First Impressions — Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Beta
Oh boy, here I go beta-ing again
I gotta be honest, I’m starting to run out of witty introductions for Call of Duty beta impressions. In the two and a half years since I started writing for Jump Dash Roll, I’ve written about two, now three, pre-release versions of the world’s most popular shooters. I also wrote the reviews of the titles — Call of Duty: Vanguard and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War — and seeing as how the franchise’s formula has been set in stone since 2007…well, let’s just say that I now have a perpetual case of Call of Duty reviewers' block. Which, coincidentally, is similar to the condition I imagine the folks at Infinity Ward are facing these days.
I’m imagining that because, from what I played this past weekend, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’s beta is nothing if not a Call of Duty game, both for better and worse. The better in that phrase is because, much like in 2019’s Modern Warfare, the gameplay in this pre-release playtest is absolutely on point. The time-to-kill, weapon feel, maps, movement and overall core gameplay are all fantastic. It’s clear that Infinity Ward learned from the failings of the two previous CoD games, because it’s clear that their title will be solid even without a year’s worth of post-launch content when it comes out later this year.
That’s also true because the gimmicky game modes in the beta were, again unlike in Vanguard or Black Ops: Cold War, a ton of fun. In addition to the standard slew of modes that every Call of Duty game has, the beta included a few genuinely unique war crime simulations including “Invasion”, a Battlefield-esque mode with AI, players and vehicles, and a third-person playlist for TDM/Domination/Hardpoint. Much like in the previous Infinity War-developed fish simulator, which included gems like Realism and night maps, these new additions were how I spent the bulk of the past 72 hours and will hopefully be how I procrastinate figuring my life out come October.
However, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’s beta wouldn’t be a Call of Duty beta if there weren’t a couple of minor problems to passively offset the good of its core gameplay and new gimmicks. The biggest one is, for some reason, that the title just doesn’t seem to run very well on PC. Although it does look good, and there’s a lot of cool new animations that are undoubtedly sucking up GPU bandwidth, I found it difficult to get a stable 60FPS on my computer that’s been able to run every CoD game in history at a solid 100FPS. I’m not alone, and judging by the amount of threads on the title’s Steam page about the beta’s technical performance, there’s also a lot of issues with screen flickering/tearing. It’s probable that this specific issue will be fixed prior to launch with a GPU driver update, but it’s also possible that it won’t, and someone has to be able to say I told you so if the latter is the case.
That aside, I also have another couple of less straightforward gripes with Modern Warfare II’s beta, and specifically with its changes to the tried-and-true Create-a-Class system. The biggest change to that system is that, whereas traditionally you equipped three perks per loadout, now you equip a “perk package” in each one of your classes. The packages are pre-determined by the developer and include four perks, two of which you start each round with and two of which you earn while playing. While I can’t say for certain why I don’t like this, as I only played the beta for about ten hours, there’s something about it that rubbed me the wrong way and I have a feeling like that’ll still be the case when I sink 300-odd hours into the full Modern Warfare II in a month.
The other gripe I have is equally hard to explain. In the beta, and presumably the full game, there’s a new “receiver” option in the gunsmith that allows you to change the weapon class of some of the guns. For example, it lets you transform a standard M4 into a DMR, LMG or SMG, which is cool but passively off-putting. It means that there are now fewer guns to unlock by levelling up your player, which isn’t a problem in a beta but just isn’t something I see myself enjoying in the full release. It’s also about as realistic as Black Ops: Cold War’s 9-shot revolver attachment, but that’s a rant for another time.
And honestly, “that’s a rant for another time” sums up my experience with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’s beta. It was fun, and while I have some issues with it, those issues hardly matter considering that it’s a Call of Duty game. Even if it was broken beyond words, unbalanced and repetitively deleted System 32 on my PC, I’d still play it. The core gameplay in the beta, and every other CoD in history, is perfectly tuned to be just the right amount of addicting and enjoyable for me to keep playing it regardless of its problems. I arranged it so I wouldn’t have to go to work on the game’s release day the first week I was at my job, and I’m not going to un-arrange that now. So, when the game does launch on October 28th, check back for our full review here.
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