Is COD Back on the Menu?

Will Hagaman, Editor in Chief

Prelude

The saying “There are only two things guaranteed in life: death, and taxes,” but I believe in a different mantra. I believe that three things are guaranteed in life: death, taxes, and the annual release of a newCall of Duty.

The games have come a long way since the first in the series (originally released in 2003) and has quickly become a staple in the gaming community. Overall, the game series is a keystone species of the gaming world.

The most popular recent COD game is Modern Warfare, released in 2019, and is still going strong to this day.

The series in recent years have become stale for their audience, as they get tired of the constant cash-grabs that has become the COD series, and especially because they are many times worse-off than their predecessors. The yearly cycle has created an obstacle that the developers need to overcome: repetition.

Needless to say, I was skeptical that Modern Warfare 2 would be enjoyable, and I was expecting the newest in the series to flop before it even began. On the opposite side of the spectrum from me, the COD hype was strong as it is yearly, as players put aside their disappointment and hope for something better.

The Multiplayer

The Modern Warfare 2 open beta was the first time I was able to play the game. I was hooked. The newest addition to the COD movement repertoire is the dolphin dive mechanic. Although I barely used it, when I did it, made the COD movement cycle of slide, cancel, slide, cancel, more varied and much more dynamic.

The updated loadout system is also a huge improvement, as players no longer have to unlock each attachment for each gun and instead are able to unlock attachments for all compatible weapons as a whole. I hated the grind that encompassed unlocking each attachment for each separate weapon in previous titles, and always wondered why a loadout system like this wasn’t already a mainstay for the franchise.

Developers have also pushed the game to become more “tactical” by limiting player movement, especially by removing the ever-controversial slide cancel. Another change is the lowering of the time to kill (TTK.) To me, the lower TTK is amazing, as I no longer have to use a magazine and a half worth of fire against others.

I think that the developers have struck the best balance of the arcade and tactical aspects of COD, it’s not arcadey enough to be similar to a classic COD game, but not tactical enough to be overbearing.

The updated graphics and sounds of the game make the game sound and look stunning, and paired with the newest maps, such as the Valderas Museum and Grand Prix, make the game feel fresh. The weapons also feel much more powerful in the hands of the player with the updated gun sounds, harkening back to how the Modern Warfare 2019 weapons felt.

The spectating system is also a welcome change in my books, as it switches from going from a first-person perspective of a teammate to the spectator viewing from a body camera on the remaining player or players. This has the effect of making me feel more involved in the fight, even though I may be already out of the game.

Although I am an extreme fan of the multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2019, I believe that the multiplayer within this newest title has struck something new and powerful, and it has quickly become my favorite for multiplayer in the series.

The Campaign

Campaigns are not the focus of the game, and are really just an afterthought of the developers. Previous campaigns such as Cold War renewed my faith in the story creation of the developers, but that was quickly dashed here.

Although it is based on the original Modern Warfare storyline, it very loosely follows that inspirtation. The newest campaign has the player fighting against a diverse enemy base, from the traditional terrorists, Russians, and now Mexican cartel members. But it instead continues with the changed storyline that began in Modern Warfare 2019, which is more based in the middle-eastern aspect, as opposed to its original story with a larger focus on global and nuclear conflict between nations.

The highlight, as is the highlight in most for me, was the AC-130 missions. Raining hellfire upon the enemy AI was extremely enjoyable, and brought back memories from playing the old Modern Warfare single player.

The visuals in the campaign are more impressive than in multiplayer, and I found myself gazing at the virtual landscape I found myself in. The beginning was set in such a beautiful landscape, the middle filled with an awe inspiring gorge and forest environment, and during the later half a hilly and greenery filled island.

The story only got better as time went on, with the later half blowing my expectations out of the water. They tried many new ideas for the campaign, and went in a direction that some studios would fear to, but it succeeded. Although I cannot say exactly what I mean due to spoilers, when a player experiences it they would most likely exclaim at how different it is.​

In the first half I thought the campaign would flop, but after the halfway mark it became one of the best campaigns I have ever played. Not only was the gameplay excellent, and the gameplay systems were differentiated from most others, it also expanded the story of the characters we all know and love from the series: Ghost, Soap, and Price to name a few. 

I may recommend playing the original campaign series over the newest ones, but that does not mean that the newest campaign is disappointing, quite the opposite. Although they have their key differences, they are both extremely strong campaigns that make me once again giddy to play the COD campaigns.

Final Thoughts

For a series already known for squeezing every last dollar out of their customers, the price tag leaves something to be desired. The cheapest game copy can be purchased for $70, a far cry away from the industry standard of $60 for most triple-A titles.

A small plus for the game is that for the first time since 2017, PC players can purchase the game and play it using Steam, which allows for users to have more of their games in one place. We no longer have to use the dumpster fire that is the Activision launcher.

Overall, I think that the game is one of the best additions to the series in a while. And although it does not completely spark the joy I once had for the series, it easily brings back some of that spark and creates a thoroughly enjoyable experience in gaming. I can finally once again say: “Lets hop on Call of Duty.”