by Sean Davies:
It took me two games of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare II Open Beta to realise I’ll be picking up the full game on October 28th when it launches. Every year I tell myself “I won’t get Call of Duty this year, I don’t need it”. That resistance crumbled when I felt the game in action. That’s because this is undeniably a “Modern Warfare” game. It’s gritty, tight, light on gimmicks and is all about the boots on the ground without jetpacks or wall running.
Talking of boots, my first take away from the CoD MW II beta was how much improved the sound was over previous instalments. That “Improved 3D directionality” that Infinity Ward have been working on really makes a difference here. You can hear people moving around you and what speed they’re going at. This makes for some excellent moments of panic as you hear someone sprinting, quickly realise there’s no blue arrows on the mini-map heading your way and prepare to fight. There’s still the occasional artefact here and there and when there’s a big fire fire happening off somewhere in the distance, it can feel like its coming from everywhere. On the whole though, the audio on display in Modern Warfare II is a massive step up (pun intended).
Everywhere else in the Modern Warfare II Beta was the high production values and competence we’ve come to expect from Call of Duty games. The gunplay is as tight and fraught as we look for in this series. Hits have been registering as expected and I couldn’t bemoan any cheap deaths because of lag or network antics.
As is a staple for the Multiplayer, weapon upgrades follow the tried and tested “the more you use them, the better they get” system. By the time I’d finished with my time in the Beta, my assault rifle that started as weak as American Tea had completely transformed into a killing machine thanks to additions that more suited my play style. You could start to see some of the elements of this customisation coming to the fore during the Beta with some players focusing on the speed to look down sights, making them lethal in the mid-range. Some of the potential builds here will make for some really interesting competition at the highest level.
There’s a few new additions that make even low level play (yes, that’s where I’m at) fun. The new decoy technical grenades are a game changer. These explode into an inflatable foe in front of your enemies after being deployed. These can work in your favour in a lot of different instances. In some clutch moments, an enemy has taken aim at a decoy instead of myself (helpful when they’ve got a UAV up) allowing me to get a second to line up my sights. In other instances, enemies have shot at my decoys and revealed their location on my map. I never imagined that inflatable decoys would make such a difference to play, but they’ve become invaluable.
Another cracking new addition is the drill charge. These attach to a surface, drill through it and explode on the other end. Say, for example, you’ve been having an issue getting rid of a sniper that’s nested themselves on a floor above. Ping a drill charge to the ceiling below them and say goodbye. This offers a new tactical solution to choke points that could otherwise cost you a few deaths as you try to feel it out.
I need to mention the ability to hand from ledges too. Yet another tactical move you can pull off is to hang from a roof with your gun drawn. While I only ever managed to make use of this once, It was pretty spectacular to watch the match ending Kill Cam as I hang off of a ledge and pop a guy in the melon who thought he was safe hugging the ground.
One other new element of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare II Beta I wanted to highlight was the inclusion of the new Third Person playlists. Playing CoD in Third Person was… wild. I suddenly felt like it was the early 2000’s and I was playing SOCOM again, only everything looked shiny and modern. In this mode you follow your chosen character (yeah, the operator skins are back, including Soap and Ghost) via an over the shoulder camera. Switch to looking down sights and you swoop in just as quickly as you do normally, like in PUBG. This is a unique view that plays just as well as the first person mode. But here’s the thing… it just feels weird. I’m sure with time, I’ll come to enjoy it. That’ll take time. While it’s a nice addition, I can’t ever see this becoming a preferred way to play Call of Duty Modern Warfare II however.
My one hope for a change to Call of Duty Modern Warfare II based on what’s in the beta is the spawn locations. In a few Team Deathmatches, I spawned alongside a few others in the same location only to get mowed down by a few enemy players. I don’t think there was spawn camping going on, but I do think the spawn locations could do a better job of dropping you further away from awaiting enemies.
For the most part, the available maps in the Call of Duty Modern Warfare II Beta follow the traditional three lane routes. Mercado Las Almas offers a little bit of something for everyone with a long straight lane down the centre for sniping, a tunnel and plenty of choke points for the rushers and lots of cover for those in-between. My least favourite map during the beta was Valderas Museum which, despite my dislike, is undoubtedly well designed. I just struggled to string together my kills here as it’s quite open in places.
And that’s the tell tale sign of a great shooter. Even during the few times where I was getting my ass absolutely handed to me, I was still having a good time with the Call of Duty Modern Warfare II Beta. It took two games with this Beta to convince me that I wanted to buy it come October 28th. By the end of my time with the Beta, I was starting to think that CoD MW II was showing the early signs of being one of the best in the series to date.
That TTK? Sweet as a nut.
by Miles Thompson:
Modern Warfare 2019 brought me back to the Call of Duty series after quite a hiatus. It’s emphasis on a grittier story and more fast-paced multiplayer action hooked me from the off and I ended up spending over 150 hours in it. Needless to say, Modern Warfare 2 was looking superbly appealing to me as a result.
The beta has lived up to expectation and potentially even a little bit more. The combat speed feels elevated even compared to previous Infinity Ward entries, to the point it felt like I was gliding supersonically across these battlefields. Opponents frequently flew around corners and dashed through otherwise designated kill zones, making it feel frantic and often chaotic.
That simply isn’t going to suit everyone. More twitchy players are going to have a blast messing with these crazy quick mechanics, while more stationary or passive players are going to struggle to get into the groove of this iteration. I imagine MW2 will be accused of having a camping problem all the same (due to the very quick time-to-kill once again) but it feels like Infinity Ward have sped up movement to compensate against this.
I played a host of matches across every mode and had a great time, even when getting kicked to the curb by better players. The standout for me was the 3rd person mode, returning from the original Modern Warfare 2, which is predominantly how I enjoyed that title’s multiplayer.
It’s got some jankiness to it – some animations just aren’t meant to be viewed during gameplay and the mode didn’t run quite as smoothly as the rest of the package, but it was damn fun to be back with this playlist, offering more options for would-be players to jump in.
Gunsmith looks like it’s also going to continue its successful introduction with a few improvements and the beta certainly provided a taste of what’s to come. There’s a limit on how many changes you can make to each weapon but the level of customisation is huge. Trade-offs feel like more of a factor this time around, as I visibly noticed the difference when adding all recoil-reduction attachments resulting in a quite dramatically reduced aim-down-sight speed. It never felt in 2019’s version like you were sacrificing much for such powerful gains, but I think this has been rectified from what we’ve been given to try.
I’ll also ditto Sean’s comments around spawn points – they’re a mess on more dynamic game modes like Domination, a problem that’s been around seemingly since this series’ inception. I found myself both able to spawn kill and be mercilessly gunned down on spawn multiple times and it’s just as frustrating as it’s always been. The pace is so quick it doesn’t burden the game too heavily, but it’s definitely something Infinity Ward need to address and improve on.
I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the couple of maps they showed off. They were perfectly well suited, but I hope this isn’t their best, as none felt particularly stand out. Having said that, the map design is once again layered, with verticality, lines of sight and multiple areas of engagement heavily emphasised. You can be killed from almost anywhere at any time, and I’ve always had a penchant for that risk-reward based approach, even when it goes against you and you’re on the receiving end of a hiding.
Finally, the mix of weapons, slight alterations to perk loadouts (you earn and activate them within matches instead of from the start) and other bits that have been tinkered with help make this entry feel fresh. The gunplay is punchy, tight as a nut and feels incredibly satisfying. I was already pretty sold on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 anyway, but my excitement has ratcheted up a notch even despite the minor flaws that still haven’t really been addressed from its predecessor.
All in all, the beta has been a success. It’s not quite surprised like Modern Warfare’s 2vs2 surprise mode, but what’s here has done an excellent job showing off Infinity Ward’s prowess for tight gunplay, solid maps and lightning quick action. The 28th of October release date can’t come soon enough.
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