Today, Call of Duty fans got what they've been craving since Modern Warfare's laid back reveal at the end of May: gameplay. It's a light glimpse at it though, showing off the new mode "Gunfight," a fast-paced, two-versus-two battle to the death. Back in May, which feels like a lifetime ago, we got to play a bit of the clever new mode.
In Gunfight, two teams of two have 40 seconds to find the other team and take them out; all with a set amount of health. If the 40 seconds passes, then a flag appears at the center of the map, and the remaining teams have to defend the flag. Defending the flag for three seconds nets a point and ends the round. The first team to get six points, one point per round, wins the match. There's another twist too: there's no load out customizing, nor class choosing. The weapons you get are determined randomly each round.
Gunfight feels like a nice change for Call of Duty. In spirit, it has a similar no bullshit structure to what many deem as the first deathmatch mode known to video games: the one found in the original 1993 Doom. Doom's deathmatch, like Gunfight, was playable for two to four players. Similarly, it had random weapons in the level; in Doom's mode, players contrarily picked up the weapons as they find them. Items like health and ammo did not respawn either. Deathmatch had a second iteration, wherein some objects respawned in, but largely it remained just as fast-paced and small-scoped in terms of its player count. (After all, back then you had to jump through many hoops to play online. It even crippled computer networks.)
Deathmatch became a phenomenon. The eventual-pioneering mode was actually inspired by Japanese fighting games, according to Doom co-creator John Romero, which he discusses in the book Atari to Zelda: Japan's Videogames in Global Contexts. The team at id Software frequently played games such as Street Fighter 2, Art of Fighting, and Fatal Theory on their breaks from developing Doom. "The team developed elaborate rules for gameplay, such as requiring the loser of a match not to respond verbally to the winner, even during the winner's trash talking," writes Mia Consalvo, author of the book. "Instead, the loser was allowed to destroy any furniture or tech in the area, leading to many smashed tables and blown-up televisions."
Gunfight in Modern Warfare, similarly, is a constant scramble with hard and fast rules. Though, of course, it's much easier to connect to than the original Doom's multiplayer mode. The maps in Gunfight are small and rectangular shaped, of which there are three original maps for the mode: King (a warehouse), Pine (a forest), and Stack (a desert container yard). Each map has its own areas to crouch around or run guns blazing through, depending on what approach you and your co-op partner opt to take.
Inevitably, you'll run into at least one other player before the initial 40 seconds are up. In my demo time, most rounds ended without the need for the flag in the center to pop up. The encounters are often scrappy, which is expected for a mode that chooses what weapons you have for you. My co-op partner and I won repeatedly against the other two players we were up against; maybe it was the luck of the draw, or maybe it was just skill. It was a fun time though, with a lot of yelling and high-fiving.
Gunfight will be just one of many modes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Unlike last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Modern Warfare will be bringing back a campaign, which we also saw some of back in May. While gameplay details are relatively scarce at the moment, Infinity Ward notes that Modern Warfare will indeed be a "unified narrative experience" across traditional multiplayer, the single-player campaign, and whatever its mysterious cooperative mode ends up being.
You can tune into the full Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer reveal on August 1 at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET, which will be streamed on Call of Duty's Twitch channel. For more details on this year's Call of Duty, check out our everything we know about Modern Warfare so far guide.