After Playing the Beta, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is Better Off Without the Minimap

After Playing the Beta, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is Better Off Without the Minimap

Some are upset about Modern Warfare's lack of a minimap, but we've barely mourned its absence

Maybe I'm not that smart of a Call of Duty player, but at the two events I've gone to so far to learn about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, I didn't even notice that the minimap had been dropped. In the depths of my hand scribbled notes, I penned details about the deep gunsmith customization and how the sound design would startle me because it was so loud and realistic. Never did I muse about the now-gone minimap, long a staple of Call of Duty's multiplayer.

In the community though, it's a whole other story. Popular streamers lamented its absence at the worldwide multiplayer debut event just last month, and the community in turn complained. It's still a sore point, where in a tweet promoting the beta, nearly every reply to it is about the demand for the minimap to return.

Infinity Ward responded to the backlash, saying it would monitor the feedback of it during the beta closely. And it's not like there's no minimap whatsoever; when you or a teammate spawns a UAV killstreak, the minimap pops up with the same ol' red dots to spotlight where enemies are. There's also a new compass at the top of the screen, which flashes red in the direction where an enemy is shooting.

The beta includes Team Deathmatch, Headquarters, and other modes. | Infinity Ward/Activision

Before the Modern Warfare beta kicked off, I dove back into Black Ops 4, which I've been revisiting at monthly intervals. Black Ops 4 is a very speedy game, from the weight of its characters to its quick respawning. By contrast, Modern Warfare is more hefty; its characters move slowly, and the reload animations for some guns are really slow. It's taken some getting used to, but all in all, I think I prefer the way Modern Warfare feels compared to Black Ops 4. It's all in service of its pursuit of "realism," which isn't just a buzzword for its campaign this year. It's what makes the entirety of the reinvention of Modern Warfare go round.

Part of that pursuit's casualties, it seems, is the minimap, which has long been a staple of not just Call of Duty, but most competitive first-person shooters. The fan backlash is understandable—why fix what, in many people's eyes, isn't broken?

Usually, the minimap sits in the bottom corner of the screen, showing you not just a rough outline of your surroundings and where your teammates are, but red blips of enemies if they're shooting too. These have both translated to other models in Modern Warfare. Your teammates now have a blue outline around them, and are visible through walls. This makes it easier to track where your companions are at all times. The noise sensor is instead at the top of your screen, in the compass. If someone's in a gunfight, you'll know the general direction of where it's coming from. You can also, y'know, listen.

The most common reasoning I've seen leveraged against Modern Warfare's lack of a minimap is that it encourages camping. I've probably played about seven hours of multiplayer total, between the couple hours this morning and the bundles of hours at the two preview events I attended earlier this year. I have not really seen any more camping than usual, and when I have spotted campers, it's been possible to run around and flank upon respawn. In fact, I did exactly that with someone who was crouched on the upper level of a dilapidated house; when I respawned, I scurried out of their line of sight around and shotgunned them down. (Of course, they had set a mine behind them, so I immediately died too. But whatever. I got 'em out!)

I've been playing with headphones, and it's easy to hear the sounds all around me. I think that's how I've always played Call of Duty, honestly, which is maybe why I'm not as sore about the loss of a constant minimap like others are. I imagine players who are upset will either get used to it, learn to like it, or Infinity Ward will compromise and toss it in, which I hope it doesn't. It's also, of course, maybe too early to pass a judgment on whether the lack of a minimap hurts or helps the gameplay of Modern Warfare. But this is a beta after all, and Infinity Ward is all ears for what's working or not.

You can play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's multiplayer now, or soon, in beta form. It's in closed beta for the next couple days for players who pre-ordered, and will hit open beta next weekend on September 14 for all PlayStation 4 players, even if you don't have PlayStation Plus. It ends September 16.

Next weekend, Modern Warfare's cross-play beta begins on September 19, and ends on September 23. This beta period starts private and goes public starting on September 21. It will be available on all consoles, while this weekend's beta is exclusive to PS4. For a full guide on start times, what's in the beta, and more, check out our Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta guide.

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Caty McCarthy

Senior Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's official altgame enthusiast.

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