Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's Ground War mode is so big it supports more than 100 players, even more than Black Ops 4's Blackout battle royale. We had the opportunity to get hands-on with this mode during the Modern Warfare press preview event in LA - first playing 10 vs. 10, and then 20 vs. 20 - and that was a fraction of what the game's new engine and maps can support.
While there was talk of 64 players already working, and talk of testing numbers around 100, it's been officially confirmed by Activision and Infinity Ward that Modern Warfare's large-scale battles will support a number bigger than any previous Call of Duty or Battlefield (more than 100 players!) - and the latter comparison is especially interesting.
For a decade and a half there's been an ongoing competition in the triple-A shooter market between Activision's Call of Duty franchise and Electronic Arts' Battlefield. Both series catered towards different play styles, the former being more close-quarters, faster-paced and arcade-esque at times - the latter being more focused on larger areas of play and vehicles. However, since the original Battlefield 1942 that released in 2002, every game in the BF series has capped out its flagship multiplayer modes (Conquest, Rush, etc.) at 64 players. For 17 years, developer DICE has never offered or tested something larger.
And as of last year, Call of Duty surpassed that player count. We're now in a situation where DICE had only two years to make last year's Battlefield V, while Activision gave Treyarch three years to build Black Ops 4 which offered a mode with more players. No longer was Battlefield the real "big" game from a player count perspective. And now this fall, where there's no new Battlefield, Modern Warfare is bringing a mode even larger - setting a new record - and is doing so with a new engine.
Modern Warfare is a reimagining of the iconic Infinity Ward series, and was rebuilt from the ground up with the goal of offering "best-in-class down the barrel gameplay, along with realistic gun mechanics with an immersive & impactful sound & feel that creates a new sensation of precision & authenticity." That's what Battlefield used to be known for, but comparisons to different franchises aside, the time and resources spent bringing the Call of Duty franchise into the future from a visual and gameplay perspective was essential. Black Ops 4 felt and looked dated by comparison, and Modern Warfare offers something vastly different and dare we say, refreshing. Much like the original Modern Warfare did and that's something Infinity Ward is attempting to recapture this year.
As for the player counts, the risk of supporting large-scale modes is the issue of having available concurrent players. Black Ops 4's Blackout battle royale mode, for example, is virtually dead on PC. Modern Warfare addresses this by supporting crossplay between PC players and console players - a first for the series - and offering free maps/content to all players to avoid splitting the player base into different playlists. What we don't know however, is if Modern Warfare will offer a new take on battle royale as well. On the larger-scale battles in general, Infinity Ward is holding off until later in the year.
As we noted in our Modern Warfare multiplayer preview impressions, the Ground War tests we played were only in Team Deathmatch and while that was fun it felt too aimless. With that many players (who can spawn in constantly after dying) and there being no objectives, there are no points of interest or push-and-pull tactics. Nor can players choose where they spawn. You'll constantly get attacked from seemingly random directions. If they're going massive, this mode will need new objective based modes, and to pull again from Battlefield, they might as well add their own takes on Rush and Conquest.
More: Read our Hands-on Impressions of Modern Warfare Multiplayer
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare releases October 25, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One with crossplay support between all three platforms.