After what seems like a long wait since the reveal, we finally have a look at this year’s Call of Duty multiplayer, more than just the couple of new screenshots that were shown off. After being notably absent on the show floor at E3, Activision and Infinity Ward today held a live stream showing off the all-new Gunfight game mode, a frantic 2v2 experience that boils Call of Duty down to its most basic elements of pure player skill. When we visited Infinity Ward ahead of E3 for the reveal, we got a chance to get some hands-on time with Gunfight.
In Gunfight, two teams of two players spawn into small maps designed specifically for this game mode. Players have 40 seconds to find and eliminate the other team before a capture point spawns, which must be held for three seconds to win. If no one manages to capture the tie-breaker, then the team with the most total health remaining wins the match, which means that health will not replenish It’s worth taking potshots at opponents to whittle them down, and it’s worth trying not to take hits yourself. Even if you survive and retreat to a favorable position, you could still lose the round on health alone. The winner of each round gets a single point, and when one team reaches six, they win the match.
So what’s so special about 2v2 gameplay on small maps? In Gunfight, loadouts are preselected by the game and everyone is running the same thing. Your weapons, equipment, and anything else determined by Create a Class won’t be in use here. Each round, a new weapon set is selected. On the first round, you may be running shotguns and need to get in close. The second round might spawn you in with a sniper rifle, allowing you to easily camp lanes at a distance. One round even spawned us in with rocket launchers. Instead of firing the explosive with reckless abandon, I silently flanked the opposing team and took them out with a sidearm instead. Okay, you got me. I was the one wildly firing the explosive while the other team took me down, but my point remains that every single round, tactics can and have to change depending on what loadout is given.
Gunfight’s quick and compressed nature means that there’s constantly action and rarely ever any downtime. Even when you’re eliminated relatively early on, the next round starts up quickly enough to allow you a shot at redeeming yourself, and maybe this time you’ll load in with a weapon set that you’re more comfortable with. With everyone on an even playing field, it means that Gunfight as all about the skills of the individual players and how well two people can work together under pressure as a team. Small maps, small teams, and short rounds mean that Gunfight is purely point and shoot, though it will be interesting to see how the community develops strategies for this mode. Such as the rocket launcher upset above, where I was embarrassed to have such a powerful weapon yet be eliminated by a simple sidearm flank.
Grounded and Realistic
In the interest of more grounded and realistic gameplay, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Gunfight mode feels pretty different from the more arcadey feeling Call of Duty multiplayer experiences we’ve come to know, despite itself being an exceptionally arcade-like mode. It’s still quick, but don’t expect boost jumps or to be flying all over the map. It’s more about cover, sight lines, and strategic tactical play than going full-on Doom guy. I’m interested to see how what we played translates into the full multiplayer experience, because it seems like Infinity Ward really wants to strip down the CoD that most people know, find out what people truly love about it, and rebuild using those elements without the additional baggage the series has taken on over the years. Forget jet packs and wall running and jump boosts. This is a Call of Duty grounded in the realities of modern warfare, so it should convey that same weight, especially if Infinity Ward is aiming for a unified progression and feeling across all of the game’s modes.
And yes, the gameplay in action does look that damn good. Getting to see all of the incredible new technology used for not only the single-player segments we saw, but also play the Gunfight mode proved that Infinity Ward isn’t all talk. Everything from visuals to audio blew me away and it was hard to believe that I was playing on a PS4 Pro. This next-gen level tech is coming to current gen later this year, and I’m still absolutely baffled that the game can look that good and maintain a smooth 60 frames per second without hiccups and be played on a console that I’ve had in my living room for the past six years.
Revealing the new 2v2 Gunfight mode was just a quick tease of multiplayer, though. If that pure gunplay skill isn’t really your thing, Infinity Ward and Activision announced that a full Call of Duty: Modern Warfare “multiplayer universe” gameplay reveal is coming on August 1, in just three weeks. At that time we’re going to get a better look at other modes and how Infinity Ward is unifying the entire game through narrative and player progression.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare previewed at Infinity Ward’s studios. Travel and accommodations were provided by Activision.