For the past 15 years, Call of Duty has consistently ranked among the top-selling games each year, selling tens of millions of copies per year.
But it was not always a resounding success. The series didn’t really take off until the launch of Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare November 5, 2007 — 15 years ago. What made this game so special? To celebrate its anniversary, we decided to revisit this historic FPS game to assess why it was such a game-changer, not just for first-person shooters, but for competitive multiplayer gaming in general.
Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare was immediately appealing due to its current setting. Until then, Call of Duty was known for its WWII-style games, which were fun, sure, but by 2007 they had become obsolete. Moving to a modern setting has made this game more accessible, with intense action, realistic visuals, and plenty of explosions. But all of that was just an overview.
All playstyles are welcome
multiplayer mode for call of duty 4 had a fantastic range of weapons, with plenty of options for short, mid, and long range playstyles. This meant that players had many options, allowing them to contribute to their team in different ways. Those looking to dominate up close might stick with the beloved MP5 SMG, while players looking to take down foes from afar might be better off with the M16, a burst assault rifle.
The popularization of custom loadouts was another major factor, allowing players to come to every match with a particular build. This meant that regardless of map or mode, players would always be ready for the battle ahead.
Attachments also put a strong emphasis on customization without being overwhelming (like in current CoD titles). Having only two to four attachment options for each weapon still encouraged experimentation, but it was simple enough to be accessible, striking an almost perfect balance.
This, combined with the excellent map design, created many memorable moments. I have memories of watching one of Vacant’s long hallways while using the M40A3 sniper – taking out enemies back to back.
Killstreaks and perks were a game changer
call of duty 4 always felt distinct thanks in large part to the introduction of perks and killstreaks, key features that have also become franchise mainstays emulated by other games. Perks allowed players to experiment with special abilities like extra health, claymores, or a drone jammer to stay out of the minimap, potentially overcoming a player’s innate shortcomings – or emphasizing their greatest strengths as a fighter.
I’ve always been an aggressive player constantly on the move, so I’ve encountered way too many enemy claymores. So the Bomb Squad perk – which reveals enemy gear – is often a must.
Likewise, when playing the Search and Destroy elimination game mode, using the Dead Silence perk to silence your footsteps provides a huge advantage. But that same perk wasn’t as useful in Team Deathmatch, so players were always encouraged to switch things up.
Killstreaks were also a major feature, rewarding players for their performance in a match. Setting it at just three total killstreaks – three kills for UAV, five for airstrike, and seven for helicopter – kept things simple, yet rewarding.
Between perks, weapons, loadouts, and killstreaks, no match played out the same, which was refreshing.
The popularization of multiplayer modes
call of duty 4 has sold nearly 20 million copies. Clearly, even in 2007 and the years that followed, this game had a major impact on the industry. After the success of call of duty 4many games began implementing multiplayer modes, attempting to replicate the same explosive success.
Even games that had nothing to do with online multiplayer gave it a shot, especially in some of the biggest franchises of the time: BioShock 2, Dead space 2and even resident evil 5 had an online multiplayer component. They were all pretty lackluster in comparison, continuing a trend past its peak.
Sure, call of duty 4 wasn’t the only game to popularize multiplayer shooter modes. Halo 3 and armament of war also played an important role in 2006 and 2007, but call of duty 4 was a cross-platform game capable of reaching a much wider audience. (That’s why all these years later, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision seems so controversial.)
It’s clear that while many developers wanted to capitalize on the multiplayer shooter space, very few companies could pull it off, which just goes to show just how good the teams at Activision and Infinity Ward were, even in 2007.
Without Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare, it is unclear how competitive shooters would have turned out. Surely they would look and play very differently today, so we owe a lot to the innovations introduced in 2007 call of duty 4.
Unfortunately, there is no right 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’s certainly better than trying to play the original 2007 release, which is virtually unplayable. these days due to piracy.
Either way, there’s no denying the monumental impact this game has had on the industry.