Over the past weekend, developer Infinity Ward held an alpha exclusively on PS4 for the upcoming reboot of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.” For those who don’t know, an alpha is a testing stage of an early version of a game that is still under development.
“Call of Duty” and I went our separate ways after “Black Ops” back in 2010. This is because I grew tired of what was essentially the same game being pumped out on an annual basis. I expected more of the same from the “Modern Warfare” alpha, and for the most part that’s what I got, but I must begrudgingly admit, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
The only available game mode was called “Gunfight.” This is a six-round mode that places two teams of two in a bite-sized map with every player receiving an assigned equipment loadout. Which loadout you get is chosen at random and it changes every two rounds, but everyone in the match gets the same gear. It’s an even playing field, at least as far as equipment is concerned.
The objective is simple: quickly eliminate the opposing team. If this doesn’t happen quick enough, the game goes into overtime and a flag is placed on the map. The remaining players then have 10 seconds to either capture the flag or finish off the opposition. The final failsafe kicks in when time runs out and no one has died or captured the flag; when this happens, the team with the most remaining health wins the round.
“Gunfight” easily delivered on the incredibly tense, fast-paced action it promised. Individual rounds were lightning fast, and death was anywhere and everywhere, sometimes within five seconds of the round starting. The fact that I had only one life per round forced me to make a snap decision to either play aggressively and charge forward or play conservatively and hang back. Taking too long to choose usually meant the other team would decide for me. The tension would ratchet up to 11 whenever my teammate died; in those moments, it suddenly felt like there were eyes on me wherever I went.
I don’t often play online, competitive multiplayer these days, but when I do, I very much prefer a more “boots-on-the-ground” style of game. “Modern Warfare” thus far is exactly that. There were no silly gimmicks such as jetpacks or wall-running in the alpha. I like the simple premise of run, shoot, and die with little to no fluff, and that’s what I got. There is the possibility that the killstreak bonuses in other game modes will be somewhat outrageous, but for now I’m pleased with the gameplay.
Speaking of gameplay, it’s safe to say that fans of the franchise will feel right at home while playing this game. “Call of Duty” is known for having crisp, silky-smooth gameplay, and this latest entry is no exception. Kill times are still very short, and the controls are as responsive as ever. One big difference I immediately noticed between “Modern Warfare” and previous games is in the weapons themselves.
Part of my issue with this franchise has always been that the guns feel like airsoft rifles. I am happy to say that “Modern Warfare” does not have that problem. This was my favorite part of the alpha, not the tension or the more grounded design philosophy, the weapons. Gunplay feels weighty. There was a very pleasant “oomph” to each of the guns I used in the alpha, especially the bigger ones like sniper rifles and light machine guns. If anyone is looking for chunky gunplay like me, “Modern Warfare” will have you covered.
I went into this alpha with some degree of trepidation. I left the online gaming scene many years ago as a result of my interest in these games greatly waning. This is why it baffles me that I find myself wanting to play more of this game. Unlike with other multiplayer offerings, I enjoyed my short time with the alpha. “Modern Warfare” has so far delivered the same tight, rapid gameplay the series is known for, but with a long-awaited touch of the grit that I adore in first-person shooters. So long as it stays the course, things are looking good for “Call of Duty’s” latest outing.