Call of Duty League team Toronto Ultra marked the start of Modern Warfare II (MWII) with a launch party at the Overactive Media headquarters in Liberty Village on Friday.
The refreshed 2023 roster – which includes Tobias Juul “CleanX” Jønsson, Jamie “Insight” Craven, Eli “Standy” Bentz and Thomas “Scrappy” Ernst – spent more hands-on time through its Early Access beta ahead of training.
Modern Warfare II, Infinity Ward’s first-person shooter sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare, launched with a free-to-play early access beta for PlayStation users across September. Toronto Ultra were some of the first players to experience its multiplayer suite with limited Rank progression. Players also try a handful of online 6v6 modes, including classic Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy, Hardpoint and the brand new Prisoner Rescue.
Players also get to see Call of Duty‘s gameplay tweaks. Its first NEXT event showcased a number of improvements with movement and gunplay. More notably, Modern Warfare II brings players back from 2021’s World War Two setting in Vanguard. Last year’s game revisited the vintage era, first established in 2003’s original Call of Duty. In 2007, Infinity Ward dove into the present day with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and set a baseline for the franchise’s multiplayer-first development.
Modern Warfare II is not a direct reboot of 2009’s critically-acclaimed shooter by Infinity Ward. Instead, the game marks the latest entry in Call of Duty. Its new gameplay is also matched with its present day setting, which brings back weaponry, characters and technologies absent from Vanguard.
“Last year definitely put my expectations pretty low,” said Tobias Juul “CleanX” Jønsson, adding 2022’s Call of Duty instalment feels more exciting than Vanguard‘s familiar atmosphere. The beta was also Jønsson’s chance to dive into the gameplay and maps even more without much prior access. Colourful energy, MWII‘s new movement system and the Gunsmith 2.0 customization were just some of the features he felt impressed by. Competitively, he hopes developers keep the game’s design consistent – something which affects attack plans and winning strategies across maps.
“I just want to be promised simple and good maps that will work for whatever we are going to be playing next year as competitors,” Jønsson adds. “It’s definitely going to be a thing we have to adjust. I think it will work out, because they will have more time to work in the game that’s currently being played for two years. They’ll have time to update it.”
Guests, press and Toronto Ultra’s roster sat across rows of PlayStation consoles to demo the Early Access Beta a week before it opens to more players. A total of five maps are included with the beta, which Eli “Standy” Bentz wanted to test with MWII‘s mechanics. He hopes maps will have more “lanes”, which give players routes from one end to another. Lanes are also affected by cover, lines of sight and high ground, which gives teams advantages.
“You may have the advantage, or you could be a better player, but you could die sometimes technically just because of the way the game plays out,” Bentz said, adding MWII players familiar with maps also have to keep up with changes. “It’s more traditional when it comes to playing and you get rewarded for being more prepared for players to come to you,” he said.
As “Standy,” Bentz is the latest addition to Toronto Ultra’s roster after debuting in his first CDL with Minnesota RØKKR in 2021. He faced off against Toronto across the season and currently sits at a 0.99 kill/death ratio across 22 matches. Standy also helped Minnesota win the 2021 CDL Major Championship last August, in a close 4-4 tiebreaker match against Toronto Ultra.
Toronto Ultra, with the addition of Bentz, is looking to move up from its previous 7th place standing in the 2022 season. Since January 2021, the team has struggled to reach the top five with 16 match wins and 18 match losses. Bentz also leaves Minnesota after a challenging 2022 season run, placing 11 of 12th in overall standings and not making the playoff cut.
Modern Warfare II will become the next game that will be used for Call of Duty League’s 2023 season, which gives Toronto Ultra, Minnesota and other teams to make the qualifiers. Eight out of 12 teams can play in the Majors after preliminary matches.
With MWII as the new platform for competition, Toronto Ultra 2023 member James “Insight” Craven also hopes his team’s strategies don’t have to change according to what game developers add or remove.
“Fingers crossed, there’s more consistency,” Craven said, adding their 2022 season with Call of Duty: Vanguard felt more competitive than before. While ever-changing updates, quality of life improvements and map tweaks for players also affect the tournament as it happens.
“One day you can get on and something would work. Next day, you could get on, and it wouldn’t work, just purely because of how the game played. So I’m just honestly hoping for a bit more consistency, whether it be with spawns, maps, all that kind of stuff, game modes,” he said.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II launches on October 28, 2022. The Early and Open Access betas are underway for PlayStation users across September. The 2023 Call of Duty League season start date has yet to be announced. Stay tuned for CGM’s ongoing coverage with Beta impressions and annual review.