“Modern Warfare II” closely follows the formula set by its predecessor, 2019’s “Modern Warfare,” but added new mechanics, weapon customization options, game modes, and finishes. The changes are enough to keep players who buy the new installment every year coming back for more.
The last two years have seen Call of Duty return to the Cold War and WWII era with two different developers – Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games. But “Modern Warfare II” can feel like a different series at times, as Infinity Ward’s game design and modern combat standards imbue the classic first-person shooter (FPS) with touches like deep character customization. firearms, water interactions, and more realistic recoil. patterns. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For me, this is a welcome change with a certain nostalgia factor, as the original “Modern Warfare II” was the first Call of Duty I ever owned.
Players have myriad choices in how they want to play “Modern Warfare II”. You can select the classic Team Deathmatch, Domination, Hardpoint, or Free for All modes that we all know and love. You’ll be rewarded for dashing around the map, dropping a few enemies, dying, and respawning to start all over again. Or you can opt for larger scale maps on Invasion or Ground War, leaving plenty of room for snipers and camping. You can still run and shoot in these modes, of course, but it’s pretty frustrating when you’re running to a point for five minutes only to get mowed down by entrenched enemies.
It’s also worth mentioning that a third-person mode has been added to Call of Duty. It gives you better vision, and the new perspective looks great, but the gunplay feels awkward. Players have a visual advantage around certain corners and you can only aim with higher magnification optics. I think most gamers, like me, will go for the classic FPS feel.
“Modern Warfare II” is built on a new engine through a collaboration between Treyarch, Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward, and the level of realism brings the screen to life. The water backdrop glistens, the vehicles have levels of destructibility, and the movement feels more true to life (no one is really sliding across the map, at least for now).
The interaction with the environment is also much improved in the “Modern Warfare II” multiplayer mode compared to the old Call of Duty games. Swimming in water is smoother (no pun intended) than in previous games. Weapons, lethal and tactical grenades all have unique effects when exposed to water, creating steam or electrifying the water around you.
But for the sake of realism, some moves are quite frustrating. Now, to cover the walls, you need to press the button or key twice – once to cling to the ledge and twice to jump over it. As a result, it takes longer and the likelihood of getting shot increases. The upside is that you can fire your handgun while dangling, which leads to some interesting 1000 IQ games.
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Also, slide undo, where you refresh your tactical sprint by entering a fast slide and standing up, is gone. Some creators, however, have found ways around this. As it is now, you can refresh your melee tactical sprint. The lack of slide undo makes the game feel more realistic and reduces a mechanic that required you to repeatedly press a button or joystick and exhaust your controller or keyboard.
It also looks like Infinity Ward took player feedback on the beta to heart. Red dots that indicate enemy positions are more frequent and enemies are easier to spot (in some cases too easy – you can see people’s nameplates through the wall). The footstep audio is definitely louder, but not as overdone as it sometimes felt in “Warzone.” In larger game modes like Ground War, it’s a little harder to hear the roar of jets, mortar explosions, and tank rolls. Perks are still the same as in the beta and are awarded based on points.
The new vehicles make it easier to fill gaps in game modes like Ground War, but thankfully they don’t feel as overpowered as they did in 2019’s “Modern Warfare.” Shooting these vehicles can cause visible damage like tires punctures and broken doors, while having an impact on handling. Since the new game engine will also be used in “Warzone 2”, hopefully crushes won’t happen as much when the battle royale is released on November 16th.
The addition of troop transport helicopters also allows you to spawn, parachute down, and take over enemy positions. I feel like a special operator in real life when I kill people from above by standing in the middle of the helicopter and raining fire from the sky. But beware: deploying your parachute is clumsy and there is a delay.
One of the most notable changes is to the Gunsmith, where you can add attachments and tune your weapons. As you upgrade base weapon rigs like the M4, you unlock different receivers that change how the weapon works. You will eventually be able to use receivers that turn the M4 into a DMR, submachine gun, or classic three-shot M16. This system speeds up progression slightly: when you upgrade a base weapon, the attachments you unlock work with other receivers.
Unfortunately, the user interface of “Modern Warfare II” is not at all intuitive. It took me a few minutes of clicking to figure out how to switch between receivers and find some attachments. The scroll wheel can be used to view subsequent weapon tiers, but you cannot scroll back. Additionally, the Daily Challenges popup freezes the team screen in the pre-match lobby. It was only by accident that I discovered this and closed the challenges window. I don’t know how anyone new to Call of Duty will figure it out without frustration.
“Modern Warfare II” is back to five weapon attachments, which is refreshing after having to deal with 10 in “Vanguard.” But the complexity is still there: once you reach level 20 and unlock all attachments, you have the choice to adjust each attachment. There’s a slider on the x and y coordinates that lets you adjust stats like aiming speed, accuracy, and damage range. But increasing the slider on one end means the other weapon’s stat is decreased.
The multiplayer maps take place in Al Mazrah, a city in the Middle East, and Las Almas, a region in Mexico – both featured in the campaign – and a handful of locations around the rest of the world. Most maps are balanced and have some verticality. One of the most popular, Farm 18, features an enclosed interior surrounded by bombed-out buildings and containers. There are multiple ways to take certain points of interest, making it feel like a fair battle.
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But other cards puzzled me. The Santa Seña border crossing is a single lane filled with stopped RVs, cars, trucks, and tractor-trailers. Your life depends on where you spawn. I found myself unwittingly spawned behind enemy lines again and again on this map. And trying to call enemies is nearly impossible here, unless you want to look into a vehicle’s make and model.
“Modern Warfare II” retains the same feel of its predecessor while adding a myriad of new features. Most enhance gameplay, but some – like weapon tuning and the jump mechanic – don’t feel strictly necessary.
With a new engine and mechanics, “Modern Warfare II” multiplayer is a taste of what’s to come, not just for this game but for the entire series. We’ll see what happens when the heavily promoted DMZ game mode, which would look like Call of Duty meets “Escape from Tarkov” and “Warzone 2.0” arrives on November 16.