It turns out, I like Call of Duty games a lot. I always knew I enjoyed them; I played pretty much every title that was released in the early 2000’s and CoD 4 was my first foray into the world of online multiplayer. But exploring my platform history on the Xbox 20th Anniversary Museum showed that not only did I really like CoD, my five most played titles over the last 14 years were all Call of Duty titles.
There’s plenty of other games I’m looking forward to this year, such as Bethesda’s Starfield, or the possibility of going up against the Court of Owls in Gotham Knights. But there’s always going to be an element of uncertainty with games like these, especially the former, which we still seem to know very little about, and I’ve been burned by the hype train before.
With Modern Warfare 2, I know it’ll be fine, even if it’s not ground-breaking. No need for tempered expectations. I mean, the game hasn’t even been announced yet, but we all know it’s coming, and could probably guess with a good deal of accuracy what game modes, weapons and equipment will be making an appearance in its multiplayer. But, despite that, I’m still really looking forward to it.
If I were to let my expectations get carried away just a little bit, it would be very cool to see a return of War mode. This mode made its only appearance in 2018’s Call of Duty: WWII and saw one team having to progress their way through a linear map by completing objectives, such as capturing a certain position, constructing a bridge, or escorting a tank, while the other team tried to stop them. Until Call of Duty: Warzone came along it was probably the most innovation CoD multiplayer had seen in years, but it was dropped after just one outing.
Speaking of Warzone, I’m also hoping Modern Warfare 2 can reinvigorate Call of Duty’s take on a battle royale. I was hooked immediately when the mode first launched back in March 2020, and so were a good number of friends who hadn’t played online in years, but the frequency with which we’d get together for a game slowed to a crawl with the integration of Black Ops Cold War, and the many balancing issues that caused, and we stopped completely soon after.
With the amount of issues Warzone is suffering from right now, particularly performance-wise on console, I’m hoping Infinity Ward, the team behind the Modern Warfare series and the architects of Warzone, can turn things around, perhaps with a fresh start and a new map.
This will also be the first Call of Duty title to be released following the news that Microsoft will be buying franchise publisher Activision. While it will probably have little impact on Modern Warfare 2’s development, it might just help with the game’s longevity.
Recent noises coming from Xbox headquarters suggest the yearly cycle of CoD might be coming to an end, with games instead being given longer post-release support. If this begins with MW2, this would be excellent news. 2019’s Modern Warfare reboot was well received, but post-launch support was dropped just under a year later despite fans calling for more.
We've got some thoughts on Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Extraction, the latest title from Ubisoft Montreal, in our review series Taken For A Quickie.
And what do you have to do?
Not entirely dissimilar from the dark zone in Tom Clancy's The Division 2, you're dispatched either alone or in groups of three to clear the alien infection in various ways.
It might be taking out enemies, or triggering some charges, or stopping seismic activity. If one of the team goes down and is absorbed by the infection they are MIA, and have to be retrieved in a future round, and in the meantime you lose access to that character.
Does going into a heavily dangerous area like that alone sound like a sensible idea?
No, not particularly, and in fact – other than the tutorial mission – generally we found the solo missions particularly lethal, since there are some objectives which require you to do multiple actions simultaneously, or in different places in quick succession.
A string of bad luck can quickly leave you with multiple operators injured or MIA.
How interesting are these operators then? Anyone we know?
Actually yes, since the game has DNA, all the way down to its engine, shared with Siege, the likes of Sledge, Doc and up to 16 others are all here to choose from.
Unfortunately, some of Team Rainbow's powers are a little less useful in this context. Sledge for example, still has his trusty hammer to smash through a wall or two, but because the element of surprise is so much more crucial here, being swing happy could cost you the objective.
Other elements like barricading walls and doorways also make an appearance, but the game doesn't seem to know what to do with them, since there seems to be relatively little cause to defend in the same way as you would in Siege against gun-wielding human opposition.
Not a huge recommendation then?
The concept is certainly interesting, and there's been a fair amount of effort put into the staging of the missions, with full cutscenes and characters debating the approach the team should take, but these moments are few and far between, and aren't enough to sustain a cohesive narrative.
A team of only three leaves you quickly short-handed too, with some objectives having three parts in themselves, without enemies to worry about, and a quick bout of poison gas is enough to quickly take a teammate down to critical health.
There's little chance to revive or save allies either, meaning leaving without a full team is fairly common. At least the titular extraction areas are in each of the three sub-zones per level, so you can bail out with only a third of the stage completed if you need to.
Does it at least feel as good as Siege to play?
Everything behaves in the same way as Siege, and you can steadily unlock new tech items and guns to play with, but really this experience might have gone down better as an add-on to that game rather than trying to be a game in its own right.
If you're a serious fan, and particularly if you've got a good team at your side, then it's worth a try – especially if you have Game Pass – but we wouldn't recommend going in alone.
With some of the most exciting releases of the year just around the corner, including the return of Aloy in Horizon Forbidden West and a new spin on Pokémon with Pokémon Arceus, we decided it was time we picked out our personal most-anticipated titles coming out this year.
Since there’s a little more to get into with some of these games, we’ll be bringing you our personal picks over the next few weeks. First up is BioShock speedrun champion* and Editor James.
While the game is a timed-exclusive for PS5, it will simultaneously come to PC, which feels like a sensible move on developer Luminous Productions and or, more likely, publisher Square Enix’s part, drumming up a little bit of scarcity while also appealing to an audience which will likely by then be aching for another adventure, being done with Horizon Forbidden West.
What stuck out most in the trailer, and is mentioned in the game’s official blurb, is using magic to traverse the world. Insomniac (you’d never guess I spent the break finally finishing up Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart) once described the key word they had in mind while creating cult classic and personal favourite Sunset Overdrive was “momentum”.
From what Luminous have shown off so far, that mentality seems to come into this game as well, as we see Frey sweeping through the beautiful landscape of Athia, guided by a talking cuff. Traversing on magical grapples, platforms and with various slides and flips, she seems to be taking to this fish-out-of-water story pretty well.
Square Enix are certainly known for their handling of fantasy (for some reason there isn’t a specific series that comes to mind…) and from what we’ve seen so far it feels like a natural fit.
If you haven’t heard of developer Luminous Productions, it might not come as a surprise that the studio was formed by former members of the Final Fantasy XV team, so even though it’s their first game, there’s some interesting experience and ideas behind it.
One element which stuck out was the sassiness and attitude of Frey herself, who seems to go from eye-rolling in disbelief to excited as she starts to explore the world and find out more about her quest.
While it will take more than an interesting premise to make the game work, what the game has shown off so far has me eager for more.
Keep an eye out for other picks for most anticipated game of 2022 from the rest of the team over the next few weeks.
*not a true fact