It’s that time of year again. Another year means another Call of Duty campaign. This time, it’s Modern Warfare II.
With the start of a two-year cycle, the campaign brings a new level of innovation to the franchise. Recent Call of Duty campaigns have been pretty good. Vanguard felt like a World War 2 Avengers movie. Cold War Featured optional side missions and three endings. Even Modern Warfare 2019 had some amazing levels. But how does the latest installment stack up?
Fan-favorite characters from the last Modern Warfare installment make a return. Price, Soap, Ghost, Farrah, Gaz, and more are all back and ready to get into the action. New members from the Mexican Special forces, Alejandro and his company, add new dynamics to the team and franchise.
Modern Warfare II’s Campaign Is An Absolute Delight
The campaign is best described as six hours of blood, bullets, and adrenaline. Despite sharing the same Modern Warfare II name, this is an entirely new campaign separate from Modern Warfare 2 (2009). It will play some clever homage to veteran players who will recognize foreshadowing in the early parts of the campaign. Without introducing any spoilers, Modern Warfare II’s story follows similar pacing of twists and betrayals as its predecessor.
The campaign has no bad missions; some are just ok and could be better, but after going through the list after finishing the game, none of them struck me as something worthy of a skip. It does have several absolutely fantastic missions that will appeal to all Call of Duy fans. Stealth missions with a sniper and a ghillie suit? Check! Command an AC130 and provide overwatch for your ground squad? Check! The over-the-top action sequence that would make the Fast and Furious movies gasp? Check!
I really enjoyed the Mexico missions in particular. I got strong Sicario vibes right from the start and surely had them solidified by the end of the first mission on the border. The Mission “Borderline” might be my favorite from the 17 that appear in the game. Switching between crowd-controlling civilians to defending yourself from the cartel in a border town is something I enjoyed.
The game did take some inspiration from Warzone, it seems. Armored enemies appear in the game in place of Juggernauts in the story. Aim for the head or chest to crack their plates, as these tough enemies mean business. You can also plate up during particularly difficult sections, like in the Battle Royale mode. The game does introduce a crafting mechanic for two missions. I know it seems super out of place, but it kind of works. We could’ve done without it, but it makes sense in the context of what’s happening in the story at the time.
Gunplay in the Modern Warfare II campaign feels really nice. The guns have a bit more recoil than past Call of Duty games, but that’s not bad. Vanguard’s meta was all zero-recoil guns, making things rather boring with no real skill gap. That said, I’m absolutely in love with the new MP7 and iconic M4. While most guns have new names, the MP5 and Kilo are back as fan favorites, as well as the EBR, Fennec, M13, and Raal LMG. All of this bodes well for the upcoming multiplayer release next week.
War is Real
Modern Warfare II offers a new difficulty that’s a step above Veteran. This Hardcore mode, titled “Realism,” features the Veteran difficulty without a HUD and limited help.
After trying it out, I truly hope this is a staple of every Call of Duty campaign moving forward. It adds difficulty to the game I was looking for.
Not being able to see how many rounds I had left in my magazine or how many plates I had equipped forced me to play tighter. The brutal assault you know and “love” in Veteran mode is still there. Eat two bullets, and it’s time to reload your last checkpoint.
However, I didn’t find the campaign all that hard. I finished my first playthrough on the regular difficulty in about six hours. Realism took me a little under eight hours to complete. Once you’ve learned all the enemy placements and patterns, it’s just up to quick reaction time to take each mission out. I did get stuck for a bit on Prison Break and Cartel Protection. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing.
There has been some chatter about the Modern Warfare II campaign being more difficult than its predecessors. This wasn’t my personal experience; I only died maybe a dozen times on Regular difficulty, not counting the final two bosses. It felt like the AI sometimes switched from Pacifist Monk to John Wick out of nowhere.
Some enemies and allies didn’t seem to know they were in a firefight. They severed little to no purpose other than being bullet sponges. One reload later, however, they push me with superhuman wall hacks while I’m behind cover. It’s almost as if the campaign adapted to my skill halfway through.
Is it possible that the enemy AI is buggy? Sure. That wouldn’t have been the only bug I encountered, either. I was stuck soft-locked and had to replay the Violence and Timing mission.
Unfortunately for me, this is the second time in one week I’ve encountered such an occasion. Alas.
During the Violence and Timing mission, you are supposed to abandon your vehicle and jump into Captain Price’s commandeered truck. When players try to jump, the game freaks out and restarts your last checkpoint. The fix seems to be just restarting the level. Hopefully, there’s a patch for this on the full release.
The campaign rewards players with Multiplayer unlocks, such as weapon blueprints, operators, and calling cards. This is a nice touch, which may get some multiplayer grinders to check out a CoD campaign for once!
My gripes with the campaign are negligible. Crafting could have been discarded and just put the finished items as lootable objects. The Violence and Timing mission could’ve been improved with an on-rails section with a mounted turret in the back of a pickup.
Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with the campaign as is. A good combination of different mission types and memorable moments makes replayability super high. The added length is great and makes the campaign seem like it was more planned out. It’s nice to see the effort put into Modern Warfare II’s story instead of being an afterthought for selling the multiplayer. There are multiplayer unlocks within the campaign, such as weapon blueprints, operators, and calling cards.
That’s why most fans are here: for the multiplayer. Should they check out the Modern Warfare II campaign, however, they’ll most likely enjoy what they find.