Call of Duty is looking to the franchise’s past in order to revitalize its future. Activision’s perennial cash printing military FPS is softly rebooting with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. (Not to be confused with 2007’s seminal Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or 2016’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, though we can see how you’d make that mistake.) The game brings back the series’ signature single player campaign which was axed in 2018’s Treyarch developed Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The story itself will convey a darker tone and bring back fan favorite character Captain Price.

While the series remains a prominent seller, it’s been a long time since it was considered a critical darling like it was when the original Modern Warfare released last decade. Call of Duty titles were lauded for their dramatic campaigns and then-groundbreaking multiplayer modes. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare  was a major success, dethroning Halo as the king of the online multiplayer hill. The title ushered in a new era of market dominance for Activision Blizzard that has diminished in recent years following the advent of the Fortnite battle royale craze. Reintroducing a gritty Modern Warfare feels like an attempt to reinvigorate the property and entice those alienated by Call of Duty’s floundering attempts to challenge competitors like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

The franchise may have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction. At E3 2019, Yahtzee Croshaw attended an unsettling hands-off demo of Call of Duty: Modern Ware.

“We’re all a little stunned by [the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare gameplay demonstration],” Croshaw said from the show floor. “They brought us in and went: ‘Here’s fifteen minutes of cold intense ruthless killing, alright, thanks for coming, enjoy the pizza.’ We saw a brief narrative section where Captain Price and about twenty guys in infiltration gear sneak into a small town house in London, kill the lights and systematically murder room after room of civilian terrorists. [The demonstration] made a big thing of how they’re bringing Modern Warfare even more up to date to reflect a new age of warfare where the enemy doesn’t wear uniforms, and frankly it all gives me a slightly creepy ‘hey, everyone spy on your neighbors’ pro-oppressive government sort of vibe.”

Call of Duty is no stranger to controversy. 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 featured a playable mass shooting in an airport. Despite the series’ penchant for shocking scenes, the Call of Duty games from a decade ago could still be dumb and loud action vehicles with satisfying balls-to-the-wall setpieces. At its peak, Call of Duty did its best to ignore the moral implications of using modern warfare setting for mindless Michael Bay style action spectacle. A darker and more realistic Modern Warfare where the government executes ‘dangerous civilians’ only invites this criticism. War crimes aren’t as fun when reflecting upon them.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare releases on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25.

Riley Constantine
Contributor. Riley Constantine is Iowa's third greatest export behind Slipknot and life insurance. She loves to review movies and games while examining how they often mirror the bizarre world we live in.

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    14 Comments

    1. I can’t wait it will be the first COD I will be buying since the other modern warfare. I hope the don’t cut parts out and give in to SJW bull.

      1. “SJW”=Anyone with a progressive or left of center opinion or notion I don’t like”

    2. Will buy the game if it’s like they showed.

    3. Seriously if it unsettles you, don’t play it. Why do we give platforms to babies these days though?? Maybe some people actually want a deep, shocking and emotional story for once. It’s a mature rated game for a mature audience. Don’t buy it for your kids and grow up. So sick of these phony outrage hypers trolling games with this kind of garbage. Keep your whining to yourself.

    4. queue idiots screaming about keeping politics out of games the first time someone dares criticize it…

    5. It’s a little weird that the Escapist is writing an article about one of it’s own contributors reacting to something. Isn’t it enough that you have Yahtzee himself give an impression on an Escapist E3 video?

    6. Just let CoD die already.

    7. the “earnest anti-war hype” will not live up to its name. vice wrote a nice article about the make a cake and eat it too pretension.

    8. These people are fake and hypocritical as hell. They complain that the game has “brutal’ and “ruthless” killing, but find it ok for players to murder each other in multiplayer; have soft core porn movies like 50 Shades of Grey; watch scenes where chicks get raped and kids get exploded to death? This world is dumb.

      But it’s ok because I’m glad Taylor Kurosaki, and the team behind Modern Warfare, won’t
      bend the knee to these fake people. Thankfully, we’ll get a real game with a real military story that challenges us and deepens our perspectives on life as that’s what it’s all about.

      If you’re too much of a fake a** human to play this game, knowing that you yourself did some disturbing sh*t in life, then don’t play and continue to pretend to be a “good,” “civilized,” and “perfect” person when you’re not.

      1. Not a lot of Americans are taught to be empathetic, or compassionate beings. Due to our media’s lust for glorifying violence, and parental negligence, it’s a dehumanizing, deadly combo.

        However, I have met thoughtful, compassionate people that are able to enjoy these kind of games. It’s a matter of fetishizing gore/violence and keeping it out of real life.

      2. This is such an absurd and willful misinterpretation of the point being made here. Who are these “fake people” you refer to? What makes you think they DON’T have similarly conflicted feelings about multiplayer, and also “50 Shades of Grey” for some reason? How does this supposed hypocrisy in any way actually address the point of view being expressed here?
        I wonder if you consider these folks “fake people” too because they said Mean Stuff about a Game You Like.
        https://twitter.com/mistermegative/status/1139567654883274753
        https://twitter.com/leiflaw/status/1138946961913077760

        1. I’d argue there’s a lot worse shown on film. I doubt anything shown in this will be worse than FMJ, Dunkirk, Black hawk Down etc etc etc.

          And running into a building and straight up murdering everyone isn’t too far from the truth as far as the SAS are concerned. Remember the Iranian embassy when they were gonna drag the last guy away and execute him but stopped cos it was televised?

    9. Is CoD trying to have their “SPEC OPS: THE LINE” cake and eat it, too? They’re not smart enough for that. At least Ubisoft is smart enough to keep vague about what their games are being “political” about.

      1. Except COD MW was already subversive way before SO came out. If anything, SO was kind of taking a piece from COD’S cake. Granted by the time that game came out, it might have been around the time when COD melded more into how it’s portrayed in media.

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