Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a 2019 first-person shooter game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. Serving as the sixteenth overall installment in the Call of Duty series, as well as a reboot of the Modern Warfare sub-series, it was released on October 25, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One.
The game takes place in a realistic and modern setting. The campaign follows a CIA officer and British SAS forces as they team up with rebels from the fictional Republic of Urzikstan, combating together against Russian Armed Forces who have invaded the country and the Urzik terrorist group Al-Qatala, while searching for a stolen shipment of chlorine gas. The game’s Special Ops mode features cooperative play missions that follow on from the campaign. The multiplayer mode supports cross-platform multiplayer and cross-platform progression for the first time in the series. It has been reworked for gameplay to be more tactical and introduces new features, such as a Realism mode that removes the HUD as well as a form of the Ground War mode that now supports 64 players. A post-launch update introduces a free-to-play battle royale mode, Warzone, which was also marketed as a standalone title. Multiplayer also supports shared screen multiplayer. This mode includes bots, custom maps, custom game-modes and other creative game-interfering actions.
Infinity Ward began working on the game soon after the release of their 2016 title Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. They introduced an entirely new engine for the game, which allows for new performance enhancements such as more detailed environments and ray-tracing capabilities. For the campaign, they took influence from real-life conflicts, such as the Syrian Civil War and terrorist incidents that have occurred in London. For the multiplayer, they scrapped the franchise’s traditional season pass and removed loot boxes, enabling them to distribute free post-launch content to the playerbase in the form of “Seasons”.
Modern Warfare received praise for its gameplay, campaign, multiplayer, and graphics. Criticism focused on the handling of the campaign’s subject matter, including the depiction of the Russian military, as well as balancing issues in the multiplayer. A sequel, titled Modern Warfare II, was released in 2022.
Modern Warfare‘s single-player campaign focuses on realism and features tactically-based moral choices whereupon the player is evaluated and assigned a score at the end of each level; players have to quickly ascertain whether NPCs are a threat or not, such as a civilian woman who is believed to be reaching for a gun, but then simply grabs her baby from a crib. This collateral damage score, referred to as a threat assessment, is based on how many civilians the player injures or kills and ranges from rank A to F. Rewards are introduced to those who score higher. Character dialogue will differ depending on the choices the player makes in the game. Tactical decisions are also included, such as the player using a sniper rifle in a large environment to approach objectives in a non-linear order, and choosing to shoot out lights in favor of using night-vision goggles during breaching and clearing.
Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer has been revised from its predecessors to allow for a more tactical gameplay style, including a focus on map exploration, door breaching, and a Hardcore “Realism” mode that removes the HUD. The mini-map was originally removed in favor of a compass-style marker, with visual cues to detect friendlies and opponents. Following feedback from the multiplayer beta test, Infinity Ward re-implemented the mini-map but removed the appearance of red dots representing enemy players (except for when the UAV killstreak is used). Multiplayer also features the return of Killstreaks (rewards based on kills), with more recent Call of Duty titles having used Scorestreaks (rewards based on score) instead. Killstreaks can, however, be converted into Scorestreaks with the use of an in-game perk called “Pointman”. The online modes allow for a larger range of players within a map than previous installments, with a new mode called “Ground War” featuring over 100 players, while conversely another new mode, “Gunfight”, tasks two teams of two players against each other in small matches lasting forty seconds per round. The game includes an extensive weapons customization system, presenting most guns with a range of up to 60 attachments to choose from (five of which can be equipped at any one time). The introduction at the start of multiplayer matches has also been revamped; while in previous titles players would remain motionless on the map as a timer would countdown to zero, players will instead be transported into the battle zone as part of various animations.
Modern Warfare is the first game in the series since 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts not to feature a Zombies mode, instead featuring the cooperative “Special Ops” mode previously present in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Spec Ops shares its narrative with both the campaign and multiplayer. It includes a “Survival” mode, which was a timed exclusive to the PlayStation 4 release until October 2020. At launch, Special Ops features four Operations, which are multi-objective missions that take place in a large open map requiring mandatory 4-player cooperation; and Classic Special Ops, which features smaller scale missions, similar to the original Spec Ops mode.
Modern Warfare also includes a battle royale game mode called Warzone, introduced during Season 2. The mode features 150 players, battling either in teams of four, three, two, or solo. Warzone is released as a free standalone game which can be downloaded independently. The map combines several locations featured prominently in Multiplayer and Special Ops modes. Weapon balancing is maintained with parity to Multiplayer modes, with the exception of higher headshot damage to reward aiming. Similar to other battle royale games, Warzone also features looting as a core aspect, but weapon customization is limited as players can only pick up weapon variants with preset, unchangeable attachments. Looting is also simplified compared to other battle royale games in general, including Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s Blackout mode in particular: instead of browsing via inventory, all loot items are situated across the map for players to view and pick up. Players can use armor plates to increase damage protection, and can carry up to five armor plates to swap out and repair at any given point. Upon being defeated, instead of dying permanently, players are taken to the “Gulag”, a prison area where defeated players can compete in 1v1 scenarios and gain a second chance to return to the main map. Players can also loot and stock up cash, which are used at buy stations to buy load out drops, killstreaks, equipment and revive tokens for downed teammates.
Characters and settings
Modern Warfare takes place in modern time, with the campaign occurring over the course of several days in late 2019, and the Special Ops and multiplayer modes continuing the story into 2020. The campaign story centers around a rising conflict between Russia and the fictional Republic of Urzikstan, also involving Western military forces. Players assume the roles of three protagonists: British SAS Sergeant Kyle “Gaz” Garrick (Elliot Knight), former Delta Force operator turned CIA SAC/SOG officer Alex (Chad Michael Collins), and Urzik rebel leader Farah Karim (Claudia Doumit). The three protagonists work together, alongside SAS Captain John Price (Barry Sloane) and CIA Station Chief Kate Laswell (Rya Kihlstedt). Other allies include U.S. Marine Corps General Lyons (Debra Wilson), Colonel Norris (Nick Boraine), and Demon Dogs leader Sergeant Marcus Griggs (LaMonica Garrett/Demetrius Grosse);[b] Farah’s elder brother Hadir (Aidan Bristow); “Nikolai” (Stefan Kapičić), head of a Russian PMC acquainted with Price; and Yegor Novak (Alex Feldman), a Ukrainian fixer working for Nikolai. The allied forces are opposed by the Al-Qatala, an Urzik terrorist organization based in Urzikstan led by Omar “The Wolf” Sulaman (Joel Swetow) and his right-hand man Jamal “The Butcher” Rahar (Nick E. Tarabay), as well as General Roman Barkov (Konstantin Lavysh), commander of a rogue Russian faction who treats Farah’s rebel forces and the Al-Qatala equally as criminals.
The Special Ops and Multiplayer seasonal story takes place after the events of the campaign, with players taking on the roles of various international operatives working for a joint alliance named “the Armistice”. The operators are divided into two major factions: Coalition (comprising Western forces) and Allegiance (comprising Eastern forces). The Armistice’s leaders are Captain Price, Laswell, General Lyons, and FSB Sergeant Kamarov (Gene Farber). Throughout the story, the operators come into conflict with the Al-Qatala, now under new leadership of Khaled Al-Asad, working together with Russian terrorist and arms dealer Victor Zakhaev (Dimitry Rozental). The seasonal story also introduces several new allies in both Coalition and Allegiance factions, including former CIA agent Mara (Carla Tassara), Spetsnaz operative Nikto (Gideon Emery), Task Force 141 recruits Simon “Ghost” Riley (Jeff Leach) and John “Soap” MacTavish (Neil Ellice), and Shadow Company mercenaries Marcus “Lerch” Ortega (Fred Tatasciore) and Rozlin “Roze” Helms (Jamie Gray Hyder).