It's been 13 years since Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 first released, and in the decade since, the Call of Duty franchise has both made great strides in trying to keep the series feeling fresh whilst also maintaining that which makes Call of Duty…Call of Duty. Modern Warfare II (2022) represents the latest and greatest from Infinity Ward and Call of Duty, serving as a reimagining of this now 13-year-old game – offering the tried-and-true COD experience while evolving the player movement and controls in order to make it what I believe (after playing the game for 30+ hours) is the most mechanically perfect multiplayer FPS yet. Allow me to explain:
Call of Duty has always been a relatively simple first-person shooter control-wise. From the very first game, released all the way back in 2003, controls have remained mostly the same with all CODs sharing in the ability to walk; sprint; aim down sights; shoot; reload; melee and crouch/prone. Regardless of whether you are storming trenches in WWII or boosting left and right during the 22nd century, all Call of Duties share such similar systems.
That’s not to say that different entries don’t introduce their own additional mechanics, because they do. We have seen the likes of Advanced Warfare include versatile and fast-paced jetpacks; the original Black Ops add dolphin diving; and a number of Call of Duty titles allowing players to wall run. Many of these thematically-linked abilities have come and gone depending on the game, but with the release of Modern Warfare II, it truly feels as though the COD franchise has found its latest baseline set of mechanics which all future titles will springboard off from.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, despite Call of Duty being a first-person shooter, I will not be discussing the game’s guns nor how it feels to shoot. That’s because in my opinion (and many others agree) Call of Duty has always excelled at its shooting – from the very first game all the way until 2022’s Modern Warfare II. Of course, the gunplay has evolved and improved over time, but no one was wondering whether it would feel good to shoot guns in Call of Duty. No, what I want to talk about today is how the game offers you the ultimate flexibility and freedom when it comes to controlling your character. The team at Infinity Ward have managed to do so through two primary means.
Back in 2009’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, players had a core yet concise set of movement and momentum abilities. As briefly mentioned earlier, players were able to walk, run, crouch, go prone, aim down sights, shoot a gun, reload, swap weapons, melee enemies and climb ladders. In the years between then and now, your player character has slowly but surely been beefed up with many more ways to engage in battle. Some games added features while others took them away. In only discussing the boots-on-the-ground COD entries, we saw the addition of ‘dolphin diving’ – allowing players to dive while sprinting. Speaking of sprinting, the player’s physical movements have seen great strides taken, with later entries in the COD series allowing you to tactically sprint, shoot while running, slide (and shoot while doing so) – among other smaller tweaks.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare II feels in my opinion not only the most refined but the most complete game when it comes to character control. While some of the functionality I will list did first appear in 2019’s Modern Warfare, the sequel took all the mechanics from the first game and only added upon it – meaning all that which applies to 2019’s entry also applies to MWII. With that, the reimagined Modern Warfare series (and MWII in particular) greatly expanded upon the freedom of player movement, allowing you mantle over nearly every object in game (within reason); mount your gun on most surfaces for added precision at the cost of mobility; as well as being able to both slide and dolphin dive depending on your particular need in the moment – with sliding being advantageous for allowing you shoot while doing so and offering you much greater control in general.
Alternatively, you can now also ‘dolphin dive’ – finally returning after many years away. Unlike sliding, you cannot shoot while diving, and your final landing destination feels somewhat out of your control once you’ve left the ground. That being said, your trajectory while diving is tougher to predict by enemies and the speed at which you fall feels faster, meaning you should be able to get behind cover both quicker and from further away. Previous games would only include either one or the other – but MWII gives you both and makes them equally as easy to activate.
While I will not be discussing gunplay itself, MWII allows players increased control over the ways in which guns are used and interacted with. Brand new to this entry is the ability for players to fast-swap to their pistols: one-handing the weapon in order to shoot faster, but with less precision. This, again, is an added choice afforded to the players, allowing you to spec out your character in even more ways – all of which affect gameplay.
The final player-focused mechanic I wish to discuss was also introduced in MWII and is the ability to hang from ledges and peek over them with your pistol, a game-changing new move, especially for the DMZ and Warzone 2.0 modes – where their slower pace allows for increased tactical approaches both in defensive and offensive manners. Flanking an enemy has never been more true-to-life.
2019’s Modern Warfare revamped the way its maps could be interacted with and as such, the increased player mechanics introduced with the game needed to be placed in a world which felt equally as thought out, and so doors could now be open and shut (and peeked through as well as slammed); buildings as a whole became more vertical, with windows aplenty to allow for y-axis-based vantage points. Modern Warfare II elaborated on this further, with more creative map design, letting players also get increasingly creative with how they navigate and approach the terrain. There is just so much more freedom in every single map. This rings true for all game modes – from classic 6v6 matches to Warzone 2.0’s massive sandbox.
After a long absence, swimming is back in Call of Duty, and it is better than ever. You can now traverse bodies of water in new ways, with it offering its own set of advantages and limitations. Not only does swimming also allow for y-axis-based strategic movement but can also serve as a moment to breathe (ironically), with you being mostly obscured from land-based enemies, where you can reload your weapons if need be. Of course, as with all mechanics, it has its trade-offs, with players only able to shoot their pistol when underwater – though you can use your full arsenal when treading its surface. All of this makes sense, and so does not feel too overbearing; If anything, the dissonance between player and character has never been more minute.
This is all assisted by the game’s mantling system. While also possible in 2019’s Modern Warfare, MWII lets you climb pretty much anything (within reason) which makes for some amusing 3D platforming when trying to gain a tactical advantage. The design of the world is such that those with more of an open mind can find new and creative ways to flank an enemy or escape from combat to their blind spot with a well-timed sprint and jump or even a dolphin dive. Modern Warfare II makes it so that if you could climb it in real life, you most likely can also climb it in-game. This approach to mirroring real-life helps to push Call of Duty into becoming the smoothest multiplayer FPS in my opinion, as moment-to-moment thought and tactics are required to be utilised in real-time in order to gain an advantage in the game.
Call of Duty has long been known as the “shoot first to win” fps, but with Modern Warfare II, this is in no way the case. While the classic multiplayer game modes remain fast-paced and frantic with a speedy time-to-kill, Warzone 2.0 and the DMZ modes have benefited infinitely from Modern Warfare II’s added functionalities. When brought in its totality, Call of Duty Modern Warfare II truly feels like the most freeing first-person shooter, with player controls being unmatched in this space. I do not know what more I could want from a Call of Duty game mechanically; it is perfect. The franchise has come a long way since 2009’s MW2.
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KitGuru says: How have you found MWII’s new mechanics? Have you used them much? Will you utilise them more now? Let us know down below.