"Call of Duty" campaigns are well known for being filled with explosive action, remarkable set pieces, and missions built around a variety of mechanics and tones. As the "Call of Duty" series has evolved over the years, its campaigns have covered multiple genres, time periods, and gameplay styles, taking players from World War 2 to the future and back. However, some of them have managed to stand out from their peers.
Two of these classic campaigns are 2009’s "Modern Warfare 2" and 2019’s "Modern Warfare," the latter of which rebooted Infinity Ward’s iconic trilogy. This strong legacy put 2022’s "Modern Warfare 2" reimagining in the challenging position of living up to both games simultaneously. So, if you want to see whether or not it managed to accomplish that, need a refresher, or are curious what antics Captain Price and his team got up to, here is how to sort through the ending of "Modern Warfare 2."
Task Force 141
The story campaign in "Modern Warfare 2" focuses on the multi-national military unit known as Task Force 141. This group was founded by Captain John Price after his success during the first "Modern Warfare." Its multi-national nature allows it to access the resources of various military organizations across the globe, as well as operate independently from a government to do what is necessary. Price has been placed in charge of
Task Force 141’s main operatives are Johnny "Soap" MacTavish, Simon "Ghost" Riley, and Kyle "Gaz" Garrick. Each member of the team is extremely capable and has their own specialties they bring to the table. At the start of "Modern Warfare 2," Task Force 141 is working for General Shepherd of the United States Army, who has the team fighting against military forces in Iran, which are in turn backed by Russia in an effort to destabilize the region. These connections will prove very important to the future of "Modern Warfare."
The rise of Hassan Zyani
During Task Force 141’s mission to Iran, they use a remote-controlled missile strike to assassinate an Iranian general named Ghorbrani. Subsequently, Ghorbrani’s death allows a man named Hassan Zyani to seize control of the Iranian military. Once he is in control, Hassan begins using the country’s resources to support an Iranian terrorist organization called Al-Qatala.
With Hassan working alongside the Al-Qatala, he becomes a prime concern for Task Force 141. The game’s second mission, "Kill or Capture," sees Ghost and Soap trying to capture Hassan, who remains one step ahead of them. The two are unable to grab Hassan at this point, as he fled long before they began their infiltration. However, they discover during this mission that Hassan has somehow gained control of a ballistic missile belonging to the United States government. Task Force 141 doesn’t know what Hassan plans to do with the missiles, but the team recognizes that his association with a known terrorist cell makes him extremely dangerous. After this, the dominoes begin to fall in quick succession.
The conspiracy unravels
Task Force 141 track Hasan’s movements to Amsterdam. The team quickly learns that he is in the region to have a meeting, which they infiltrate and eavesdrop on. The meeting ends up being with a Mexican drug cartel named Las Almas, which leads Captain Price to quickly assume that Hasan’s operation is working with the Las Almas for transportation, meaning that they could be moving the ballistic missiles into the United States. In that case, it would be relatively easy for Hasan to launch the missile and hit any important area or dense population zone in the country.
Shortly after this discovery, Task Force 141 also finds evidence that Hasan is actually in position of three ballistic missiles stolen from the US military. These missiles were stolen during a mission led by Shepherd. They also find evidence that he was able to steal the missiles from a mission led by General Shepherd. Naturally, if this news were to get out to the public, it would be disastrous for Shepherd’s entire military career.
After discovering that there are in fact three missiles, Task Force 141 is able to destroy one of them almost immediately. Shortly afterward, their base of operations is attacked by none other than General Shepherd, who is desperate to cover his tracks and preserve his good name. With their base seized and their support crew taken into custody, the ragtag core group is forced to act on their own with limited resources.
America is temporarily saved
Task Force 141 learns that Hassan is moving one of the ballistic missiles to Chicago, positioning it in range of Washington D.C. Their efforts to stop Hassan’s attack almost fail, but Ghost is able to kill Hassan with a sniper rifle while the terrorist leader is focused on killing Soap. The group then tracks down the remaining missiles and disposes of them.
After the death of Hassan, General Shepherd disappears. As he does, however, he points them toward a terrorist cell in Russia that was behind Hassan’s actions: a group known as the Russian Ultranationalist Party. The Ultranationalists are revealed to be led by a man named Vladimir Makarov, and Shepherd claims that with Hassan’s plan foiled they will begin to move against the United States themselves.
The start of this group’s attack on the United States is shown in a post-credits scene, which shows a plane getting hijacked by some of Makarov’s men after they receive a text telling them to not speak any Russian. Hardcore fans of the original "Modern Warfare 2" will recognize this as a reference to the most controversial mission from the original game — a mission that kicked off World War III in that series’ timeline.
Captain John Price’s ending
John Price played a very central role in the previous "Modern Warfare" installment, as well as Infinity Ward’s original trilogy. A member of British special forces, Price has proven himself repeatedly to be an extremely capable and dedicated soldier. He often acts as a mentor to the rest of Task Force 141 while leading them through the most dangerous missions. His leadership style has also shown that he cares very little for the bureaucracy and international law that often applies to military operations, feeling like they tend to slow things down.
His distaste for being ordered around or restricted by people outside of his team makes Task Force 141 a perfect fit for him. As the story comes to a close, Price goes so far as to tell Shepherd that he will be the team’s next target after they are done stopping Hassan. Over the course of the "Modern Warfare 2" campaign, Price’s character does not change much, instead acting as more of a sturdy backbone that allows Soap and Ghost’s stories to play out.
Johnny "Soap" MacTavish is another classic protagonist from the original "Modern Warfare 2." His introduction in the reimagining sees him having a very similar foundation to his character in the original game. Before all else, he is an extremely devoted soldier who is loyal to Captain Price. Soap rarely questions Price’s leadership and looks up to him as a mentor and role model. He also is willing to do anything necessary to achieve the completion of Task Force 141’s missions, even if they go against international laws or traditional guidelines.
An interesting aspect of Soap’s character in "Modern Warfare 2," however, is that players can influence his development. This is done by selecting dialogue options between Soap and Ghost. These sequences are primarily concerned with jokes between the two, during which players get to choose Soap’s responses. These interactions do a lot to help flesh out Soap and build a sense of camaraderie between the team as they are faced with terrible situations and seemingly insurmountable odds. If there’s one thing players can be confident in, it’s that Soap never loses his sense of humor. However, he doesn’t go through quite the reinvention the Ghost does in the rebooted timeline.
Ghost quickly became a fan favorite when he was introduced in 2009’s "Modern Warfare 2." However, his character in that game was little beyond a stoic and quiet soldier with a cool face mask. The new version of "Modern Warfare 2" tries to expand Ghost’s character by giving him more lines, but not all fans are happy with the changes.
Ghost’s character in the campaign is very reminiscent of Captain Price in a lot of ways. He is clearly an experienced soldier who is willing to impart his knowledge on those around him. He also trades jokes with Soap, showing a more human side of his character that aims to make light of some of the darker aspects of their job. Beneath all of that, however, Ghost is a very traumatized individual who is forever scarred by some of the consequences of his actions that led to him donning his iconic skull mask.
Beyond that, the biggest change to note is that Ghost is not killed in the new "Modern Warfare 2" campaign like he was in the original. He manages to escape Shepherd’s betrayal and help save the day, allowing him to continue on in the series and receive more development in the future.
Longtime fans of "Call of Duty" basically knew that Shepherd would betray Task Force 141 in the new "Modern Warfare 2," just like he did in the original. At the start of the game, he is portrayed as a typical military leader you see in mass media. He is loud, speaks with conviction, and is willing to make the tough calls that he knows need to be made. Once he betrays the team, however, it is revealed just how desperately he wishes to preserve his career.
Keeping his secret is important enough to him that he releases Hassan after he is captured, and he is willing to play with military operations that impact the entire world. Fans seem to be split on how effective Shepherd’s portrayal in "Modern Warfare 2" is, but his disappearance at the end of the game makes it seem like it won’t be the last he appears in the series. However, now that his secret has already been exposed, it remains to be seen whether he will continue to act as an antagonist or if he will try to help Task Force 141 from the shadows.
Real world parallels in Modern Warfare 2
"Call of Duty" has always taken heavy inspiration from history for its campaigns, but "Modern Warfare 2" puts a particular emphasis on exploring real world military events through its fictionalized universe. Some of these aspects have received some negative attention from press outlets such as Vice, like how closely the murder of Ghorbrani at the start of the game reflects the real-world assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
"Modern Warfare 2" also seems to take a lot of inspiration from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia through the lens of Russia’s manipulation of the game’s fictional nation, the United Republic of Adal. The game also clearly drew upon real-world Mexican drug cartels to flesh out its own cartel, Las Almas. Leading up to the game’s release the developers announced that the game would take a more sensitive approach to real world conflicts than previous entries (per The Verge), but whether or not it succeeded in doing so is up to players. However, knowing these elements are in play will certainly color how fans take in the game’s story and ending.
Where Modern Warfare could go from here
Before the release of "Modern Warfare 2," the developers at Infinity Ward announced that the game’s story would continue after release through seasonal raids. This is a bit of a new move for "Call of Duty," so exactly how this will work remains to be seen. However, it’s likely that future story content will focus on Task Force 141 as they work to stop the plans of Vladimir Makarov and the Russian Ultranationalists. With rumors circulating that "Modern Warfare 2" will enjoy a two-year life cycle of additional content, the seasonal updates could yield plenty of new stories, making this ending feel even more like a tease of things to come.
It also seems likely that the future of the "Modern Warfare" storyline will involve Shepherd in some way, since his location is unknown at the end of the game’s campaign. The expanded story could also follow some story beats similar to the original "Modern Warfare 3," as the two reboot games have done thus far. Whatever the future may hold for Price and his team, the explosive ending of "Modern Warfare 2" proves that they’re ready to take on every challenge that lies ahead.