Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s first “season” of content has been a solid offering of maps and modes, but it was held back by lackluster rewards and bugs.
The season began on December 3, and with a brief extension, the season is now scheduled to conclude on February 11. Season One brought some positive changes that Call of Duty desperately needed, but I hope that the game’s developers at Infinity Ward and publisher Activision will hopefully use community feedback to make for a stronger second season.
One of Activision’s smartest moves was making all the DLC maps free for everyone. This was a change for a franchise that had been selling paid map packs for Call of Duty games for years. In recent years, those map packs were console-exclusive to PlayStation first, which was ridiculous. With the new free seasonal approach, all platforms receive Modern Warfare’s new content at the same time.
The new multiplayer maps have been good. Modern Warfare’s launch maps weren’t great and drew criticism for having a large, cluttered layouts that promoted camping. It’s easy to praise the first season’s new maps, because they’re actually remastered classics Crash, Vacant, and Shipment from the original Modern Warfare. Some players hate rehashed maps, but I’ve embraced these remakes of my favorites. And while I’m almost certain we’ll see more familiar locations return this year, I hope that Infinity Ward can deliver some brand-new maps for season two.
Additionally, the 32v32 Ground War mode received the “Port of Verdansk” map, which has recently been a bit of a nightmare with awful spawns, as well as many exploit points that allowed players to glitch into the walls and under the map for cheap kills.
The 2v2 Gunfight mode, one of Modern Warfare’s strongest assets, received new maps with Cargo, Atrium, Shipment, and a Winter Docks variant map. I play a lot of Gunfight, so I love seeing the map variety here. My only wish is for Infinity Ward to add a map voting system to Modern Warfare. Unlike previous Call of Duty games, you can’t vote between maps. There are some nights when I only play one or two maps, and I think bringing back the voting would promote a better mix.
Rotating limited-timed modes has been a strong point for helping keep the gameplay fresh in Modern Warfare. We’ve seen 1v1 and 3v3 options come to Gunfight, and modes like Gun Game, Infected, and Cranked breathe a little life into standard multiplayer. Cranked, which initiates a 30-second timer and tasks players with chaining kills and assists together to avoid exploding, was a favorite of mine. It changes the pace of Modern Warfare’s notoriously stagnant matches by forcing players to seek out gunfights within a time limit or else risk death by explosion. Whenever Cranked shows up in the playlist rotation, I’ll be there.
Unfortunately, Season One’s additional Spec Ops missions continue to miss the mark. The four-player co-op mode is still the most grueling and unrewarding experience Modern Warfare has to offer. Spec Ops tasks a squad of four to complete a set of mission objectives, and performance is ranked from one to three stars depending on how fast you complete the missions. Unlike Modern Warfare 2’s Spec Ops, there’s no difficulty setting. It’s just a frustrating trek through nearly infinitely spawning enemies, where you struggle and get shot in the back while attempting to complete basic objectives like securing hostages, disabling tanks, or collecting intel.
My experience with Modern Warfare’s Spec Ops has been buggy and torturous. I’ve had my weapons disappear from my hands mid-gunfight, bugged out objective markers, and tons of freezing and crashing on my PlayStation 4 Pro. Even without all the bugs, this probably still wouldn’t be a fun experience. The struggle is definitely not worth the reward of a single item like a calling card or sticker. Instead of just adding more of the same, I really think Infinity Ward should look for ways to revamp the entire Spec Ops experience for future missions and rethink the quality of rewards. Overall, Modern Warfare could definitely use some better loot.
One of the biggest misses of the season is the new seasonal Officer Rank system, which replaces the series’ longtime “Prestige” leveling system. While I think the change was actually smart, I believe the player incentive still needs to be higher. Previously, players could hit max level in a Call of Duty game, enter “Prestige mode” to reset their rank back to level 1, and rinse and repeat several times until reaching “max prestige” rank. Each prestige offered a fancy emblem, and many dedicated players loved to show their commitment to the grind. Prestiging was a cool thing to do in Call of Duty like a decade ago, but now players are more loot hungry than ever.
Modern Warfare’s Officer Ranks system has the potential to feel more rewarding. The soft level cap is 55, but each season will offer a set of 100 Officer Rank challenges to complete. Challenges vary from getting a specific number of kills with various weapons or killstreaks to using specific attachments or tactical equipment. Completing a challenge will earn a player an Officer ribbon and more experience points to keep leveling up. Every 10 ribbons collected unlocks a new emblem for the season, but these are pretty basic-looking when compared to previous years of Prestige emblems. Completing all 100 Season One challenges will reward the “M91 Warhead” cosmetic light machine gun variant, but I’m not sure how many players will even use it. I’d like to see something like flashy camos that aren’t weapon-specific or Operator skins unique to each season.
The Season One Battle Pass is another change that I appreciate, but also wish the grind offered better reward incentive. Modern Warfare ditched the series’ egregious loot box system and renovated Call of Duty’s Battle Pass. Like Fortnite, the Modern Warfare Battle Pass includes both free and premium content streams. The free content path definitely has fewer rewards, but it does include all the additional DLC guns. (The recently added Crossbow is not part of the Battle Pass, but can be earned simply by completing a challenge with the marksman rifles.)
Activision made the horrible decision in Black Ops 4 to lock DLC weapons behind the luck of loot boxes, so it was absolutely the right call for Modern Warfare to have all DLC weapons achievable by playing the game. My criticism with the Season One Battle Pass is lackluster rewards for the premium stream. At $10 and a lengthy grind of 100 tiers, none of the cosmetics really stand out. I’m hoping some funky camos are coming to Season Two’s pass.
Overall, Modern Warfare has made positive changes to better serve the community’s growing demand for content flow, and free maps are great. Now the game just needs more maps that aren’t recycled, and better incentives to grind this year’s slower-paced, camper-filled Call of Duty.