For the Call of Duty franchise, Modern Warfare is a stark return to the basics. The break-neck pace from past games been replaced with measured, tactical gunfights where positioning matters more than your ability to dash, slide or jump across a map. Loadouts no longer include tactical shields or futuristic camouflage; there are flash bangs and smoke grenades - and that's about it.
To understand how the meta has changed, The Post spoke with two Call of Duty world champions; James "Clayster" Eubanks - who's currently playing for the Dallas Empire in the newly minted Call of Duty League with two world titles to his name - and Tyler "TeePee" Polchow, a coach with Optic Gaming Los Angeles who won his professional title back in 2014.
"It's a lot slower than, I would even say, the past five or six titles," Eubanks, 27, told The Post. "There's a lot more looking down your sights . . . and a lot less of just sprinting around the map."
Here's their advice on how to stay alive and thrive in the world of Modern Warfare.
Use mounting to your advantage - but don't depend on it.
With the game's measured pace, both Eubanks and Polchow told The Post power positions are key to winning a match. These locations are often vantage points where players control a part of the map by raining down fire on the opposing team.
Modern Warfare allows players to mount or lean on walls and embankments, encouraging players to settle down in one spot for one or two kills. Mounting counteracts the recoil in your gun, letting you aim down sights with precision but don't get comfortable, Eubanks said. Mounting on a wall or around a corner will leave you exposed to enemies outside your line of sight for an easy kill.
Polchow, 27, said he has some concerns the new mechanic is "a little bit overpowered," encouraging players to camp a bit too much around the map. His recommendation: as soon as you settle down, prepare to move to another location.
"It's a good way to start your kill streak but not to keep it going," Polchow added.
Go ahead and pick the weapons professionals use.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Don't be afraid to copy the loadouts professionals use in Call of Duty, Eubanks said, there's a reason they pick the guns they do.
"We play this, minimum, eight hours a day and we understand what gun is going to kill you the fastest," he told The Post.
The M4 seems to be the best assault rifle in the game right now, Eubanks said, but he's still sorting through his favorite attachments. Polchow has been using the MP5 but he said he also recommends the MP7 for those who favor the SMG class.
As for shotguns, Call of Duty fans have been up in arms about the power of the 725 shotgun (it has already been nerfed). Polchow agrees: the 725 could use some work.
"I don't want to really promote people using that one," Polchow said with a laugh.
Speaking of what the pros use, there are a few settings you may want to configure. Polchow said it'd be best to turn off film grain and motion blur. Both pros said the options just blur your line of sight; the last thing a player wants in a competitive tournament.
Modern Warfare has one new setting, "aim response curve type," which changes the way the game registers movement from the right joystick (the one you use to aim). There are three options: standard, linear and dynamic. Standard, the default, is what players have come to expect from the franchise. Linear eliminates any responsive behavior you might expect between small nudges and full tilts on a joystick. Dynamic does the complete opposite, bumping up the sensitivity. Eubanks recommends selecting the dynamic curve to help you pivot fast when you're taking fire - but, it's admittedly a personal preference.
"It allows you to 180 really quickly if you slam your stick to the left or to the right," Eubanks said. "Dynamic has really been helping me out in this game and that's probably one the niche things that people don't really know about."
'Dead Silence' is a finite resource. The trick is knowing when to use it.
The game changes "dramatically" the more you level up, Polchow told The Post. You'll get access to a variety of perks and field orders you can command on the ground to get a competitive edge.
"Dead Silence" - the ability to mute your footsteps in game - is now a field upgrade instead of a perk, which means you can only take advantage of the ability for a short amount of time. Eubanks says it's "a welcome change" because it forces players to make another "tactical" decision to best their opponents. The strategy behind winning in competitive play can be half the fun.
"It's not just flexing your guns but flexing your brain," he added.
Eubanks and Polchow both recommend the "EOD" and "Battle hardened" perks for public matches. Players are lofting rogue grenades over buildings to snag a lucky kill, and this will help guard against that damage. It could change as people play more but the current meta adds a degree of unpredictability.
Want to get better? Pick a fight.
Call of Duty is a game decided on split-second altercations, whether you're turning a corner or sprinting to an objective. Polchow's recommendation: don't play it safe. Lean in to altercations and get the reps so you can sharpen your response time.
The latest installment gets "back to the roots" of the series, Eubanks said. Call of Duty has come "full circle" since he first started playing Call of Duty 4 competitively back in 2008. Polchow said long-time fans, who played the game a decade ago, will find a bit of nostalgia in the latest Modern Warfare.
"You can't just fly in and expect to do some of the things you've done in recent [games]," Polchow said.