Everything we learned from the Call of Duty: NEXT showcase

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 beta screenshot
(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

The Call of Duty: NEXT showcase was the first of its kind for the franchise, and it ended up being an incredibly dense show featuring information and reveals for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as well as Warzone 2.0 and Call of Duty Warzone Mobile. If you didn’t have all day to watch streamers and competitive e-sports players show off the three new games, we’ve got you covered with a roundup of everything we learned today.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022) multiplayer

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer Reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 fans were treated to a proper multiplayer reveal during the Call of Duty: NEXT showcase. To kick things off there were details about the new innovations that players can expect to see in multiplayer that centers around the idea of “emergent gameplay”. These changes to design and innovations in technology cover menu navigation, social features like proximity chat, and new game modes. Players also received confirmation that Special Ops will be returning as a cooperative challenge playlist in Modern Warfare 2, and that Raids will officially be coming to Call of Duty for the first time in franchise history.

Movement mechanics for Modern Warfare 2 were heavily featured during the showcase, as well. Swimming has been added to basic training for Modern Warfare 2 operators, finally, and players will no longer have to fear the instant death that was an ever-looming threat throughout Modern Warfare and Warzone Legacy. Modern Warfare 2 boasts new water physics that allow players to carry out epic combat scenarios above, below, and in the water regardless of whether the map calls for rivers or oceans. Vehicles, too, are safe to interact with water now and can be driven into the water while leaving a little wake in their path. Only side arms and certain equipment can be used while under water, however, so plan your aquatic attacks carefully.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

If water sports aren’t your cup of tea, there are new mantle and ledge hanging mechanics to help you get to higher ground. Ledge hanging is a natural progression of movement from mantling and allows players to peek over an edge before committing to a climb. Infinity Ward is also currently testing allowing players to pull a pistol if they have one equipped while in a wall hang state. This also opens up the opportunity for players to grab onto a wall ledge while parachuting, rather than simply hitting the side and sliding down. Players who are sprinting can easily crouch into a slide while the new dive mechanic, previously seen in the Black Out series of the franchise, returns as a move when a player crouches while in Tactical Sprint.  Sliding allows players to land with their gun up, while diving limits your move distance in favor of a tactically timed drop.

Peeking, mantling, and hanging also manifest in new ways when dealing with vehicles. Vehicle technology in Modern Warfare 2 is considerably more advanced than in the game’s predecessor, and will extend to Warzone 2.0, as well.  Players will now be able to lean out of vehicle windows and shoot, mantle onto vehicle rooftops, blow out tires and even destroy sections of vehicles like bumpers and doors.  Nine new land-based vehicles will tear up the battlefield covering everything from hatchbacks to electric SUVs, as well as the beloved Cargo Truck. The light helicopter returns, and a new Heavy Chopper also makes its way into Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0, as well as a Rigid Inflatable Boat and Armored Patrol Boat.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer Reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

The NEXT showcase also shined a light on tactical equipment and field upgrades, including the all-new tactical camera and shock stick. Tactical cameras can be accessed by anybody on the team once they’re set up and emit warning sounds whenever an enemy is within range.  Multiple cameras can offer some hardcore surveillance opportunities, and players are to spot and mark enemies for their team. The shock stick can be used in a variety of ways by sticking it to a surface where it will occasionally burst out electricity, causing damage to enemies and destroying equipment and vehicles. 

Drill charges can be attached to the outside of a building where it will begin boring a hole and then launching a grenade inside that inflicts splash damage on unsuspecting enemies who may be hiding inside. DDoS attacks also make their way to Modern Warfare for the first time, allowing players to get a heads up when there is enemy equipment or vehicles nearby and temporarily deactivating them.  Inflatable decoys were also highlighted during the showcase. These synthetic polymer dummies inflate once they’re thrown by a player and appear as an enemy combatant with a proximity mine attached.  Rushing up for an easy kill can lead to violent consequences.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (2022) reveal screenshot

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

The gunsmith also received dramatic overhauls for Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0. Weapon customization has all new enhancements that allow players to personalize their loadout to an extent not previously seen in the franchise.  Modern Warfare 2 platforms the weapon system rather than placing weapons in family groups. Players receive every base Weapons Platform as they rank up. The first weapon unlocked features a receiver, an attachment that determines how a weapon is used.  Additional receivers can be unlocked by ranking up additional weapons within a platform. Once a receive is changed, it customizes the weapon so that it is considered an entirely new weapon though it still lives within the weapons platform it originated from.

Leveling up a weapon also levels up its platform, thus allowing you to use weapon attachments across a platform rather than being forced into unlocking attachments for every weapon individually. Universal attachments can also be unlocked for use across all weapons platforms, including muzzles, underbarrels, ammunition, and optics. These unlocks are truly universal, as they also become available in Warzone 2.0 and Call of Duty Warzone Mobile once their requirements are met, regardless of what game it is initially unlocked in.  The inclusion of weapon platforms opens up customization to weapon vaults, as well, where players can purchase fully kitted out blueprints that match a theme. Regardless of which attachment is chosen the weapon’s camo is preserved. Players who preorder Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's vault edition will receive access to the FJX Cinder weapon vault to get them started.

Modern Warfare 2 (2022) screenshot for multiplayer reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

Perks are also undergoing a shakeup in Modern Warfare 2. The system for perks has been standard for quite some time, with players being able to choose from a variety of perk types across three slots. Classic Call of Duty titles did allow players to rank up perks to a pro variant that gave more passive gameplayer advantages, but those have been gone from the system for quite some time in lieu of just standard one and done offerings. This has limited player loadout choices, however, as most players would find a collection of perks they liked and stick with them across all of their loadouts. For Modern Warfare 2, perks now come in packages of four. Players will begin with two base perks, and then a bonus and ultimate that can be earned throughout the multiplayer match, typically at the 4- and 8- minute marks in non-round-based modes. Acquiring kills, assists, and playing objectives can help players earn their perk package more quickly.  

Call of Duty: Vanguard ushered in the concept of combat pacing, but that idea too has been shed for Modern Warfare 2. Instead, there are two map types. Battle maps, which would traditionally be used within Ground War type modes, offer a battlefield suitable for holding up to 64 players split into two teams of 32. These battle maps have been extensively tested for small combat scenarios and can also be found serving as points of interest nestled within Warzone 2.0’s landscape. Every building can be explored, vehicles are viable, and players can take on AI enemies along with human players in playlists like Invasion.

Modern Warfare 2 (2022) screenshot for multiplayer reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

Core maps, or the traditional 6v6 Call of Duty multiplayer experience, are returning for Modern Warfare 2. These are smaller, tighter custom-made maps exclusively for multiplayer.  Infinity Ward showed off 6 multiplayer maps that will be available during the Modern Warfare 2 open beta, including Farm 18, Mercado Las Almas, and Valderas Museum.

In what is ultimately a blast from Call of Duty’s past third person mode will tentatively be returning to the franchise for the first time since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009). Third person mode offers an over the shoulder camera perspective that can be swapped dynamically to assist with field of view.  When a player aims down sights while in third person mode the camera automatically adjusts into a first-person perspective until aiming ceases. Infinity Ward plans to keep third person playlists separate from traditional first-person playlists throughout the beta and following the launch of Modern Warfare 2 (2022), but this could change depending on player feedback.

Warzone 2.0

Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 Al Mazrah map reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

Call of Duty: Warzone has had over 125 million players since it originally launched in March of 2020. During Call of Duty: NEXT players got their first official look at the next generation of the battle royale playground, Warzone 2.0. The all-new map, Al Mazrah, will launch on November 16 along with the Season 1 content for Modern Warfare 2 and will be free for all players. Warzone 2.0 will be even bigger than its predecessor, with battle royale matches of up to 150 players, as well as mission opportunities for four player special operations, 6v6 squad battles, and Ground War gameplay. 

Al Mazrah sits as the capital of the Republic of Adal in Western Asia. Seated comfortable in the cradle of civilization, the Republic of Adal is ripe with natural sources that leads to it being a heavily contested battleground by foreign powers who seek to control them at any cost. The city is incredibly diverse in its landscape, with players finding pools of fresh water and palm trees at the Oasis, surrounded by a cruel desert and ancient ruins, alongside sprawling refineries and quarries. A hydroelectric dam sits on the banks of a roaring river, while the Mawizeh Marshlands surround a flooded and abandoned town. Furthermore, the caves and several small villages along with two towering cities provide opportunities for sheltered, close quarters combat that further drive home the juxtaposition of modern civilization and ancient relics. Guarded fortresses, a derelict cemetery, and airport top off the Points of Interest. 

Call of Duty Warzone 2.0 map reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

Warzone 2.0 is designed upon an entirely new engine and meant to serve as a seamless extension to Modern Warfare 2 (2022), with Infinity Ward and the support studios behind them having learned valuable lessons from the overly complicated and bloated Warzone Legacy experience. Many of the previous innovations mentioned for Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer including new traversal mechanics, vehicle changes, and gunsmithing are active in Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, as well.  

Players who drop into Sariff Bay, for example, can engage in underwater combat as swimming mechanics and boats are perfectly viable options in Warzone 2.0’s rivers and oceans. The 12 new vehicles previously mentioned will also litter Al Mazrah, including UTVs, SUVs and heavy choppers. Players who have had free range with putting the pedal to the metal in Warzone Legacy, however, may be surprised that they will need to be more mindful of their vehicle in Warzone 2.0 as the gas tank can and will run empty. To refill, players will have to pull up to a gas station which could open them up to a potential ambush or track down gas canisters as floor loot. Vehicle repairs will also become necessary as they take damage to bumpers, doors and tires.

Speaking of ground loot, big changes are coming to the way Warzone players interact with loadouts and equipment. The loadout drop events of Warzone Legacy are a thing of the past, and players must now purchase their weapons from “The Shop”, an enhanced buy station. These shops feature items veteran Warzone players will recognize such as armor plates, gas masks and kill streaks. Some equipment may be limited in quantities, however, and once they are all purchased, they’re gone for the remainder of the match.  

Call of Duty Warzone 2.0 will feature multiple circle phases.

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

The vapor of noxious fumes that surrounded Verdansk and Caldera in Warzone Legacy has been replaced by an onerous storm that can be affected by extreme weather patterns. The famous circle collapse can now split into multi circle anomalies and then splice back together again prior to the final circle. The gulag experience has also been changed considerably from what veteran players know and love (or love to hate, rather.) Warzone 2.0 now forces players to join a team with an enemy combatant to tackle the gulag in a 2v2 firefight. Weapons are no longer automatically equipped and must be picked up like common ground loot. If taking out enemy players isn’t getting you out of the gulag, you will have the option to find an AI enemy known as The Jailer and take him down instead. Killing the jailer equips the player with a key they can use to escape the Gulag along with any loot they’ve collected while there.

The Jailer is not the only AI combatant that can be found in Warzone 2.0. The living world of Al Mazrah is inhabited with AI who will set up shop in various strongholds and defend their territory vehemently. These AI inhabitants behave like CDL pros and are equipped with a myriad of features to help them respond to player behavior in order to adequately test the limits of any squad that engages them. However, if you find that a stronghold is the breaking point between you and a potential win you can choose to not engage with them at all. As defensive as the AI are, they will never chase or seek combat with a player who isn’t actively instigating them.

Modern Warfare 2 (2022) screenshot for multiplayer reveal

(Image credit: Infinity Ward/Activision)

In addition to Warzone 2.0, the worst kept secret in Call of Duty history is the addition of the new DMZ mode. DMZ is the final result of a passion project that began development at Infinity Ward back in 2018, and with the help of additional contributing studios is finally seeing the light of day on November 16, 2022. The DMZ will allow players to work collectively or alone in order to acquire valuable gear that can be extracted to the player’s Warzone 2.0 inventory and then utilize the contents of that inventory to bolster their chances from match to match. Additional details about DMZ will be available closer to the launch of Warzone 2.0, assuming they don’t leak before then, as well. 

All of these changes and improvements will launch with support from the Call of Duty exclusive RICOCHET Anti-Cheat system on day one. RICOCHET is a PC kernel-level driver that was originally launched for Warzone Legacy but has met similar updates to be improved for both Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0.  Team RICOCHET will be continuing to support anti-cheat efforts with additional features and mitigations to protect the games following launch.

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Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.