If you’ve played a modern Call of Duty game, you’re likely familiar with their predilection for slow-motion, quick time event-style shooting challenges. You enter a room, time slows down, and players must tag three or four targets in quick succession before the enemy can bring their guns to bear. With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, that style of gameplay is being left behind.
“There’s no slow-mo anywhere in the campaign at all,” says Jacob Minkoff, single-player design director at Infinity Ward. “We looked into that type of mechanic early on in the process. We [realize] that it’s really iconic to the series but it, to us, felt really over done, that the series had been doing it for too long and there was nothing new — nothing exciting for the player — that we could bring to them through a sequence like that.”
But, that doesn’t mean Modern Warfare is abandoning traditional close quarters gun battles. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
During a special behind-closed-doors screening of a pre-recorded gameplay sequence, the press was shown an early level from the upcoming game. In that sequence, called Piccadilly Circus, a team of British soldiers raid a four-story apartment inside metropolitan London. The assault is conducted in near total darkness, and the environments are narrow and claustrophobic.
Developers explained that, traditionally, they would scale up the size of those environments, raising the ceilings, widening the hallways, and making the doors themselves larger than they would need to be in real life. The reason given was that enemy AI has an easier time navigating wider spaces. This time around, Infinity Ward kept the scale of the environments one-to-one. Enemies tend to stay inside the rooms where they start, using furniture and even each other for cover.
But the spaces themselves feel crowded, straining with the number of men and guns inside. Stacked in groups of four, the stairwells can barely contain the soldiers and all their gear. Because of this, movement is stately and eerily silent.
The impact on gameplay is staggering.
Instead of a wild run-and-gun battle, the engagement inside that flat features a slow, methodical advance. Rather than wildly swinging their weapon from target to target, players will need to carefully position their bodies to enter a space safely. Once an enemy is discovered, it’s quick, precise shooting within narrow arcs of fire that will get them out alive.
A still frame from the Piccadilly Circus demo shown at this year’s E3 in Los Angeles.Infinity Ward/Activision
To assist the player in these kinds of environments, Infinity Ward has added what it calls a “mounting system” that allows players to brace their weapon against objects like walls and door frames. Once in range of an appropriate surface, players tap the melee button to stick to it. Visually, the effect is seamless. But Minkoff says mounting has a big impact on weapon recoil.
“When you’re standing out in the open, your gun has much more kick,” Minkoff says. “It’s much more unstable. But when you rest it on a surface, now it’s much more stable. […] There are quite a few games where you can rest it on a horizontal surface. But we’ve implemented resting against vertical surfaces as well.”
Another new feature in Modern Warfare is the implementation of fully analog doors. Players can gently open them to peek inside, or kick them in to surprise occupants.
Ballistic penetration also comes into play in indoors. The demo showed players spraying bursts through walls to counter fire from barricaded enemies. Infinity Ward representatives said that players will need to take into account the caliber of their weapons before every mission, and make sure to bring the right tool for the job.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is coming to PlayStation 4, Windows PC via Battle.net, and Xbox One with cross-platform play. The game will be released on Oct. 25.