Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboots the 2007 classic, but it doesn't just rebuild and rehash the multiplayer offering of that game--it totally rethinks every element, and adds a lot besides. When we went hands-on with Modern Warfare's multiplayer this month, we found a lot to like. The developer gave us a chance to play Modern Warfare multiplayer ahead of its multiplayer reveal livestream, where we engaged in 20-on-20 battles, try out new Killstreaks, customized all our guns, and drove tanks.
The coolest new addition to Call of Duty multiplayer, though, is probably Modern Warfare's take on night-vision goggles. The game supports day and night versions of several maps, and we played a match on a version of the map "Caves," blanketed in darkness. Fighting at night completely changes the feel of the map--as you move through it, you have to decide whether to use goggles for heightened visibility or to take them off in favor of natural light sources that might blow out the goggles' optics. There's also a hardcore version of the mode that removes your heads-up display information, making the darkness more intrusive and your time in the goggles even more realistic. Check out our gameplay with Modern Warfare's night-vision googles in the video above.
Using night-vision gives you the ability to see in the dark, but it also has its drawbacks. Modern Warfare takes into account the size of the goggles when you're wearing them. If you were wearing NVGs in the real world and tried to look into a gun scope, the gun would bang into the goggles. That's the case in Modern Warfare, too, so when you draw up your gun to aim down its sights while wearing NVGs, the weapon rests about halfway up, instead. It's more accurate than aiming from the hip, but not quite as useful as normal ADS. That creates a tradeoff situation you'll have to adapt to if you want to be effective in the dark. However, you can also fully customize all your weapons in Modern Warfare. Opting for smaller sights can get the optics out of the way and let you pull the rifle up to aim properly.
The goggles also significantly change how you think about engagements with other players. On NVG maps, guns come with infrared targeting lasers that are invisible to the naked eye but become fully visible in the goggles. The lasers only appear when you hit the ADS button, taking up the role your scope would otherwise occupy.
The trouble is that if you can see your laser while using night-vision, so can anyone else who's wearing goggles. Your laser then becomes something of a liability: Whenever you ADS, you're not only sighting in a target, you're also revealing your location to anyone who can see the laser. During its multiplayer press event, Infinity Ward developers discussed how real-world soldiers practice "laser discipline" to make sure their lasers aren't giving them away. You'll need to do the same thing in Modern Warfare--but the intel you get from other players who aren't as careful about their aim can help you set up ambushes and take advantage.
Of course, whenever you're using NVGs, you have to worry about being blinded by sudden flashes of light. That can push you to change up your loadout choices. Guns with big muzzle flashes can blow out your goggles somewhat (as well as those of your opponents), while flashbangs are even more hazardous to anybody too close to them. And of course, you need to be careful about any light sources around you that might disorient you.
It seems a minor change, but thanks to the attention to detail Infinity Ward has put on its night-vision tech, flipping a map from day to night significantly changes up Modern Warfare's gameplay. Suddenly, a lot of tactical decisions you don't make during the day, like where to move between light and darkness, and when to risk taking aim, dominate your decision-making. The night-vision goggles of Modern Warfare feel very authentic, and all the pros and cons they bring mean adapting to new strategies. The inclusion of night-vision bucks the multiplayer formula just enough to add exactly the kind of fresh dynamics Infinity Ward is going for with Modern Warfare.
Check out our impressions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's multiplayer, and read more about its open beta, how big teams can get, and how the game is changing radar and Killstreaks. We've also seen how white phosphorus functions in the game, and you can check out footage of the Modern Warfare's 20-vs-20 game mode from our hands-on session.