2v2 Gunfight multiplayer mode, and I wasn’t alone. All of my fellow media members hooted and hollered as we played, with everyone getting up to watch the other matches as theirs came to an end. It seems like wonderful counterprogramming to the epic matches of battle royales like Call of Duty: Blackout and Apex Legends. Yes, the battle royales are great and they have their place, but those are like a sit-down meal at a restaurant, whereas Gunfight hits the spot like a tasty, get-it-in-my-mouth burger at a late-night drive-thru.Gunfight matches are set in a very small, custom maps – small enough that you can see at least one person from the other team when the round starts, if the three maps I tried (“King,” the warehouse interior; “Pine,” a forested space; and “Stack,” a desert container yard) are anything to go by. And because Modern Warfare brings the series back to its shorter TTK roots, it usually only takes a couple of shots to bring down an opponent. Combined with the 40-second round timer, rounds are extremely quick. To force campers into the action, a flag spawns in the center of the map when the clock hits 0:00, and if you can get in there and defend it for three seconds, your team gets a point. If the standoff remains, whichever team has the most health wins. Health doesn’t regenerate in Gunfight. First team to six points wins.
But while I like the 2v2 nature of this mode as well as the small maps, perhaps my favorite feature of Gunfight is that everyone spawns with the same random weapons each round, and there are no perks or other buffs that can tilt a match in one player or team’s favor. In one round, everyone might get rocket launchers and shotguns, and in another it can be AK-47s and silenced pistols. It’s all about the cooperative teamwork and skill you’ve got with the weapons you were randomly assigned. In my experience, that means that even if your teammate gets killed quickly, all hope is not lost.
On one memorable occasion while playing against fellow game media members, my partner died quickly. But using the small environment to my advantage, I waited for them to come to me, using cover to protect me from long-range fire from the sniper rifles we’d all spawned with. I switched to the pistol sidearm we’d also all randomly spawned with and, sensing they were going to try and flank me when they finally moved in, I then ambushed one of them, firing off a few quick pistol shots to drop the first one. All of a sudden the playing field had leveled: it was one on one, with no perks or powerups to tilt the match in either of our favors. I was able to use smarts to make up for my aging aiming skills (I’m 38 after all; I’m no Ninja), and outmaneuver my last remaining opponent to kill him and get the victory after being on the wrong end of a 1v2 situation.
Infinity Ward, who’s done their best to get the band back together for this reboot, wants to emphasize that Modern Warfare “offers a unified narrative experience and progression across campaign, multiplayer, and co-op.” Though the progression part is pretty self-explanatory, what exactly that “unified narrative experience” part means remains to be seen. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too much longer to learn about the other multiplayer modes (one of which was my co-favorite along with Gunfight), as much more about the rest of Modern Warfare’s multiplayer suite will be revealed on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Gameplay Premiere on August 1 at 10am PT. Stay tuned to IGN for that!