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Hands-On With Modern Warfare 2's Multiplayer

Yes, we played it. Here's what you want to know about.

   
 

 This map is called Favela.
 This map is called Favela.
Let's get the obvious stuff about Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer out of the way. Yes, it still runs at 60 frames per second. Yes, you rank up from match to match, constantly unlocking new weapons and special abilities as you go. You pull the left trigger to zoom in. Anyone who spent more than a few minutes online with the first Modern Warfare knows exactly how the action will feel in the sequel.
On top of that core action, Infinity Ward has been busy layering a dizzying amount of new trinkets, goodies, doodads and whirligigs onto the already elaborate create-a-class framework from before. Actually, there's so many small new additions to the gameplay that I need to itemize them.

  • Customizable Kill Streaks. Possibly the most anticipated new feature is a pretty darn cool one. You now unlock kill streaks as you rank up, and though you can still only take three into a match with you at one time, you can at least have some control over how many kills you need to rack up to use them. Some of the kill streak rewards require three, four, five, six, seven, nine kills… In addition to old favorites like the UAV, there are things like a care package that's parachuted in and grants you a random upgrade; stationary sentry guns you can put down to beef up defenses, especially in objective-based games; and of course the AC130 gunship, which requires 11 kills to use (and which, consequently, I did not see). Best of all, it seems like kill streaks stack, since I was able to use my five-kill Predator missile, then immediately activate the four-kill care package right afterwards.
  • Death Streaks. Death streaks? Yes, you will now be rewarded for dying too many times in a row, in an effort to prevent frustration for those just getting into Modern Warfare 2. The only two in the demo I played were Painkiller, which starts you with a triple health boost after you're killed three times without making any kills of your own, and Copycat, which lets you use the loadout and perks of the last guy who killed you for one life.
  • Secondary Weapons Replace Pistols. No more piddly sidearms. Well, not quite true; pistols are still in there if you want them, but you can pass up the lo' Desert Eagle in favor of tactical shotguns, automatic machine pistols, and other nice gear to augment your primary rifle. All these secondary weapons can take attachments just like the primaries can, so if you want to throw a suppressor or digital camo on your shotgun, more power to ya.
  • Fancy New Equipment Instead of Grenades. Toss out your frag grenades, if you want, and replace them with some nifty gear that serves a variety of other purposes. Perhaps you would prefer Semtex timed sticky explosives? How about some throwing knives? The most abstract but perhaps coolest piece of equipment I saw was the tactical insertion, which looks like a typical flare when you throw it down. In practice, it acts as a mobile, single-use spawn point, so anytime you're moving into a heated area, throw one down and that's where you'll restart if you die.
  •  This one is Highrise.
     This one is Highrise.
    Experience Boosts Galore.
    It seems like you get experience point bonuses for doing damn near anything in the new game. I'm not just talking headshots; any stylish or meaningful kill is going to give you some kind of experience boost. Kill a guy just before he's about to get a kill streak? Bonus. Take out the guy who just killed you? Bonus. Get the last kill in a match? Bonus. IW says the leveling (which now caps at level 70) has been tweaked to take the faster accumulation of points into account, and you'll get something gameplay-related for prestiging this time around. They aren't saying what, though.
  • Callsigns. Infinity Ward has been playing a lot of Street Fighter IV. The title and emblem system from that game is reproduced almost exactly here, with dozens upon dozens of descriptive phrases you can unlock and slap on your profile to give other players a sense of exactly how you've been putting it down online. The titles and emblems you can get will correspond to your behaviors, so if you spend a lot of time camping or you rack up a ton of melee kills, everyone will know it. The titles I saw in this demo version
  • NO BETA. THERE IS NO OPEN OR PUBLIC BETA PLANNED FOR MODERN WARFARE 2. NEITHER OF US (YOU OR ME) WILL PLAY IT UNTIL IT'S OUT. THAT'S KIND OF A BUMMER. INFINITY WARD PLEASE RECONSIDER.


I think it's safe to say nobody expected a stark reinvention of the wheel with Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, just a long and thoughtful list of subtle improvements, tweaks, and additions to an already winning formula. And that's exactly what this looks like. I overheard a pretty funny, apt comment at this event that the only bad thing about Modern Warfare 2 is, it's not coming out for another two months. Yeah, that guy pretty much had it right.
Brad Shoemaker on Google+

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Brad

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Edited By Brad  Staff  Online
   
 

 This map is called Favela.
 This map is called Favela.
Let's get the obvious stuff about Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer out of the way. Yes, it still runs at 60 frames per second. Yes, you rank up from match to match, constantly unlocking new weapons and special abilities as you go. You pull the left trigger to zoom in. Anyone who spent more than a few minutes online with the first Modern Warfare knows exactly how the action will feel in the sequel.
On top of that core action, Infinity Ward has been busy layering a dizzying amount of new trinkets, goodies, doodads and whirligigs onto the already elaborate create-a-class framework from before. Actually, there's so many small new additions to the gameplay that I need to itemize them.

  • Customizable Kill Streaks. Possibly the most anticipated new feature is a pretty darn cool one. You now unlock kill streaks as you rank up, and though you can still only take three into a match with you at one time, you can at least have some control over how many kills you need to rack up to use them. Some of the kill streak rewards require three, four, five, six, seven, nine kills… In addition to old favorites like the UAV, there are things like a care package that's parachuted in and grants you a random upgrade; stationary sentry guns you can put down to beef up defenses, especially in objective-based games; and of course the AC130 gunship, which requires 11 kills to use (and which, consequently, I did not see). Best of all, it seems like kill streaks stack, since I was able to use my five-kill Predator missile, then immediately activate the four-kill care package right afterwards.
  • Death Streaks. Death streaks? Yes, you will now be rewarded for dying too many times in a row, in an effort to prevent frustration for those just getting into Modern Warfare 2. The only two in the demo I played were Painkiller, which starts you with a triple health boost after you're killed three times without making any kills of your own, and Copycat, which lets you use the loadout and perks of the last guy who killed you for one life.
  • Secondary Weapons Replace Pistols. No more piddly sidearms. Well, not quite true; pistols are still in there if you want them, but you can pass up the lo' Desert Eagle in favor of tactical shotguns, automatic machine pistols, and other nice gear to augment your primary rifle. All these secondary weapons can take attachments just like the primaries can, so if you want to throw a suppressor or digital camo on your shotgun, more power to ya.
  • Fancy New Equipment Instead of Grenades. Toss out your frag grenades, if you want, and replace them with some nifty gear that serves a variety of other purposes. Perhaps you would prefer Semtex timed sticky explosives? How about some throwing knives? The most abstract but perhaps coolest piece of equipment I saw was the tactical insertion, which looks like a typical flare when you throw it down. In practice, it acts as a mobile, single-use spawn point, so anytime you're moving into a heated area, throw one down and that's where you'll restart if you die.
  •  This one is Highrise.
     This one is Highrise.
    Experience Boosts Galore.
    It seems like you get experience point bonuses for doing damn near anything in the new game. I'm not just talking headshots; any stylish or meaningful kill is going to give you some kind of experience boost. Kill a guy just before he's about to get a kill streak? Bonus. Take out the guy who just killed you? Bonus. Get the last kill in a match? Bonus. IW says the leveling (which now caps at level 70) has been tweaked to take the faster accumulation of points into account, and you'll get something gameplay-related for prestiging this time around. They aren't saying what, though.
  • Callsigns. Infinity Ward has been playing a lot of Street Fighter IV. The title and emblem system from that game is reproduced almost exactly here, with dozens upon dozens of descriptive phrases you can unlock and slap on your profile to give other players a sense of exactly how you've been putting it down online. The titles and emblems you can get will correspond to your behaviors, so if you spend a lot of time camping or you rack up a ton of melee kills, everyone will know it. The titles I saw in this demo version
  • NO BETA. THERE IS NO OPEN OR PUBLIC BETA PLANNED FOR MODERN WARFARE 2. NEITHER OF US (YOU OR ME) WILL PLAY IT UNTIL IT'S OUT. THAT'S KIND OF A BUMMER. INFINITY WARD PLEASE RECONSIDER.


I think it's safe to say nobody expected a stark reinvention of the wheel with Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, just a long and thoughtful list of subtle improvements, tweaks, and additions to an already winning formula. And that's exactly what this looks like. I overheard a pretty funny, apt comment at this event that the only bad thing about Modern Warfare 2 is, it's not coming out for another two months. Yeah, that guy pretty much had it right.
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Muttinus_Rump

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Edited By Muttinus_Rump

Looks like MW I guess.

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Edited By MrKlorox

They should also sell just the MP via XBLA/PSN for like 40 bucks. I can imagine how many people would buy the digital version after the disc version, simply for the convenience of not having to make sure the disc in in the drive when the addict begins to fiend.

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TimeWaffle

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Edited By TimeWaffle

can't wait for this

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Ping5000

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Edited By Ping5000

I just want to do something dumb, like putting sniper scopes on shotguns.

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Hannibal

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Edited By Hannibal

Buy. That's it.
 
Hardened. Done. They had me at customizable kill streaks.

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MrKlorox

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Edited By MrKlorox

Damn, Battlefield really needs to catch up. They had the lead in 2006, but CoD aped and improved upon almost all of BF's best shit.
 
DICE, IW did it to you... don't feel bad about doing it back to them. 
 
Brad: IW apparently "plays" a lot of games.

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JJWeatherman

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Edited By JJWeatherman

Looks nice. I'm kinda losing hype on this game though for some reason.

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teh_destroyer

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Edited By teh_destroyer

Customizable Kill Streaks, oh god............

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JoelTGM

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Edited By JoelTGM

death streaks?  haha, that is actually a good idea.  not that I would ever need them of course  XD

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Cube

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Edited By Cube

No thanks.

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Gregomasta

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Edited By Gregomasta

DAMN

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Cook66

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Edited By Cook66

Not liking the Kill Streaks.. Using peoples loadout is fine. 3x health is NOT. The fast paced action of MW is what I'm looking for. Not Quake Arena. Edit: Death streaks, not kill streaks. This stuff is getting confusing!

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Hyco24

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Edited By Hyco24

Thanks for this Brad great read and it makes me feel like the dude in the last sentience, 2 more months is going to be nothing but, I want to play this game so  freakin bad!!! Even more so now that it has all this cool stuff added to it that I didn't know of till now. I always felt as though prestige was just another cool looking medal, I hope that there are going to be cool upgrades of some sort that we will get now, at least something more than a shinny new medal.  
 
Sucks that there is not going to be a beta.  
 
Um  Muttinus_Rump , sorry but this looks and sounds alot better than the 1st one.

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Edited By JoelTGM
@Cook66 said:
" Not liking the Kill Streaks.. Using peoples loadout is fine. 3x health is NOT. The fast paced action of MW is what I'm looking for. Not Quake Arena. "
what do you mean by that last sentence?  you're not saying call of duty is faster than quake right
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Edited By Hyco24
@Cook66 said:

" Not liking the Kill Streaks.. Using peoples loadout is fine. 3x health is NOT. The fast paced action of MW is what I'm looking for. Not Quake Arena. Edit: Death streaks, not kill streaks. This stuff is getting confusing! "

"Painkiller, which starts you with a triple health boost after you're killed three times without making any kills of your own".
 
Idk that sounds far enough for all the newbs. I am sure I will need at first too so I like the idea.
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Edited By MORECHEBBA

looks sooooooooo sweeeeeeeeeeet..november cant come soon enough.lol odst will keep me going till then i hope..
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Edited By TheFrostedGamer

Borderland's underwhelming videos to a barrage of Modern Warfare 2 info. Talk about going from one extreme to another. Okay I'm going to stop taking jabs at Borderlands. Anyway, Modern Warfare 2 looks great. If you're someone who's paid attention to the COD4 forums you've already realized most of these updates were things the community asked for. I think it's awesome how much Infinity Ward listens to their community (other developers take notes?). They reinvented online multiplayer with Modern Warfare, and now they've made it even better. It's hard to even say how they could improve it instead of adding more stuff like they did. If there were anything more I'd want from a IW Call of Duty, I guess I'd like to see IW's take on a robust coop for 4 players. I love Nazi Zombie mode in WaW. That stuff, but with IW's quality and modern weapons. Tell me who wouldn't play that.

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OwnlyUzinWonHan

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Edited By OwnlyUzinWonHan

Does that mean I'll get Can't Kick as a sweet title yet again?

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Edited By rargy

" The titles I saw in this demo version "

Sentence isn't finished?
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DisAbiLityFisHy

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Edited By DisAbiLityFisHy

November can't come any sooner, can it? :(
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Edited By Druminator

Glad to see the rank cap is at 70 now since you get so much XP.

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Box3ru13

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Edited By Box3ru13

Nice to see that they decided to noob it up even further. thanks but no thanks some of us like games that take actual skill to play. I'll stick with the MAG beta and KZ2 

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Slaneesh

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Edited By Slaneesh

Shit im in love with this game... Did i say that out loud?
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Edited By timeshero
@Box3ru13: *slams head on desk* Play-slave much?
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Edited By timeshero
@TheFrostedGamer said:
"Tell me who wouldn't play that. "
Jack Thompson.
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Edited By JJOR64

Looks solid.  :)

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Edited By Landon

I'm not too big of an online gamer, but all stuff sounds really awesome. I could really get into this.

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Edited By PolyesterPimp
@TimesHero said:

" @Box3ru13: *slams head on desk* Play-slave much? "

Na he's just a plain old hater, COD will be on PS3 also... 
 
@Box3ru13:
Maybe you might wanna be a bit more open minded; alot of the aspects you see in KZ2 are ripped straight from COD so shhh fan-boy shhhh
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Edited By biggest_loser

LOL: I bet Brad is going to get a lot of use out of the Death Streak :P 
 
Its funny how this community is really impressed, I am too, but the people on System Wars on Gamespot and already whinging about these features they read in this very article!!

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Linkyshinks

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Edited By Linkyshinks

Thanks for the info Brad.

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Edited By Linkyshinks

Thanks for the info Brad.

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Edited By Box3ru13
@TimesHero: You should prolly get that condition checked out. And no I'll also be playing CSS, TF2, and maybe some ArmA. @PolyesterPimp: And how am I a fanboy because I'm not gushing with praise for changes that seemed to be designed for the lowest common denominator? And a fanboy of what exactly?  
 
Makes sense next time, shhh boy shhh
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sdauz

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Edited By sdauz

*TEETH GRINDING*......c'mon c'mon.....move faster clock!

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Winternet

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Edited By Winternet

Aahhh Caps!! :)
 
 
MW2 still looks like it's gonna kick ass.

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Edited By Starsimon

Sounds great but I'm not sure about the mobile spawn points  and the death streaks.
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shiptoncraig

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Edited By shiptoncraig

Quite hard to get excited over something that looks and smells like something gathering dust in my cupboard.

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Edited By SUPERhys

Hopefully the 3x health doesnt doesnt mean headshot=no kill.

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Edited By MrKlorox
@TheFrostedGamer said:

" I'd like to see IW's take on a <strike>robust coop</strike> RoboCop for 4 players "

fixed
 
edit: how do I strikethrough text on the GB UI?
 
@shiptoncraig said:

" Quite hard to get excited over something that [...] smells like something gathering dust in my cupboard. "


You've never grown mushrooms have you?
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Edited By natetodamax

So all I have to do is die three times and I automatically have 3 times as much health as everyone else? That's fucking retarded. Also not liking the spawn point flare thing. I can basically throw it at a guy, get myself killed, and immediately spawn right next to him?
 
What the hell

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Edited By NoXious

Goddamn it, I wasn't looking forward to MW2 - since it seemed to not really improve multiplayer combat. I was so wrong, turrets alone make this game buy worthy :-( 

DAMN YOU INFINITY WARD!

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Edited By pa21ris

I can not wait!

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Edited By get2sammyb

I think this game is going to be really good, but I just get bored with online shooters. I know I'm going to play a few rounds online and be done with it, mainly because I'm done with online shooters. We'll see.

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Jeffsekai

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Edited By Jeffsekai

No thanks.

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lemon360

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Edited By lemon360

predator missile FTW!
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Edited By skunk
@natetodamax said:
" So all I have to do is die three times and I automatically have 3 times as much health as everyone else? That's fucking retarded. Also not liking the spawn point flare thing. I can basically throw it at a guy, get myself killed, and immediately spawn right next to him?  What the hell "
Naw, he said you have to die 3 times while not getting any kills of your own. This will somewhat ease the pain of the many random ways you can die in this game. Like those fuckers that throw random grenades at the sky.
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Triple health boosts after dieing 3 times, this and juggernaut will ruin the game like COD4 and WAW.
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Kohe321

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Edited By Kohe321

Sounds like it's going to be awesome, as expected.

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Edited By TheFrostedGamer
@MrKlorox said:
" @TheFrostedGamer said:

" I'd like to see IW's take on a <strike>robust coop</strike> RoboCop for 4 players "

fixed
 
 
Okay I'm in. Where can we go with this, are we talking ED-209 as a playable class or..
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Edited By Zereta

One problem I had with COD4 is once a player or a team starts losing, they lose and lose hard. And the winning player/team just kicks ass, odds tipping to his/their favour with the kill streaks. 
 
The deathstreaks and multiple Kllstreak options really help balance the playing field so much more. 
 
I thought I'd be disapointed with MW2' s multiplayer as I was with Cod4 but maybe, just maybe, they have finally fixed it.