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Modern Warfare 2’s new season is proof Call of Duty needs to take a year off

The eagerly anticipated second season of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has a lot in store. It’ll incorporate a new small-scale Warzone 2.0 battle royale map called Ashika Island, along with new DMZ features and a fresh set of weapons to try out. While Season 2 certainly has lots of exciting new content in the pipeline, things are looking dire for Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, as very few new features are planned for the update.

Sure, it’s nice that Warzone 2.0 and DMZ are getting so much attention during Season 2, but the latest update is a grim sign for the overall life cycle of Modern Warfare 2 — a game that seems to have been left in the dust as Activision sprints on to its next project,

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Modern Warfare 2 road map

So, what exactly is Modern Warfare 2 getting alongside Season 2? On paper, it seems like a sizeable amount. That is, until you break down what’s in the works.

The roadmap for Modern Warfare 2.

For starters, the new update will come with four new maps, including Dome, Zaya Observatory, Al Malik International, and Valderas Museum. The problem is that none of them are original, brand-new locations. Dome has been in the series for over a decade, while Zaya Observatory and Al Malik International are pulled straight from the Al Mazrah battle royale map. Valderas Museum, on the other hand, was actually included in the beta for Modern Warfare 2, before being removed. The map was taken out due to a copyright lawsuit between Activision and the J. Paul Getty Museum, on which the Valderas Museum map was based. Activision apparently did not have permission to utilize the museum’s layout in the game.

Season 2 will also add new modes, including Infected, Gun Game, Grind, Hardcore, Drop Zone, All or Nothing, and One in the Chamber — all of which have been featured in Call of Duty before, and arguably should have been included in the game at launch. Hardcore mode, most egregiously, was missing at launch, despite being featured as a day-one mode in other installments for the past 15 years or so. Aside from that, a handful of new weapons will arrive, along with a new raid and Ranked Play.

Considering the update was actually delayed by two weeks and the fact that nothing substantial has been added to Modern Warfare 2 since its launch in November 2022, Season 2 is highly disappointing.

In looking at beloved Call of Duty games from the past, players have grown to expect a hefty amount of content each season, typically in the form of new maps, and other major features like events. The general consensus is that many of Modern Warfare 2’s upcoming features should have been included at launch. As it stands, it’s clear Activision has held back and is slowly trickling out content, making subsequent updates feel lackluster, especially since you have to pay for Modern Warfare 2.

Modern Warfare 2 takes a back seat

Warzone 2.0 and DMZ, on the other hand, are getting plenty of new additions that feel worthwhile. It would seem that Activision is prioritizing those modes over the base Modern Warfare 2 experience. But why is this happening?

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what’s going on, but this could have to do with 2023’s upcoming Call of Duty game. As initially reported by Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier, Activision intended on skipping a full Call of Duty release in 2023 in favor of a large expansion for Modern Warfare 2. This was the plan for a while, but now, Activision has changed course and will release a full Call of Duty game in 2023 after all, according to Insider Gaming. It’s possible that Activision is holding back content that would have been included as Modern Warfare 2 support in favor of beefing up the new 2023 game (which is said to be a sequel to Modern Warfare 2).

Players walking through map in Modern Warfare 2.

Call of Duty has been on an annualized schedule since 2005 and has not missed a year since then. Typically, each new game is on a three-year development cycle, and is split between Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer Games. However, recent installments have suffered in terms of production — likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors — causing other Activision teams to step in to support whichever team is leading the charge. This happened in 2018, as Sledgehammer and Raven Software were working on a Cold War-themed Call of Duty game, before the project was taken over by Treyarch, interrupting its work on the supposed Black Ops 5.

Expectations are high, and it seems like Activision can barely keep its head above water when it comes to creating (and supporting) Call of Duty games. Rather than continue trying to release a substantial, brand-new game every year, Activision could benefit from taking year off and breaking the annualized Call of Duty cycle. This could allow the publisher more time to make something more polished and give its multiplayer experiences time to breathe with a full post-launch support plan.

I’m not getting my hopes up, though. Considering Activision likely releases a new Call of Duty game every year to appease its shareholders, I don’t expect the company to break this cycle any time soon.

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