Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer review - Bug-filled and unnecessarily complicated

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Modern Warfare 2 player holding gun near sparks
Credit: Activision

The Call of Duty franchise is famed for its multiplayer offering. Often providing players with a variety of game modes, a huge weapon arsenal to use, and numerous challenges to complete, expectations following a mundane Vanguard cycle were high. With Infinity Ward back at the helm and the Modern Warfare name at the forefront once again, the community expected a polished product containing somewhat similar gameplay to its predecessor.

Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer comes with impeccable gunplay similar to the single-player campaign and after experiencing one of the best stories in recent years, I was hoping for the same level of detail when dropping into another year of six-versus-six action.

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Although the Modern Warfare series is 15 years old, the name still carries strongly with Call of Duty fans. After several hours of multiplayer under my belt, let’s take a closer look at 2022’s offering and whether it manages to improve on an already proven formula, especially after a solid showing from the MW2 campaign.

Table of Contents

Incredible gunplay as expected

Infinity Ward has always created incredible gunplay and in Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, it’s no surprise I could feel the nuances of each weapon in the arsenal. The Kastov 762 assault rifle packs a deadly punch creating a unique kickback alongside a slow aim-down sight time that forces me to play slightly slower than usual.

In comparison, the compact Lachmann Sub felt less powerful but features incredible mobility that caters to the usual dose of run-and-gun action synonymous with the franchise. Despite Infinity Ward’s best attempt to create a game utilising a slower pace, there are still ways to fly around the map at breakneck speed in order to make the most of the lightning-fast time-to-kill (TTK).

The TTK is another contentious issue. Previous titles manage to strike a balance giving both players a chance to win the gunfight but in Modern Warfare 2 this isn’t the case. When trying to play with any kind of aggression, I found myself dying at the hands of campers in the blink of an eye with no way of countering their passive and hugely annoying style of play. Slowing the TTK would restore some kind of parity to the game but in its current state, it’s almost impossible to play with any attacking intent without a pre-aiming assault rifle sending you to the killcam screen.

Modern Warfare 2 players aiming down sights
Credit: Activision
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Unnecessary UI changes

Typically, a Call of Duty UI is incredibly easy to navigate with clear paths to whichever area of the game you want to visit. After hiring designers from the Hulu streaming platform, Infinity Ward has created a UI that’s hugely confusing to navigate. There are far too many menus and sub-menus to reach simple elements such as level progression and in-game options.

Alongside a poorly designed UI, the game takes several seconds to load into a game. On several occasions I found myself freezing in the pre-game lobby before a PlayStation crash report appeared on the screen and even if I manage to make it past the freeze, the list of players overlaps with the loadout menu resulting in one hugely unnecessary mess. Despite the best efforts of the developer, the Modern Warfare 2 UI is the worst part of multiplayer by some distance. The Vanguard UI was never a problem. If it ain’t broke, why bother trying to fix or improve it?

Confusing gun customisation

The gunsmith makes a return in Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer and there’s an overwhelmingly large number of attachments to customise your favourite weapons. The days of simply equipping a red dot sight, silencer, or scope are long gone. Ranging from muzzles to ammunition capable of setting your opponent on fire, it’s a time-consuming experience trying to find the strongest combination to use.

You’d think equipping attachments would enhance the performance of a gun. Wrong! When using a lot of the guns, I found myself enjoying them more with no attachments as they performed better. Even if you want to attach something to reduce recoil, the majority of the attachments do the same thing. I counted at least three different underbarrels that improve recoil at the cost of mobility. Why not add just one instead of congesting the attachment pool?

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Thankfully, adjustments to the camouflage progression rescue Modern Warfare 2’s gun customisation. Rather than performing the repetitive task of completing the same set of challenges with the entire arsenal, each gun comes with four challenges. Completing them unlocks the gorgeous gold camouflage that glistens in the sunlight during the match. Once a challenge is complete, that camouflage is available to use on all weapons, streamlining the often monotonous grind. There are plenty of awesome colours and patterns to choose from including the legendary Red Tiger from previous Modern Warfare titles to more garish designs such as Chemical Reaction.

Modern Warfare 2 FSS Hurricane SMG in gunsmith
Credit: Screengrab via Activision

The new system means you get a small taste of all the weapons on offer. I’m not the biggest fan of the RAPP H LMG but I’m still going to use it to get my hands on a cool camouflage by using it for a few matches.

So many bugs

Game-breaking bugs are nothing new in Call of Duty multiplayer but in the case of Modern Warfare 2, there are several exploits already doing the rounds. Players using a riot shield have already found a way to turn invincible while others are utilising a bipod and a well-timed crouch to catapult themselves into the sky and across the map.

Bugs of this nature shouldn’t appear in a triple-A title. They didn’t appear in the pre-launch beta so it’s mind-blowing to see them emerge in the final build. I’ve attempted to take down a riot shield player on several occasions and until Infinity Ward addresses the issue, there’s no way to prevent their invincible rampage.

Modern Warfare 2 spec ops mode
Credit: Activision
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Spec Ops shines through

In addition to the usual dose of multiplayer action Special Ops makes its long-awaited return in Modern Warfare 2. The co-op mode replaces zombies and despite the lack of undead opposition, the three missions are great fun. All three offer a unique experience to suit any style of play. “Low Profile” leans towards the art of stealth as you attempt to collect intel from under the nose of the enemy while “Denied Area” requires you to go loud stealing vehicles in a bid to stop surface-to-air missiles causing huge damage.

Levelling up the three unique classes is also worth your time. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the Medic role which gives me the ability to revive my teammate if they fall victim to the AI. Tier progression also carries over to DMZ, a brand-new extraction mode that could give Escape from Tarkov a run for its money.

The final verdict

The fundamental mechanics of Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer are there. Infinity Ward’s impeccable gunplay adds a sense of uniqueness to the weapon arsenal but it’s overshadowed by the clunky UI and bugs that ruin matches for everyone. The game has the potential to achieve success but there is huge room for improvement for it to be considered one of the all-time great Modern Warfare titles.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022) Multiplayer
Although there are areas where 2022's Modern Warfare 2 excels in, the bug-filled and overly complicated parts of Infinity Ward's latest release overshadows what could be an excellent Call of Duty title.
PlayStation 5