Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is almost here, and the beta has already gone live. People, me included, have actually (finally) played the game, and the reception is pretty mixed. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that Infinity Ward decided not to take to heart any of the many problems with Modern Warfare (2019), so in this article, I'll explain why I think Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a complete mess.
Related: Why Are Call of Duty Fans So Excited for Modern Warfare 2?
Minimap, Footsteps, and Dead Silence: A Dumpster Fire
In the beginning, the minimap was added to Call of Duty to give players a tool they could rely on to keep them from wandering around and getting constantly gunned down without even having a tiny shot at avoiding danger. You die fast in Call of Duty, and there's not much in the way of teamwork or callouts, so a minimap showing your teammates and enemy gunfire was an extremely useful addition. Plus, this opened the door for other mechanics, too, like silencers taking you off the minimap, for a price.
Footsteps in Call of Duty also went through many stages of evolution. Eventually, devs realized that footsteps being too loud encouraged people to camp and prioritized having a gaming headset over hitting your shots. However, without footstep audio, getting shot in the back by a sweaty child without warning is pretty frustrating, too. Thus, footsteps became noticeably loud, though not deafening, and perks were added to the game that significantly reduced footstep volume without eliminating it.
These two very important lessons have been forgotten during the development of Modern Warfare 2, as the minimap does not show enemies firing unsuppressed weapons and footsteps are both loud and come without an accompanying perk that reduces footstep volume.
Instead, Infinity Ward has decided that building good game sense and making use of the tools on offer were unfair advantages that the experienced player had over the casual gamer, so they were deleted. Then, Infinity Ward decided that footsteps should truly quake the ground before you and that the only way you could avoid doing that is by waiting until your Dead Silence charged up, after which you could finally get temporary permission to try and make a play.
People who play CoD have largely been playing it for a long time. Why are we designing these games around people who've never picked it up and can't (or won't) learn how it works?
Spawns, TTK, and Making the Pain Stop
You've always died fast in CoD. That's just part of the game's arcadey, fast-paced nature. This isn't Halo, folks. However, with randomized recoil and limited network capabilities, time-to-kill (or TTK) in CoD didn't usually feel too punishing. That is, of course, until the Modern Warfare (2019) era, which the legacy of is being seen in Modern Warfare 2 as it was in Call of Duty: Vanguard. Guns are powerful, recoil is predictable, and dedicated servers make most of your shots connect, so dying in a timeframe shorter than that of the average human being's reaction time is just not fun, satisfying, or even particularly competitive.
Then, there are spawns. Ugh. Maybe the biggest L the Modern Warfare reboots have taken willingly and for quite honestly no apparent reason. Managing spawns has, once again, always been a key aspect of the CoD gameplay experience. Knowing, even generally, where the enemy team is spawning on any given map is a great piece of information you can use to try and make smart plays and, if you're good enough, even pick off kills as players come out of a spawn location.
Modern Warfare (2019) and Modern Warfare 2 decided to rework spawns on a fundamental level. Instead of giving players spawn zones on each side of the map that could, then, flip depending on whether or not enemies were too nearby to them, the new Modern Warfare games just spawn you with your teammates. Which could be right next to enemies, or it could be as far away from the action as is possible, but either way, you'll never know what's coming!
Playing Modern Warfare 2 is oftentimes a very random experience. One second, you spawn directly in front of an enemy who's already ADS'ed and firing at you, dying before you even have a chance for the game to register your inputs. Then, the next second, you've spawned with a teammate deep behind enemy lines being given the perfect flank. You never have a chance to earn or understand anything, you just spawn in, move forward, shoot, die, repeat.
All I ask is...why? Whoever asked for a spawn system like this, and who does it benefit? Have developers at Infinity Ward or executives at Activision gotten so cynical that they think any tool that a player can use to their advantage must be removed so all players have the same experience and, thus, the same chance at being convinced to buy microtransactions?
SBMM Changes: Where Are They?
Skill-based matchmaking. The He-who-must-not-be-named of the Call of Duty world. As the legend goes, SBMM largely didn't exist in older CoD games. It did to a very limited extent, but since matchmaking was peer-to-peer, a huge priority was put on trying to match you with players you had a decent connection with.
Now, we're in the age of SBMM where developers try and curate beforehand the matchmaking experience every player will have. You'll get a few games where you perform well, then a game where you do awful, followed by a few more middling games. Then, the cycle repeats, like clockwork.
No matter how much you play or how good at the game you get, the matchmaking system will make sure the odds (and your team alongside the enemy team) are stacked against you or in your favor as is appropriate. After all, you can't win too many games, because then other people are losing too many games, and who wants to lose?
Thus, the SBMM in Modern Warfare 2 is similarly strict. Even though Activision promised SBMM changes coming in Modern Warfare 2, a first for the company since SBMM really became a concern, it doesn't feel like much has changed. If you're a good player playing solo, well, good luck with that, because after a few games of you doing what the game will consider too good, you'll get put on a team with five newbies who've never played a shooter before while you'll go up against pros coming down off the high of a day straight of scrims.
If you value learning a game, getting to know the maps, and improving your gunskill so you can win or style on people or just feel like you've accomplished something, don't play Modern Warfare 2 and don't play CoD. At least never solo. The above can happen, but it's the tiny minority exception, not the rule.