Downloading Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Was An Absolute Nightmare

It’s easy to feel nostalgic for the time when playing a new release meant cracking open a plastic box and slotting a cartridge into your console. It’s even easier when you’ve been watching the “download” bar crawl upwards for three hours. By hour four, you’re pulling your hair out.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is fun as hell, but it took me well over four hours before I could find that out. The process for getting the dang thing to run was one small misery after another, a perfect illustration of how jagged and frustrating the install experience for highly anticipated AAA games can be.

The game, released October 25, requires 128 GB of storage on PC. (It functionally takes up 108 GB.) That’s twice the size of World of Warcraft. To carve out some legroom, I uninstalled Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (80 GB), Apex Legends (40 GB), and several indie games on Steam that I know I’m never going to finish. Then, the great Call of Duty download initiated. My computer, a gaming PC connected by a LAN cable to very expensive internet, reared and fought and emitted big, sad sighs. Throughout the three-hour game download, it refused to run any other game and could barely even render an entire sentence in Slack without pauses (i.e. “the CoD file is enormous”).

It should be no surprise to anyone that some newer games are bigger than some older games. A recent IGN article graphs out a 10 GB growth between Call of Duty games every year since 2013’s Ghosts. Before then, the games oscillated between 8 and 10 GB. But Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a third larger than Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. That’s significant. It’s got some new stuff, of course, like crossplay between PC, PS4, and Xbox One; some fresh game modes; and a single-player campaign, which Black Ops 4 did not have. But there’s also no Zombies or battle royale mode. Is it the ray tracing? The shaders?

A little over three hours after hitting the “Download” button on, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had installed—but it wasn’t quite over. There were the patches. HDR support and something about using NVIDIA Highlight in multiplayer matches. Some bug fixes, some big, new game modes. Downloading patches 1.03 and 1.04, over 7 GB in total, took another 30 minutes to an hour. Maybe if I were the kind of person who really cared about ray tracing, hour four of download hell would make Call of Duty worth the wait.

When all that was done, I excitedly hit “Play.” It was time to hop into some multiplayer and click heads. But wait—I had to update my drivers, the game informed me. NVIDIA did a whole blog post about this, explaining that:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare brings gamers multiple modes of play, upgraded graphics, enhanced technology, and on PC, support for ray-traced shadows, NVIDIA Ansel, and NVIDIA Highlights. Together with the PC’s fast framerates and higher-resolution effects and graphics, GeForce RTX gamers will get the Ultimate Modern Warfare experience on PC.”

Great, NVIDIA, thanks. But when, exactly? To update my drivers, I had to launch and log into Nvidia’s proprietary software and wait 10 minutes for the 575 MB download. Then, afterwards, had to update. Surely, now, it was Call of Duty time, right? The loading screen appeared, and moody music resonated.

Nope. I was prompted to make an Activision account (Why!) and log into Activision’s account system. Then, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had a big old shaders update for me. It felt uniquely rude to hide this huge update in-game, right after I thought the bulk of the update onslaught was over. That install paused, jerked, and crashed about 15 minutes in. I had to close out and restart the game. (Apparently that’s a known bug.) Several times over, Call of Duty  would pause and wait for a shaders update, once again crashing my computer.

In total, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare took about four and a half hours to install in close-to-ideal PC gaming conditions. Somewhere within this comedy of download errors and update bugs, I did learn a lesson: I need more RAM if I’m gonna game in 2019.


    My Experience on Xbox one was the Day 1 60 GB patch.
    Then the 12 GB download to get spec ops
    Then another 3 gb patch today

    Modern gaming yall.

    If there are day 1 patches, I don’t understand why they don’t pre-patch the game.

    Physical releases, I get. But digital? They’re essentially asking you to download a broken game, then download the fixes.

      This has been written about many times on the internet before. The short answer:
      1) Console certification of the main game is expensive and takes time. Lots of time.
      2) Certification of patches is less expensive and may take less time.

      "Excellent," you say, "The main game has passed cert and the day 1 patch has passed cert, so I can release them at the same time and in the same file."

      "Oh, but by doing that, you've just changed your main game release file," certification says. "You have to do certification all over again."

      "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" you cry.

    On PS4 the absurdity came in full force when on Friday night I installed, completed, ok great campaign time while the Day 1 patch trickles in..... nope - couldn't play campaign until day 1 patch finished!


    I got it on PS4 and found the process relatively painless (being on a 100 NBN plan may have helped there).

    But Jesus god it is a big install. If you look at the page on the PS Store, it says 60.65 Gb. But looking at it on my PS4 post-install, it's actually taking up 119Gb (that was before last night's patch, so I don't know if it has grown as a result of that). That is the biggest game I have on there, even bigger than Red Dead Redemption 2 which is about 109Gb.

    That sounds like a dream.... took me 4 days to download Spyro in steam.

    Yay for ADSL

    I found the latest update to break the game far more than it fixed it.

    I streamed it on Twitch, and had it crash every time I Alt+Tabbed or changed a single graphic setting, it is ridiculous. (Even to limit the frame rate results in a crash)

    It really is unacceptable for a modern AAA game.
    Especially when this did not happen before the latest patch.

    128+gig on my good old outer suburbs of Sydney 320kbs... I wish we had internet capable of downloading that in three hours, much less three days.

    90GB download for me on PS4. I played it the next day.

    My game says I need to install the Spec Ops dlc to play coop. Problem is I’ve already downloaded and installed both of them. Won’t let me do it again.

    Already deleted and reinstalled once trying to fix this.

    Every time I start the game it makes me download a 2 mb file.... no idea why but I assume its some sort of piracy protection or something. What pisses me off is that the spec ops pack 1 has made me download it 3 times... it randomly desided to delete itself... so thats a 12 gig file i've had to download 3 times so far....

    Edit for clarity im on a ps4

    Last edited 29/10/19 4:13 pm

    I had to download my day 1 patch and 1.04 and 1.05 all with mobile data... $10 per gb.. you do the math. Day one patch was 56gb

    Its the size of the SSD I have Windows installed on.

    But wait—I had to update my drivers, the game informed me.

    No you actually didn't, the game recommends to update the drivers but it isn't mandatory. I've been playing just fine on the 7 month old 419.67 NVIDIA drivers.

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