Modern Warfare 2 beta opening weekend was divisive

After last week’s explosion of information, the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 open beta went live this weekend, allowing us to familiarize ourselves with all the new mechanics and systems for tracking the reboot. from Infinity Ward in 2019 (and not to be confused with Modern Warfare 2 from 2009, of course). Things have also been kept intimate when it comes to game modes, with a focus on 6v6 mainstays – as well as a returning third-person playlist cameo – which helped underscore just 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 get this straightened out – I’m an occasional slob when it comes to CoD. I pick up every game at launch, run through the campaign (or, as has been the case for the past few years, get bored after an hour or two and don’t pick it up again), then spend a dozen hours or so in multiplayer, dipping in and out over the course of the year. So I’m not exactly the one going into the details. I’ll say this, though – having blown the series cold since 2019’s brilliant Infinity Ward reboot, it properly sucked me in, and I was shocked at how different this is from the first Modern Warfare. Or the second – the one that came out in 2019, that is. Anyway, it’s surprisingly slow take the Call of Duty formula, and the tense pacing really took me by surprise.

We s: It definitely plays slower, and I think that’s thanks to Infinity Ward’s design. Everything from nerf canceling slides to extremely fast time to kill forces you to play more carefully. The minimap isn’t much of a help, and having to wait four or eight minutes into a match to unlock certain perks that make you quieter adds a tactical element to what was traditionally fast-paced 6v6. Call of Duty multiplayer. The footsteps are so loud!

Do I like it? I’m not sure I’m feeling MW2’s multiplayer right now, but I think I’ll get used to it over time, and it’ll start to feel faster as players find the right meters and the ins and outs of the cards. Speaking of maps, the ones I played in the beta are good. 2019’s Modern Warfare launched with catastrophically bad multiplayer maps (I still have Piccadilly PTSD). These new cards flow much better, at least.

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

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

We s: Infinity Ward is a master shooter in video games. The guns really slam, and the audio is fantastic. Some of the new animations are also excellent. Have you seen the switch to a handgun animation? I like how you draw the gun while having your main onscreen. And there are some tasty new executions too.

Martin: The animations are fantastic – I spent about an hour with the third person playlist last night where you can see them in all their glory. I think what also impressed me over the weekend were the general technical chops of Infinity Ward (and the dozens of support studios that help bring Call of Duty to life). As far as attention to detail or triple-A spectacle goes, I think they’re up there with Naughty Dog now. It definitely feels like a big-budget blockbuster, and after a fairly quiet year on that front, it’s been nice to spend some time with a game that delivers a spectacle on this scale.

We s: I really liked the playlist in the third person! Although it has frustrating issues. When aiming in third person, you switch to first person, which can be jarring. It’s as if Infinity Ward removed the camera for this but did nothing else. It could be awesome!

One of the interesting debates I’ve seen online around MW2 is about its graphics, and whether or not they’re as good as MW1’s. One of the neat things about MW2 is how people compare it to MW1 and not the Call of Duty games that were sandwiched in between. MW1, for all its flaws, was a significant step up for Call of Duty. It really pushed the series forward, not just from a technical standpoint, but from a feel standpoint. It was an incredible sight – one of the most beautiful games of all time, I think.

MW2 has this problem in that Infinity Ward made that leap three years ago, and MW2 isn’t that kind of leap anymore. Despite all the changes in feel, MW2 will struggle to wow fans the way MW1 did. MW1 was such a catalyst for change (and spawned Warzone). I wonder if some changes were made because Infinity Ward felt that the changes should do something to drive the conversation, instead of the changes being the best ideas.

I may be too harsh! I’m sure I’ll be playing MW2 for hundreds of hours…

Martin: I mean, after Black Ops and Vanguard, it feels like a big step up again – but only where the series was back in 2019 with the first Modern Warfare reboot. It was always a little weird how this one felt like an outlier and then the series regressed 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 looks like the main event this time around – is still a bit far off, with the release slated for November.

It feels more like an effort to put Call of Duty on a stable footing for the future as it’s about rebooting it like Infinity Ward did in 2019, and on that front it’s hard to say how it was successful until we played Warzone 2.0 for ourselves. For someone watching from afar, though, there’s enough to get me noticed, as the last two Call of Duty games have seemed like non-events.

We s: It is certainly true. The hype for MW2 is at an all-time high, and we’re indeed getting two new Call of Duty games a month apart, with Warzone 2.0 releasing in November.

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

Martin: [quickly goes to Google to find out what you’re talking about]. Oh that! As someone who gets shot most often I think it’s fun, although I also really relish the slapstick of Call of Duty and that’s something this Modern Warfare 2 open beta delivered to the shovel. Ride the second weekend – can’t wait.