Nothing tells me I’m playing a first-person shooter quite like giant cats meowing orders as pink sparkly bullets fly overhead. Since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released in October of 2022, there has been a clear theme of “realism” in both the gameplay and the cosmetics that were released each season.
Fast forward to July of 2023, and now we have Cats named Sgt. PSPSPS, Homelander with laser vision, and Nicki Minaj with bright pink guns. Any realistic aesthetics on the battlefield has flown out the window. Other COD games have done the same exact thing, so why is this a problem? Well, MW2 has an identity crisis.
We Can Look Like Cats but Can’t Move Like Them in MW2
Nearly everything in the Multiplayer for Modern Warfare 2 screams attempted realism. Movement is much slower, reload cancels are gone, the time to kill is lightning-fast, and many map locations are simply real-life places. On top of the more “grounded” gameplay, the base game Operators all have a mil-sim-styled design.
Each Operator has simple uniform designs that fit the theme of their country. The wildest skins would feature an extra skull, and even that was made to look tactical. Each subsequent season would push that line a bit further with glowing tattoos or a suit, but that is nothing compared to magma guns and superheroes. For most of the MW2 lifecycle, mil-sim was the theme.
One of the main reasons for this was likely the implementation of the DMZ mode, which is an extraction shooter. The mode is all about intensity and taking on enemy soldiers for loot, whether it’s AI or real players. Either way, the nerf to movement and the focus on the realism of weapons feel as if it was made for DMZ, where slow, methodical gameplay is the main factor.
Both content creators and CDL players have been against the move toward “realism” in Modern Warfare 2. Scump himself retired as the season started, and Youtubers like FaZe Jev have made countless videos critiquing the changes. Removing red dots on the map and Ninja to silence footsteps may have been the largest reasons for the pushback. But at least the overall package made sense. It was harder to argue against the mil-sim style of MW2 when the themes matched the gameplay.
Then everything changed when the first rat-based Operator was added. Up until then, everything matched the slow realism of the game. From there, it has gone to anime weapon skins, Ghost covered in molten armor, and we’ll soon have 21 Savage.
So now that each match has cats, rats, and shotguns covered in cheese, there’s a new question. Why couldn’t some of the realism changes in MW2 have been reverted? If I can get sniped by Nicki Minaj with pink tracers, why can’t I cancel my reload? If I can get torn in half by Homelander or Starlight, why is there a penalty on my movement to ADS time?
This Could Point to MW3 Reverting all the Realism
Over-the-top cosmetics are nothing new to Call of Duty, but games that had Bacon camos or Scream Operators were by no means realistic. They embraced the arcade chaos in COD, and most of the time, players love it. Infinity Ward has been staunch, though, and they tend to refuse to change their philosophy on a game.
So why are all these cosmetics dropping all of a sudden? Well, the Modern Warfare 2 lifecycle is almost over, and they could be moving toward a new aesthetic for the next COD. Cosmetics getting more over-the-top as the seasons go on is nothing new, but to this degree feels like a jump. Past COD games were either slow and grounded or embraced the wild nature of the game. That’s typically the difference between Infinity Ward and Treyarch.
What makes this year different is that all these cosmetics will transfer to MW3. Sgt. PSPSPS, Nicki Minaj, and Homelander should all be in MW3. And in that same vein, there have been reports that movement will be adjusted for less “realism” and more of the Call of Duty fun we all know. One prominent leaker, BobNetworkUK, on Twitter, has leaked the return of Ninja and reload cancels in MW3.
That doesn’t mean the speed of 2019 is coming back. However, this identity crisis that MW2 is having could mean greener pastures are ahead for MW3 in November. We can’t escape the wild nature of the store bundles to come, but we can all rest easy knowing that the arcade-style of COD will return.
More ridiculous skins are coming, and you can read up on the latest news for the Nicki Minaj skin in MW2.