Modern Warfare’s Ground War Is No Battlefield, But It’ll Do

When I first heard Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Ground War could have 100+ players, the Battlefield fan in me perked up. On Saturday, Infinity Ward opened up the mode with 32v32 matches on one map. I liked what I played — a lot. Sure, there were bugs, and Ground War isn’t the Battlefield replacement I was hoping for – but there’s a lot to like about it.

Modern Warfare’s moment-to-moment gameplay holds up in large-scale matches. We haven’t seen matches on this scale before besides Blackout. With the Battlefield franchise using WWI and WWII as its setting the past few years, I’ve been itching for a large-scale shooter in a modern setting. The tight gunplay Call of Duty is known for holds up well here.

Guns (especially the M4) feel outstanding. And the new Gunsmith offers plenty of ways to change up how each weapon works in-game. Equipping up to five attachments at one time opens up how guns play and look. A short barrel M4 can be tweaked so you can aim down sights faster. Or, set up a long barrel version for Ground War. I settled on a long barrel M4 with a hybrid scope and a perk that gives me full ammo at the start.

Solid visual and audio cues make gunplay even better. New audio cues were designed for Modern Warfare, but Infinity Ward also gives us the choice to use the classic sounds.

Speaking of audio, gun sounds were a highlight as each bullet explodes from the barrel. When it works, that is. Bugs are to be expected in a beta, and I noticed plenty on the audio front. For every crack of a bullet narrowly missing you, the gunfire from a nearby teammate doesn’t even make a sound. Also, the vehicles were damn near silent. Again, these issues should be addressed before the game launches.

The lack of destruction is glaring, though. Battlefield is still the king of large-scale multiplayer, and playing Modern Warfare’s Ground War makes you appreciate what DICE offers. Especially on the destruction front. Concrete barriers and trees stand undisturbed amidst a barrage of rockets and armored vehicle fire. That also means vehicles get hung up on every little thing.

Call of Duty never promised environmental destruction, but having trees explode and maps change as the match goes on would help sell the massive battles Ground War is going for.

Killstreaks are the ‘Battlefield moments.’ I love to earn them and hate when they’re used against me. Flying around in a chopper gunner, or gunship raining hell down on the battlefield never gets old. But Modern Warfare does lack the organic sandbox moments the Battlefield franchise is known for. The ‘Only in Battlefield’ slogan EA came up with during Battlefield 4 still rings true after this weekend. And I hope it’s a slogan DICE returns to in future games.

Still, killstreaks give you that ‘awesome moment’ to aim for. And it works here.

Spawns are busted. This is going to need an entire rework. Spawn locations are fixed. Meaning you could camp the upstairs portion of ‘C’ and shoot players in the back if they spawn on it. We’ll see what Infinity Ward comes up with for a solution. A rework of spawn locations would be best. The gameplay is way too fast to add any spawn protection mechanic.

There was also a bug where you could spawn behind the last person to kill you.

Again, it’s a beta. These things happen, and I’m glad it was caught a month before release.

Vehicles feel gimmicky. This is a tough one. I prefer vehicles that don’t own the entire battlefield. But the armored vehicles in Ground War feel too weak. But at the same time, I like how gunfire can take them down. I’m not sure what Infinity Ward should do here. I prefer not having to automatically equip a rocket launcher to take them out. But I also think they should be a little stronger.

Ground War isn’t Battlefield, and that’s fine. Ground War was never going to be Battlefield 4 with better graphics. No matter how much Battlefield 4 fans (raises hand) want it to be. It’s Call of Duty with bigger player counts. That’s it. And it’s one mode among many. What Infinity Ward have is a good base to build on. Tweaks to vehicles, spawns, and bug fixes would go a long way to making it better.

Ground War is pure chaos, and I love it.