Spec Ops has been confirmed to return in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022), but the game has been long rumored to pack in a huge, ambitious new third mode called DMZ, so what does the return of Spec Ops actually mean? Not to worry, because we're here to break down the latest CoD news. In this article, we'll explain how Spec Ops has been confirmed for Modern Warfare II and what that means for DMZ.
Spec Ops Confirmed for Modern Warfare II
Spec Ops, a cooperative side mode where gamers can fight A.I. in waves or complete missions and the like, has been in every Modern Warfare game outside of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Like Zombies with Black Ops, Spec Ops is a hallmark of the Modern Warfare subseries, though it's become less and less popular over the years.
Its become less popular, in part, because not all Spec Ops modes are the same. Spec Ops in Modern Warfare (2019), for example, saw players simply dropped into Verdansk to fight A.I. players, stupid A.I. players at that. All in all, it was pretty boring and widely dismissed by the fanbase. Accordingly, there's been very little excitement for Spec Ops in Modern Warfare II.
However, Spec Ops is coming back, and according to Infinity Ward, it'll be an 'evolved' version of the mode. New changes to Spec Ops will dovetail nicely with the major improvements to A.I. Infinity Ward has been touting for Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2. So, at the least, the A.I. soldiers we're fighting in Spec Ops will be a little more intelligent.
Infinity Ward hasn't said much about what's coming in Spec Ops in Modern Warfare II, but the studio has mentioned that Spec Ops is going to be a "tactical co-op mode [that] advances your team-building skills [and] also sets the scene for [multiplayer]" which could describe, essentially, all Spec Ops modes in all CoD games.
However, killing bots in custom games in Call of Duty has long since been the preferred way for those who care to warm up and practice their skills, and since Infinity Ward has been harping on how Spec Ops is good practice for multiplayer and how much they've improved A.I. to be more like actual human players, it's possible that Spec Ops could be an effective way to practice, warm-up, and get a taste for a particular weapon.
Infinity Ward has also confirmed that Zombies won't be in Modern Warfare II, so we can expect Spec Ops to, once again, be the major traditional cooperative mode of Modern Warfare II, much like it has been historically, though hopefully less like Spec Ops of Modern Warfare (2019) and more like the robust, mechanically-complex Zombies experience of Black Ops Cold War.
DMZ, Free-to-Play, and Open-World Call of Duty
Spec Ops coming to a Modern Warfare game is hardly crazy news, in one sense, but in a way, it coming to Modern Warfare II is something of a surprise. See, the thing is that Spec Ops was so hated in Modern Warfare (2019) that as rumors have come out about DMZ, the rumored third mode of Modern Warfare II, many just assumed it would, naturally, replace Spec Ops.
DMZ, for those who don't know, is reported to be an Escape from Tarkov-style, complete-objectives-in-an-open-world-and-extract type of experience. It will be more tactical than Warzone and traditional CoD but not as punishing as actual Tarkov, and it will be complete with its own mechanics, maps designed for the mode itself, and a long plan for live service updates.
What's more is that DMZ is supposed to have had the longest development cycle in CoD history, originally planned for inclusion in Modern Warfare (2019) but cut so as to give it more development time. This mode will have been worked on for the entire duration of two CoD game development cycles, which is quite a lot, meaning the mode should be quite large and robust.
Spec Ops isn't being replaced, though, and what is actually true is that Infinity Ward has not officially confirmed anything about DMZ, which is itself probably not the name of the mode but an internal codename. So, with the news that Spec Ops is coming to Modern Warfare II and nothing official about DMZ, many are wondering if DMZ is still in Modern Warfare II.
However, it gets more complicated. Recently, Infinity Ward made the news with a job posting looking for a lead narrative developer for an upcoming open-world RPG game. Then, Call of Duty is also supposed to be getting a new free-to-play game in 2023, partially as a fill-in for the lack of a mainline Call of Duty game coming in 2023. So, the questions become, is DMZ cut from Modern Warfare II? Is it its own game? Is it coming in 2023?
We don't have official answers, but we can do some informed reading between the lines here. First, it's unlikely Spec Ops is coming in place of DMZ but rather as an addition to it, considering how much time has been spent on DMZ and how barebones Spec Ops was in Modern Warfare (2019) to say nothing of its popularity. Second, Treyarch is rumored to be working on the free-to-play CoD game in 2023, which makes a lot of sense for a few different reasons together.
The first and most major reason is that Treyarch is rumored to be working on the free-to-play CoD. The second reason comes down to how much this makes sense. CoD 2024 is being handled by Treyarch, who also handled Ranked and Zombies in Vanguard on top of 2020's Cold War and two years of support for that game, so they're stretched. However, with this extra year for CoD 2024, Treyarch will have a chance to sunset Cold War and wrap up help on Vanguard, leaving the studio some bandwidth apart from work on CoD 2024.
It makes more sense for Treyarch to develop a standalone Zombies game or a standalone Ranked play game than it does for Infinity Ward to develop Modern Warfare II, Warzone 2, and a free-to-play open-world RPG for 2023 while the studio is supporting Modern Warfare II throughout 2023. And it makes sense that 'open-world RPG game' described by the job posting merely refers to DMZ as a mode, as a project, as an experience that the person hired will work on 'as its own game' so to speak, not that an actual separate game is coming.