for bonus crunch, and therefore is counted amongst Calgary’s best. To try everything out, I ordered their Seafood Platter, a gargantuan plate with two large pieces of North Atlantic haddock, tempura shrimp, popcorn shrimp, calamari, seafood croquettes, breaded scallops and fried beans on a bed of thick-cut fries. A side of pickles was provided alongside their in-house tartar sauce and dill sauce. The dill sauce was out-of-this-world, and I’ve never been more impressed with fish and chips: the fish fell apart in my fork and was delicious, while the addition of other seafoods made this a complete experience.

  • Rounding things out was a tall glass of blueberry soda: the Calgary Farmer’s Market is not air-conditioned, and eating a hearty plate of deep-fried seafood in a sweltering room was quite the experience, so having a cool drink was remarkably refreshing. I do have plans to check out Waffle n’ Chix again at a later date, but for the present, my yearning for fish and chips is sated: since my trip to Denver back in 2018, I’ve been longing to enjoy a fried seafood feast after coming across the Mesquite Grill, which was located half a klick from the office I was working out of. Although the Mesquite Grill has since closed, I’m glad to know that there’s an equivalent experience right here at home that serves some of the finest fried seafood I’ve enjoyed for some time.

  • The first four missions in Modern Warfare are very short – they’re intended to be an interactive opening cinematic that introduces players to the story in the game, and while they are quite limiting in terms of gameplay, even by Call of Duty standards, they get the job done. The choice to go with terrorism and chemical weapons was a clear parallel to reports of Syrian usage of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War: Call of Duty had previously gone with a more conventional “rouge actors seize control of Russian nuclear weapons”, but in the changing face of warfare, Modern Warfare‘s story is meant to present a side of warfare that is more likely to unfold.

  • In the streets of London, players assume the role of Kyle Garrick, who’s investigating a terror cell and ends up being caught amidst a suicide bombing attack in London. Garrick is only equipped with a pistol, and the chaos of the moment accentuates why terror attacks are so difficult to respond to at the onset: the terrorists are often equipped with automatic weapons, and first responders only have pistols on hand to deal with them. Coupled with the fact that there are civilians everywhere, law enforcement are hard-pressed to return fire when they might cause civilian casualties, whereas the terrorists have no qualms in firing on anything that moves.

  • Modern Warfare is able to capture this sense of vulnerability: even though players are in control of a trained SAS operator, the lack of gear means one cannot help but feel underprepared to handle things. After shooting out a few of the terrorists that first appear, my first inclination is to loot an automatic weapon off them, and once this is done, I began to feel in my element. The way I approach a video game, however, is absolutely the wrong way to do things in reality: soldiers will not pick up enemy weapons because they have no way of ascertaining whether or not the weapon is safe to use.

  • Games will encourage players to stick with their starting loadout by equipping them with solid weapons: in Call of Duty 4, for instance, the M4A1 SOPMOD is an exceptional all-round weapon with good handling traits and low recoil. There is no incentive to switch off this weapon unless one’s aim was to try out different weapons, and even then, these other weapons have a great deal of recoil to them. In this way, while video games don’t actively prevent players from playing in the way they please, they do provide small incentives for players to experience things in the most authentic way possible.

  • For me, the starting G17 simply isn’t enough to deal with the terrorists that show up, so I ended up looting an AK-47 off a terrorist that I’d finished off. In extenuating circumstances, soldiers will make use of captured firearms, and in video games, the AI isn’t sophisticated enough to tell the difference between the report of a G17 and AK-47, so for the sake of getting through the mission in one piece, I’ll elect to switch over to other weapons purely for gameplay reasons.

  • Modern Warfare is said to be a reboot of the franchise, and so, all of the events that had previously transpired no longer hold true. In the original Modern Warfare series, Captain John Price is fixated on pursuing Vladimir Makarov and defeating him after the latter’s actions resulted in a full-scale conflict between the United States and Russia. The scale of this war was immense, and had far-reaching consequences around the world as during the course of the war, nuclear weapons were utilised at several points.

  • Conversely, here in Modern Warfare‘s 2019 iteration, things appear to be scaled back so that they are consistent with the sorts of conflicts that have occurred since the American invasion of Iraq and the War on Terror. The Cold War is in the rear-view mirror for my generation, which has never grown up with the threat of a full-scale nuclear exchange, and today, warfare is widely regarded as something that “happens in another part of the world”. Politicians have no qualms suggesting the use of military intervention as a means of forcing other nations to fall in line with their interests, but at the same time, fail to understand that if conflict broke out, the costs to all sides would be immense.

  • For me, my interest in military history, especially surrounding the Cold War and contemporary theatres, was largely an accident. As a child, I managed to find my dad’s books on the American and Soviet military systems, and became keenly interested in the different doctrines and equipment between the Western world and Communist bloc. This extended to curiosity behind why such an arms build-up occurred to begin with, and from this, I began to build my own knowledge base on warfare. While the means and tools that wars are fought with is complex, it is saddening that the cause of warfare is often over things that could otherwise be dealt with at the negotiating table.

  • I am, of course, speaking from a very abstract and limited position: no amount of education or theoretical background is enough to provide an understanding of the topic, and at the end of the day, what I have to say about warfare is merely my opinion of things. Back in Modern Warfare, perspective returns to Alex as he links up with Farah, a rebel leader with an extensive experience in the Russian occupation of her homeland. In this mission, what stood out to me was the fact that as Alex, players get to equip makeshift suppressors made from oil cans.

  • The video game portrayal of suppressors is wildly inaccurate: a true suppressor can indeed reduce the report of a gunshot by up to ninety percent, but it doesn’t make the shot whisper-quiet, as James Bond movies often show. Moreover, suppressors won’t actually decrease muzzle velocity or bullet damage. However, for gameplay purposes, suppressors act the way they do to mix things up, and this is a return to the age-old question of whether or not realism is preferable over entertainment value.

  • I’ve always been of the mindset that it’s possible to enjoy something whether or not it’s realistic, and as such, find arguments demeaning a work for lacking realism to be pedantic and unnecessary. With this being said, inaccuracies in fiction does provide for good discussion, allowing me to look into how something works before comparing and contrasting reality with the fictionalised portrayal. In some works, this lets me to understand a theme better, but in others, it simply lets me to understand design choices better.

  • The third mission in Modern Warfare entails accompanying Farah and planting explosives on Russian helicopters to provide a distraction. Here in Urzikstan, the portrayal of Russian forces is that of a brutal oppressor. However, having been around Call of Duty for as long as I have, I’m not going to be hasty in my judgement because previous Call of Duty games have always shown that among Russians, there are moderates with no desire for conflict, and ultranationalists who would see a return to the good old days of the Soviet Union. While the media is fond of suggesting that Russia is the latter, the average citizen is unlikely to desire conflict and Soviet conquest any more than the average North American would want a full scale nuclear war with Russia.

  • While Russians being the antagonists in film, books and games might be commonplace, one shouldn’t accept these portrayals at face value. In this area, Call of Duty does an excellent job of showing this side of the coin – the games generally show that it is ultimately the machinations of a few madmen that can lead to conflict, and for the most part, the “enemy” is actually just people similar to ourselves. As such, when countries find themselves at the precipice of war, Call of Duty shows Russian, American and British soldiers working alongside one another to defeat the real foes, the shadowy figures behind the chaos like Makarov or Shepherd.

  • With Alex now accepted into the rebel forces, he joins the rebels in assaulting a Russian airbase at dawn. Once the rebels fire their artillery and utilise RC aircraft as makeshift guided missiles, it’s onwards into the base itself. For this mission, I start with the AK-47 and the Karabiner 98k, giving me excellent options for medium to long ranges. The AK-47 is an iconic part of video games and cinema, but my first exposure to the AK-47 in a game was through GoldenEye 64‘s KF7 Soviet, which was a fast-firing weapon with low damage and poor performance. 007 Agent Under Fire continued with this portrayal: the KA-57 is the first assault rifle available players but is horrendously underpowered.

  • It is therefore refreshing that modern games like Modern Warfare and Cold War give the AK-47 a proper portrayal, being a reliable, hard-hitting and somewhat inaccurate weapon at longer ranges. There is a satisfaction about using the iron sights on the AK-47: as it turns out, the use of dedicated optics and attachments on a service rifle is something that video games tend to get wrong. In reality, infantry use basic weapons to cut back on maintenance, and it is only special forces that highly customise their weapons to fit whatever mission is on hand.

  • Training soldiers to use iron sights means the soldiers are prepared for situations where they might not have access to sights, and moreover, removes the need to send everyone out with a six hundred dollar holographic sight. Because of rendering issues in games, iron sights can be quite tricky to use, and players universally gravitate towards sights because they improve visibility. More recent games have dramatically improved how iron sights are displayed, and I certainly don’t struggle to use them as I did when I first began playing things like Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty 4.

  • The attack on the Russian airfield represents the first bit of all-out conflict in Modern Warfare: once the rebels utilise their artillery to provide a massive diversion and blast open the walls leading into the base, it’s a full-on firefight. The lighting and setting brings back memories of Battlefield 1‘s “Nothing is Written” mission, which similarly saw a dawn operation set in the desert. Modern Warfare released about a year into Battlefield V‘s term and represented a game-changer for Activision: for the past decade prior to Modern Warfare‘s launch, Activision and Infinity Ward had been on the backfoot with their Call of Duty games, whereas DICE had nailed every Battlefield.

  • With Modern Warfare‘s launch, the ball has returned to Call of Duty‘s court: while Battlefield V is still technically an excellent game, DICE’s dropping support for it, and the subsequent disaster of Battlefield 2042 has meant that Call of Duty (and Warzone in particular) has overtaken Battlefield. These shifts are quite normal in the industry: we recall how Intel held the advantage over AMD in terms of processors until around 2016, when they changed their manufacturing process and began emphasising a large core count. Intel’s latest win is with the Alder Lake series, putting them back ahead for now, but AMD is doubtlessly working on newer designs that will eclipse Intel. Similarly, it is plain that while Call of Duty has been on the backfoot for a decade, they’re not out of the game yet, and their latest successes come from innovating where DICE has gone stale.

  • Warzone lies at the heart of Modern Warfare‘s success; Modern Warfare itself is excellent (something I can now personally attest to), but a battle royale mode that’s proven fun for players is undeniable. I’m personally not a battle royale fan because the game loop doesn’t work for me, but for many, there is an appeal about being able to go into a game and match wits with others. Unfortunately for Warzone players, I’ve heard that Modern Warfare II will not carry over Warzone progress. Back in Modern Warfare proper, the logic of bringing a Kar 98k to the fight soon became apparent as I utilised its long-range optics to pick off snipers hanging out in watch towers.

  • At first opportunity, I swapped back from the AK-12 I’d picked off a Russian soldier back to the SCAR-H. On more than one occasion, carelessness led me to rush into combat and get picked off by stray fire, but as I became acclimatised to the controls, I capitalised on the game’s “mount” mechanic, which maps to my fifth mouse button. Mounting to a wall or corner allows me to peek it and reduce recoil for more accurate shot placement at the expense of mobility. At first, I was a little confused and hit the middle mouse button, which caused me to throw a grenade and blow myself to kingdom come.

  • As it turns out, ever since I picked up a Logitech G203, I technically have a gaming mouse with multiple buttons. I normally don’t use the fourth or fifth buttons, so it was a bit of an adjustment, but once I figured how to use the mounting function, it became possible to play more tactically, making use of cover to engage foes more smartly. After figuring this out, it becomes clear that Modern Warfare was meant to handle differently than its predecessors, and by the time Cold War was released, it marked a return to classic run-and-gun gameplay.

  • Once the second armoury is secured, the Russians will cut the power in a bid to disorient the rebels. There’s no IRNV equipment available, so players are subsequently subject to the frantic horror of firing on a seemingly endless number of foes. Inside the armoury, I ended up finding a MGL-32 equipped with incendiary ammunition. While effective against infantry, it deals negligible damage to the Russian armour that soon arrives. As the Russians threaten to overwhelm and destroy the rebels, Alex receives a call: an AH-64 Apache is on station, ready to do serious work.

  • The perspective subsequently switches over to the AH-64’s WSO, who utilises the 30 mm chaingun and Hellfire missiles to clear out the ground. For this fire support mission, the AGM-114 Hellfires are dumb-fired, which feels like a waste considering that most Hellfire missiles are usually laser-guided. In a matter of moments, the Russian forces are cleared out and begin retreating, giving Alex and the rebels a tangible win. With this, my Modern Warfare experience has begun in earnest, and beyond the campaign, I am looking forwards to messing around with bot-only lobbies for the multiplayer, as well as the various Spec Ops assignments available in Modern Warfare. We’re now into August, as well, and this means that I’m hosting Jon’s Creative Showcase for this month. I have a different format in mind this time around to accommodate the fact my schedule isn’t what it used to be, but despite the format change, I am looking forwards to seeing what submissions will come in.

Having now played my first hour through 2019’s Modern Warfare, the game appears to have set the stage for the larger story at hand: I’ve gone through four short, connected vignettes that were more cinematic experiences than chaotic warfare that has come to define Call of Duty, but given what’s been presented to me thus far, all of the elements are now in place for me to hop back in to Modern Warfare and see what lies ahead. The story here seems significantly more grounded, serious and plausible than the story presented in Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, so I am curious to continue going through the game and see where things go. My entry into Modern Warfare comes as a bit of a surprise. I’ve longed to play Modern Warfare since its launch, although after becoming intrigued with Cold War first, I elected to hold back on Modern Warfare. A chance sale this past weekend saw the game go on discount for the lowest price I’d seen since the game launched, and this represented an opportunity to give Modern Warfare a go. I’ve long been a Battlefield fan, but since Modern Warfare, it appears that the ball is firmly back in Infinity Ward’s court. This has been most apparent since Warzone’s release; the game’s runaway success stems from a combination of capitalising on Battle Royale right at the onset of the global health crisis, which gave players something to immerse themselves in when restrictions and lockdowns disrupted lives at an unseen scale in recent years. With the stability afforded by a new game engine, Warzone’s performance, ease-of-entry and high skill ceiling provided players reason to return repeatedly. While I’ve never been a fan of Battle Royale, its successes are undeniable, and has allowed Call of Duty to really improve its experience over that of its predecessors while at the same time, remaining faithful to what made the older games so successful. This largely forms my curiosity in giving Modern Warfare‘s core experience a go, and this unexpected sale has provided all of the encouragement I need to finally experience Modern Warfare for myself.