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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has the chops to be a tactical shooter after all

It just needs to slow the hell down first

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Two players storm a wooden structure armed with assault rifles in a screenshot from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Infinity Ward/Activision
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) is more than just a reboot of the original first-person shooter from 2007.

After a few hours with the beta last night on PlayStation 4, it’s clear that the team at Infinity Ward is in the process of rethinking what it means to move and fight in a mainstream first-person shooter. The result is a game mode that controls more like a methodical, tactical shooter than a competitive arcade game. And it would play that way too, if everyone wasn’t moving so unbelievably fast.

The movement system in the new Modern Warfare is deliciously smooth. Mantling obstacles comes naturally for me during gameplay, as does leaping through windows. Terrain that will allow you onto the upper level of the map is clearly laid out, but not to the extent that it’s color-coded, as with games like Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. And, in the two maps that have been revealed so far, that second floor is just as large and integral to the gameplay as the first. As a result, maps feel more open than ever before, with fewer invisible barriers to slow me down.

Once on the run, I begin to notice a lot more points of interaction than in previous games. Doors are fully analog, for one, and the speed and pace at which I breach through them can be controlled based on how fast I’m moving. Sprinting while tapping the button to open a door kicks it in quickly, while walking up to one allows me to peek around corners slowly with my weapon at the ready. Once opened, doors can even be closed again.

The game mode also offers weapon resting. I can walk up to many of the doors, windows, and obstacles in the game, tap a button, and stick to surfaces like glue. When I do, the recoil on my weapon drops to zero and I can land multiple full-auto shots with ease.

But the moment that I stop to take advantage of these systems, either the analog doors or the weapon mounting system, I invariably get gunned down. The advantages conveyed by this new style of interactivity are completely wasted in multiplayer because the movement speed in this mode is just ridiculously fast.

When enemies are able to race through environments, bunny-hopping all the way, there’s little to no advantage for stopping — even for a moment — to do something as pedestrian as open a door slowly. Why be methodical when everyone is sprinting everywhere, mowing down enemies the moment they see them? The game’s systems and speed of movement seem to be at war with each other, and the fast movement is clearly winning.

The game launches on PlayStation 4, Windows PC via, and Xbox One with cross-platform play on Oct. 25

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