Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – (Re)Fresher Part Two

Call of Duty: Modern WarfareContinuing where we left off yesterday, today we’ll look at the maps that were featured in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This is all to get ready for this fall’s remastered version of the game that will be bundled with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. We know that we’re getting ten maps with the remake – that means six maps are being left behind from the initial release. Instead of trying to guess which those six  will be, because there are a couple that I think are potential cuts, I’ll just run through the full list quickly. The standout maps I’ll talk a little more about, while the lower tier maps we’ll hit quick.

First on the list is Ambush. It’s a fairly large map, great for long-range encounters and sniping. It’s not actually symmetrical, but it’s pretty close, to the point where I don’t that one side has a huge advantage. It works in Domination, Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, and if the remake has newer modes, Kill Confirmed. I think it’s a pretty safe bet to appear, it’s one of those fan favorite maps on the original disc. I definitely think this one of the best maps to help get your long-range combat skills better. Grab a M40A3 or G3 and watch the side roads. Next up is Backlot, which is one of the few maps that we know is in the Remake. Unlike a lot of modern maps in FPS games, this one is all about the center location. There’s one – technically – three story house right in the middle of the map that is really important to control. It’s got great sightlines on the other two major landmarks – the destroyed building and the construction site – which means a good shot can helps control the flow of a game. I like playing it on Team Deathmatch the most, since it tends to revolve around those landmarks instead of trading spawn sides. Next let’s look at Bloc. Bloc is one of those maps that I think gets overlooked when we talk about great Call of Duty maps. I love this map – it’s everything I like in a shooter map. It’s balanced – basically symmetrical, with two blocks of apartments on either side. Sure, some games will descend into firefights from building to building, but playing the flanker role can be a huge amount of fun. This was always one of the few maps that I felt comfortable using the shotguns on without being at a disadvantage. If you can get into the apartments and other close range situations, those weapons can really make a power play.

The next map on the list is Bog, which is another one that I think is all but a guarantee to appear in the Remake. It’s a pretty open map, not a huge amount of cover so timing your runs is pretty important. Sniping is really great on this one – as is running with Frag X3 if you know the angles. Domination is good, Search is potentially very frustrating with those grenades, but the map works across the board. Next up is Countdown, another one I could see being included. This is one of the bigger maps in the game, and has some pretty crazy sightlines. It’s got  lots of long lines, but it’s dotted with cover so setting up to snipe can be tricky. Domination is lots of fun, with pretty intense games. Expect spawns to flip a lot with this one, and air support to be more effective than usual. Next on the list is Crash, which is one we know is coming forward. At this point you should probably already know all about Crash. I think it’s the perfect Call of Duty map for that Modern Warfare style combat. Long lanes, tight corners, interior combat and plenty of alternate routes make it a tough map to predict how games flow. I still think it’s Infinity Ward’s best map they’ve ever made, and I’m super excited to revisit an old friend. Next on the list is Crossfire, another one we know is coming forward. Crossfire was another map that I always really enjoyed. It’s essentially a giant “S” shape, with the outer edges made up of buildings you can move through. Snipers can lock down the center lane, as well as potentially make some buildings dangerous to go in. If you do manage to close the range down, fighting building to building is always tense and fun. This is another one I’m really looking forward to playing.

Moving on down the list, we have District next. I think it’s one that might be left behind – it’s not a bad map, but it doesn’t really stand out in any way. It also had a pretty bad glitch where there was a building that had no collision so you could shoot through it. There’s the market too, where the combat tends to funnel toward, but it’s nothing standout. Next upon the list is Downpour. Downpour is set on a rainy rural farm, and it’s not exactly a huge map, but it’s a good size. It’s asymmetrical, so it’s important to try and grab the high ground.As much as I like this map, I could easily see it being left behind. On the other hand, the next map – Overgrown – is probably pretty likely to show up. Overgrown is a huge map – set on a massive farm with a pretty good size main farm house, a two level barn and a filed with hay bales.  It’s a great sniper map, and if you’re a good flanker it can be a perfect map for it. You definitely need to pay attention to the alternate routes that this map is full of. Same goes for the next map – Pipeline. It’s apparently a favorite since it showed up in Advanced Warfare, just tweaked a little for that game’s mechanics. It’s another big one, but sniping is tricky since there are plenty of interior routes to take to get closer to the snipers. I think there’s a good chance it’ll show up, and if it does, get ready to pick out enemies from farther away and then close on them.

Moving on down the list, we get to Shipment. This is probably the smallest map in the series, and it’s another fan favorite. It’s a great Free-For-All map, and just about any match on this map is total chaos. It’s full of tight corners, medium range sight lines and plenty of angles to toss grenades on. I really doubt this one won’t show up – it’s too damn popular to not. Hopefully it shows up in more playlists though. With only a few more maps to go, let’s talk about Showdown. It’s another simple map – it’s a big rectangle/courtyard with a couple levels to it. Lots of mid-range combat, a couple good ambush places, and it’s a great map for Helicopter support. I’m on the fence with this one – I could definitely see it moving forward, but at the same time, I could easily see them leaving it behind. It’s just not overly special. Next up is Strike, another really popular map. This one is tough for me to call. I had a lot more fun with the map when they put it in Modern Warfare 2. It’s not a bad map, it’s got a good mix of interior and road combat and I think plenty of different loadouts work well. Our second-to-last map to look at is Vacant. Another that showed up in the sequel, Vacant is a great close range map. There’s lots of tight corners, combined with a couple mid-range hallways. It’s the other map that I used to like using shotguns on – running through the halls with Juggernaut and RPGs with a shotgun was a lot of fun. I definitely hope that this one comes forward. Our final map is Wet Work – which we saw portions of in the reveal stream, or at least assets that were in Crew Expendable and probably could be used in the map. I definitely see it moving forward, even though it’s not my favorite map. It’s not bad – symmetrical in nature, with longer range combat definitely the more common action. My problem is just that when I first started playing MW, my friends wanted to play Search, and this map in particular had some camping issues. There was also a way to get out of the map and snipe from above the control room. I definitely think this one is coming forward, but I would really rather see something like Bloc show up.

There’s still a lot to learn about Infinite Warfare as well as the Modern Warfare Remaster before this November’s launch. But that just means that there’s plenty of time to talk about one of the best FPS games of the last ten years. If you can, I definitely think you maybe hopping on the old game isn’t a bad idea.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – (Re)Fresher

Call of Duty: Modern WarfareWith the official word that we’re going to get an updated, remastered version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, I thought I’d talk a little about the game for people who either didn’t ever play the original, or haven’t in a while. The franchise has evolved a lot since the original launch, so players who have come into the franchise since then might be a little surprised when they load up the classic. I’m looking mainly at the multiplayer side of things, specifically the weapons today. I’ll look at the maps tomorrow, since we’re getting the ten original maps in the remake.

The big thing that could really throw people for a loop is probably with the Create a CLass system from the original Multiplayer system. Now, we don’t know for sure if that’s what we’re getting, but it’s a safe bet that we’re getting the original multiplayer across the board. We’ve been spoiled over the last handful of games with the pick-ten system, but that’s not how it worked in the good old days. We had a primary, a secondary, tactical and grenade, and three perks – that’s it. A lot of what we’re used to in terms of flexibility wasn’t there. When you combine that with the smaller number of weapons, I can see how newer fans might go into the remake with some negative opinions. What I think actually ends up happening is that a lot more power is put into the players’ thumbs. Yes, there were a couple weapons that were a little stronger than the rest – M16, M4, MP5, M40A3 – but pretty much every weapon was competitive. It’s a lot easier to put in the time to become familiar with the weapons, since there aren’t as many to work on. The drive for camo completions also isn’t quite there, because Gold camo only existed for one gun per class. That’s one of those things that I could see changing for the Remaster, the challenges in general were pretty threadbare compared with the later games.

COD 4 Create a Class

The weapons themselves I don’t think will be a huge hurdle for newer players to get over. There isn’t a huge difference between the weapons within a class like now – between burst-fire SMGs, autobursts, semi-auto, burst fire snipers, it can be hard to really get good with a gun. The old set though really only had a couple things to deal with – two semi-auto assault rifles, one burst fire one, and that’s about it. You’ve got the typical mix of bolt-action and semi-auto snipers, and different fire-rates for the SMGs mainly to worry about. The weapon classes all feel pretty good – or at least did back then – they fit their roles to a tee. There aren’t as many attachments to really worry about either, so the barrier for entry for higher level play isn’t as high as it might be now. What becomes more important as you continue playing is map knowledge and game flow awareness.

A couple last quick points that new players might need to get used to with the remake. First is the pace of the game. Pretty much every Call of Duty since Black Ops has been focused a lot around fast infantry combat. Even Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III with the boost jumping and wall running is still infantry and plays super fast. Modern Warfare not so much – it’s a much slower pace than what we’ve been playing for the last handful of years. You might need to take a few games to get used to the slower pace and more emphasis on cover useage. Second is the killstreaks present. We’ve had a plethora to use ever since Modern Warfare 2. The original only had three though – UAV at 3 kills, Air Strike at 5 kills and a Helicopter at 7 kills. They don’t stack like they do now, you have to use them in order and they can be overwritten if you die and go on a second streak. Again, that’s a system that I could maybe see them retool, but if it doesn’t change, you’ll probably have to get used to calling those streaks in more frequently.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – It’s Real!

Infinite Warfare CoverAfter all the leaks and speculation at the end of last week, Activision and Infinity Ward put all that to rest with the official announcement of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. They also gave fans exactly what we’ve been asking for for a few years now in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. Let’s talk a little about what we learned today from the trailer, Activision blog and livestream.

Bottom line is really that we didn’t learn a whole hell of a lot – just the base level stuff to get the early hype rolling into E3. That said, we know the setting of the new game, we know that Infinity Ward is doing Zombies for the first time, and Raven is working on the MW Remaster. Anything that goes super in-depth about weapons, equipment, perks, and that kind of stuff will wait until E3. That’s usually how Activision goes about their CoD reveals – initial trailer, then a bigger reveal of the multiplayer as a whole event.

With the new campaign, Infinity Ward is bring Call of Duty where it hasn’t ever been before – the far future. We’ve seen elements of true Sci-Fi creep into the franchise in the last 6 years, really dating back to Black Ops II, but this is the first full game that is truly embracing the idea of Sci-Fi. Opening up the entire solar system gives the team options that to go to places never seen in the series before. That of course scares a lot of fans though – I saw tons of posts this year hoping for a return to true boots-on-the-ground combat in the next game. They addressed that a little with the Twitch stream, saying that while yes, there are some sections where you’ll be out flying a spaceship, they really want to ground the combat in realism. That means boots-on-the-ground, small unit infantry combat – it’s always been what Call of Duty does well. The story itself seems to borrow from pretty standard Sci-Fi kind of stories – the colonists that venture out off of Earth eventually have some form of tension with Earth, and that sparks into conflict. In this game it’s going to be built around resources that are mined off-planet, and the fascist organization that rises up in space with their own ambitions. After a surprise attack catches Earth off guard, the game’s setting is complete.

One thing that caught my eye on Activision’s blog was a line talking about progression in the story. We know that we assume command of a ship, and that we launch the missions from the spaceship. But they also point out that we will able to launch raids on enemy ships. That sounds something like a meta-game within the campaign. To me, it sounds like Infinity Ward might be rolling their Safeguard mode – which has been in their previous two games – right into the campaign setting. I think it makes sense especially when you remember that they’re going to actually do a Zombies mode too now.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Of course, the big excitement has been around the official word about Modern Warfare Remastered. There’s a reason that the first Modern Warfare is talked about with such reverence from both fans and critics. It literally changed the FPS world – especially on consoles – telling an incredible story that was grounded in gritty realism, punctuated with meaningful setpieces and then complimented it with a deep multiplayer. So as a fan, seeing a couple glimpses of Crew Expendable, and little details from maps brought forward to a new graphic engine is super exciting. There are still a couple things I’m curious about that they really haven’t been clear on – mainly if the multiplayer is going to use the same mechanics as the original or not – but I am definitely excited to play that campaign again. And come on, playing Crash again? Yes please.

One last thing that I want to talk about that I saw all over social media today. I saw tons of posts already claiming that Infinite Warfare is destined to be a flop, being buoyed by the MW:R. Literally hours after it was officially announced the salt started pouring out. This isn’t unique to Call of Duty – I see it more and more frequently with any major announcement. Nintendo delays the NX to next year? Must mean that their dead in the water. Microsoft is making an updated Xbox One? They’re taking away resources from the next true console and making Xbox Live better. Any game ever announces any kind of change? It’s the end of the world. I love games and the world of gaming. It lets us explore worlds and universes in ways that no other form of entertainment can. But it’s really getting tiresome to see the negativity and pessimism that’s all over social media and the web in general. Not every decision is the right one – I think some of what Massive has been doing with The Division hasn’t been in the right directions – but these developers deserve at least a little benefit of the doubt. Take a step back, maybe actually play the games then post – don’t contribute to the echo chamber of negativity.

Call of Duty 2016 Leaks Galore

Call of Duty: Modern WarfareThis week has been an interesting one in the world of Call of Duty. We went from grainy photos from retailer material to some cryptic Infinity Ward tweets to finally a hi-res image of the retail material all showing what is apparently this year’s Call of Duty. IF the leaks are correct – which is starting to look more and more likely – then this year we will be playing Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. While that’s exciting, since it does open up the possibility for that space combat that was rumored a couple weeks back, the big news that came along with the leak is that the special edition is going to really appeal to long-time fans. The Legacy Edition will be bringing a remastered version of the original Modern Warfare.

The hi-res image that leaked today came from a Canadian retailer, and the details look pretty legit which makes me a little more excited about the validity of the leak. The big part of the image shows some more details about the remastered Modern Warfare. It looks like it will include the campaign – which is phenomenal – and 10 multiplayer maps, which was the original set of maps. If it’s using the same Create-a-Class setup as the original, I think plenty of  newer players might be in for a bit of a shock. Of course, this is still all unknown at this point, but with all the leaked images and Infinity Ward playing around on Twitter I think a full announcement has to be coming soon. The longer this goes without an official word from Activision, the more the hype will just escalate. With EA announcing a new Battlefield next week, the timing also really makes sense. Expect an official statement soon I think.

A Call of Duty Collection – Would It Work?

Advanced Warfare CoverWith the release of the Master Chief Collection last week, I got thinking, along with my friends, whether or not a similar collection would work for the Call of Duty games. Well I’ve been thinking about it over the last week, and I think I have a pretty good answer to that question now. The short answer is a really unsatisfactory Maybe. The long answer is a bit more complicated though, so let’s dive in.

First of all, let’s look at what might be the first option – A collection containing Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, and Call of Duty 3, potentially something like a “Classic Call of Duty Collection.” While this makes the most since, since the three older games are the closest to an actually major anniversary date, I actually think this is probably the least likely option, aside from a World at War update, which I’ll hit on later. I think that this isn’t a likely option mainly because the audience just isn’t quite there – these games were big players on the PC, but not so much on consoles. Any Collection would probably have to be marketed at the consoles, since I’m pretty sure that all of these games are readily available already on PC markets for cheap. How I do see these games working is as a budget priced digital only release. Release all three together for maybe $25-$30, with an achievement list that is similar to what 343 Industries did with Master Chief Collection; maybe some visual upgrades and the original multiplayer back; and maybe that would do okay. I definitely don’t see it doing as well as the Master Chief Collection will end up doing; nor would it do as well as a different option in the franchise, so let’s move on.

Black Ops II

Moving on from the Classic games, we get to the Modern Era games – The Modern Warfare trilogy, World at War, and the two Black Ops games. I wouldn’t even consider Ghosts since it just came out last year, and I think that if Activision has any interest in doing a Collection, it’ll be done in the next couple years. World at War, being the series black sheep, I don’t think would have enough drawing power to support an anniversary edition, let alone value. Maybe as a solo release on the 10-year mark, it could see some life. So really that leaves two options – a Modern Warfare Collection or a Black Ops Collection. Which option they would pick I think depends on what Treyarch has planned for 2015. If they are going the Infinity Ward route, and starting a new sub-series for the current-gen consoles; then I don’t see a Black Ops Collection being the choice, at least not yet. If they are indeed making a Black Ops III, as some rumors suggest, then I could see some sort of combination pack being a real smart option. Combine the two previous games with the new game as one pack, and I think you’ve got a really solid package that would separate itself from the rest of the FPS pack.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Ultimately though, I think if Activision is thinking of doing a collection, I think the clear option is putting together all three Modern Warfare games. Going with that option, that really opens up a couple other questions though. The Modern Warfare sub-series is Infinity Ward’s, which would mean potentially putting Ghosts on hold. There’s no reason both couldn’t happen at the same time, but I think it’s unlikely – it would divide the market, and Activision likes the money Call of Duty provides. The other question would actually relate to what they title the collection – if they go the Halo route and tie it in with a major, 10-year anniversary, they would have to wait until 2017 for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s anniversary. The problem with that is that, going by the current three developer system they have, 2017 is Sledgehammer Games’ year – which means they would have some pretty serious questions to answer. Would Activision switch the cycle up for this – meaning Advanced Warfare 2 gets shuffled around? Or would they both come out in the same year, taxing Infinity Ward with Ghosts 2‘s DLC and the collection at the same time?

Modern Warfare 2

Ultimately, I think the second option is more likely of those; but I also see a different answer to the problem. Instead of labeling it an “Anniversary Collection,” thus tying it to a year; call it an “Anthology,” which opens up more release options. You could in theory, release it at any point, sneaking it in during a slow summer, which wouldn’t take away from whatever major entry is that year’s market. You don’t need to add any visual upgrades, although they wouldn’t hurt; all that really needs to be done is get the code to work on Xbox Ones and PS4s, and fix the multiplayer bugs that plagued the first two games. I wouldn’t price it at $60 either, especially since the games aren’t particularly old; and you’re looking at three instead of four a la the Halo collection. Even putting it at $40 or $50, I think you’ll get more people that may be on the fence – and still getting plenty of money. Include the DLC maps, craft a strong Achievement list that is full of great ones, just like with the Master Chief Collection, and I really think it could work.

Whether or not a Call of Duty collection would perform well isn’t really the question though. I think it would be guaranteed to sell well. What isn’t a sure-bet though is if it would have the same emotional connection that the Master Chief Collection has had. I’ve been a huge fan of CoD since day one, but even still, the Halo games hit that particular nerve better. I get amped more for those games, and the Master Chief Collection really hit that nail on the head. I think it would work, but I don’t know that it would get the same charge from gamers. Who knows – maybe we’ll find out, maybe all of this is just speculation.