New limited-time modes are giving players more options for large-scale warfare in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
The February 25 update for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC game brings the new “Bazaar” Gunfight map, new cosmetics for purchase, and the usual host of general tweaks. But the most notable additions are the new modes for Modern Warfare’s Battlefield-sized Ground War matches.
“Boots on the Ground War” removes the frustrations of tanks out of the large-scale, 32v32 mode by removing all lethal vehicles from Ground War. The change does come at a small price, though, since “Boots on the Ground War” uses “Realism mode” instead of standard multiplayer.
Realism mode strips away all the information a player would normally see on their screen. You won’t even have a mini-map unless a teammate earns and calls in a UAV. Realism definitely immerses you in battle, with a bigger focus on communication and listening for the sound cues. Sound indications can help remind me to call in my killstreaks—otherwise, I’ll completely forget to use them.
The aspect of Realism mode with which I struggle the most is the lack of hitmarkers to let you know when you’ve hit and killed an enemy. I’m shooting at players across long distances, but I’m not even sure if I hit the opposing player. Are they dead, or waiting to ambush me as I rush the objective points? I’m forcing myself to play more cautiously and listen more.
The standard Ground War mode gets a lot of complaints from players who hate dealing with its endlessly respawning tanks, which can sometimes be abused. Tank lovers are notorious for parking on the cliffside of “Karst River Quarry” and spamming shots down on anyone caught outside the buildings. You know who you are.
Tanks don’t really bother me. I rarely use them, and I don’t let enemy tanks stop me from playing the objective and getting my killstreaks. I usually carry thermite as my equipment, and keep an RPG on my back. However, I was curious how Ground War would feel without constantly having to shut down tanks’ wrath with thermite before I could continue my rush to an objective point.
I found that the biggest impact of the rule change was on “Krovnik Farmland”, a map which features a lot of open ground that would usually host a ton of tank action. It was quite refreshing to run from point to point with only snipers to worry about, and be free to carry something other than thermite as my lethal equipment.
Despite this only being available in Realism mode, this infantry-only Ground War is still refreshing enough to have some players saying “tanks, but no tanks” to the standard Ground War mode.
The second new option, called “Giant Infection,” plays as awful as it sounds. It’s a large-scale take on the classic “Infected” mode, where all players start as Survivors until one player is chosen to be Infected and must take out the Survivors. As more Survivors die, the Infected army grows.
It’s a giant game of keep-away for the Survivors, who are armed to camp their butts off with guns, deployable shields, claymores, and a constant stream of ammo resupplies. The Infected are equipped with tactical insertion equipment to pick a good respawn location, and they’re going to need it because they’re going to die a lot. Their only weapons are a standard knife and a throwing knife.
Giant Infection is only available on “Aniyah Palace.” Despite how massive this map is, the fights almost always take place at one small location—a gas station on the outskirts of the map that allows players easy roof access. Every single match I played resulted in a majority of the Survivors immediately running to the gas station roof, setting up a ridiculous perimeter of claymores around the roof’s edge, and waiting for the poor souls who have to play the Infected. Mildly entertaining as a Survivor, completely frustrating if you’re a member of the Infected party.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the mode, despite its popularity with my friends. I think Call of Duty: WWII had one of the best takes on Infected. While not perfect, I appreciated the mode on small maps that forced more player engagement. Plus, those Infected actually turned into zombies when they died.
Giant Infection could be more interesting if players were forced off their rooftop and made to utilize more of the map. Maybe don’t give them such a constant flow of ammo. Maybe put ammo resupply boxes in risky, open places on the map. These modes often seem unbalanced, and maybe some players are fine with the struggles of being Infected. But without better balance, I think I’ll stick to Realism Ground War, even if I still forget to call in my killstreaks.