The Call of Duty franchise's 2019 installment is a new take on the Modern Warfare subseries. Instead of continuing the story, it instead opts to tell a new tale, taking into consideration what the name means today as opposed to twelve years ago. Living up to one of the best first-person shooters ever is no small feat, but most will agree it satisfied the high standard.
The campaign promised to deliver a bevy of shocking moments, pushing the boundaries of video game storytelling. With the game having just released, it is safe to say the studio fulfilled its promise. The game is filled with genuinely conflicting and uncomfortable situations. In some of them, the player is an active participant, while in others he is a passing observer. Here are ten particular scenes that had us either gasping or shaking in our seats. And be forewarned; spoilers are abundant below
10 Barkov's Abuse In Urzikstan
The third mission sees Alex following Farah Karim through her homeland while avoiding detection by the Russian troops stationed there. While en route, the two see soldiers heavily abusing their power and inflicting inhumane treatment upon the locals.
This ranges from slavery to public executions. When the player later encounters Barkov, he exhibits no compassion for the people in Urzikstan and doesn't even consider them human.
9 Hostage With A Bomb In London
The hijacking of deadly gas and a terrorist attack in London. The latter event is home to the first real hard-hitting decision made by the characters. While rescuing several hostages, Kyle Garrick and Captain Price find one with a bomb strapped to his chest. The timer reveals only seconds left until detonation. With no alternative in mind, Price throws the poor soul over the railing, away from them and the other hostages.
The guy blows up, but all the other captives are spared. The scene serves as an introduction to Price's cold, hard, but arguably necessary methods while in the field.
After being incapacitated by the gas, a flashback mission triggers which follows Farah Karim as a child when she lost her parents. It opens with her underneath rubble begging for her mother to wake up. Her father rescues her, but her day is only going to get worse. A Russian soldier kills her father, and Farah is forced to take his life in self-defense.
Just when she is about to escape with her brother, General Barkov captures her. The mission would be more impactful, but a couple of things hold it back, like the soldiers speaking English interspersed with Russian curse words. If they had been speaking Russian without subtitles, it would have further driven home the idea of someone's homeland being destroyed by a foreign force.
7 The Gas In "Highway Of Death"
"Highway of Death" features a long-distance sniping section where the player must account for wind and distance when taking a shot. At the end of the intense siege, Farah's brother, Hadir, employs the very gas she and Alex have been trying to locate this whole time. It comes off as a betrayal, but Hadir insists it was necessary for victory.
Hadir eventually locates the manufacturing plant for the chemical weapon, which leads to the last mission, but it's hard to say if he fully redeemed himself.
6 The United States Betraying Farah's Liberation Forces
After Hadir uses the gas on the Russians, the United States officially labels Farah's army as terrorists. This upsets Alex to no end, who takes a stand against this and decides to help Farah of his own volition.
This ultimately leads to the character sacrificing his life for Urzikstan. As a career soldier, he always went where he was told, and he finally felt liberated being able to make a decision himself for something he really believed in. By the end of the game, the liberation force's status has not changed, so a direct sequel will have to deal with the consequences of this.
Torture is an iffy subject in video games. Some think it is impossible for it not to feel exploitative and gratuitous in the medium. Modern Warfare tackles it head-on, featuring a segment where Farah undergoes waterboarding. Players must move their head to avoid the water and catch a breath. That's not even the worst part, however.
During the segment, the interrogator, General Barkov, uses another prisoner as a bargaining chip. Farah doesn't give in, though, and her fellow inmate is executed in front of her.
4 Connections To Call Of Duty 4
Not all the shocking moments are downers. The ending reveals more connections to 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare than initially promised. One of the closing cinematics details the beginnings of task force 141, who were the main protagonists of the original Modern Warfare trilogy.
Additionally, the same cutscene mentions Victor Zakhaev, who is the son of the main antagonist of the legendary 2007 title. Price also tells about taking off Imran Zakhaev's arm Pripyat, Ukraine, which was a mission in the original Modern Warfare.
3 Interrogating The Butcher
When interrogating the Butcher in St. Petersburg, Price has the terrorist's family brought in to extort the information about an attack. If players choose to participate in the interrogation, they hold a gun up to his wife and child.
At first, no bullets are in the pistol. However, Garrick loads up the gun in front of him to prove they are serious. Ultimately, shooting the innocents will lead to a game over, but even the threat of harming non-combatants is inhumane.
2 Embassy Assault
During the beginning of Al-Qatala's assault on the US Embassy in Urzikstan, the Butcher tries to break through the bulletproof glass by threatening hostages.
Price holds his ground, and the Butcher makes good on his promise. One woman inside the embassy begs for help as they execute her husband, and the second victim is a small child. He runs off past smoke and the terrorist fires a shot in the same direction. The bullet isn't shown connecting, but it is heavily implied Price and Garrick just sacrificed a young boy's life to prevent the terrorists from entering the Embassy.
1 Crying Child
"The Wolf's Den" starts with the protagonists searching for the head of Al-Qatala in several houses. Some of the people inside are non-combatants, so the player must be weary of where they shoot.
One woman pulls a gun out, prompting most to put a bullet in her. Afterward, a child on a bed crawls over to the dead woman and starts crying inconsolably. One can say she had it coming all day, but wouldn't anybody react with violence if someone trespassed in their house where their family is located? Maybe she was a faithful member of Al-Qatala, or maybe she feigned sympathy for their cause because they forced their way into her town and she felt joining was the only way to survive.