Modern Warfare II tops US$800M in three days, marking biggest Call of Duty opening yet

The latest Call of Duty game has broken a number of sales records, pulling in more money on its opening weekend than any other game or film so far this year.

Modern Warfare II brought in over US$800 million (NZ$1.36 billion) in sales in its first three days of release, which is also more than any previous Call of Duty title.

It's the second biggest opening of any game ever, beaten only by Grand Theft Auto V which topped US$1 billion on its opening weekend in 2013.

Released in New Zealand and internationally on October 28, Modern Warfare II is the 20th game in the main Call of Duty series and a sequel to 2019's Modern Warfare. That game rebooted the franchise's previous Modern Warfare arc, which had ended in 2011 with Modern Warfare 3.

It pays to keep in mind that movie tickets don't cost nearly as much as full-priced videogames, but Modern Warfare II's opening haul is bigger than that of Top Gun: Maverick and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness combined.

Tom Cruise's wildly successful sequel to his '80s action classic is the highest grossing film at the global box office for 2022 so far with a current total of US$1.49 billion, after a May opening weekend of US$248 million, according to Boxoffice Pro.

The Doctor Strange sequel landed a massive US$450 million global opening weekend, making it the ninth most successful opening for any film ever.

Activision, which publishes the Call of Duty franchise, said Modern Warfare II also set new player participation records for the number of unique players and hours played through in its first three days of release.

"Thank you, Call of Duty players, for making Modern Warfare II's launch one for the record books as well as the highest grossing entertainment opening of the year," said Johanna Faries, Call of Duty's general manager.

"It is our honour and privilege to deliver such a historic launch weekend for the best fans in the world.

"As amazing as this opening has been, Call of Duty has much more in store. An unprecedented level of support for the Modern Warfare universe is on the horizon and Warzone 2.0's launch is right around the corner. It's an incredible time for the franchise."

Reviews have been generally positive about Modern Warfare II, which currently has a Metacritic rating of 77.

Its multiplayer modes have won ample praise, with IGN's Seth G Macy labelling it "the most fun I've had in CoD multiplayer in a good long while".

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's multiplayer moves the formula forward with bigger maps and more customization without sacrificing its bulletproof mechanics," he said.

The single player campaign, however, isn't as much of a hit and some critics have labelled its ethics questionable.

"Beyond each thunderous pull of the trigger is an underwhelming story and level designs that are too concerned with replicating the successes of previous campaigns rather than embracing its own good ideas for more than a single mission apiece," said Matt Purslow in his IGN review of the game's single player campaign.

"This is sadly a lacklustre follow-up to Modern Warfare 2019's refined take on a Call of Duty campaign, and an experience that's already fading in my memory."

Claire Jackson's review on Kotaku said the campaign's good segments "come after a miserably slow, hand-hold-athon of railroaded levels dotted with moments of violence that feel uncomfortable at best and morally questionable at worst".

She calls out an early mission in which she felt "physically uncomfortable" as forces you to "not only clear out a building full of wounded soldiers who can barely raise a gun at you, but it also tasks you with murdering someone grieving over the body of a person your forces just killed... they are clearly cowering in a bathroom and are not dressed in military garb... yet you have to kill them".

Another scene that raised eyebrows has the player "de-escalate" a situation with unarmed civilians by pointing a loaded firearm at them.

Controversy aside, the hugely successful sales result is being publicly celebrated by Activision after 2021's disappointing Call of Duty: Vanguard contributed to a 49 percent drop in total revenue for the company.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is available on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One.