The opening weekend of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 beta has caused controversy

After last week’s info burst, the open beta for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 went live this weekend, allowing us to get intimate with all the new mechanics and systems for the follow-up to Infinity Ward’s 2019 reboot (and not having been confused with 2009’s Modern Warfare 2 of course). Things were also kept intimate when it comes to game modes, with a focus on 6v6 fans – as well as a cameo from the recurring third-party playlist – which helped underline how different it feels. Does it work? Well, opinions are divided, so here are two takes from two very different types of Call of Duty players.

Martin: So let’s sort this out first – I’m a filthy casual when it comes to CoD. I pick up each game at launch, scroll through the campaign (or as has been the case in recent years, I get bored after an hour or two and never pick it up again), and then spend a few dozen hours or so in the multiplayer, which pops in and out over the year. So I’m not exactly the one to go into the details. I’ll say this though – after blowing the series cold since Infinity Ward’s brilliant reboot in 2019, this has pretty much sucked me back in, and I was shocked at how different it feels from the first Modern Warfare. Or the second – the one that came out in 2019, that is. Anyway, it’s an amazingly slow take on the Call of Duty formula, and the tense pace really surprised me.

Wes: It definitely plays slower, and I think that’s because of Infinity Ward’s design. Everything from the slide-cancelling nerf to the blazing-fast time to kill forces you to play more carefully. The mini map isn’t much help at all, and having to wait four or eight minutes in a match to unlock certain perks that make you quieter adds a tactical element to what was a traditionally fast, run-and-gun 6v6 Call of Duty multiplayer. The footsteps are so loud!

Do I like it? Not sure if I’m feeling MW2’s multiplayer right now, but I suspect I’ll get used to it over time, and it’ll start to feel faster if players get the right counters and the ins and outs of the maps to work out. Speaking of the cards, the cards I’ve played in the beta are good. Launched 2019 Modern Warfare with some catastrophically bad multiplayer maps (I still have PTSD from Piccadilly). At least these new cards flow a lot better.

The open beta was exclusive to PlayStation for the first weekend – the floodgates will open next weekend, with PC and Xbox players joining the fray.

Martin: You definitely play a lot more Call of Duty than I do in the course of a year, so it’s interesting to hear your thoughts on this. It feels like quite a drastic change, for an outsider like me, to play this slower, more tactical game – it feels more like playing a game of Rainbow Six: Siege on points, because you have to be so careful and precise (the gadgets at your disposal also seem to reward more tactical play). Conversely though, playing the objective-based modes like Prisoner Rescue and Search and Destroy will feel like you’re playing a match of R6: Siege with everyone else burning their ass. It also highlights how solid the gunfight feels – I’m really impressed with how well it feels in the hand.

Wes: Infinity Ward is a master of shooting video games. The weapons really pop and the audio is fantastic. Some of the new animations are great too. Have you seen the switch to a gun animation? I love how you pull the gun while still having your primary on screen. And there are some tasty new versions too.

Martin: The animations are fantastic – I spent an hour or so last night with the recurring third person playlist where you can see them in all their glory. I think I’ve also impressed me this weekend, Infinity Ward’s general technical chops (and the dozens of support studios helping bring Call of Duty to life). When it comes to attention to detail or a straightforward triple-A spectacle, I think they’re here with Naughty Dog. This really feels like a big-budget blockbuster, and after a pretty quiet year on that front, it’s been nice to spend time with a game that delivers spectacle on that scale.

Wes: I really liked the third person playlist! Though it has some frustrating issues. When you aim for the crosshairs in third person, you switch to first person, which can be jarring. It’s like Infinity Ward pulled the camera back for this, but didn’t do anything else. It could be great!

One of the interesting debates I’ve seen online around MW2 is about the graphics and whether they’re even as good as MW1’s. One of the interesting things about MW2 is how people compare it to MW1 and not the Call of Duty games that were in between. MW1, for all its flaws, was a significant step forward for Call of Duty. It really helped the series move forward, not only from a technical point of view, but also from an impression standpoint. It was an incredible spectacle – one of the most beautiful games ever, I think.

MW2 has this problem because Infinity Ward made that leap three years ago, and MW2 isn’t another leap forward. Despite all the feel changes, MW2 will have a hard time impressing fans like MW1 did. MW1 was such a catalyst for change (and spawned Warzone). I wonder if any changes were made because Infinity Ward felt it should do something to stimulate the conversation, rather than the changes being the best ideas.

Maybe I’m too loud! I’m sure I’ll be playing MW2 for hundreds of hours…

Martin: I mean, after Black Ops and Vanguard, this feels like another big step forward – but only really where the series was back in 2019 with the first Modern Warfare reboot. It was always a little weird how it felt like an outlier and then the series went downhill again, although that obviously has a lot to do with internal politics and the weird way Call of Duty works with rotating teams.

Warzone 2.0 – which feels like the main event this time around – is still some way off, with its release in November.

This feels more like an effort to get Call of Duty on a stable footing going forward, as it is to reboot it like Infinity Ward did in 2019, and on that front it’s hard to say how successful it is until we Warzone 2.0 can play for ourselves. For someone watching from the sidelines, though, there’s plenty to catch my eye on, with the last few Call of Duty games feeling like non-events.

Wes: That’s certainly true. The hype for MW2 has gone through the roof and we’re basically getting two new Call of Duty games within a month of each other, with Warzone 2.0 coming out in November.

I have one last question for you: where are you on Last Stand?

Martin: [Quickly goes to Google to find out what you’re talking about]. Oh that! As someone who gets knocked down more often than not, I like it, although I also really enjoy Call of Duty slapstick and that’s something this Modern Warfare 2 open beta has delivered in spades. Roll on the second weekend – I can’t wait.

Please enable targeting cookies to see this content. Manage cookie settings

Supply hyperlink

Leave a Comment