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Killstreaks Return Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, But One Is Causing Controversy

Modern Warfare's returning Killstreak rewards include a horrific real-life weapon.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is moving back to the Killstreak system in multiplayer when the game launches on October 25. Activision confirmed as much with a tweet ahead of its multiplayer reveal livestream. However, one of the Killstreak options has caused some controversy. The three Killstreak rewards announced so far are a juggernaut care package, an armored assault vehicle, and the chemical weapon white phosphorus, and it's that last one that has proven contentious.

All three have been seen in some form or another in past Call of Duty titles: Juggernauts were used extensively in the Modern Warfare subseries, as were light armored vehicles. White phosphorus was previously used as a tactical grenade in the Black Ops series--where it caused "a small amount of damage on detonation"--but the framing of the weapon as a "reward" this time around paints it in a somewhat different light. Activision did not respond to a request for comment.

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Now Playing: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Killstreaks Return, Sparking Controversy - GS News Update

In real life, the use of white phosphorus--also known as "Willy Pete"--against civilians and in civilian areas contravenes the Geneva Convention, thereby classing it as a war crime. Some Modern Warfare multiplayer maps take place in civilian areas, albeit without civilian characters present.

Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward told GameSpot recently that it doesn't want to shy away from hard-hitting issues in the upcoming shooter. "Today, modern warfare means that the war isn't just over there," said the studio's narrative director, Taylor Kurosaki. "The war is everywhere. It's in our own backyards. It's in places that can suddenly become a battlefield at a moment's notice. It's about enemies who don't wear uniforms. It's about civilian collateral damage kind of being, unfortunately, part of the equation."

Later in the same interview, Kurosaki said the game will punish you for making mistakes on the battlefield: "If you were a soldier and you actually deployed into a theater of war and you shot down a bunch of innocent civilians, you would be arrested and court marshaled. The game kind of does the same thing. The game does not allow you to get away with going rogue. You have a command structure that you have to follow and orders that you have to follow and if you try to just be a bad apple, the game is going to smack you down for that."

However, Kurosaki was talking about the game's single-player campaign--which also depicts children caught in combat zones and chemical weapons attacks against civilians, among other serious topics. It's unclear if the multiplayer mode will treat the use of white phosphorus as harshly as it sounds as if the story mode will treat "mistakes." It's this that is the root of some of the latest controversy.

At Infinity Ward's multiplayer reveal event for journalists, art director Joel Emslie said Modern Warfare is a mature game that strives to include realistic weapons.

"In the narrative experience, you're using this landscape and this universe to make people care about these characters," Emslie told GameSpot. "And then when you're in the multiplayer space, you're trying to get them, using the same things in the same universe, to care more about the fun that they're having. It's almost like a mental chess game, where you're solving puzzles with mechanics and doing these things. And the characters that are in there, it's more about representing you in this play-space."

We also played a multiplayer match that included the use of white phosphorus. Read about the experience in our multiplayer impressions, or watch a video of the Killstreak in action.

For more, you can read our full Call of Duty: Modern Warfare single-player interview. A full reveal of Modern Warfare's multiplayer offering is coming on August 1, but we've been given a sneak peek already with the new 2v2 Gunfight mode. Modern Warfare launches for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25.

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