When Activision announced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered, the publisher shocked fans by confirming it was the campaign only.
This left a big gap for many Call of Duty fans who consider Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer to be among the series' best.
Activision never really explained the omission, and Modern Warfare 2 Remastered launched in March 2020 in campaign form only. Since then, a group of modders have taken it upon themselves to remaster Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer - filling the void left by Activision - and the early results are promising.
Currently, 11 people are working on the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered multiplayer mod, which is built using the mod tools provided by the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Project lead Gunoftruth, an automation engineer during the day, Call of Duty modder of seven years by night, tells Eurogamer the project owes its existence to Activision.
"The motivation for this project all began when Activision announced they had no plans on releasing the multiplayer remaster for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2," Gunoftruth says.
"We want people to be able to enjoy and replay Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 in new graphics."
It's early days (a few maps are completed, with the majority of weapons ported), but the mod team have already had to make a few tough decisions while working out what to keep and what to ditch from the original Modern Warfare 2. Gunoftruth says Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer had some considerable issues that were never sorted out, and so the modders have run polls to let people interested have their say. For example, should the mod use the campaign remaster animations, or the original animations? Should it include the original fire sound, or the sound from the remaster?
To dig into the detail, the modders intend to fix an infamous One Man Army (OMA) glitch to remove a replenishing explosives exploit that was abused, quite extensively, in the original 2009 game. However, the modders do not plan to rebalance primary and secondary weapons.
One thing the modders are sure of is to implement the changes that would have been made to Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer with its infamous "forgotten patch" - aka the Robert Bowling patch. Robert "402" Bowling was community chief at Infinity Ward until 2012. The Call of Duty community remembers him as the face of Modern Warfare during its Xbox 360 heyday, and they also remember Bowling for a patch he tried to push through at Infinity Ward before the studio was pretty much reduced to rubble by the acrimonious exit of bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West - alongside a messy lawsuit with Activision.
It was fixed but the patch never came out because ACTIVISION had a lack of judgement and fired the studio heads at IW and forced the rest of the core team to quit w the remainder focused on how to win the 0 million dollar lawsuit to claim unpaid royalties from the sales of MW2— Robert Bowling (@fourzerotwo) October 18, 2019
Bowling had tweeted to say his recommendations for the patch included addressing the OMA glitch referenced above, tweaks to weapon sights, tweaks to combat boosting, and tweaks to address attachment issues, such as silencers showing up as red dots on the mini-map (silencers are supposed to hide your position on the mini-map when you fire).
This patch never happened, and Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer went on with these issues unaddressed. One of the aims of the mod is to present to fans a vision of what might have been had this patch gone through.
Work on the mod continues, but the natural question is whether Activision will come down hard on the team, perhaps with a cease and desist. Gunoftruth isn't worried, though.
"Of course I like Activision. I may not agree personally with some decisions they make, but they are a great publisher which brings us all the great studios to make one the best FPS out there.
"Many developers and Activision employees have seen this mod and my other work I have done throughout the years. They really like the work we have done. I hope they see the reception and how talented myself and the guys are who are working on this mod and the passion we have for it."
Indeed, Gunoftruth's goal is to one day land a job at a video game development studio, so he's hoping the mod is noticed.
"I am not worried," he says. "We are using their public tools provided by Activision and it's just a modification to Black Ops 3 to look and play like Modern Warfare 2. The mod tools state you cannot remake an entire Call of Duty game, but we are only doing one game mode of Modern Warfare 2. We are also adding in new game modes and private matches, allowing the user to play the Black Ops 3 standard maps, so it won't be 1:1 to the original."
The mod team hopes to launch Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered multiplayer in December 2020.