We’ve learned kind of a lot about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, this year’s remake of the 2007 shooter, since it was announced earlier this year–but almost all of the information we currently have about the game is focused on its story. While Modern Warfare sees the return of some old characters, it’s telling a new tale when it releases this fall. But at the same time, developer Infinity Ward has been mostly silent about the game’s multiplayer side, outside of details about the addition of cross-play to the game. That changes with the announcement of a new multiplayer game type coming in Modern Warfare, called “Gunfight.”
Infinity Ward showed off Gunfight in a livestream that let Twitch personalities duke it out in the new mode. Gunfight drills down Call of Duty multiplayer to its essence with super-fast two-versus-two matches that take place on small maps. Players face off against each other over multiple rounds, and the first team to take down six rounds wins the whole match. Speed is the key to Gunfight: Matches run on a 40-second timer, and if you haven’t wiped out the opposing duo by then, a flag appears in the center of the map. The first team to control the area around the flag for three seconds wins the round; each round wraps up in about a minute or less.
We had a chance to play Gunfight last month during Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare preview event, and the mode was impressive. It streamlines Call of Duty multiplayer significantly–you don’t mess around with equipment, Killstreaks, or loadouts when you fire up a match. Instead, the match assigns a set of equipment to all players each round, so everyone is evenly matched with the same gear. Thus, it’s a mode that’s all about outsmarting and outplaying your opponents with your skills, rather than your weapons.
Gunfight has three maps: Pine, which is set in a forest; Stack, a container yard in the desert; and King, a warehouse training area that feels a lot like Captain Price’s plywood-and-spray paint training ground from the original Modern Warfare. We played on King, which was small enough that it was almost impossible to avoid encounters, but just large and diverse enough that you could give your enemies the slip just long enough to create ambushes. The center of the map included a two-story wooden walkway that added the ability to get up and around other players, while the sides included cargo containers with windows where it was possible to hide out (or get pinned down and killed by a well-placed grenade).
The speedy nature of Gunfight and ever-changing weapon loadout means you don’t have much to rely on but your skill and reflexes. King has lots of wooden cover scattered around the map that gives you a chance to hide or break your opponent’s line of sight, but there is no regenerating health in Gunfight, so you either have to commit to a fight or be quick and smart about evading your enemies. And since rounds are all over within about a minute, battles become just as much about mind games as about covering your teammate. Working together is pretty much essential, but things happen fast enough in Gunfight that it leaves room for one player to pull off a clutch win from a disadvantaged position.
Our time with Gunfight was brief, but it was a blast. The mode is an excellent reminder of what gives Call of Duty’s multiplayer its lasting popularity. Strip back all the trappings of unlocking Killstreaks, combining perks, and leveling up guns, and you’re left with solid gunplay and smart map design that facilitates teamwork and intense, fast-paced battles. The speed and intensity of the mode make it a nice change of pace from what players have come to expect in the Call of Duty series.
There’s more to Modern Warfare’s multiplayer that Infinity Ward hasn’t shown off, including how its cross-play will work, and how the game will integrate character progression throughout all its game modes. Infinity Ward is showing off the rest of its multiplayer offerings in a livestream on Twitch at 10 a.m. on August 1.