Sony has unveiled the selection of games it will be dolloping into the laps of PlayStation Plus subscribers in March - and it's a strong showing, despite being the first month that Vita and PlayStation 3 titles aren't included.
First out of the gate is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, the 2016 spruce-up of Infinity Ward's revered 2007 shooter. As Digital Foundry explained at launch, the word 'remastered' does the experience something of a disservice, with developer Raven Software's work on the game much closer to a a fully-fledged remake.
"While its shooting might feel creaky," said Eurogamer contributor Nathan Ditum, "Modern Warfare's ability to inject meaningful moments into its action still feels remarkable. There's a sense of wonderful craft here, of minute and imaginative design, from the small bits of chatter that constantly flow during missions, to the grandstanding set pieces that define Modern Warfare. The standout moments are so numerous it's hard to really call them standout."
Valve has stepped up its anti-cheat measures and issued almost 95,000 bans in the last week alone.
The people behind Humvee are suing Activision over the appearance of the famous military vehicle in Call of Duty.
Now Sony's timed exclusivity for the standalone version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered has expired, the shooter has released on other platforms, including PC.
Modern Warfare Remastered has been playable on PC ever since Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare came out, but this is the first time it's been sold standalone, and therefore the first time it's had its own store page on Steam. And upset players have been quick to jump on the opportunity to pile on the game.
On Steam, the game has got off to a particularly rough start, with a mostly negative user review rating. Players are complaining about all sorts, including the £34.99 price, performance issues and hackers in multiplayer.
Activision released Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered standalone this week, but you still need the Infinite Warfare disc to play if you got yours through the expensive versions of the game.
UPDATE 23/06/2017 8.40pm: Activision has confirmed that yes, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will be available as a standalone affair on 27th June for PS4, both digitally and physically.
A release on other platforms will follow.
It will contain the campaign and 16 multiplayer maps.
Candy Crush Saga developer King is making a mobile Call of Duty game.
Activision is once again under fire over Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered - this time it's new premium DLC that's making fans livid.
Overnight, Activision announced the new Variety Map Pack is coming to Modern Warfare Remastered, first on PlayStation 4 on 21st March and later on PC and Xbox One.
This map pack includes four classic Call of Duty 4 maps, remastered to the same quality as the main game. They are Broadcast, Chinatown, Creek and Killhouse.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered now has supply drops.
The supply drops arrive as part of the game's December update. Right now, they contain only cosmetic items, and all items that can be earned in supply drops can also be obtained via challenges.
The supply drops are unlocked with Call of Duty Points, which you buy with real world money, and with Depot Credits, which are earned through playing.
Here's what's clear: big console game sales are down. Titanfall 2, Watch Dogs 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2 and more all failed to even match the sales of their predecessors at launch. People I've spoken to in the UK retail business are in panic mode. The PS4 has been a huge success. Xbox One is doing well. What's going on?
I've seen plenty of theories, some better than others. Writing on Eurogamer's sister site, Gamesindustry.biz, Rob Fahey puts forward one of the better ones: that the rise of digital means fewer physical game sales are in people's hands to trade-in. Certainly in the UK, which has a huge pre-owned video game market, that makes a lot of sense.
Fahey also suggests more and more games are designed to keep us playing week after week and, as a result, we're not interested in playing as many new games. Think Destiny or Minecraft or FIFA. Again, I agree this plays a part. I played Destiny for pretty much two years solid, tuning in each week to the detriment of trying out new games.
When Activision announced plans to remaster the much-loved Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, fans of the series rejoiced. But when Activision announced that the only way to get the game was to buy the expensive Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition - or its digital equivalent - fans recoiled in horror. Suffice it to say, Activision's refusal to sell Modern Warfare Remastered separately didn't go down well.
So, there were plenty of Call of Duty fans, only interested in Modern Warfare Remastered, who decided against buying Infinite Warfare's £79.99 edition because, well, that's a lot of money to fork out just to play the remaster of a nine-year-old game.
Well, now the Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare has been reduced as part of Black Friday madness. At Amazon it's down to £49.99, which is £30 cheaper than it was at launch.
PC Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare may be temporarily cheaper on the Windows 10 Store (£33) than on Steam (£40), but if you buy from the Windows Store, you will not be able to play with people who buy on Steam.
Whatever your feelings on the Call of Duty series, you can't really deny that their releases still feel like notable events in the annual gaming calendar. Today, in case you hadn't noticed or didn't care, is both Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered's time to shine.
To mark this special occasion, I'll be dedicating most of the day to streaming both games across both Facebook and YouTube, to make things interesting.
I'll be starting the streams off with four hours of Infinite Warfare gameplay, where I'll be trying out the three major facets of the game - Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies. That'll go live on our Facebook page at 10:30am before hopping over to our YouTube channel at 11am where I'll be streaming until 2:30pm.
Maybe it's something to do with Steven Spielberg. The director's Second World War drama Saving Private Ryan has become a dividing line in the history of action cinema. There is everything that came before Spielberg's Normandy beach landings, with their shellshock camerawork and stinging audio occlusion, and there is everything that came after.
To play Modern Warfare Remastered is to remember another before and to look upon our ongoing after. Returning to it feels like finding the original of a 10th-generation VHS copy - this is the template for all our wargames and shooters, and Spielberg figures in this particular watershed, too. It was his Dreamworks Interactive that created Medal Of Honor, effectively a playable Private Ryan, and it was the team invited by Spielberg to make Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault that later became Infinity Ward. Grant Collier, Vince Zampella, Jason West - names in the Modern Warfare credits that draw a direct line from one redefinition of warfare to another.
Modern Warfare is such a striking break from the past that it's easy to forget that it's also Call Of Duty 4. It feels, with the benefit of hindsight especially, much more like the beginning of something than the fourth of something. The focus on contemporary conflict represents a major shift not just in terms of setting, but of existential purpose. By moving into present day the game leaves behind the safety of the past with all its fixed meanings and solid moral foundations. World War 2 is, by overwhelming cultural if not historical consensus, a virtuous war, distant and heroic-by-default. Even Vietnam has a settled complexity - the ambivalent war, the lessons-were-learnt war. But the wars we have now, a diffuse mix of technology, intelligence and asymmetric engagements, campaigns fought against states, sects and sometimes ideas, have no such clarity.
The vast majority of remasters tend to deliver native 1080p visuals and a boost to frame-rates, but frequently offer up little else in terms of a graphical upgrade. However, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is different, with developers Raven Software completely reworking the game's visuals for the current generation of console hardware. That means not only an increase in resolution, but also new assets, upgraded effects work, along with more dynamic camera work for the cutscenes. In that sense simply calling this latest version of Modern Warfare a remaster would be doing the game a disservice, when what we have here is a fully-fledged remake of a title that defined the last generation of first-person shooters.
Of course, we're still looking at the same core game, with level design and gameplay quirks remaining identical to the original, but at the same time, the visual boost certainly delivers a more immersive experience compared to the original game. This is immediately clear the moment we step outside the hangar in the opening training mission, where the combination of increased resolution and graphical complexity showcases just how much has changed in the remaster. Here, we are looking at the PS4 version (thanks to early access to the campaign) which hands in a native 1080p presentation that comfortably eclipses the soft 1024x600 image on the Xbox 360 original.
As to be expected, this provides a huge boost in overall image quality, although the increase in pixel count is arguably one of the least important upgrades of the remaster given the dramatic changes in other areas. Take the opening base camp area, which is now fleshed out in the remaster with more vehicles on-screen and extra set-pieces such as other recruits running around outside, along with tanks driving by as you head over to the next waypoint. Weather and lighting conditions are much darker, delivering a more authentic feel to the British landscape, while the busier nature of the stage helps to bring more life to the world over the somewhat sterile original game. This is a trend that continues all throughout the new game, transforming every location, vehicle, and characters in some way.
In case you hadn't heard, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered has a pretty cool Time Paradox achievement / trophy.
Except it's not cool. It's not cool at all - because you've been hoodwinked. This isn't a time paradox at all, in fact it's actually not even close. Allow me to elaborate.
In the original Modern Warfare mission, you take on the role of Captain John Price, who must kill a gentleman known as Zakhaev with a long-range sniper rifle. Succesfully hitting him when you take the shot however will actually just take off his arm (regardless of where you aim) and trigger a series of events where Zakhaev's whisked away in a nearby jeep, whilst Price is suddenly facing down an attack helicopter and a fair bit of trouble.
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered campaign early access is out in the wild on PlayStation 4 - and players have found a really cool Easter egg that doubles as a brand new achievement / trophy.
The Time Paradox achievement is new to Modern Warfare's campaign, and involves killing Vladimir Makarov.
Vladimir Makarov was the antagonist in Modern Warfare 2 and 3, so killing him in Modern Warfare 1 creates the time paradox that means the sequels never happened. Doc Brown would love this.
The clocks may not have gone back yet, but there can be no doubt that summer is behind us. The weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter and, of course, this year's Call of Duty is nearly upon us.
Bundled in with this year's offering, of course, is a remastered version of the much loved Modern Warfare - the game that arguably made Call of Duty as big as it is today. Being an uncanny sort of fellow, Ian's managed to get his hands on the remastered version early - he's already done a graphics comparison between the original release and the shiny new version, in fact - and he'll be streaming it live online from 2:30 this afternoon.
So if, like Ian, you're keen to relive days gone by, tune in to the video above to see what Raven Software has done with Modern Warfare.
If you install both Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare plus Modern Warfare Remastered, you need at least 130GB of space free on your hard-drive.
That's according to the back of the PlayStation 4 version of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition, which itself was revealed by a French retailer (thanks, Charlie Intel).
Now, it comes as no surprise to learn that the two games' combined installation size is larger than a single Call of Duty, but 130GB total is something of an eyebrow-raiser. That's over a quarter of your 500GB console hard-drive.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is out today for those who have digitally pre-ordered the Legacy, Legacy Pro and Digital Deluxe editions of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
To see how this remaster stacks up to Infinity Ward's seminal 2007 shooter, our Ian Higton made the following comparison video looking at how this restoration improves the game for more contemporary sensibilities.
The comparison video is using the Xbox 360 version of the original Modern Warfare and the PS4 version of its remaster.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered requires the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare disc be inserted in order to play.
That's if you buy Infinite Warfare on disc. As you'd expect, if you download the game you don't need the disc.
Charlie Intel spotted that the recently-launched Modern Warfare Remastered page on the Call of Duty website includes the following note:
I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare remastered last week and it was an object lesson in the power of nostalgia; the upcoming re-release of CoD 4 certainly seems to have got a lot of people talking, for better or worse.
All this discussion got me thinking about what other games we'd like to see remastered, so I made the video below. The best thing about it is that with Chris and Aoife both off work and Ian visiting a game studio, nobody was around to veto my selection.
Apologies for getting all misty eyed while discussing Rainbow 6: Vegas 2 there. Anyway, doubtless you've got remastered wishlists of your own, so feel free to discuss the games you'd most like to see get spruced up a bit in the comments below.
We've had fun mucking around with Infinite Warfare this week, but look anywhere on the Internet and you'll see fans are desperate for the series to pull back from this futuristic setting, with its wall-running and its jetpacks. As I've heard repeatedly whilst out at COD XP, players want their boots back on the ground.
Really, what many of them want, is this: Modern Warfare Remastered.
I was a little worried as I sat down to play a handful of maps on Thursday that my rose-tinted glasses were about to be shattered. This is the game that changed everything, right? Not just the Call of Duty series, but the entire genre. What if it no longer holds up? What if we've moved on?
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will contain all 16 original multiplayer maps from Infinity Ward's 2007 adventure.
10 will be available at launch with another six to follow in December at no additional cost, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg revealed during a Call of Duty livestream.
Modern Warfare Remastered won't be available as a standalone product and can only be acquired by purchasing the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy, Legacy Pro, or Digital Deluxe Editions.
Activision's released fresh gameplay of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered, showing off one of its most iconic missions.
The video, below, shows a playthrough of Crew Expendable, the second mission of Infinity Ward's groundbreaking first-person shooter. In it, the player infiltrates a cargo ship and retrieves a package.
I'm impressed by the graphical upgrade here, which was done by Raven Software. In a previous life, Call of Duty map pack maker Raven developed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the 2009 Wolfenstein and the underrated Singularity.
Once upon a time, Halo was the tale of a place. A tale of it, and a tale shaped by it. Installation 04's famous skybox - that pristine curl of oceans and meadows, rearing amid the stars - may be very obviously a flat backdrop, but it does create the impression of an underlying 3D continuity, the vague conviction, as in a Souls game, that you can pick out the site of a previous battle high above the skyline, winking through the atmospheric haze.
Sony has secured exclusive early access to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered campaign on PlayStation 4 - but you have to pre-order one of the more expensive versions of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to get it.
As already announced, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is included with the Legacy Edition, Digital Deluxe Edition, and Legacy Pro versions of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Activision has insisted there's no other way to get the game, and in the process angered many Call of Duty fans only interested in revisiting what many consider to be the best game in the series.
Now, if you pre-order either of those versions on PlayStation 4, you get early access to the Modern Warfare Remastered campaign. This means you can play it on 5th october 2016 - 30 days before it's available on PC and Xbox One and when Infinite Warfare goes on general release.
A couple of days ago, Activision announced that Modern Warfare Remastered would only be available to those who bought the Legacy Editions of Infinite Warfare.
Fancy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered but not interested in buying Call of Duty: Infinity Warfare? You're out of luck.
In a FAQ on Activision's support website, the company confirmed Modern Warfare Remastered will not come as a separate disc. It is a full game download included in the Legacy, Legacy Pro and Digital Deluxe editions of Infinite Warfare.
Just to be clear, Modern Warfare Remastered is only available through the Legacy, Legacy Pro and Digital Deluxe Editions.