|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered|
|Series||Call of Duty|
|Release||November 4, 2016[b]|
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is a 2016 first-person shooter game developed by Raven Software and published by Activision. It is a remastered version of 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The remaster was initially released as part of the special edition bundles of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in November 2016, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. A standalone version was released for PlayStation 4 in June 2017, and for Xbox One and Windows the following month.
Development began in early 2015 after a fan-made online petition requesting a Modern Warfare remaster was released. Activision enlisted Raven Software—who had assisted the development of past Call of Duty games' multiplayer modes—to develop Remastered, while original developer Infinity Ward supervised. Remastered features extensive graphical, rendering, and lighting enhancements, updated animations, remastered original sound effects as well as adding new, and offers numerous small improvements while retaining the original core gameplay. New multiplayer content and additional achievements and cheats are also included.
Modern Warfare Remastered received generally favorable reviews. Critics praised the improved graphics, sound, and range of enhancements, and felt the gameplay had aged well and still provided challenge. While the game overall was considered fresh and grounded in realism, some criticized the dated narrative and called the multiplayer shallow (although new online content would later be distributed through updates). Further complaints focused on certain design choices retained from Modern Warfare and the artificial intelligence. Remastered was also the subject of controversy from Activision's decisions to initially only release it as part of a bundle, the inclusion of microtransactions, and the determined pricing of the downloadable content and standalone version of the game.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered features the same core gameplay as the original version: it is a first-person shooter in which the player controls several characters. However, it includes a few modifications. For example, while in the prone position, the player's equipped weapon is now visible. The game uses "dual render technology" for sniper rifle scopes when aiming, providing the player with a view of the scope and blurred surroundings, as opposed to a black screen representing the scope interior present in the original. Throughout the campaign, new predetermined first-person animations are present on a few occasions. In multiplayer modes, if a weapon is equipped, players now have the ability to taunt their opponents, such as allowing the player to inspect the exterior of their gun.
The campaign is almost identical to the original. It keeps the same collectibles and cheats as before, with the addition of several new cheats, such as exaggerated physics that fling enemies backwards as they are killed, and replacing the heads of non-player characters (NPCs) with watermelons. The game offers full PlayStation Network trophy and Xbox Live achievement support (trophies of which had been absent from the PlayStation 3 version of Modern Warfare, due to the game releasing before they were introduced), with the inclusion of several new challenges.
Remastered features an updated version of the multiplayer that shares similarities with those featured in later Call of Duty games. It includes the same weapons, killstreaks, perks, and game modes from Modern Warfare, with existing modes present in other installments included such as "Kill Confirmed", "Gun Game", and "Hardpoint", as well as new modes like "Prop Hunt" (in which players hide as inanimate objects from the opposing team). The multiplayer offers a greater variety of customization options for profile personalization, character skins, and weapon camouflage. A number of weapons not featured in Modern Warfare were also added. All new content can be unlocked through completing challenges, crafting by consuming "Parts" that the player can earn, or by opening supply drops, while existing items from the original remain unlockable only through gaining in experience. The online includes 20 Prestige levels, an increase from the 10 available in Modern Warfare. Entering each new Prestige level resets any unlockables that have been previously made available, but retains all customization items, in addition to any weapons, attachments, or perks that have been permanently unlocked. A firing range is present in the online lobby, allowing the player to test out different weapon loadouts.
Modern Warfare Remastered features the same plot as the original game. The player acts as a member of the United States Marine Corps and the SAS and takes on missions to fight against a separatist group in the Middle East as well as an ultranationalist group in Russia.
While the United States invades a small, oil rich Middle Eastern country following a coup d'état by the extremist Khaled Al-Asad, a British Special Air Service (SAS) squad infiltrates a cargo ship found to be carrying a nuclear device. The ship is sunk by enemy jets, but the SAS team escapes with its manifest, and then heads to Russia to rescue their informant, codenamed "Nikolai", from the Ultranationalist party. The intelligence from these operations indicate Al-Asad has a Russian nuclear device. The U.S. military launches an assault on Al-Asad's palace, but the nuclear device is detonated, wiping out most of the city along with everyone in it.
The SAS team tracks down Al-Asad in Azerbaijan, and discover that he was working with Imran Zakhaev, the leader of the Ultranationalist party. The mission then flashes back 15 years where Captain Price, who was a Lieutenant at the time, is sent alongside his commanding officer, Captain MacMillan, on a failed assassination attempt on Imran Zakhaev in Pripyat, Ukraine. After killing Al-Asad, the SAS team, with support from U.S. Marine Force Recon and Russian loyalists, attempt to capture Zakhaev's son and learn his whereabouts. They ambush him, but he commits suicide. In response, Zakhaev seizes control of a nuclear launch facility. A joint operation is launched to take back the site, but Zakhaev launches intercontinental ballistic missiles at the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. The joint teams are able to breach the facility and remotely destroy the missiles before fleeing the area.
Zakhaev's forces trap the escaping joint force on a bridge, and during the fight many are killed. Zakhaev arrives but is soon distracted by the arrival of a loyalist helicopter. The player uses their pistol to kill Zakhaev, before being tended to by loyalist forces.
The player mainly controls British Special Air Service (SAS) recruit Sergeant John "Soap" MacTavish, starting with his enrollment in the 22nd SAS Regiment. The player also controls United States Marine Corps (USMC) Sergeant Paul Jackson during five of the levels of Act 1. Captain John Price (voiced by actor Billy Murray) is an SAS officer who is playable in two flashback missions from 1996 in which he is still Lieutenant. The player also assumes the role of an American thermal-imaging TV operator aboard a Lockheed AC-130 gunship during one level, and a British SAS operative infiltrating a hijacked airliner to save a VIP in a secret level titled "Mile High Club". Finally, the player may control Yasir Al-Fulani, the president of an unnamed Middle Eastern country in the game before he is executed, although he has no freedom of action beyond turning his head.
After an online petition signed by fans of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was released requesting that a remaster of the game be developed, series publisher Activision became interested in carrying out such a project. The company approached Raven Software, who had developed multiplayer modes for several previous Call of Duty titles, to be the primary developer, overseen by Infinity Ward, who would act as executive producer. Raven's studio director, David Pellas, recalled that "not a single person at Raven turned away and said no. It was a universal, 'yeah, we're there.'" Development of Modern Warfare Remastered began in early 2015.
The developers had pledged to focus on four key areas throughout development: respecting the original game, modernizing the visuals and audio, improving the overall experience with new technology, and redefining what the term "remaster" meant. Much of Modern Warfare was consequently "rebuilt from the ground up" for Remastered through the revitalisation of the original's source codes, materials, layouts, and effects that Raven were given access to from Infinity Ward. The game runs in full 1080p resolution (increased to 4K for the PlayStation 4 Pro version) at 60 frames per second and uses the at the time latest iteration of the series' game engine.
Raven wanted the remaster to provide a nostalgic experience for fans of Modern Warfare, while introducing it to newcomers by connecting them to a world that they were used to in recent Call of Duty games, albeit one that mirrored reality. Pellas noted that the risk of negative fan reactions resulting from any small changes made to the original and the desire to meet high expectations was daunting for Raven, saying "There was a realization that this is freaking terrifying, because it's not just important to us". To assist in their decision-making, they reviewed a large number of internet forums where active players of Modern Warfare could be found in order to understand what they would want from a re-release of the game. Raven were encouraged by their principle of keeping the core gameplay unchanged, a decision that remained consistent throughout the process as respecting the experience of the original was essential. Subtle improvements were made to both the controls and timing of existing animations, such as the transition between aiming a sniper rifle and the scope overlay appearing, but were designed to be as close to identical as possible.
In order to bring Modern Warfare's visuals up to modern standards, enhancements of the environments and vistas were achieved using a procedure called "paint-over", with a larger number of onscreen objects and effects being integrated into them. Raven also wanted to give the environments a sense of place and history to avoid feeling generic. The vast majority of objects were remodeled, with the game using improved texture depth, physically-based rendering, and light-reflection; and additional features such as realistic physics and joints employed for movable objects like character models. The developers focused on improving every gun in the game, explaining "We needed to take the weapons up to the same level of personality as the characters"; each received better dynamics, alterations made to their firing mechanisms, and a new feature in the series that allowed each type to eject shell casings unique to that weapon. Raven faced some issues during the remastering of the game's graphics as the remaster used a heavily upgraded version of the series' engine. As a result, this meant that several of Modern Warfare's visual assets were not compatible with the new technology, so the developers were necessitated to remake them. Most of the existing motion capture animation was redone for the same reason, as well as to provide further story exposition. The campaign saw a number of new first-person animations similarly added for further immersion and emotional responses from players, and to improve how the camera made use of the player character's body, enhancing the "body sense". Pellas said, "I think that for [the single-player] campaign, we were definitely more liberal with our animations and additions, as long as they enhanced the true intent of the moment." The artificial intelligence of non-player characters was also improved to respond more realistically with the environment, and vice versa, such as long grass reacting to the player character's presence.
The existing audio was remastered using reverberation, depth, and spatial effects to enhance the overall ambiance of the game; one example a developer from Raven made note of is that "Layering out multiple sounds now makes a big difference". A range of other examples of sound encompassing both effects and dialogue that were not present in Modern Warfare were also used, including audio channels that had been created for the original, but due to restraints had not been included during its development; one example was training dialogue during the game's introductory level which is only heard in Modern Warfare through the use of a mod. The original music and voice performances were retained, with the exception of the campaign dialogue spoken by Al-Asad in Arabic which was amended and re-recorded, and a slight alteration in the voice acting for Zakhaev during part of a speech. Initially, the original voices of the multiplayer announcers from Modern Warfare were also changed, but this was reverted for Remastered's release following fan complaints expressed at the Call of Duty: XP 2016 where its multiplayer was first made playable. Similarly, a number of weapon sounds in the multiplayer that been altered were again revised to more accurately represent those found in the original game.
In addition to these updates, the game received an array of new features. A few new cheats were incorporated into the game's campaign, while keeping the same cheats and intel file collectibles from the original. The multiplayer initially remained largely unchanged in terms of content from Modern Warfare. Ten of the original sixteen maps were featured at launch, while the remaining six were released as a free update several weeks later, due to the developers being unable to meet the proposed deadline. The multiplayer began to receive support over the following months, during which a wide range of new items was released to bring it more in line with recent Call of Duty installments: from December 2016, a supply drop and crafting system was introduced along with an expanded array of customization items such as emblems, calling cards, character skins, and new varieties of weapon camouflage. Further guns and melee weapons were also incorporated in the time since release. The game also published various temporary playlists and seasonal events, which introduced further new multiplayer modes, character skins, and variants of existing maps.
Marketing and release
News of Modern Warfare Remastered was leaked on Reddit on April 27, 2016 prior to its announcement. The leak revealed a screenshot of a reservation card for the online store Target that included the Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare and the bundled remaster. Call of Duty's official Twitter account responded with an emoji tweet later that day, seemingly confirming that a remaster of Modern Warfare existed.
Remastered was officially announced at the 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), showing an extended trailer for its campaign, following a gameplay reveal for Infinite Warfare. After the trailer, it was revealed that PlayStation 4 users who pre-purchased (as opposed to pre-ordered) an edition of Infinite Warfare that came with the remaster would be able to play Remastered's campaign 30 days earlier, as part of Sony's exclusivity deal with Activision. A gameplay video for the game's "Crew Expendable" mission was released online on July 14, 2016, displaying the improved graphics, lighting, and sound, as well as upgraded models and animations. The game's multiplayer mode was revealed during the Call of Duty: XP 2016 convention, and attendees were able to play it first with others. In September 2016, official trailers were released for the campaign and multiplayer.
Modern Warfare Remastered was released worldwide on November 4, 2016, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows as part of the Legacy, Legacy Pro, and Digital Deluxe editions of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. At the time, the game was only available by purchasing one of these editions of Infinite Warfare; with physical versions, Remastered could only be played via Infinite Warfare's game disc. Activision confirmed that Infinite Warfare must be permanently installed in order to use the included remaster. Remastered was later released as a standalone game for PlayStation 4 on June 27, 2017, followed by Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on July 27, 2017.
On March 8, 2017, it was announced that a remastered version of the Variety Map Pack originally released for Modern Warfare would be made available for Remastered. It includes the same four maps, "Killhouse", "Chinatown", "Creek", and "Broadcast", as well as 10 rare supply drops. The map pack was released as a separate purchase on March 21, 2017 for PlayStation 4, and on April 20, 2017 for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows, not being included with any retail versions of Remastered.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered received "generally favorable reviews", according to review aggregator Metacritic. Push Square called it "a ridiculously faithful remake" that "celebrates this legacy with updated visuals and sound that really go above and beyond the call of duty, sprucing up an old care package for a more modern age to near-perfection." Metro wrote "One of the most influential video games of all time gets the remaster it deserves, and is still impressively entertaining after all these years." The game was awarded the accolade for "Best Remaster" of 2016 from IGN.
The revised graphics, sound, and other improvements received unanimous praise, especially when compared to other examples of video game remasters. Push Square wrote that "Modern Warfare Remastered looks and sounds like a fresh game on par with today's graphical and aural standards", while Hardcore Gamer called it "a stunning overhaul," and "the most extensive visual upgrade any remaster has ever received yet, being more in line with a remake than an actual remaster." Destructoid complimented the "subtle differences" made to the original, such as "zones [feeling] more alive, and ... atmospheric changes like adding in more details in first-person cinematics." IGN found that the range of visual and technical improvements were greater than that of most other remasters, although criticized some minor shortcomings with regards to both graphical and design elements. A review from Metro complimented the visuals, saying that "The game still doesn't look quite as good as the last couple of Call Of Duty's, but it's extremely close. And whatever else you say about it, on a presentational level this is an excellent remaster."
Critics felt that Modern Warfare's single-player campaign had become somewhat dated over nine years, but otherwise praised the modern-day setting and core gameplay for Remastered. IGN remarked how the remaster was not as revolutionary a game compared with the original, but complimented the gameplay as having held up remarkably well and was more gratifying as a result of being unaltered, stating how it left them "feeling relatively weighed down, encumbered, and more desperate in the fray." Destructoid was positive of all the changes made to Modern Warfare, but stated that Remastered was still at its core the original game from 2007; the story was used as an example, writing that it was still worth playing despite having been topped by its competition, with the crux of the narrative and the relationship between Soap and Price "worth the price of admission". Push Square wrote how playing through the campaign from Modern Warfare reminded them of its sheer memorability and how it had long endured with fans compared with other games in the series, saying "there's tension and gravity shot through the experience, as if the world is on your shoulders to push past every enemy line with explosive bravado or exacting stealth". Metro thought that the remaster inadvertently felt clichéd due to the original having inspired numerous imitations, although praised the modern-day setting as feeling surprisingly fresh again. Hardcore Gamer opined that the plot was much more grounded and realistic than other recent Call of Duty titles, writing "You're not a super soldier stuck in the middle of out-of-this-world set piece, but rather a regular soldier working with a squad to complete objectives." Some aspects were singled out by critics for having aged poorly or needing improvement. Both Push Square and IGN found the story to suffer from pacing issues and noted problems with the artificial intelligence, with IGN additionally highlighting the dated level design. Hardcore Gamer also criticized the decision to retain the infinitely-spawning enemies from Modern Warfare, calling them "a hassle", and that weapons found on the battlefield were "barebones" compared to those the player starts the level with.
Divided opinions were similarly given towards the game's multiplayer. Destructoid had no specific criticisms with the online, which they found to be timeless, and that the design of each map held up well and felt justified. They compared the mode to those offered by other first-person shooter games, stating "There's a nice, comfortable balance between the two philosophies, to the point where it's not too alienating for folks who didn't grow up with twichy FPSes or feel like dedicating the time to learning the ins and outs of breaching and clearing each and every room, knocking on permadeath's door on every match." Metro praised the multiplayer for being more pleasingly simple than recent Call of Duty games and how it was sure to bring considerable nostalgia to players of Modern Warfare, but nonetheless criticized it for also feeling limited and shallow. Hardcore Gamer complimented the online as feeling fresh, saying "After years of over-the-top killstreaks, wall-running, and other crazy antics, it's nice to get back to the basics". However, as with the single-player, they found the preserving of several features from the original game a hindrance, specifically infamous perks and a lack of killstreak-countering, finding it "extremely outdated" that they had not been removed or fixed. Push Square praised the remastered multiplayer as being faithful to the original, regardless of its faults, and felt the simplicity of the mode compared with that of the newly-released Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare showed that "less can be more".
Infinite Warfare bundling
Before its standalone version was announced in June 2017, many criticized the decision that Modern Warfare Remastered would only be available through purchasing a special edition of Infinite Warfare. Critics recognized that Remastered was more sought-after than Infinite Warfare, due to the contrast in fan reception of both games, and saw bundling it as anti-consumerist and coercing those into paying more than necessary. Joey Thurmond disagreed with how a re-release of a classic that had shaped both the series' formula and first-person shooter genre in general had been coupled with a new, poorly-received title, calling the choice "preposterous" and "a bullet in the face to consumers". He argued that selling Remastered separately would actually benefit Activision, forecasting an eventual influx of pre-owned copies of the bundle being sold, devaluing Infinite Warfare's worth in the process. Forbes' Paul Tassi described the bundling as being "a way to essentially blackmail players into picking up a more expensive version of a base game they may not have even wanted (Infinite Warfare) in order to get something they desperately wanted (Modern Warfare Remastered)", but understood why Activision had made the choice as a result of it being "pro-money".
Others found that the bundling of the games was a sensible business decision, highlighting the risk that the sales of Remastered could overshadow those of Infinite Warfare and result in direct competition between the two. Stephen Wright of Gamespresso, meanwhile, agreed with Activision based on the impulsiveness of the Call of Duty fanbase, writing that many of those who felt discontent towards a new title would still choose to buy it regardless due to the series' popularity; Activision had capitalized on this by releasing the bundle with the knowledge that fans would purchase Infinite Warfare in order to obtain a remaster of Modern Warfare. While Wright did disagree with having to pay for an unwanted game in order to obtain another, he expressed faith that the bundle would be good value for money.
Inclusion of microtransactions
Several weeks after the release of Remastered, Activision incorporated the use of microtransactions into the multiplayer, along with further new content, which had been absent from Modern Warfare. Evidence of micropayments had first been raised some days after release when data miners uncovered hidden weapons within the game's files that indicated their future inclusion. The choice to include microtransactions in the remaster resulted in a backlash from fans; Peter Glagowski of Destructoid called the decision "truly baffling" and that it "reeks of money grubbing". Some critics were concerned that Activision would release new items in supply drops that would provide players with gameplay advantages, similar to their approach with other Call of Duty installments; Connor Murphy at Beyond Entertainment wrote that it "comparatively blows open Pandora's Box as to what players may encounter". Gaming journalist Jim Sterling was also highly critical, asserting that Activision were helping to set an example for other video game publishers to sell re-releases with new or omitted content at extra cost.
Opinions of the game's microtransactions post-release, particularly surrounding the implementation of new weapons not seen in Modern Warfare, were mixed. PCGamesN expressed frustration that Activision had stated that supply drops would only contain cosmetic items and made no mention of additional weapons, while Hardcore Gamer were disappointed that the guns were "locked behind [a] paywall" and relied heavily on opening supply drops to obtain them. Conversely, in 2019 Kotaku's Doster wrote that while the supply drop system had flaws and incorporated a grind for those not willing to spend money, it "[felt] more rewarding and less like a money grab" than those offered by other Call of Duty titles released since Remastered, due to all items being obtainable through supply drop luck or enough playtime without needing to spend money. She further complimented that players could choose which items they wanted to work towards unlocking, and that the new guns introduced were not overpowered.
Pricing of DLC and standalone version of Remastered
Following the announcement of the remastered Variety Map Pack in March 2017, Activision was condemned for deciding that the downloadable content would not be available for free. Complaints highlighted that the publisher had already generated additional revenue for Remastered by bundling it with Infinite Warfare (increasing its cost to more than an individual game) and incorporating microtransactions; and that as a remaster, which often includes all previously-released DLC from the original, the map pack should have been released alongside Remastered at launch. Fans also asserted that selling the DLC for a higher price than its original release was an unprincipled move. Sterling further slated Activision for charging for the DLC, stating that it was "incomprehensible" and that to increase its cost highlighted "just how far [Activision] can mock its customers and get away with it", labeling it as the latest scam to befall the game. Erik Kain of Forbes similarly argued that the DLC should have been available free of charge, maintaining his belief that charging for map packs "[was] a huge mistake". However, in a follow-up article, he felt he could sympathize with Activision, writing that it was easier for them to set price points for early and late buyers. He also noted that the remaster was cheap in its contribution to the overall price for the bundle and so further costs for the DLC were justified.
Activision faced further criticism upon revealing that the Variety Map Pack would equally not be sold alongside the standalone version of Remastered. Fans also argued that the standalone itself was overpriced, especially as both its cost and that of the DLC amounted to an almost full-price game; additionally, Eurogamer and GearNuke noted that the version bundled with Infinite Warfare was now selling at a similar price to the standalone version. Forbes' Kain was understanding of the cost of the standalone, as selling it cheaply would have affronted those who had bought a special edition of Infinite Warfare for the remaster, but had been almost certain that the game would have included the DLC. Subsequently, he wrote that doing so would have been "a gesture of good will to the community" and "a smart move for the company". Mic's Jason Faulkner condemned Activision's previous business practices involving Remastered and considered the standalone version to be "a bad deal", criticizing that the game was being sold for double that of its cost than when it was bundled with Infinite Warfare, and found it "ridiculous" that with the DLC it amounted to almost full-price. As a result, he advised that fans should wait for the game to be reduced in price before buying. Jordan Devore of Destructoid expressed similar complaints and voiced his disinterest in buying the standalone from having to wait six months for its release, while also criticizing the cost, writing "I might've parted with that much money for it last year, but not now. It's too late."
Criticism of the Windows version
The Windows version of Remastered was criticized by players for suffering from a number of technical issues in the multiplayer, with further dissatisfaction for the game's available settings. On Steam, it received mostly negative user reviews, with complaints including poor performance, a locked 90 frames per second, insufficient mouse support, numerous hackers, and a low player count. Players felt that Activision had failed to provide adequate support for PC in favor of the game's console versions, a trait which had also been apparent with previous installments in the series. Consequently, many users suggested that the multiplayer of Modern Warfare would be a more suitable alternative, which still attracted a sizable number of players and offered better options for performance, modding, and customization.
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