Call of Duty Modern Warfare multiplayer wants to become the adult Fortnite

Call of Duty Modern Warfare multiplayer
(Image credit: Activision)

Update: Our Call of Duty multiplayer feature includes two new trailers, including one that demos gameplay footage of the fresh 2v2 Gunfight mode.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare is a remake in every way imaginable, down to making its multiplayer mode extra gritty and bringing back devastating killstreak rewards.

You could say that the multiplayer gameplay is going back to its roots, but it's also taking obvious cues from much newer games like the free-to-play Battle Royale phenomenon Fortnite.

It'll introduce cross-platform multiplayer so that console players on PS4 and Xbox One can play with PC gamers. You'll no longer have to consult friends on which version they're buying in order to jump into siloed, version-specific matches.

While CoD Modern Warfare won't be free-to-play like Fortnite or PUBG, it will have a free season pass – there's no subscription attached to extra content for the first time. Activision has previously charged $50 for extra content, and it was another decision that divided friends.

Finally, we don't have a max player count yet, but 64-player deathmatches are a thing and the Call of Duty team says its new gameplay engine can easily scale up to support larger player counts, even though the new 2v2 mode is just as fun. 

'It's not like superheroes'

Call of Duty wants compete with the modern multiplayer arena with these features: cross-platform multiplayer, free season pass content and much larger player counts. But it also wants to stake its claim on being the anti-Fornite in some ways.

"It's not like superheroes," said Infinity Ward studio head Patrick Kelly. "It's real soldiers, it's real guys, it's real equipment."

"We wanted to make a game that was authentic, that was gritty. The things you're going to see in the game are to the extent we possible can, we always ask ourselves 'Is this realistic? Is this authentic?'"

"We always talk about things like 'ripped from the headlines.' Is it relatable content that feels like 'that's the kind of conflict or scenario that I'm used to seeing in the zeitgeist of today."

New Gunfight mode

The chaos of massive multiplayer deathmatch games can be fun, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare certainly has that, but the new 2v2 Gunfight mode feels restrictive in the best possible sense. It leans heavily on precision.

It pits players against each other with the same exact weaponry loadout. So if your two opponents have pistols, so will you and are one teammate. Every round of Gunfight randomly switches up the guns, with everyone having the same arsenal. 

The maps are purposely small, so it makes matches quick and accuracy count. A lot of twitch gameplay will happen in this game type, and that acts as good training for new CoD players, or ones who haven't played multiplayer in a while.

More Call of Duty gameplay changes

You won't find zombies in Call of Duty Modern Warfare – that's never been in the spirit of this more realistic game. That's always been more of a Black Ops thing.

Instead, you'll find a new Spec Ops mode and more tactical gameplay throughout the multiplayer mode. For the first time, you can mount your heavy weapons to stabilize them on windows and against walls, and then cleanly sweep rooms.

Night Vision is here like never before, allowing you to don easy-to-equip goggles on demand and dramatically change up nighttime gameplay maps. Players who are used to attaching laser sights to their guns are immediately be outed.

The new tactical sprint and door breaching moves are also bound to add a twist to your approach when taking on enemies, especially in limited 2v2 and 6v6 matches. They're more fast-paced and less chaotic – in a good way. 

Are these changes enough to compete with Fortnite when it comes to attracting an audience that has moved on to Battle Royale games? We'll know after Modern Warfare makes its return to a decidedly different video game battlefield on October 25.

Something that won't change is console exclusivity for one platform. PS4 gamers will get early access to the multiplayer beta on September 12 (which is two days after the suspected iPhone 11 launch date). Everyone on Xbox One and PC should get access a week later, according to Infinity Ward.

Matt Swider