Finally, after many, many months of campaigning and voting, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is playable on Xbox One.
One of the best online shooters of the past decade has joined its predecessor in 2007’s trailblazing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and its successor in 2011’s Modern Warfare 3 on the growing list of backwards compatible Xbox 360 games playable on Xbox One.
It took a long while and hope seemed lost with murmurs of a Modern Warfare 2 Remastered that would, strangely, not include the original’s multiplayer component.
Rumours of the award-winning trilogy’s return have been swirling for a while, and after the moderate commercial success of Modern Warfare Remastered, one would be excused for initially thinking that the entire series’ availability on the current generation of console’s was unlikely, especially without some sort of modern-day improvements.
However, Activision has — for once — done right by its older Call of Duty diehards like myself, slowly but surely releasing classic Call of Duty games onto the Xbox One’s fantastic backwards compatibility program.
It started with Black Ops, moving through that series and adding Treyarch classics to the line, before shifting attention back to the sub-series that arguably defined the Call of Duty franchise, and set it up to be the juggernaut it is (or at least was at its peak).
Returning to Call of Duty 4 (the original, not the remastered version) made me truly realise has far the series has evolved, despite constant criticisms of the franchise’s inability (or unwillingness) to change.
I went through some strange growing pains returning to that game, seeing my Kill-Death ration plummet from close to 2.0 as it was when I stopped playing in late 2009, to below 1.9.
I experienced the same sort of pain upon returning to Modern Warfare 3, a game in which I cracked the top 1,000 Domination players in the world yet could barely get out of spawn upon returning to the game only a few months ago.
How will I stand in Modern Warfare 2? Probably the same: of the three Modern Warfare games, I always felt that Modern Warfare 2 was the tougher game with the higher skill ceiling, given the perfect balancing act it managed between class structure and killstreak management.
Modern Warfare 3 probably went overboard in that regard, paving the way to an overbearing sense of achievement and progression that we get in current Call of Duty games: it doesn’t feel as rewarding as it used to be.
The slow trickle of Call of Duty releases on backwards compatibility is intriguing given the current state of Call of Duty: we saw with last year’s WWII and now this year’s Black Ops 4 that Activision and its three-pronged developer approach is going for a slower “boots-on-the-ground” style of play reminiscent of the franchise’s early years.
I wouldn’t quite say the franchise has gone full circle just yet, but I don’t think it ever could without actually taking a year or two off and completely rebooting itself to reestablish an identity.
The logistics of that will prove challenging given the game’s esports presence and shifting to each new game on an annual basis, but its not like momentum has not already been lost to the likes of Overwatch, PUBG and Fortnite, anyway.
With the addition of Modern Warfare 2 to backwards compatible, I’m both excited and a little sad. Upon reflection, it’s a look back at a franchise that, when it peaked, was as good and as fun as any other franchise from any genre has ever been.
Yet it’s also a reflection of just how far the franchise continues to regress, even as solid as last year’s effort from Sledgehammer was.