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How to play the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II multiplayer beta

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (2022) screenshot
(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II will come out on October 28, but if you’re absolutely dying to play it, you don’t have to wait that long. Activision recently announced that the game would have four open beta sessions throughout September, although you’ll have to pre-order the game to access some of them. Either way, you’ll have an opportunity to check out Modern Warfare II about a month early, and that’s good news for Call of Duty aficionados.

Activision outlined the Modern Warfare II open beta process on the official Call of Duty website (opens in new tab), and it’s pretty straightforward. The four sessions will take place across two weekends, and access to some of them will depend on whether or not you’ve already purchased the game. PlayStation users will also have more opportunities to participate than Xbox or PC gamers.

Here’s the schedule:

  • September 16 – 17: Early Access (PlayStation)
  • September 18 – 20: Open Beta (PlayStation)
  • September 22 – 23: Early Access (Xbox and PC) / Open Beta (PlayStation)
  • September 24 – 26: Open Beta (All Platforms)

The “Early Access” vs. “Open Beta” distinction may sound confusing, but it’s actually pretty simple. Any period marked “Early Access” means that you can play if you’ve already pre-ordered a copy of Modern Warfare II on the relevant system. “Open Beta” is, as the name suggests, more of a free-for-all where anyone can participate. There doesn’t seem to be a way to sign up yet, so keep an eye on Activision’s website and social media accounts as the dates approach.

It's also worth noting that Activision seems to be favoring the PlayStation platform for the early access and open beta periods. Players on the PS4 and PS5 will have four different sessions, whereas players on the Xbox Series X or the best gaming PCs will have only two. Activision didn’t cite a reason for this discrepancy, so chalk it up to either a quirk of the development process or some kind of purposeful wrench in the Microsoft/Activision acquisition, depending on how conspiratorial you’re feeling.

In any case, Modern Warfare II looks like this year’s model of Call of Duty, with all the pros and cons that entails. Tom’s Guide has given entries in the series both positive and negative reviews in the past, sometimes citing its tight gameplay, and sometimes citing its tedious story campaigns. We’ll see how the new entry stacks up in about a month.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.