As consistent as death, taxes, and a new Madden, Call of Duty time is upon us once again with the latest entry, Modern Warfare II, only a few short months away. As has become a tradition for Activision and their lead studio at the time, a multiplayer test was opened up to a select few, namely those that pre-ordered the title on PlayStation 5 or select outlets like Wccftech that were granted access alongside the very same. Press personnel weren’t invited to the Call of Duty Next like many of the larger content creators were, so our impressions have only been based on what we’ve been able to experience since the closed beta officially opened up on September 15th.
Right away, players are greeted with a concoction of both new and old for the Modern Warfare reboot series. Operators such as Farah and Captain Price are teased in the operator menu sporting new looks that will surely make more sense in the campaign. Familiar modes like Domination and Search and Destroy are centered upfront for PlayStation players to experience in this brief first look at the multiplayer to Call of Duty Modern Warfare II, but there are plenty of brand new experiences to check out this time around.
For the first time since the original Modern Warfare 2 (as if the naming conventions haven’t been hard enough to keep up with), third-person multiplayer is a core playlist to the multiplayer. Dubbed Third Person Moshpit, expect intimate and smaller sized matches of all of your favorite multiplayer modes. Warzone still doesn’t offer this vantage as a standard menu offering, instead limiting the out-of-body experience to parachuting and driving a vehicle, among others. And with the new release being built upon the Modern Warfare II framework, Warzone 2.0 will also feature a TPP mode as part of the regular selection.
Newer gameplay modes like Knock Out also debut in the Call of Duty Modern Warfare II closed beta test. This modern refresh takes each of the standard multiplayer maps and turns them into what I presume a team-based Gulag brawl would feel like. All of your standard Team Deathmatch offerings are here but with a one-and-done twist: being knocked out means you have to spectate until the next round, but fellow teammates can revive you after a few seconds. A package will spawn in each round to keep each team from just holing up in safe areas and chain reviving one another. Whichever team is left holding the bag at round’s end wins, regardless of how few teammates are left on each respective team. It’s not as innovative as last year’s Champion Hill but does give the multiplayer a nice boost to the variety of tactical modes on offer.
Class customization in Modern Warfare II is a bit of a unique beast. For starters, perks are divvied into four tiers. The first two are available immediately from the beginning of each match, while the Bonus and Ultimate perks are slowly issued to the player as match time progresses (roughly four and eight minutes in, respectively). Tracker and Scavenger, two of my constant perks in rotation, are available in that base set but Spotter, Cold-Blooded, Hardline, and some of the more crucial perks are left for those new tiers. A new Birds-Eye perk is a welcome addition to the Ultimate tier, giving players a wider view of the minimap while enemy directions are shown much like the higher UAV tiers in previous games. Plus, there’s the added bonus of getting an instant map sweep of all enemy positions.
Map design in the few available multiplayer maps relies heavily on an asymmetrical three-lane approach with a center line available to either team to cross over freely. Each map has a variety of doors that can be kicked open or left closed to hide an unsuspecting claymore and typically one, sometimes two overwatch positions to get a bird's-eye view of the playing field. Very rarely will you find a straight corridor that lasts more than a few yards before a tactically played dumpster or right angle into an adjacent walkway. For every one solid spot to camp out and wait for enemies to approach, there are often two or three different ways to get to that spot. Venturing out into the open can easily get a player shot from half a dozen different spots, but for many of the objective-based modes, that’s an unfortunate necessity.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare II returns with a Time-to-Kill that feels deliberate in its approach. On Core game modes, most battle rifles take a few solid shots to the chest or upper body to down an enemy, while the sole sniper rifle available in the beta can easily handle it in one. Some of the faster, higher-capacity assault rifles outclass the lights of the LMG and semi-auto marksman rifles, especially on consoles. Slapping a 60-round magazine into the starting assault rifle can easily carry you through most encounters. While there are loads of attachment slots, players must pick only the five best attachments to carry them into battle.
However, Call of Duty Modern Warfare II incentivizes players to stick with weapons they might not even touch through a new progression track. After unlocking a core weapon, such as the M4, leveling it up can unlock a new receiver that fundamentally changes the weapon's performance into something brand new. This continues a few times even in the beta test’s limited offerings and gave me a reason to experiment and play with other weapon styles. While it won’t radically change the game, I feel like this new combination of progression tracks beyond just rewards for leveling up/progressing the battle pass will keep players invested with trying out different weapons.
For those not on PlayStation, the wait for the next wave of beta invites for Call of Duty Modern Warfare II isn’t far off. Early Access opens up for Weekend Two with the Crossplay beta for Xbox and PC (as well as Open Beta access on PlayStation) beginning Thursday, September 22nd and running through Friday, September 23rd, before the Open Beta opens across all platforms from Saturday, September 24th through Monday, September 26th.