When Modern Warfare 2 comes out on Oct. 28, it won't just be developer Infinity Ward's newest entry into the long-running military shooter franchise Call of Duty. It will also usher in the next generation for the series, internally referred to as "CoD 2.0." The innovations made with Modern Warfare 2's game engine will not only power the single-player, co-op and multiplayer modes, but also the next Warzone, the franchise's battle royale game.
The band is back together
Modern Warfare 2 continues the reboot of the Modern Warfare series released in 2019. Infinity Ward created a new, original story with players stepping into the role of members of the multinational special ops group, Task Force 141. Task Force 141's objective in Modern Warfare 2 is to stop a global threat. The team consists of Captain John Price, Captain John "Soap" MacTavish, Sgt. Kyle "Gaz" Garrick and fan-favorite Lt. Simon "Ghost" Riley. Helping the group is Kate Laswell from the CIA and Col. Alejandro Vargos of the Mexican special forces.
The squad is up against Al-Qatala, the terrorist group from the first Modern Warfare. They armed themselves with weapons from Hasan, an individual with ties to a Mexican cartel. In Modern Warfare 2, you must travel to multiple global locations to learn more about the threat and fight back when possible.
Fighting terror on land, sea or air
Missions in Modern Warfare 2's campaign introduce multiple new innovations. One of the biggest changes? Swimming.
One mission, titled Wet Work, takes place in Amsterdam where a major arms deal is going down on the docks. Players are required to quietly dispose of patrolling enemies using silenced pistols or via stealth takedowns from the water itself. It's a great chance to see the game's latest water physics, which not only looks good but actually impacts the trajectory of bullets when fired in the water.
A vehicle mission, Convoy, showed off the game's new car mechanics. Whether driving or sitting in passenger seats, players can lean out of the window to shoot at enemies and use the car itself as cover. There's even an option to climb on top of a vehicle and jump off it to land on another car.
Another quick reveal was Tower, a mission with players to rappel down a side of a building. They'll have an option to come down normal or upside down, whichever they deem the best option.
Thursday's Summer Game Fest showed another mission from Modern Warfare 2's campaign: Dark Water. This particular stage doesn't have much innovation, but it does show the impressive visuals as Task Force 141 sweeps an oil rig and then proceeds to storm a cargo ship full of enemies.
Modernizing Modern Warfare
Almost every mission we saw features a new advancement for the Call of Duty series.
Infinity Ward was previously reluctant to take combat underwater. Only now, the team claimed, were they able to create the right visuals and physics to make the game's gunplay feel accurate and rewarding. Weapons lose their impact underwater and grenades and flashbangs behave differently if they're detonated beneath the surface.
Infinity Ward team members also discussed improvements in the game's AI. Friendly or enemy computer-controlled players have more realistic behaviors. They want to "survive" so they peek around corners and generally are more aware of their surroundings. They'll also telegraph their actions, allowing players to recognize non-verbal cues from their AI-controlled teammates and enemies.
These innovations are all part of what Infinity Ward calls "CoD 2.0." which will be implemented across the series including the next Warzone game, which the developer will reveal sometime in the future.
Modern Warfare 2 hits PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles and PC via Battle.net for $70 on Oct. 28. The game will also be available on Steam, a first for the series since 2017 when Call of Duty games became available only on Battle.net. Those who preorder the game will have access to the open beta when it opens later this year.
Correction: 10:30 a.m. PT: The story misstated the price of the game. The standard edition across all platforms costs $70.