×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare release date, trailer, characters and story

The holidays are creeping up, and you know what that means: it's nearly Call of Duty time! Activision's AAA shoot-em-up is trying something a bit different this year, so if you're looking for information on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you've come to the right place.

Last year's Black Ops 4 rocked the CoD boat quite a bit: a hallmark of the franchise, the cinematic story mode, was replaced with a (surprisingly good) battle royale mode called Blackout. The Black Ops games have always been a way for CoD to experiment a bit, so it seems likely that Modern Warfare will be a bit more what people are used to from the franchise.

This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Check back often, as we will continue to update this page as we find out more information. A word of warning moving forward, though: no Russian.

Modern Warfare's developers, platforms, and release date

With an annual release strategy, the Call of Duty franchise rotates between a few different developers. Treyarch handled 2018's Black Ops 4, and the reins for Modern Warfare are back in the hands of Infinity Ward, along with additional development from Beenox and Raven Software. Infinity Ward created Call of Duty back with the 2003 original and have handled several games since. Their most recent was Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in 2016.

Infinity Ward's position as Modern Warfare's developer is significant because this game is not a true "sequel," but a reimagining of the past Modern Warfare games, which are what made Call of Duty the worldwide phenomenon it has become. Infinity Ward also developed the original Modern Warfare game and its direct sequels, so they have experience on their side.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will release for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on Oct. 25, 2019. There is no word on whether the game will release on Nintendo Switch; Call of Duty has not yet appeared on the system, although some internet sleuths discovered some clues indicating that this might be the first entry to do so.

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trailer

"The rules have changed. There's a fine line between right and wrong. And, somewhere in the shadows, they send us in to find it." So begins the trailer for Modern Warfare, before focusing on a returning character: Captain Price. As this is a reimagining of the story, this is not necessarily the same Price we remember. But he certainly looks the part.

You can never fully trust video game trailers, especially early on, but this one does contain a disclaimer that it is showcasing actual gameplay footage and not pre-rendered cutscenes. If that's the case, then Modern Warfare is looking really sharp. It also features some familiar settings and highlights some of the ideas that the story of the game will explore, mostly relating to the stealthy nature of special operations.

A lot of quick cuts between locations gives us an idea of what to expect from Modern Warfare. Exotic locations, explosive set pieces, and a heavy dose of sabotage have always been the name of the game for CoD, and Modern Warfare looks like it won't disappoint in that regard.

Pre-order bonuses, editions, and season pass for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Fantastic news on this front: it appears that Activision is seeing the writing on the competitive shooter wall and is ditching the season pass. Instead, they will be releasing content and additional maps for free. This could come off as a magnanimous move, but it's more likely a calculation to help Call of Duty compete with the content releases of other games, like Fortnite. Either way, you won't have to buy new maps in Modern Warfare.

There are a few different editions of Modern Warfare for each system, too: Standard, Precision, Operator, and Operator Enhanced. Standard is just the game and will run a $59.99 price tag. Operator costs $79.99 and will include some exclusive digital items, while Operator Enhanced will cost $20 more and include 3,000 Call of Duty points. Finally, the GameStop-exclusive Precision Edition will cost $99.99 and will include everything in the Operator Edition, plus a steelbook, controller wrap, and KontrolFreek thumbsticks.

If you really want to drop some cash, you can also pick up the Dark Edition, which comes with an actual, working pair of night vision goggles. It'll run you $200, but it's a pretty impressive throwback to Modern Warfare 2. A collector's edition of that game also came packed with some NVGs.

Finally, pre-ordering the game will net you an in-game Prestige Token and tactical knife skin. Pre-ordering at GameStop will get you a poster and in-game animated calling card, and the PS4 store will unlock a PS4 Dynamic Theme.

The characters in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

It would hardly be a Modern Warfare title without Captain Price, even a reimagined one. It's good to see the hirsute British operative back in action. With a new take on Price, Modern Warfare has brought in a new voice actor: Barry Sloane. He is replacing Billy Murray, who voiced him in the first three Modern Warfare games.

As of right now, it does not appear that the player will ever take control of Price. However, thanks to GamesRadar, we do know a few of the playable characters. Early on, the player will control Kyle Gerrick, an British ex-soldier turned counter-terrorism police officer. Gerrick joins up with Price after an attack from al-Qaeda on Piccadilly Circus. There's also an operative named Alex who the player will control, but details on him are being kept secret so far.

We also know a bit about other NPCs significant to the story. There are two sibling freedom fighters named Farah and Haider, and the villain is a "rogue Russian general," inspired by Apocalypse Now's Colonel Kurtz.

The story in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is not a direct sequel to the previous Modern Warfare games, but a reimagining. Art director Joel Emslie tells USA Today: "It's everything you know and love about the Modern Warfare universe, but we reimagined it into today's world so it would be more relatable, more realistic and something that you could take for granted as the world that you live in."

Plot details are being held tightly under wraps, but there is a mixture of fiction and nonfiction present in Modern Warfare. The game begins with an al-Qaeda terrorist attack on Piccadilly Circus, so it appears as if some of the "nightmare scenarios" we saw in previous Modern Warfare games will still exist. At the same time, much of the game's story seems to revolve around the freedom fighters in the country Ursekstan, a fictional Middle Eastern nation that looks to be a stand-in for Soviet satellite nations.

Design director Jacob Minkoff swears the game won't get too lost in gritty realism, but he hopes it is better able to showcase a "grounded story of soldiers and the difficulties that they face in war."

The multiplayer minimap is gone

Part of what made Call of Duty such a massive phenomenon was the accessibility of its multiplayer modes. Even people who weren't going to be storming the top of the leaderboards could jump in, snag some kills, and feel pretty good about themselves. However, a big change is coming to multiplayer in Modern Warfare: the removal of the minimap.

This change could be significant to how Call of Duty plays; Kotaku suggests that it will slow down matches and force players to operate with more caution. It will also make map awareness much more powerful (check your corners!) and amplify the effectiveness of certain perks and killstreaks.

For some, the removal of the minimap won't mean much; if you played in "Hardcore" variants in previous CoD games, you didn't have one anyway. For the casual Call of Duty player, however, the lack of a multiplayer minimap in Modern Warfare will significantly change the way you play the game.

Modern Warfare's perks have been confirmed

Perks have been confirmed. PCGamesN had got their hands on the latest build of the game, and they were able to confirm what perks you'll take into battle. Perks are broken out into three tiers, like they traditionally have been.

Tier 1 perks are all about speed an maneuvering around the battlefield. The perks you can choose for the first tier include: Double Time (Longer sprint duration), EOD (Less explosive damage and hack certain equipment), Scavenger (Pick up ammo from dead bodies), Tracker (Enemies leave behind trails and your crouch speed is increased), and Tune-Up (makes field equipment charge faster).

Tier 2 perks manipulate killstreaks. They include: Ghost (Undetectable by certain killstreaks), Hardline (Your killstreaks cost one less to activate), Kill Chain (Kills with killstreaks count towards other killstreaks), Overkill (Carry two primary weapons), and Restock (recharge equipment over 30 seconds).

Finally, Tier 3 perks manipulate your equipment. These perks include: Amped (Swap weapons and reload rocket faster), Battle Hardened (Weaken enemy equipment), Cold-Blooded (Undetectable by thermal imaging or AI targeting), High-Alert (Get a warning when enemies spot you), Shrapnel (Spawn with an extra equipment), Spotter (Can see equipment through walls and mark it for teammates).

Modern Warfare's killstreaks have been confirmed

Killstreaks have been confirmed. Here are the killstreaks we know are available in Modern Warfare so far, per GamesRadar.

Some of them are pretty standard, low level killstreaks. These include: Personal Radar (3), Counter UAV (4), UAV  (which works for the entire team, as opposed to only for you) (4), Care Package (4), Cluster Strike (5), Cruise Missile (5), Precision Airstrike (5), Wheelson (a remote tank, similar to MW3's Cerberus) (7), Infantry Assault Vehicle (7), Emergency Airdrop (four care packages at once) (8), and VTOL Jet (8). 

After that, we start to get into some of the game changers, which will require ten or more kills. They are: Chopper Gunner (10), White Phosphorous (covers the battle in a disorienting smoke flare) (10), Support Helo (11), Gunship (12), Advanced UAV (12), and Juggernaut (15).

Finally, requiring a whopping 25 killstreak, the Nuke is back. You don't need to equip this one, however. It is available to anyone who manages to land 25 straight. You can watch it in action right here.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's game modes

Modern Warfare will shake up things quite a bit from 2018's CoD entry with its different ways to play. We know that the single-player story is returning after being gone for a year, which is nice to see. We also know that a relic from Modern Warfare games past is returning: Special Ops.

Special Ops last showed up in Modern Warfare 3, created as a way for two players to enjoy campaign-style missions together. Special Ops will let you and a friend watch each others' backs as you complete objectives. It never gained the fervent fandom of Zombies, but it's good to see it making a return.

Speaking of zombies, they are nowhere to be seen in Modern Warfare. There has also been no indication that Blackout, Black Ops 4's take on the battle royale genre, will return. However, CoD leaker TheGamingRevolution (who has a fairly good track record) claims that the battle royale mode will be featured in Modern Warfare.

Gunfight mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

One new multiplayer mode that developer Infinity Ward seems very excited about is called Gunfight. It is designed to be hectic and face-paced and looks great for two friends trying to warm up before diving into the full-scale multiplayer. It could also be a blast to watch in professional competition, although it sounds like it may be a bit too randomized for the esports crowd.

Gunfight places two teams of two players on a very small map. Rounds are short and loadouts are randomized, meaning you have to be proficient in a variety of strategies and be able to communicate well with your teammate. There is no healing and no reviving, meaning rounds can be over in a matter of seconds.

Teams win a point in Gunfight by knocking out the other two players, and the round's rules change if a round goes over 40 seconds. The first team to six points wins the match. It could get very competitive in here.

Crossplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

One of the most important aspects of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be its multiplayer. The competitive mode has always served as the major draw to CoD. 2019's entry will feature an extremely welcome first for the series: crossplay between PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It will be available straight out of the box, and Forbes writes that it should work seamlessly.

Crossplay could be an example of the series taking direction from Fortnite, but Forbes writes that its inclusion in Call of Duty could wind up being monumental for gaming in general. By including it on release in Modern Warfare, it normalizes crossplay as part of the industry. It could make it the default, rather than a selling point for a few games. That's big.

It will also feature "input matchmaking," meaning console players won't get outgunned by people playing on PC with a mouse and keyboard. Buy it for the system you want, and don't worry about your friends having it on the same one ever again!

Not a remake, but a "reimagining" of Modern Warfare

We know Modern Warfare will not be a direct sequel to Modern Warfare 3, but it won't be a straight "reboot" either. Rather, it is what's being referred to as a "reimagining," bringing classic Call of Duty sensibilities into the modern age; it makes sense, considering the title. Besides, this is not an original concept in entertainment. Polygon notes that several popular franchises have used this approach in the past few years: God of War, Doom, Tomb Raider, etc. This will help update and scale back some of the bombast in CoD and will also allow the plot to escape from the post-nuclear war point that it had reached.

Modern Warfare will look to provoke its audience with a morally grey world. Taylor Kurosaki, the game's narrative director, offered this example: "The world we live in is more complex than the one 10 years ago. Enemies often do not wear uniforms ... as a result, civilian collateral damage is a bigger part of the equation." Translation: there's going to be some ugly moments in Modern Warfare.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's new graphics engine

The trailer for Modern Warfare promises that you're watching "actual in-game footage," and that's part of the hype surrounding CoD's new entry: a brand new graphics engine will modernize the way the game looks, allowing all sorts of fancy new ways to show off.

USgamer has a rundown of a lot of the technicalities of this new engine, but here's the basic gist: it makes everything look real, real pretty. It will support 4K resolutions and DirectX Raytracing, meaning all your fanciest equipment will be put to the test. It will allow for much better representations of lighting and cloth, and will also feature "advanced photogrammetry, a new hybrid tile based streaming system, persistent volumetric lighting, physically based rendering, and more."

For most of us, that technical jargon means little more than "this will be the best-looking CoD game ever." For a few people reading this, however, that's probably some serious pillow talk. Joel Emslie, Modern Warfare's art director, summed it up nicely: "We don't want to be the brown game anymore."

Multiplayer Maps have a new design philosophy

Most Call of Duty multiplayer maps over the last decade have followed a similar design philosophy: basically symmetrical, with three distinct lanes leading to objectives and allowing teams to flank and set up ambushes. Infinity Ward's multiplayer design director, Geoffrey Smith, sat down with Game Informer to explain that Modern Warfare's design philosophy is taking a different approach.

He explains that, while great for balance, the three lane symmetry made CoD maps feel more like "arena shooters." Modern Warfare is going for a more realistic interpretation of war, so his team is trying to disguise the lanes and make the symmetry more convoluted.

To make the locations of objectives feel more realistic, the team instead used a new philosophy of "hero buildings." Smith calls these buildings the "power positions" on the map, and they are used as the focal points, rather than the middle of each lane.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare isn't looking to reinvent the wheel of multiplayer map design, but it is nice that Infinty Ward has heard some fan grumblings and wants to address some of the feelings of "sameness" that tends to seep into Call of Duty.

Positive feedback for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta weekends have come and gone, letting everyone get a taste of the "soft reboot" we'll be getting with this newest iteration of CoD. The shooter genre has evolved quite a bit since Call of Duty become such a smash hit, and this year's release was supposed to be a bit of a melding of traditional Call of Duty gameplay with more modern sensibilities. Overall, it seems like the developers have mostly achieved that. Mostly.

Polygon praised the efforts to make combat feel more tactical and give the player more options, but also wrote that the game still moves too quickly to make these changes give much of an advantage. PC Gamer compared several aspects of the new Modern Warfare to Rainbow Six: Siege, including gadgets that give players more customization and better options for controlling space. However, they also complained about the frequency and power of killstreaks, constantly forcing you to abandon technique and just sprint about.

Call of Duty is always going to be Call of Duty, but it sounds like the least enjoyable part about the newest release is that very fact. But it might be a breath of fresh air for those who are sick of the formula.

Two mode variations for the series

The Modern Warfare beta weekends also introduced a few evolved concepts for the franchise. Information came out about both Night Mode and Cyber Attack, a new way to play CoD multiplayer.

Night Mode is exactly what it sounds like: operatives running around maps with night vision goggles. Several existing maps have a variation set during the night, and players will be able to toggle on and off their night vision goggles as they make their way through. It's nothing revolutionary, but it will give Modern Warfare players a new way of approaching maps that they already know.

A new gameplay mode, called Cyber Attack, was introduced as well. Cyber Attack is similar to Search and Destroy mode: games are played over a series of rounds, and each player only gets one life per round. Instead of one team playing offense and one playing defense, both teams are vying over the "bomb" (an EMP device) and trying to plant it in the other team's base.

These modes aren't reinventing the wheel, but they should provide some interesting tweaks to the gameplay that CoD fans already know.

The white phosphorus controversy

Despite (or maybe because of) its mainstream popularity, Call of Duty has managed to court controversy several times. One of the most infamous incidents was the "No Russian" mission in Modern Warfare 2, where players posed as terrorists and gunned down innocent civilians in an airport. 2019's version of Modern Warfare is already ruffling some feathers, as a killstreak allows you to call in a white phosphorus strike onto your enemies.

White phosphorus is used by real militaries, but using it in certain ways is considered a war crime. Critics have questioned Modern Warfare's use of the chemical, as this "gritty reboot" of the game is supposed to show (and condemn) the horrors of war, but also seems to be celebrating and rewarding terrible behavior.

The developers responded by claiming that the multiplayer in CoD is more about "creating a playground" than adhering to a philosophy. Ah, yes: the playground clouded with white phosphorus. Don't expect this killstreak to go away, even with the controversy.