If you ask any player who has been playing games for longer than just nine years which Call of Duty title they believe is the best, most of them are likely to answer with ‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.’
It was indeed the first Call of Duty title that abandoned the excessively repeated World War 2 recreations and jumped into the modern era of warfare, where information, fast weapons, and clever espionage were an essential part of combat.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare also had arguably the best campaign in any of the CoD games, perhaps alongside the first title (if you’re old enough to have played and thoroughly enjoyed it).
Now, after a few leaks on reddit that not only confirm the existence of the next Call of Duty (Infinite Warfare), but also confirm the existence of a remaster of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it seems we’ll be able to relive the ground-breaking title with better graphics.
The first reaction is excitement driven joy, but if you ponder over some of the details and whether a remake was actually required, it’s not as simple as jumping for joy.
For starters, it seems only 10 of the 20 maps from the game will make it into the remaster. Okay, one could argue that Infinity Ward and Activision are min-maxing and only adding the most popular maps.
The second issue is its pricing – it’s only half a remaster, considering it’s nothing close to a big project like the Final Fantasy VII remake. That, along with only half the maps available, does not warrant the $30 asking price.
More importantly, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, despite its short but brilliant campaign, was a game more popular for its multiplayer. No, it wasn’t just the well-designed maps and awesome weapons that made the multiplayer brilliant, but the actual competitive nature.
As a competitive Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare player myself, I know that what made MW truly a groundbreaking title was how it encouraged competitive play, primarily through the likes of mods like promod.
Back then, Modern Warfare was second only to DoTA when it came to multiplayer popularity. Major events across the world with competitive, sponsored teams would take place, and the game lived well beyond its expected life-span because of how promod transformed it into an e-sports title that was outright slaying even Counter Strike.
Promod basically “dumbed down” the game to a basic level, allowing for extremely high frame-rates, removal of unbalanced elements, and promoting a streamlined, no-bullshit experience that was ideal for team-based e-sports.
In such cases, graphics are the least important feature in a game, as one always has to prioritize elements that give a tactical advantage over aesthetics. For this reason, a remastered version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare largely becomes redundant as far as the multiplayer is concerned, as competitive players would still opt for the classic game as it offers a more refined and modable engine.
You could present a counter-argument through the existence of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and that would indeed make for a decent rebuttal. However, it’s important to note how Valve takes the competitive nature of Counter Strike so seriously, and how CS: GO was seen as an outright replacement of the previous titles to reinvigorate the competitive and e-sports aspects of the title.
Can you honestly expect Activision and Infinity Ward to do the same?
E-sports based multiplayer in Call of Duty has become difficult because of the franchise’s evolution. A new iteration is released every year, and the entire marketing and promotional strategies shift to the new version whenever this happens.
This makes the lifespan of every Call of Duty game incredibly short, making little to no room for actual, sustained e-sports and competitive multiplayer. Instead, Call of Duty is now closer to a casual multiplayer franchise than it is to a competitive one, whereas Counter Strike is, was, and will remain competitive multiplayer title first, and then everything else second.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare followed the Counter Strike formula very closely (the only difference being it had a singleplayer campaign), but having abandoned that over five years ago, it’s unlikely for us to see Activision and Infinity Ward to go back to it with this leaked remaster.
With the multiplayer being merely a shell of its actual self in this remaster, the only place to look for reconciliation is the singleplayer campaign. It’s already evident that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had arguably the best singleplayer campaign out of all the CoD titles, so there doesn’t seem to be any reason to by a remaster that will only make it a tad prettier, especially considering how short it is (only 4 hours on average).
Basically, this remaster asks players to pay for a classic, but the major aspects that made it a classic were abandoned ages ago. The campaign is too short to be worth the alleged $30 price-tag, and the multiplayer can never be what it is was as its multiplayer structure was scrapped and left in the bin years ago.
The only thing this remaster seems to have going for itself is the name and prettier graphics, and that is certainly not enough for me to buy it. Would I consider it if the publishers decide to bring back the competitive multiplayer element, along with mods? Probably, but with Activision and Infinity Ward, it’s merely a pipe-dream.