Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has three release dates now

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The first boot of a new Call of Duty game is a crossroads with no right choice: do I jump into the big, flashy campaign headlining the game, or step first unto the virgin grasses of multiplayer, where no meta has yet taken root?

Activision is making that choice a bit easier for those who buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 early. In a first for the series, those who pre-order will have early access to the Modern Warfare 2 campaign on October 20, a full week before the game officially launches on October 28.

On top of early campaign access, pre-ordering comes with a few other perks:

  • Up to one week early access to the full Modern Warfare II Campaign
  • Access to the full game on October 28
  • Open Beta Early Access
  • Final Judgement Bundle: Immediate access to the Legendary “Deathknell” Operator Skin and the Legendary “Bloodthirsty” Weapon Blueprint for use in Vanguard and Warzone.

The program mirrors the approach that competitors like EA have taken to incentivize pre-orders and membership programs. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate or EA Play members ($5/mo) can play a 10-hour trial of Madden 23 without purchasing the game, for example.

Earlier access to COD’s campaign may not be a huge draw to most players, but I’m more likely to pre-order to get early access to the Modern Warfare 2 beta happening in September (the first few days of which is exclusive to PlayStation players). Activision is really stretching the definition of a “release date” here. Modern Warfare 2 now essentially has three release days:

  • One for the campaign (October 20)
  • One for multiplayer (October 28)
  • …and one for the mysterious Warzone sequel mode coming sometime soon after the official MW2 launch (date unknown)

Staggered releases are an effective technique for sustaining hype across a longer period, but I reckon those jumping into early access on October 20 will be underwhelmed. Launching Modern Warfare to find two-thirds of the game grayed out doesn’t sound like an exciting introduction to the next year of CoD. By the time Halo Infinite’s campaign released a month after its multiplayer, my Halo excitement had already died down.

Not to mention that you probably won’t need a full week to get through Modern Warfare 2’s campaign. If it’s at all similar to the last 15 Calls of Duty, you’ll probably wrap it up in an afternoon or two.

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