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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Preview - Everything We Know So Far
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 03:00am 09/06/22 | Comments
AusGamers was invited to sit through a lengthy and in-depth presentation for some of the key features for 2022's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. Read on for everything we learned...

It’s Call of Duty season again, and as fans look to move on from the apparent disappointment of Vanguard (we didn't mind it), which apparently failed to not only meet internal expectations, but to also fire up the overall CoD base, all eyes are on series creators Infinity Ward whose turn it is to serve us our big explosions and annual multiplayer for 2022. The studio has opted to stay the course and deliver a sequel to its reimagined Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, which takes cues, beats and staples from the 2009 original and updates its effort to align with contemporary expectations, while also advancing its equally updated narrative. The end result, as we were privy to in an early sneak-peek at the game, is another technologically-advanced iteration that uses updated modern tools to tell a quasi-realistic tale filled with 'that is classic CoD' bombastic moments.

In other words, this ain’t your granddaddy’s Call of Duty, kid. (Here's the official reveal trailer.)

What’s New, Pussycat?

As with Infinity Ward’s reimagining of the game that changed the whole landscape, Call of Duty (4): Modern Warfare, the key mantra here has been to craft an experience that is both fictional and yet feels like it could have been inspired by the real-life military events that shape our modern world. “Entertainment adventure” was a descriptor used in our presentation which managed to cover off a handful of campaign missions while also touching on some big things coming to multiplayer.

Pat Kelly, Infinity Ward studio head says the developer was (and is) cognisant of the war in Ukraine and so the approach here is one of sensitivity. With that said, Pat emphasised that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is being developed as a story with both “heroic and human” elements that work to make the game feel alive while also evoking deep emotions in the player. But IW is under no illusion that a Call of Duty experience is first and foremost about people having fun. He also mentions that with the Modern Warfare reboot, the studio was trying to be provocative, but here that has shifted more to a theme of heroism, but not in a superhero sense, rather to highlight that every story told throughout, is still very real and grounded.

Proclaiming this is the “widest variety of gameplay” with multiple scenarios setting components of play up, Pat doubled down on the life and buzzing nature of the game-world IW has gone to pains to craft. Adding that the world this time will be more energetic than ever before.

There’s also a lot of new tech driving this experience, and it was reiterated throughout that this tech jump was to be the baseline engine and set of tools driving all Call of Duty experiences moving forward. And given each venture is now a multi-studio undertaking, this approach makes perfect sense.

Internally they’re calling this COD 2.0, which we'll explore more in another feature.

"Things like suggesting lower-skilled players who want the same experience as a highly skilled player, even in the same game or mode, without being griefed right away, should (and could) be able to do that...”

What makes this sentiment poignant here, though, is that Infinity Ward was also looking at how it could best bridge the worlds of campaign and multiplayer more closely together. Pat suggested that over the past number of years the modes have become almost uniformly disparate in entity. He bandied about some pretty lofty, broad stroke words when speaking of this apparent issue, with nothing concrete laid bare. But with sentiments like suggesting lower-skilled players who want the same experience as a highly skilled player, even in the same game or mode, without being griefed right away, should (and could) be able to do that, it become a very real goal the studio has been working towards.

And with it I got the sense that maybe we might have a shared hub of sorts, connecting the game modes together in a more contextual way, rather than just in different menus. Think how games like GTA Online and Red Dead Online do it, but obviously in a Call of Duty way. I need to shout from the rooftops that NOTHING was made clear or even announced as being like that, but those broad stroke words took me to that line of thinking.

Another key takeaway for mine, was that this idea of a homogeneous and seamlessly connected experience for everyone was caveated with a line from a presentation slide about some of the design dogma for Modern Warfare II, specifically that “evolution and innovation [are] simpler. Not more complex”, and Pat went on to point out that the studio has worked really hard to make it easier for newcomers to jump into the game, without it taking away from the more hardcore experience for tested players. What this will actually mean in the long run, we’ll just have to wait and see. But if you’re at all concerned that it means the experience might be dumbed down, at least know that in MWII you can not only slide, you can also dive into prone (even out of windows!) and you can hang from ledges. That’s three sets of environmental traversal that have almost always traditionally been applied as just the one, per outing, as chosen by whichever lead studio. So… there’s that [layer of complexity].

(Oh, and Modern Wrafare II is also coming to Steam.)

Wet Work

Ghost is back.

Modern Warfare II’s campaign takes place some three years after the events of Modern Warfare. Bravo Team has been turned into Task Force 141 (which is where the tag-line "The Ultimate Weapon is Team" comes into view) and is still being led by Captain Price. And alongside the return of Lt. Simon “Ghost” Riley, players will also be reacquainted with Sgt. John “Soap” McTavish.

That’s right, Infinity Ward is putting (some of) the band back together.

Of course this is a reimagining, so how these guys fit into the narrative and what their motivations and personalities are like now has shifted quite a lot since the original game, but it’s still nice to see a familiar face, or two. Newer faces will also flesh out the full narrative experience, but one in particular, Col. Alejandro Vargas, was singled out by the game’s writers, as he’s loosely based on a Mexican Special Forces soldier they spent time with in consultancy and who clearly made a lasting impression. This is a character that players who enjoy the series’ campaign might want to keep an eye out for.

"Strange bedfellows, the enemy of my enemy, keeping your friends close… all the idioms about uneasy alliances are applicable here...”

The biggest theme carrying the overarching narrative, from what I could gather from the presentation (given there was so much emphasis on it) was alliances and lines both drawn and blurred, in equal measure. "Strange bedfellows", "the enemy of my enemy", "keeping your friends close…" all the idioms about uneasy alliances are applicable here, and it is clearly going to lead the players into some murky spaces as far as ethical and moral and 'for the greater good' stances go. But remember that the original MWII featured the infamous “No Russian” moment, and while there’s likely no chance we’ll be seeing that repeated here, it doesn’t mean we won't come across something anything less impactful.

And so in celebration of the above, We were shown portions of a few missions, kicking off with Nightwar which took place at night and featured a crashed chopper our TF141 operatives had to secure. The majority of the mission playthrough utilised night vision and also featured a lot of breach and clear building-to-building searches. This was a classic CoD-style mission and also stood as the best representation of how this is a direct sequel to the studio’s last effort.

Wet Work was an ultra-cool mission that showcased a lot of the new tech mentioned earlier. Especially where water is concerned. And featured Captain Price and Vargas stealthily taking out enemies in a marina. The immediate area was sandboxy and allowed the player to use the water freely as cover and a place to spring attacks from. It was also absolutely stunning. We also learnt that water in particular is going to play a very big part in many facets of this whole MWII experience, and it shows with the amount of work done with it here. Things like the “Snell effect” which reflects the bottom of the body of water you're in on the surface, limiting what you can see above the surface from below, depending on the environment.

Just lots of cool shit like that.

Tower was a repel sequence that featured different options for the player in stealth as they repelled the side of a building. “Toes up or toes down” was a gameplay addition here that sees the player making tactical choices on how to approach targets floor-to-floor, and was described as almost being like a mini-game. Think Rainbow Six here, in terms of the style of play optioned to the player, and in how the mission and level(s) were designed.

And finally (that we can talk about) Convoy is a driving mission with a crazy twist, which is that any vehicle on the screen is one you can commandeer and drive (it reminded me a bit of car-jacking in Just Cause). Each vehicle only has so much life, though (you’re being shot at a lot in this sequence), and so the aim is to keep moving and utilising both the tops and outsides of vehicles as you navigate a busy road. From inside vehicles you can use the doors as cover which, and this is super cool, will also come into play throughout the experience -- even in multiplayer.

So Yeah, Multiplayer…

We didn’t get to play, unfortunately, and there will be hands-on reports elsewhere, so apologies upfront that we can’t give you a full report on this, but here’s a very simple breakdown of what we know based on our presentation for multiplayer and Warzone.
  • The whole multiplayer experience was built around three established player archetypes:
    • Rusher (run and gun).
    • Sentinel (players who protect their own. Not specifically campers, but campers fall into this type).
    • Stalker (objective-driven players who observe the battlefield from a different cerebral plateau. The thinking person’s style, though this one comes with an ego and high expectation in team-based environments).
    What makes this important is that through this understanding of key behaviours, IW has forged an experience that suits everyone utilising this information, which should help balance the battlefield more.

  • Swimming, which was mentioned a bit earlier, plays a very big role in multiplayer, and adds new aspects to stealth and cover, as well as equipment (so land items have different uses in water environments, giving them a kind of dual use), movement and water vehicles. On the surface (heh), the addition of swimming to depth (heh) that IW teased, suggests this is a massive game-changer.

  • Slide AND dive in the one game, finally. Also lots of room for John Woo moments with the dive mechanic; leaping through windows or off different platforms and heights. There’s also a ledge hang which is also applicable to moving platforms and vehicles. So traversal is now a bigger focus, and the game maps reflect these additions.

  • Vehicles have come up a bit throughout this preview, and in multiplayer they’re more dynamic and important than ever. First of all, they’re destructible, so anyone using a vehicle as a higher form of cover is still vulnerable, and this comes down to specifics; tires can be shot, slowing vehicles down and making drivers lose control. Doors, bonnets and boots (and other parts of the vehicle) can be shot off in spectacular, revealing fashion also. And as with the Convoy mission mentioned above, cars only have so much life creating a risk-reward system for players to contemplate, especially because there's quite a bit of new gear available to players to specifically combat vehicles. That said, vehicles can also be repaired, though any completely destroyed will now stay in the world as a physical ‘husk’.

  • A new tactical camera allows you to place a camera in the world and jump into it at any time. If you have a whole team who has deployed cameras, you can jump into all of them and hop around, allowing for some devilishly cool tactics when ambushing, or setting up an emergent stronghold. You can even mark enemy players you spot through your camera or, conversely, a deployed camera will alert its owner if an enemy walks into its vision cone, making it a sort of sentry. It’ll be interesting to see how players use these tools as a team.

  • The Drill Charge is a new lethal device that will bore through surfaces and shoot a grenade through the hole once it’s drilled through. These can also be used on vehicles and if it goes off while everyone is in the vehicle they’ll all die, but the vehicle stays intact and only sustains a little damage.

  • The DDOS is an EMP device that can be used to send out a pulse to interrupt equipment and vehicles.

  • The Inflatable Decoy, which might very well be my favourite equipment item, ever, is a kevlar dummy you can drop and deploy in numerous situations. It will inflate a decoy soldier, but is packed with explosive munitions, so it can be used as a proximity mine. It will also work on water, and can even be placed under vehicles or in other tight spots and when it inflates in these dynamic areas, the decoy will mould to that situation, making him look realistic and menacing to the enemy. I can see players having a lot of fun with this one.

  • IW also touched on map design, which they separated into two categories: Battle Maps which are large scale, and Core Maps which are the more refined, traditional CoD-style maps.

    With so many new vehicles, expanding the large scale repertoire of map design became a necessity, but with so much work and experience now through Warzone and Verdansk, the team feels they’ve got a serious handle on how to deliver competent entries of both.

Bring On October

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting most of the key studios over the years, and while this particular presentation for us was remote, Infinity Ward packed a huge amount of info into it, and I’m sure there’s stuff I’ve missed. But there’s plenty of time between now and October.

Revelations like the game coming back to Steam, the return of Gunsmith and other forgotten or deliberately omitted elements (will there be a Zombies or equivalent?) means there's yet more to discover, and coupling that notion with the pure amount of content outlined above shapes very nicely for this release (and the rest of our content-gathering and sharing year).

What I can say very confidently from what was shown and the way in which it was shared, is that Modern Warfare II is shaping up to be a serious return to form for the franchise. But more than the flash of its campaign and multiplayer, is the nuts and bolts screwing this thing together, and the future of the series moving forward. That COD 2.0 thing starts here (which we'll explore more soon), and it lends itself to a unified ideal of what Call of Duty is, and requires, with each release and iteration.

Be sure to stay tuned as we have more content around the game planned, and there’s still a bit of time between now and October 28.

Read more about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 2022 on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!

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