When Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare released in 2007, it changed the game for the modern FPS with publisher after publisher clambering to be the next military hit.  However, as many of them tried to imitate, none could truly replicate what developers Infinity Ward had achieved.  Then in 2016, Activision released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and while this ran off the same engine, visually it looked great and it offered an improved performance.  The Modern Warfare series will go down as one of the best and most iconic FPS series of all-time (regardless of what the haters will say) and even to this day, the three main entries in the series, still remain fun to play.  Yet, Activision has decided to reboot this iconic series and here we are with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in 2019, and it could very well mark a return to form for the long-running series.

Prior to playing the campaign of Modern Warfare, I saw a lot about how “real” and “gritty” the story was and to be honest, I considered this to be much of an over-reaction, but in truth, they were correct with their assessments.  Sure, there’s lots of over the top action, explosions and betrayal, but I’d expect or want nothing less from a Call of Duty campaign.  However, there were certain points during the campaign where I felt uncomfortable, perhaps “No Russian” uncomfortable from Modern Warfare 2 (2009).  I don’t want to give anything away from the campaign, but you may have already heard about a mission that involves you storming a suspected terrorist house in the streets of London or another mission that involves a couple of pivotal characters in the story having a flashback as children during their war-torn homeland.

Now I’m not going to criticise this very mature approach of storytelling, because this is an 18-rated game after all and I’ve seen far worse in movies, but I must say that I love this very “gritty” and “real” approach.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this from start to finish, because otherwise it would all become way to emotionally draining, but the story of Modern Warfare hits the story beats at just the right times, that will leave you impacted long after you’re done with the campaign.  From my personal preference this standard of storytelling is what I’ve been waiting years for from the series.  Just from a parental point of view and not to get overly preachy, if you have young children, just be mindful of impressionable eyes when playing this impactful story campaign.

In terms of multiplayer, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has the usual modes that you would expect from the series, such as Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy, Kill Confirmed, Free-for-All and more to follow post-launch including Demolition, Defender and more.  The latter two, obviously I can’t talk about as they weren’t available to play at the time of writing this review, but in respect to the other modes, if you’re familiar with the series, then you’ll know what to expect and if you’re new, you’ll soon pick out your favourites as they all very capable and established modes with refined and satisfying FPS gameplay.  However, it’s two of the new modes available at launch that are the most eye catching with Gunfight and Ground War, both of which you may have played during the recent alpha and beta.

Gunfight is a very quick-burst match-type over a series of quick-fire rounds in a 2vs2 mode.  Both teams of two will be thrown into a small, close-quartered arena where each of the players will have the exact same weapon loadout with each of the rounds lasting just 45 seconds.  These aspects make for intense multiplayer battles, perhaps more then I had expected and considering how short each round is, it might surprise you how much you will likely need to rely on strategy if you and your team-mate are going to win, plus it’s a great way to fine-tune your MP skills without being overly worried of being shot in the back by a camper or spawn killed.

The other mode in question, Ground War takes inspiration from Battlefield V’s Grand Operations, where two teams of 32 players will battle it out against one another which will have you capturing and holding objectives akin to Domination, spawning on your fellow team-mate, driving tanks and more.  Prior to the launch of Modern Warfare, the developers have spoken about upping Ground War to 100 players, so it will be interesting to see if that happens.

Old-school Killstreaks have now also returned, where you will simply activate an in-match Killstreak, depending on what you have unlocked and selected for your loadout.  For me at least, I’ve been waiting for this more traditional formula to return for quite some time, I’ll just have to get used to finding a good hiding place for when I’m piloting my attack helicopter and missile drones.  Some of the Killstreaks can even have you call in a tank for you and your teammates to commandeer, a heavy armoured Juggernaut to now down your enemies, and the all-mighty Nuke makes a triumphant return, should you get 30 kills in a row.

All in all, with the varied multiplayer maps, gorgeous visuals and attention to detail, not to mention the improved environmental damage (albeit not to the level of Battlefield), this in my opinion, is the best multiplayer that this series has provided for quite some time, perhaps since the last Modern Warfare on the last generation.  I must also mention that extra attention to detail that goes into the gunsmith customisation.  This aspect is something that had impressed me in Black Ops 4, but it has been taken up a notch in Modern Warfare (2019).  There is an added wealth of ways to customise and upgrade from the plenty of weapons on offer, but I’d recommend sticking with your favourite two of three guns from each of the weapon types, i.e. Assault Rifle, SMG, LMG, Sniper and Shotgun.

As with recent releases, not only will you unlock extra weapons, gadgets, perks and so forth as you level-up, as well as the wealth of weapons, it’s all now to an even more impressive level.  Almost every aspect of Modern Warfare’s multiplayer, feels like a true evolution for the series.  However, what I would say as a negative, is that with the Time-to-Kill ratio being very quick, I had experienced issues of being killed the split second I spawned in my area (not on a team player) with opposing teams waiting with their sniper scopes.

To fans of the series, camping is nothing new in Call of Duty, but with so much debris, doors and furniture to hide behind in Modern Warfare (2019), expect to encounter campers a lot, perhaps more than ever before.  Many of the maps also seem to favour the Sniper, especially the Euphrates Bridge map, where if your team gets hold of that bridge first, it’s a Sniper delight!  I just wish that developers would find a way to tackle the camping plague and being killed on spawn so frequently.

Going back to something positive, I must also add that Modern Warfare will have no map packs or modes hidden behind a paywall, as Activision has promised not to split the player base in that way.  There will be a Battle Pass at some point in the future, as well as an in-game store.  However, at the time of publishing this review, the first two maps were added via an update, as well as the mode Hardpoint, releasing simultaneously for all available platforms, so long may that continue.  Also new to the series is cross-platform play for PC, PS4 and Xbox One which will allow players to battle it out with or against one-another, but if this is something that you don’t want, you can toggle the settings via the multiplayer options.

Other multiplayer modes include the co-op where you can play one of two Special Ops missions at launch.  However, as you may have heard, one mode of Spec Ops, Survival is a timed-exclusive to PS4 until October 1st, 2020, by which time, the new Call of Duty will be practically out anyway.  Survival is a waved based mode with increasing enemy difficulties in which each kill or damage given will earn you in-game cash to spend during the match.  The cash can be spent during intermissions on ammo, weapons, gadgets, Killstreaks and so forth.  For me, this is my favourite of the two co-op modes.

Classic Spec Ops is pretty much the save as Survival, but the enemy onslaught is more intense and you will be located on smaller maps.  Classic Spec Ops will have set weapons, gadgets and Killstreaks and there will be no intermission to purchase ammo and weapons, however, you will get supply drops from time to time.  You can also approach the missions all guns blazing or with stealth.  Stealth is often the best option, but if you’re in a team of randoms, expects them to blow your cover from the get-go.  So if you can find a team of friends to play with, all on the same page, that is always the way to play.  Post launch, Infinity Ward and Activision will be adding new maps and modes to the game.  Though I will add, that even though Zombies may feel a little tired now, in my opinion, it still offers more fun and life in its mode compared to the co-op missions of Modern Warfare.

To conclude, the Call of Duty series certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but 2019’s Modern Warfare will surely please many loyal fans and if you were lost on this series some years back, now is the perfect time to jump back in.  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare offers the most memorable singleplayer campaign in recent years with moments that will stay with you long after you’re done.  Its visuals and refined gameplay have been taken up a notch and it also offers the most comprehensive multiplayer offerings in quite some time.  Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a true return to form for this series in almost every way and will go down as one of my favourite games of 2019.