'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare' crossplay takes aim at the future of gaming

"Our goal with *Modern Warfare* is to bring all gamers together from day one."

Cross-platform functionality sounds like a boring buzzword to most people, but to gamers, it’s a positive trigger word capable of sending shivers of ecstasy down the spine. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, out October 25, may be the first truly cross-platform AAA video game committed to showcasing the future of online gaming.

Perhaps the single most in-demand feature for any online game, crossplay allows gamers on different platforms to play games together. That may sound like a simple no-brainer, but to major companies like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony, even if it’s a huge benefit to the consumer, it feels like a compromise that could lose revenue. Sony in particular has been notoriously resistant to the idea until earlier this month when cross-platform access went live, just a few weeks before Call of Duty: Modern Warfare emerges at the vanguard of this new era.

“Our goal with Modern Warfare is to bring all gamers together from day one to play together,” Infinity Ward head Patrick Kelly told press at a multiplayer preview in July. “We’re developing the game for crossplay.” Ahead of the September crossplay beta, Activision outlined how it’ll work in a blog post and an accompanying livestream.

Voice chat is supported across the platform divide(s) as well, but ranked or competitive play won’t be possible. Those will be console-specific.

Crossplay options allow players to filter by input controls, meaning you don’t have to play with a controller against someone with a mouse and keyboard, unless you opt in. Alternatively, you can use a mouse and keyboard, even on consoles. Achieving balance with these different control schemes is the real challenge from a development standpoint, which production manager Paul Haile touched upon during a livestream about the feature.

“Not only have we spent a ton of time balancing and making sure the playing field is level between the control schemes,” Haile said, adding that a surprising number of “high-skill user tests … [see] a mix of those control schemes in the top three every time.” That speaks to the degree of balance they’ve already created, if varied control schemes are viable in top-tier play.

Everyone will need a Call of Duty account to access Modern Warfare multiplayer regardless of whether or not they want to mess around with crossplay, similar to how Fortnite manages this functionality. (Create your account ahead of time right here by linking it to your PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Steam, or Battle.net ID.) Through this account, players can “create cross-platform Friends lists and Parties from all three supported platforms.”

“This unites the community by removing barriers, creating platform-agnostic friend groups,” the blog post reads.

Infinity Ward rebuilt Call of Duty mechanics from the ground up with Modern Warfare, and creating a “unified experience” was a core tenet of the development focus, according to the blog opst. Regardless of the game mode and regardless of the platform, everything players do will count towards leveling up and unlocking functions across all modes. There will be no paid season passes, and downloadable content will be free across all platforms.

If Infinity Ward can execute upon that promise of an environment in which gamers needn’t worry about the console divide, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare might truly live up to its ambition of being the next step in online gaming.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be released on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One October 25.

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