It may not have been officially announced just yet, but, thanks to a few leaks, it seems increasingly likely that Call of Duty 2019 will be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – not to be confused with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, of course. Infinity Ward has most recently put its talent towards Ghosts and Infinite Warfare, but the rumours suggesting that the studio is heading back to Modern Warfare should be massively exciting news to any and all FPS fans. That's because the first two games in the Modern Warfare sub-series are considered to be some of the very best shooters of the last 12 years, shaping competitive multiplayer for the generation that would follow.
Call of Duty's ability to shape markets has waned over time, but does it have the potential to do so once again? We caught up with a number of professional players at the Call of Duty World League 2019 finals in London to find out what some of the best FPS gamers in the business – people that know Call of Duty inside out, perhaps better than some of the people responsible for making it – to get an idea of what Modern Warfare 4 would need to do to become one of the greats.
Back to basics
Even though the multiplayer mechanics Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare introduced – like the legendary create-a-class and killstreaks systems – were complex compared to the three Call of Duty titles preceding it, when you look back at it now it was a far simpler game compared to the most recent titles. Down at the most recent Call of Duty World League event in London, I had a chat with Seth "Scump" Abner from OpTic Gaming - the world's most famous current COD pro - about the upcoming rumoured Modern Warfare 4, and how it can become one of the best titles in the series.
"Back in the day, Call of Duty 4 was very simple and people loved that about it, but I don't know if simple works anymore," Scump considers. "We've had this game, you have advanced movement with the sliding and all of that, so I feel that if they go back to a standard boots on the ground game it'll be a little too slow for people. I've always loved the Modern Warfare series so hopefully they come out with a good product and go back to some of the roots but also implement a few new changes."
Listen to the fans
Preston "Prestinni" Sanderson is another professional COD player, but he plays for eUnited – the team who finished second at the CWL London event and are considered one of the very best in the world. He believes that all Infinity Ward needs to do with Modern Warfare 4 to make it a success is listen to the community: "That's what any game needs to do really. There's complaints and there's certain things that need to be fixed as soon as possible but a lot of the time the community speaks out about it and it's left undone and untouched for many months. I think as long as they listen to their community first and get on these things right away they'll be successful because Modern Warfare games are always fantastic."
Prestinni isn't the only one who feels that way. British player Bradley "Wuskin" Marshall from Team Reciprocity - the highest placing British team at the event - reiterated the same concerns, claiming that "it comes down to the developers listening to what people want and what people don't want. That's the one thing we lack. If you look at other serious games, let's say a lot of people come together and say that they want this or they don't want this, it normally happens but with us, it doesn't happen."
Esports is key
Of course, to these players, esports is their career. Everything in their life has gone toward this part of their ambitions, competing to be the very best. Austin "Slasher" Liddicoat from 100 Thieves – the winners of CWL London and possibly the best team in the world right now – claims that for Modern Warfare 4 to succeed, it needs to better incorporate esports as a foundation to the multiplayer experience. "Call of Duty games right now are made to appease both and lean more towards the casual side, and I understand that, but I feel like if they went all in on esports and people understood the competition level and how much more fun it can be, the game will be more successful."
These guys are the people that know Call of Duty inside out, almost as much as the developers themselves. They've worked on honing their craft for years and it's paying off as they compete at events for hundreds of thousands of dollars and are sponsored by numerous high profile brands. Modern Warfare 4 will be their entire career for the year-long Call of Duty World League season, so it's safe to say they know a thing or two about what it needs to do. It's been almost eight years since we last saw a Modern Warfare game; let's hope it can make just as big of a wave as when it first arrived.