15 years ago, the best Call of Duty online game changed forever

15 years ago, the best Call of Duty online game changed forever

For the past 15 years, Call of Duty has consistently ranked among the best-selling games every year, selling tens of millions of copies annually.

But it wasn’t always a big hit. The series didn’t quite hit its stride before the launch of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on 5 November 2007 — 15 years ago. What made this game so special? To celebrate the anniversary, we decided to take a look back at this historic FPS game to consider why it was such a game changer, not just for first-person shooters, but for competitive multiplayer games in general.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was immediately appealing because of today’s setting. Until then, Call of Duty was known for WWII-style games, which were fun, but by 2007 had become obsolete. The switch to a modern setting made this game more relatable, with intense action, realistic visuals and lots of explosions. But all this was just the bigger picture.

All playing styles are welcome

With so many weapons available, players had many ways to customize their loadout.Activision

Multiplayer mode for Call of Duty 4 had an amazing array of weapons, with many options for close, mid and long range play. This meant that players had many options, allowing them to contribute to their team in a variety of ways. Those looking to dominate up close can stick with the beloved MP5 SMG, while players looking to pick off enemies from afar may be better off with the M16, a blaster rifle.

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The popularization of custom loadouts was another important factor, allowing players to come to each match with a specific build. This meant that no matter the map or mode, players would always be prepared for the battle ahead.

Attachment also places a strong emphasis on customization without being overwhelming (as in current CoD titles). Having only two to four attachment options across each weapon still encouraged experimentation, but it was simple enough to be accessible, therefore achieving a near-perfect balance.

This, combined with the excellent map design, made for so many memorable moments. I have memories of watching one of the long hallways in Vacant while using the M40A3 sniper – picking off enemies back-to-back.

Killstreaks and perks were a game changer

Perks and killstreaks gave Call of Duty 4 an edge, adding more variety to the battles.Activision

Call of Duty 4 has always felt distinct thanks to the introduction of perks and killstreaks, key features that have become franchise mainstays emulated by other games as well. Perks allowed players to experiment with special abilities such as extra health, claymores, or a UAV jammer to stay clear of the minimap, potentially overcoming a player’s innate shortcomings—or emphasizing their greatest strengths as a combatant.

I’ve always been an aggressive player who’s constantly on the move, so I’ve run into way too many enemy claymores. So, the Bomb Squad perk – which reveals enemy equipment – ​​is often a must-use.

Likewise, when playing the Search and Destroy elimination game mode, using the Dead Silence perk to muffle your footsteps gives a huge advantage. But that same advantage wasn’t as useful in Team Deathmatch, so players were always encouraged to switch things up.

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Killstreaks were also an important component, rewarding players for their achievements during a match. Having it set to just three killstreaks total – three eliminations for the UAV, five for an airstrike and seven for a helicopter – kept things simple yet rewarding.

Between perks, weapons, loadouts, and killstreaks, no two matches ever played the same, which was refreshing.

The popularization of multiplayer modes

Call of Duty 4 popularized having an additional multiplayer mode, prompting other games to attempt to replicate its success.Activision

Call of Duty 4 sold nearly 20 million copies. It is clear that even in 2007 and the years shortly thereafter, this game had a major impact on the industry. After the success of Call of Duty 4many games began to implement multiplayer modes, trying to recreate the same explosive success.

Even games that had no business doing online multiplayer made the attempt, especially in some of the biggest franchises of the era: BioShock 2, Dead Space 2Even Resident Evil 5 had an online multiplayer component. They were all pretty lackluster by comparison, chasing a trend after it peaked.

Of course, Call of Duty 4 wasn’t the only game to popularize multiplayer shooter modes. Halo 3 and Gears of War also played a significant role in 2006 and 2007, but Call of Duty 4 was a multi-platform game that could reach a much wider audience as a result. (This is why Microsoft’s Activision acquisition all these years later seems so controversial.)

It’s clear that while many developers wanted to capitalize on multiplayer shooters, very few companies were able to pull it off – proving just how capable the teams at Activision and Infinity Ward were, even in 2007.

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Without Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it is unclear how competitive shooters would become. Sure, they would look and play a lot differently today, so we owe a lot to the innovations introduced in 2007 Call of Duty 4.

Unfortunately, there is no good way to play Call of Duty 4 these days. The remaster, which launched for PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2016, has its fair share of issues on consoles, but it certainly beats trying to play the original 2007 release, which is virtually unplayable these days due to hacking.

Regardless, there’s no denying the monumental impact this game had on the industry.

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