Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Hands-On

We get our prestige on with this first look at multiplayer mayhem in Modern Warfare 2.

During the last few months, Infinity Ward has teased gamers with short multiplayer trailers of the hotly anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. But apart from a few points gleaned from the videos (such as customizable killstreaks, riot shields, and being able to bring the rain with an AC-130), there have been few other details on just how the developer was planning to improve on the impressive multiplayer offering of the first Modern Warfare. That changed overnight: Infinity Ward released a ton of new information about online play in Modern Warfare 2 and allowed hands-on sessions for the first time. Greater customization, improved perks, deathstreaks, and new weapons and attachments are just some of the additions, which is all adding up to plenty of reasons for even the most dedicated prestige players to come back and wage war again.

Welcome to Rio! Have you met my gun?

First up, let's check out that awesome AC-130. If you thought calling in a helicopter strike was intense in Modern Warfare, then you'll be blown away by the destructive power of the 55 tons of flying death that is the Lockheed AC-130, which was featured in the Death From Above mission in the first game. You'll need to be a pretty elite player to get the AC-130 (because it requires 11 kills in a row), but once you do, it will be enough to send all your enemies cowering in fear. But even this massive piece of air support is not a confirmed match winner--the AC-130 sticks around for only 30 seconds, you are vulnerable while using it (because your character will be controlling the plane while crouched using a remote laptop), and organized enemies can take it down using RPGs and other antiaircraft weaponry.

The AC-130 is one of the new killstreak bonuses in Modern Warfare 2, a system which has been expanded with the addition of new rewards as well as the ability to choose the order in which you unlock them. While you'll still get the UAV bonus at three kills, a missile strike at five, and chopper support at seven, you'll also get care packages, counter-UAV, sentry guns, and, of course, the AC-130. The Care Package is an interesting addition: you'll gain this after a four kill streak, and when used, it drops a supply crate onto your chosen point in the map. What's inside the Care Package, however, is random. It could be as simple as ammo, or it could be a killstreak reward, allowing you to access the higher bonuses without having to do the tough work of killing your opponents. It's a potential match winner and will allow even novice players the opportunity to use the longer killstreak bonuses (at least if they get lucky with a package). Care Package users need to be careful, though, as enemies can also open the package and steal whatever goodies lie within.

Balancing out the improved killstreaks are new deathstreaks, which are rewards that are conferred onto players if they're killed multiple times in a row. The deathstreaks we saw (which kicked in at three deaths in a row) were copycat and painkiller. Copycat allows you to "steal" your killer's class and loadout (even if you haven't unlocked those weapons), while painkiller gives you a temporary health boost when you first respawn. These bonuses obviously aren't as powerful as killstreaks, but they may be just enough for players who are getting constantly squashed to score a morale-boosting victory now and again.

You can customize which killstreaks and deathstreaks you bring into battle, which is just one part of Modern Warfare 2's improved class creation system. Both primary and secondary weapons can be fitted with attachments and camo, with Infinity Ward reps telling us the list of adds-on has increased significantly (silenced shotgun, anyone?). Players also have a new equipment slot that they can customize. Mapped to the right bumper, this equipment slot allows you to swap out frag grenades and instead choose from a list which includes throwing knives (a one-hit kill), a blast shield, semtex (explosives which stick to an enemy when thrown), tactical insertion (where you can choose your next spawn point), and two others which were locked in the multiplayer build we played.

Riot shields take a lot of damage to crack.

Adding further to this depth of customization are new call signs that you can attach to your character. These call signs--which will be visible during all multiplayer matches--will act as a signpost to your foes as to how well you've played the game. Call signs (which consist of an emblem and a title) are unlocked depending on your achievements within multiplayer matches. Use the riot shield constantly, for example, and you'll unlock shield-specific call signs.

As for perks, they're back in greater numbers in Modern Warfare 2. Infinity Ward said they took on board community suggestions when revisiting the perk system, resulting in additions, tweaks, and outright omissions. Frag X 3, for example, has bitten the dust, while widespread calls for two attachments on a weapon resulted in the creation of the Bling perk (which, as you can guess, lets you put two attachments on a gun). While we didn't see the final unlocked list of perks, we did manage to spy a few new additions/tweaks to old perks, including Cold-Blooded (makes a player invisible to UAV, sentry guns, thermal imagery, and air support), Scavenger (full resupply of ammo from dead enemies), Commando (increased melee distance), Marathon (which allows you to sprint indefinitely), and Scrambler (the ability to jam every radar). And in a neat addition, if you use a perk enough, it will upgrade to a second level where its abilities are further enhanced. The old perk Sleight of Hand, for example, allowed you to reload more quickly, but if you achieve its upgrade, not only will you be able to reload faster, but the speed at which you look down the sights of your weapon also improves.

Look! Up in the sky!.

When it comes to maps, don't expect your favourites from the first game to make an appearance. Infinity Ward says Modern Warfare 2 will feature all-new maps, although a final number hasn't been confirmed. The old maps were ditched due to gameplay reasons, according to the developer, because some of the new features being added didn't gel well with the size, layout, and design of the old maps.

So with all these additions, how does the game actually play? We tested out the game on three maps--Afghan, Highrise, and Favela--playing a variety of modes, including team deathmatch, domination, and a new mode called demolition. Afghan took place in a desert area that featured a downed plane in the middle of the map that was surrounded by small caves and narrow passes. Highrise was set on top of a group of buildings, with a large central rooftop area acting as an arena for many fierce battles. Favela is set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and is a maze of tight alleyways, decrepit multistorey houses ideal for camping, and abandoned cars. As you'd expect from Modern Warfare, the pace was furious and lots of fun, especially in the narrow confines of Favela. Demolition is an interesting addition, with one team having to protect two large explosive devices, while the other team has to try to activate them for detonation.

As in the original, you'll get to choose from some premade classes for your first few matches. The premades in Modern Warfare 2 are the grenadier, sniper scout, overwatch, first recon, and riot control. Of these, riot control is bound to be a favourite. With this class, you'll get a riot shield and be able to dual-wield a pair of SMGs from the get-go. The riot shield is an extremely hardy defensive tool, able to soak up a ton of damage before breaking (up to two full magazines with some of the weaker weapons and most of the force of a grenade). Better still, slinging the riot shield onto your back while you have your SMGs out gives you protection from bullets coming in from the rear.

When it comes to looks, Modern Warfare 2 has few peers. The game simply looks great, with plenty of outstanding detail present in the three maps we played (newspapers exploded into tiny pieces when hit by gunfire, pots crumbled realistically, and fire hydrants sprayed gushes of water when damaged).

There are plenty of effects on show in each level.

Despite the mass of information unveiled about the multiplayer side of Modern Warfare 2, there are still plenty of unknowns, with the crew at Infinity Ward keeping some details secret. How prestige levels will work in the game, for example, is still under wraps, although we're told that they will definitely be in Modern Warfare 2 (as well as a higher level cap). And will there be greater streak rewards past 11 kills, and if so, what will they be? We'll have more on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 soon, so keep it locked to GameSpot.

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Discussion

772 comments
TheRealUser101
TheRealUser101

MW3 will have Task Force 141 Captain John "Soap" MacTavish and SAS Captain John Price play a vital role in the game. All the singleplayer elements in MW3 like weapons and such will be upgraded; they showed the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 mission "Mind the Gap" where the SAS operatives are carrying new perks and such.

skate182steve
skate182steve

I noticed the bills flying to haha i think its from payback the 50 point bonus for killing someone who has killed you

DarkEmperor117
DarkEmperor117

The multiplayer on this game is just brilliant but one thing though. When you kill another player money comes out of them whats with this. The money which comes out of them is Ben Franklin 100 dollar bills. Would someone like to shed some light on this.

Kubilius
Kubilius

is multiplayer better than MAG ? Don't wanna buy both, in beta of MAG, so just interested if it's worth investing time and money into this one ?

Gamma_Fit
Gamma_Fit

smookert must be a PC gamer lol :D

hockeyman343
hockeyman343

Murph ....... U insult fps because u suck at them

candybar_65
candybar_65

smookert~ they have added an extremely doveloped co-op mode that lasts longer than campaign, obviously the campaign is new, over half the things in multiplayer have changed; who wouldn't pay money for this you idiot

candybar_65
candybar_65

you get a nuke at 24 kills, kills everyone and ends the match putting you at the top of the list

MadSkilz_Anno
MadSkilz_Anno

you can get rewards even though you are the most crappiest player of all. that how this game is gonna be. that's great cause i'm one of them.

smookert
smookert

Its just an upgraded version from MW1 why the hell would you even pay money for this... But do give Activision lots of money and buy it ! there counting on all of you to fill there greedy pockets :D

mikeypolska
mikeypolska

i got the game, im gonna be trying it out for ifinity

mikeypolska
mikeypolska

im going mlg , if there is gonnna be mlg for cod modern warfare 2

Warnerator
Warnerator

Pain killer will be helpful for those stupid spawn kills.

the_jimster_1
the_jimster_1

It should still work, i recon it might only run on low settings, whats the spec of the rest of your PC

BeamBoy
BeamBoy

i got a technical question, i got a Geforce 6600GT but with only 128mb instead of 256, will i still be able to play the game or do i have to buy a new videocard?

michaellee604
michaellee604

Man, u even get rewards for being sucked (copycat & painkiller)!!! This is gonna be FUN as... hell ^o^

shanaman23
shanaman23

i think so, the other ones did i think, idk i havent played all of them (to answer cpinheiro2's question)

shanaman23
shanaman23

i sooo cant wait untillthis game comes out!!

cpinheiro2
cpinheiro2

Anyone, will this game offer a 2 player offline campaign?

nanoshushi
nanoshushi

when i go pick this game up,,,,im just gonna play 24/7, pee in bottles and take dumps in a plastic bag.

corgame3
corgame3

imagine the game has alot problems 7.5 gamespot/man like that will happen 10.5 gamespot

0239666
0239666

Me and my friends all have CoD4. But we could never connect to each other. Do you reckon this game will have the same problem or do you think they might have improved it. If I see "unable to connect to host" I'll freak.

doylerz
doylerz

will i be able to play this online with NAT 3....modern warfare works ok though any ideas?

mamkem6
mamkem6

Silenced sniper rifles please!!! Anyway definitely a must buy.

russell452
russell452

this game is going to rule check for dean45 to be atop the leaderboards from the get go

Kennykazey
Kennykazey

A moment of silence for the death of Frag x3..... New streaks sound interesting though.

211k1dd
211k1dd

THis game would rule. BUT it wont because they are not allowing dedicated servers. That means players host servers. THis is the worst news in gaming I have heard in years. NO DEDICATED SERVERS>

Strinstar
Strinstar

This game is going to be Awesooooommmmmmme!!!!

DeadlyOnez
DeadlyOnez

The online is shaping up to be very disappointing. Their giving trash players "death streaks" so they reward you for sucking. Riot shield are going to be so annoying much like last stand or using the extra health perk. I'm a big fan of cod mw and the online I just wish the rumors of the online being to unbalanced is not true.

wjcj100
wjcj100

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

wjcj100
wjcj100

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

wjcj100
wjcj100

2.5 million sales for Halo ODST. Over 2 million pre-orders for MW2 and the game still has a month to go....Can someone say, GAME OF THE YEAR!!!!!

supartha
supartha

Are the rumors that CoD MW2 has been delayed on PC really true. even gamespot has changed release date to 24th The obvious guess is Piracy Concerns. If that's true then burn in Hell Activision for your greediness in boosting consoles sales and hurting the sentiments of PC users.If they are delaying for tweaking purposes then i can wait even 2 months.Don't wanna play half baked games like GTA IV(game was gr8 though even with it nuances).

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

I really liked the single player mode of Modern Warfare. But I never figured out how to survive in multiplayer. They put you together with Pros who play this game day and night. It is way too fast. Sometimes you don't live for more than two seconds. Also, you had no idea how a weapon was shooting. I was just angry and try to avoid this part of the game. I think I will do that this time, too. What a waste. Reminds me of crappy Unreal Torunament 3, also way too fast. Good paced multiplayer modes are BF 2412 or even slower: Halo 3.

bassbomber20
bassbomber20

@ murph85 Posted Sep 26, 2009 7:58 am PT "I won't be getting this game as i'm not a fan of first person shooters, also Call of Duty is nothing but a run and gun game with no strategy or tactics involved. I'll stick to playing Socom Confrontation." Ok well you enjoy your "6.5" game that is plagued with technical issues. MW2 will recieve no less than an 8.7 rating.

KLewis28xx
KLewis28xx

Wasnt sure if this game was going to be that good... couldnt see what the big deal was with MW 1 i mean it was good but not great after reading this and looking at the HD graphics it is a must buy hope the game is as ridiculously awsome as it looks....

lampsandcoley
lampsandcoley

i just think it looks unrealistic so it might not look as good but i think it will still be good

murph85
murph85

I won't be getting this game as i'm not a fan of first person shooters, also Call of Duty is nothing but a run and gun game with no strategy or tactics involved. I'll stick to playing Socom Confrontation.

mgcrider08
mgcrider08

I think they need to add perks like flying, invincibility, and nuclear bomb...easy, I'm just kidding. Can't wait for this game. And is it necessary to debate whether to play either Killzone or COD? If you like one over the other, fine. Maybe play them both. It's all good.

drummerdickens
drummerdickens

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

drummerdickens
drummerdickens

I think Killzone 2 was more of a thinking shooter, whereas COD4 definitely requires more skill and faster reflexes. I can see why people like Killzone 2, but I prefer Call of Duty myself. Both fine games though.

GWA17
GWA17

i cant wait for this it is my most wanted game at the min n i already think it will be game of the year