Feature Article

How Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Reboots The Series' Timeline

Infinity Ward drops a lot of hints at where Modern Warfare 2019 might go in the future.

Warning: This post is full of spoilers for the story and ending of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019, and discusses story beats from the original trilogy. Read on at your own risk.

With the rebooted Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward went to work reimagining some of the series' original characters and putting them in new, more contemporary settings and situations. The game's story deals with events that are similar to what's happening in our real world, and while some of the characters are the same, the story of the game is very different.

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Now Playing: London House Raid From The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Campaign Gameplay

But the ending of Modern Warfare 2019 includes some hints that characters and events from the original series might be part of future installments. It also reimagines the timeline of the original franchise, placing the reboot before the events of the original game. That doesn't mean Modern Warfare 2019 is a true prequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, per se--but it seems that plot points and characters from the original games might be appearing in the rebooted series' future.

The Ending Of Modern Warfare 2019

Much of the information about Modern Warfare 2019's placement in a new, rebooted franchise timeline comes from the post-credits scene at the end of its campaign. In it, we see series mainstay Captain Price talking with CIA agent Kate Laswell, both of whom are major characters in the reboot. Price discusses setting up a new squad, one that will be able to operate around the world to deal with crises without implication particular governments with its actions. Price has a name for the squad: Task Force 141.

If you're familiar with the original Modern Warfare, you know that in that game, Task Force 141 is already fully up and running, and operating in the world. You join the squad as John "Soap" MacTavish and run through a training simulator before joining the squad on a mission. This is the biggest indcator that Modern Warfare 2019 takes on the role of something of an origin story: Task Force 141 is only an idea at the end of Modern Warfare 2019 and the events of this new game spur its creation.

Al-Asad's Coup

The original Modern Warfare kicked off with a coup in a Middle Eastern country, led by Kaled Al-Asad, one of the game's villains. A big part of that game is about taking Al-Asad down, which results in him launching a nuclear weapon against American and coalition forces fighting to stop him in his country. Al-Asad is not a major player in most of the rebooted Modern Warfare, but he does show up at the end of the game in the cooperative Spec Ops mode. It seems your goal in that mode is to fight him and his terrorist organization.

That means we're seeing Al-Asad at an earlier point in the progression of the original Modern Warfare's story, before he gains enough power to take over a country. It's not clear right now if that means the next game in Infinity Ward's new Modern Warfare timeline will have similar events to the 2007 game, but it's definitely possible. We could see the next CoD game focus entirely on Al-Asad, which could easily dovetail into a story with similar events to the original Modern Warfare trilogy--which, you might recall, ended with a world war between the US and Russia. Modern Warfare 2019 also mentions Gen. Shepherd, the American military commander who betrays Task Force 141 in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Shepherd mentioned as still working with Price and Laswell in Spec Ops.

Taken together, these hints all suggest that Modern Warfare 2019 is at the start of a new series that could revisit some of the territory of the original--or could completely reimagine it. Still, we know that the latest entry into the Call of Duty franchise is actually something of an origin story for the squad we fought with throughout the original Modern Warfare trilogy. Where the story goes from here, though, is anybody's guess, although Infinity Ward has definitely included some hints.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a former senior writer at GameSpot and worked as a journalist for newspapers and websites for more than a decade, covering video games, technology, and entertainment for nearly that long. A freelancer before he joined the GameSpot team as an editor out of Los Angeles, his work appeared at Playboy, IGN, Kotaku, Complex, Polygon, TheWrap, Digital Trends, The Escapist, GameFront, and The Huffington Post. Outside the realm of games, he's the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero's Guide to Glory. If he's not writing about video games, he's probably doing a deep dive into game lore.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

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