Last week, we were welcomed into Infinity Ward’s Los Angeles studio for a special first look at their upcoming sequel to 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which served as a reboot for one of gaming’s most prolific military shooter franchises.
The press event was focused on giving us a first look at the game’s explosive single-player campaign, which takes place three years into the virtuous crusade of Task Force 141, an elite group of counter-terrorism operatives pooled together by Captain Price.
In a briefing that lasted almost two hours, we saw huge chunks of gameplay from a number of the campaign’s missions, learned about a heap of new features that the team are proud to bring to Call of Duty, plus we got to hear all about the game’s multiplayer component before going hands-on with it for a couple of hours.
Here’s what we now know about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
When’s It Out?
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is releasing on October 28, 2022.
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As I alluded to in the opening, Task Force 141 is back. After the credits of Modern Warfare suggested that Price was in the process of pulling his team together, Modern Warfare II takes place three years after their establishment and they’re all here.
There’s Price, of course, running point while Gaz, Soap, and Ghost all return, which is no doubt going to be exciting for people who loved the original. And although her role in the first game was that of a mentor to Price, Kate Laswell apparently goes boots on the ground in this sequel.
New additions to the team include Alejandro Vargas and Graves, with the latter assisting and aiding through his own militia, Shadow Company — another reworked idea from past iterations.
It’s A Revenge Plot
The rough plot line suggests that Modern Warfare II will be a globe-trotting tale, as it often is, where the catalyst for the drama is the killing of a foreign general by a United States airstrike.
When retaliation is all but assured, Task Force 141 and Mexican special forces join together to stop the revenge plot in its tracks.
We’ve Been Everywhere, Man
If the military had a frequent flyer program, protagonists from the Call of Duty series would see their cups runneth over with points. Things are no different here as Modern Warfare II promises to be a globe-trotting affair that sees Price and his team battling and being dragged from pillar to post.
Expect passport stamps from Mexico, the Middle East, and Europe by the close of proceedings in Modern Warfare II.
There’s no shortage of gimmick levels in the Modern Warfare II campaign, to the point where it feels like every level centers around a particular gameplay notion or set-piece.
‘Nightwar’ is a level where you, as Soap, begin by securing the crash site of your infil chopper and the first minutes are built around the use of night-vision goggles. ‘Wet Work’ sees the team splashdown in Amsterdam for an aqua-stealth mission, which feels like the perfect excuse to show off the new water effects the team has worked tirelessly on, but more on that later.
While ‘Tower’ is pitched as the team’s repel mission for this game and shows off the great toe-up or toe-down approach to repelling and gives the player more freedom than ever when hanging off of the side of a building. There’s also a level said to be a sequel of sorts to ‘The Embassy’, the escort level from Modern Warfare, except instead of a defenseless secretary you’ll be guiding Ghost throughout.
There’s also a level called Convoy—we expect these mission names to be tentative and could very well change before launch rolls around.
The cool thing about Convoy is that it’s a big vehicular sandbox that introduces player driving. From your vehicle, you’re free to lean out of your car—as if popping out of cover—to take shots at your pursuers, although if your car’s health deteriorates you’re able to car surf and literally leap from one ride to another.
It’s probably the most outlandish, over-the-top thing I saw during the entire Modern Warfare II brief. I feel like it’s shades of Vin Diesel’s sorely under-appreciated Wheelman, which seems to have walked so that this game could run.
Wet, Wet, Wet
One thing that Infinity Ward was proud of during the game’s briefing was the focus paid to rendering more realistic water and having it respond appropriately to the player’s input
It affects a gun’s ballistics with it taking four shots travelling through the water to down somebody which, alongside the optical man-hole, feels like a fair trade-off to playing it safe in the dark at the bottom of a river, or lake.
They’ve “redefined” water for Modern Warfare II with their improvements translating to all of the game’s modes, including multiplayer. Things like caustics, the transmission of light, and refraction all occur client-side, while things like waves occur server-side to maintain an even playing field in multiplayer.
Gunsmith once again returns to Call of Duty and provides a generous amount of player control and agency through real-world military technology. If you’re fond of a particular gun, you unlock platforms that unlock further customisation options for a particular family of guns.
And although we didn’t get to sample it during our hands-on, Gunsmith introduces weapon tuning. Just like you’re able to fine-tune your favourite cars in Forza Motorsport, you’re able to gain edges in parts of a gun’s performance while sacrificing others.
It looks like a great little feature for people who get right into things like weapon balancing, attachments, and so forth.
A.I. is another area where the team appears to have made great advancements. With the aims of “commanding player respect” and bringing the game to life, Infinity Ward’s new bots are pretty impressive.
During a brief montage, the A.I. demonstrated self-preservation behaviours and awareness of its surroundings. When compared to a clip from Modern Warfare, a game only a few years old where your computer-controlled teammates would constantly collide with the environment, there’s a clear gulf in smarts.
They all have a readable body language now which includes checking corners and clearing rooms.
While the demonstration was certainly impressive, if it works as promised it gives hope that the rumoured bot-populated lobbies for lower-skilled players might actually present a realistic facsimile of a typical multiplayer experience.
Warzone On The Go
Another cool little tidbit that emerged from the briefing was the fact that Call of Duty: Warzone would be coming to mobile devices.
It wasn’t clarified whether it’s set to arrive on all platforms, but we expect that’ll all be cleared up, along with expected features, in the short term.