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Grinding to the Damascus camo in Modern Warfare is one of gaming's most arduous tasks

Modern Warfare Damascus
(Image credit: Activision)

I've always been a huge fan of the Call of Duty games. Hitting max level and prestige became a breeze, I grew tired of competing at events around the country – I longed for something more challenging. Eventually, I started to lose interest in the franchise as I grew older, and while I'd still play them at launch, my interest would often dwindle after a few weeks. 2019's Call of Duty Modern Warfare was no different; I didn't gel with the game immediately, as you can read from the Modern Warfare multiplayer review I wrote, so I stopped playing shortly afterwards, especially thanks to the influx of releases around that pre-Christmas period. 

When I jumped back into the game around February, I didn't pay too much attention to the camouflage challenges at first. I had persuaded my friend to get the game and, since we were both playing frequently enough, I eventually tried to earn a few golden guns along the way. Before I knew it, I'd earned gold camo on both the M4A1 and Kilo 141 assault rifles, so I pushed them to one side and started plucking away at the rest of the guns in the category.

A week or two after playing Modern Warfare most evenings for a few hours, I'd earned the Platinum camo for assault rifles. Thing is, despite the assault rifles having the steepest requirements (800 kills with each gun to complete the first set of challenges, compared to 500 for the SMGs, for example), I quickly realised I had a mountain ahead of me. Assault rifles are the most versatile guns after all, which meant achieving Platinum wasn't much of a drag.

To get the hardest of the Modern Warfare camos — Damascus — I had to earn Gold on every single core gun in the game – all the guns that were in Modern Warfare on release, and thankfully not the ones added post-launch. Looking ahead, completing the assault rifles was just the start; while the SMGs shouldn't prove too difficult, there were also sub-par weapons like the Riot Shield, Knife, X16, Dragunov, EBR-14, and Model 680 to go. Plus, the launchers. Oh god, the launchers

Using my time efficiently

Modern Warfare Damascus

(Image credit: Activision)

It was around this time I made a plan. If I were to ever complete the task, I'd need different "Damascus Grind" classes depending on the map and mode I was playing. Shipment comes up? It's shotgun time, baby. Thankfully, due to how frequent Shipment did occur – the inclusion of Shipment 24/7 for a short time helped significantly – the shotguns were a walk in the park compared to some of the other weapons on the list.

I planned to save all of the launchers till last, but as I soon discovered, this was perhaps my biggest mistake. For some weapons – most notably all of the pistols and the semi-automatic single-shot rifles – I jumped into hardcore, because the one-hit-kill aspect made it much easier to grind the challenges out. Even if it was absolutely infuriating playing so much slower than I am typically used to.

I was most apprehensive about tackling the Knife and Riot Shield, especially the latter, because they aren't guns. If it weren't for the combination of the Shoot the Ship playlist with double XP, this journey would've taken much longer and I'd be considerably more rumbled. I got through them quicker than anticipated, because even though my kill-to-death ratio in each game would be horribly negative, the small maps and double XP meant I'd still earn enough kills to level them up quickly. Despite them being the most frustrating on paper, it turns out the worst was yet to come.

Modern Warfare Damascus

(Image credit: Activision)

Enter the launchers. In hindsight, I should have levelled these up during the first double XP weekend, because the most downright painful part was levelling them up to unlock all of the camouflage challenges in the first place. Again, I was eternally grateful that Infinity Ward kept Shoot the Ship (and subsequently Dirty Old Houseboat) around for so long, because without them I'm not sure I would've persevered, but even then it was a long and arduous task. Waiting for a Jokr missile to lock on and fire on Shipment during 5v5 is just about enough time to be killed about three times over.

Eventually however, the Strela, Pila, and Jokr were done. I just had the RPG to go, a Call of Duty classic. Surely it'd be a walk in the park as the most versatile launcher? How wrong I was.

The worst part of the journey

Modern Warfare Damascus

(Image credit: Activision)

Thanks to how the missile from an RPG wobbles and diverts in the air, it's so tough to hit killstreaks that aren't directly above you. Something like a VTOL or Support Helo is easy enough to hit, but as they're such high rewards, I only saw one every few games or so. UAVs – the most common killstreak in the game – are practically impossible to hit with an RPG. They're so high in the sky and so small that there are a number of YouTube videos people have uploaded simply bragging about the fact they've managed to hit one. That's how much of an accomplishment it is.

With that in mind, I started thinking of other ways I could complete this daunting task. The 10v10 modes should have more killstreaks to shoot down, right? Unfortunately not, because the maps are bigger and it's slower paced than the usual modes. I tried Ground War, thinking the plethora of vehicles everywhere would make it easier, but nope. The fact an RPG missile doesn't fly straight meant that I, once again, had to be seriously close to any airborne killstreaks to hit them, when I'd often find myself capturing a flag at the other end of the gargantuan maps. I could hit ground vehicles like IAV tanks, but they'd take three to four missiles, and doing that would only disable them, not destroy them entirely.

I'm not going to lie to you, reader; getting the RPG in Gold to finally unlock Damascus caused me physical pain. There were so many times I was one shot away from destroying a killstreak only for a teammate to put a few bullets in with their gun instead, stealing the takedown. Getting Damascus almost sent me insane, and if Infinity Ward thinks I'm going to grind for the Modern Warfare Obsidian camo, they've got another thing coming.

Call of Duty 2020's mastery challenges on the other hand...

One of the resident guide writers around these parts, give me a game and I will write every "how to" I possibly can or die trying. The youngest member of the GamesRadar team, I have an unhealthy addiction to Football Manager, shouting at the TV as Manchester United slowly descend from greatness, and playing Pokemon Go on the bus to and from the office.