Every new Call of Duty game is a step forward in one way or another, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 aims to be more of a leap. The latest entry in the first-person shooter series introduces a brand-new engine, new AI, new customization options, a new battle royale game, and even the return of the franchise to Steam.
All these features were announced by developer Infinity Ward on Wednesday, immediately after the studio unveiled the game itself. While details on each system were a little light, Polygon attended a reveal event at Infinity Ward where the studio expanded on some of the leaps it hopes to make with Modern Warfare 2 when the game is released on Oct. 28.
Here are some of the biggest highlights of how Infinity Ward plans to update the Call of Duty franchise with Modern Warfare 2:
Modern Warfare 2 is the first Call of Duty game being built on the series’ new, unified engine. According to Infinity Ward, this engine will be used across the franchise, including in the upcoming Warzone sequel, and is being co-developed by Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer Games, the three studios that lead development on Call of Duty’s main franchise installments.
The aim with the new engine is to ensure that every studio is working with the same tools, without losing the identity and unique charms of each individual Call of Duty subseries.
Sometime between the release of Modern Warfare 2 on Oct. 28 and the end of the year, Infinity Ward will also release a sequel to Call of Duty: Warzone. Though the new game doesn’t have a name yet, we know it will include a massive new map, similar to Verdansk, that will include many of the improvements of Modern Warfare 2, including new driving game mechanics, water, swimming, and maybe even AI enemies as well.
Warzone 2.0 will not share progress, content, or inventories with the original Warzone. The previous game will continue as its own stand-alone experience, according to Activision.
Alongside the Warzone sequel, Activision will also release Warzone Mobile, a version of the battle royale game for touchscreen devices. While Activision did officially announce Warzone Mobile, it has not provided any specifics about its gameplay, relation to other versions of Warzone, or release date.
Call of Duty’s AI hasn’t been particularly impressive over the last several years, but Infinity Ward is trying to change that this time around. Taking inspiration from real-world soldiers and their Hollywood counterparts, the studio has revamped the series’ AI for Modern Warfare 2 with an aim to make it as impressive and lifelike as possible. Enemies in the new game will check corners, react to the environment, and run from losing engagements to protect their lives.
While all of this seems impressive for the campaign, Infinity Ward is also hoping to move the AI to other modes as well, possibly even its upcoming Warzone sequel. While it didn’t confirm any specific uses for the new enemies just yet, Infinity Ward did mention that it could run close to 300 AI soldiers alongside 100 real players.
The Call of Duty franchise is returning to Steam after a few years away on Blizzard’s Battle.net launcher. This move will start with Modern Warfare 2 on Oct. 28 and include subsequent releases, including the Warzone sequel.
Gunsmith is the Call of Duty series’ weapon customization system that allows players to add specific attachments to their guns and tweak stats like rate of fire, hip-fire accuracy, or vertical and horizontal handling. While this was limited to specific, preset attachments in previous games, Modern Warfare 2 will introduce an improved system that lets players customize attachments to their liking, honing in on exactly the performance they want out of their weapons. This will provide plenty of tweaks early on in players’ Modern Warfare 2 careers, but the real draw is the ability to keep tweaking things as you like well after you’ve unlocked all of a weapon’s attachments, giving weapons an endgame feel.
More than a year after its initial release, Call of Duty: Warzone’s hacker problems got so bad that it needed a new and improved anti-cheat system called Ricochet. Now that Call of Duty’s latest releases will be running on a new engine, Ricochet will be part of both Modern Warfare 2 and the new Warzone right from launch, according to Infinity Ward.