Call of Duty Modern Warfare - 2v2 Alpha Pre-Release Impressions
Activision finally has graced us with a first chance to see more of Call of Duty Modern Warfare. With an unusually tight-lipped marketing campaign so far, especially compared to last years Black Ops 4, players got a public chance to play Modern Warfare for the first time. This year is going to be different for sure: the campaign is back and expected to raise eyebrows with its levels of grit and shocking events; zombies and battle royale are gone, and this years buzz word is "realism". A new mode is taking center stage, and it is a fast paced small map 2v2 mode called Gunfight. In 2V2 Gunfight, four players, two teams face off against each other on ultra small maps that force you together quickly with random weapons. Some outlets are even calling it the Anti-Battle Royale Mode. Where as Royale focused on bringing the largest maps ever seen in COD, and matches were long and drawn out with heavy focus on strategy, 2V2 is taking COD back to its core: Fast, quick, twitch gameplay. This mode is all about who is fastest. There's strategy for sure, but you have to play quick as matches last in measurements of seconds rather than minutes.
I have to say that as far as Alpha goes this was one of the smoothest pre-releases I've played. I only encountered one bug that glitched my team into a piece of the environment so we couldn't move or see; but other than that one instance, the game ran smoothly. I experienced no frame rate drops, graphical issues, long queue times, or forced disconnects. For this being labeled as an "alpha" not even the upcoming Beta, I for sure expected this to be way more buggy than it turned out to be, so kudos to Activision InfinityWard for preparing properly for this Alpha.
Cons: AFK/Disconnect Players break the mode I have to say the only negative I have is a caution I have about the very nature of this mode. This isn't simply another multiplayer mode, this is being touted as a main aspect of Modern Warfare replacing other aspects like Zombies or Royale so pulling it off is going to require two things. This is the smallest main mode of a game mode with a player pool of only 4 players. The negative impact of player disconnects has a major impact on the fun of the gameplay more so than any other mode ever in Call of Duty. I have been pretty vocal about how Respawn Entertainment of Apex Legends needs to tackle what I call "disconnect culture" in online gaming because it can truly break and ruin their game. Disconnecting from online games mid match is a growing problem as trolls, impatient players, and rage quitters affect others with no consequences. I love Apex, but I report quitters on a daily basis. Apex Legends is heavily focused on teamwork and squad gameplay, so when gamers quit early or don't wait for respawns, it truly can put players at a disadvantage. If one person quits in Apex, you loose 33% of your effective combat effectiveness which definitely can be the difference between winning and losing. Also in a mode like Royale, player disconnects only lower the total player pool by a low few percentages.
In COD MW Gunfight however these numbers are even worse. If just one player quits, (something that happened to me multiple times) then you lose 50% of your effective combat effectiveness, and 25% of total player pool is diminishes. Honestly being in a 1v2 can just feel like a slaughter. I was able to rally and pull off a really cool 1v2 victory on stream which was a fun challenge, but if it happened frequently that will make the game less fun. This game mode is unique in how much disconnect players have in this game to the fun others can have. The thing Activision really needs to do to make a unique mode like this protected and fun is enact super strict disconnect penalties in the final release. I mean even more strict than any players are used to. If a player disconnects once they get banned 30 minutes, if they disconnect twice it ramps up all the way to 24 hours, and honestly if they keep doing it they can be PERMANENTLY banned from the mode. Just as bad as disconnects are AFK players. I had many rounds with afk enemies or teammates, and it needs to be quick and easy to report. More importantly there needs to be a motion detection (somewhat similar to Overwatch) where you are penalized if you go AFK. This is a mode that is super fragile, and it could fail if Activision doesn't take disconnect or AFK players seriously. During this Alpha, I felt like maybe 25% of the matches had some type of AFK or Disconnect issue hurting its balance.
Pros: Graphics, Gameplay, and Fun
The fragile nature of the mode aside, I felt like most people who I played with were excited to and there to actually play the game, so when we did have a full 2v2, it was a BLAST. I love fast paced shooters that truly balance quick twitch shooting with an element of tactics. The random nature of the weapon selection in the game made it fast and fluid without having to make weapon decisions, and it forces you out of your comfort zone so you don't play the same gun over and over (Guilty!)
The 5 maps featured in the game felt well thought out and fun. There was a balanced between linear choke points and flanking options. The gunplay was incredible with a wide variety of weapons and just the fluidity of the gunplay was great. I feel like this game has some of the best gunplay since Titanfall. Aiming down sights while reloading felt super satisfying, and running/sliding didn't feel super human but also didn't feel too tanky.
Let's talk about these graphics too. Honestly, even on a PS4 Pro, over say a One X or PC this game looked incredible. Infinity Ward's new engine is definitely showing its true colors here. If the multiplayer looked this good I can't imagine how good that campaign is going to be. Just how good the bushes and trees looked on the map blew me away.