What you should know about Modern Warfare II weapon mods and tuning

Farah watches her load.

screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

If you have an appetite for destruction, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is pleased to provide you with a near-infinite supply of weapons that you can customize to an absurdly delightful degree. Seriously, this is almost as fun as sorting my nail polish colors.

But it’s not about making all the other soldiers, gals, and non-binary buddies jealous of your brutal styles; There are a lot of stats to worry about as well. There are clear pros and cons to every attachment you slap on a gun. And once you’ve maxed out a given weapon, you’ll unlock weapon tuning, allowing you to further tweak weapon feel and performance.

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Modern Warfare II gives you plenty of room for freedom, style and min/maxing. While time will tell what the God Tier meta will end up being, don’t be afraid to jump in and experiment with a setup that will help you climb the scoreboard while looking cool and fitting your playstyle.

This guide focuses solely on firearms that you aim and shoot at, i.e. your primary and secondary weapons. Let’s dive in.

A screenshot from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II shows the M4 weapon platform.

screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Weapons 101

Once you load the game, you’ll see a series of tabs at the top: Games, Weapons, Operators, Battle Pass, and Store.

Selecting weapons takes you to where you can sort your loadouts, killstreaks, and vehicle customization. In Loadouts, you’ll find that you can have up to 10 custom configurations, so don’t worry about committing to a narrow selection. A loadout consists of six items: your choice of a primary and secondary weapon, as well as your tactical and lethal gear, your perks, and a field upgrade.

Your loadout is displayed in a horizontal bar on the Edit Loadouts screen. When you select a specific loadout, you can configure each of the six types. Some of your available weapons are determined by the perks you have active for that loadout. Primary weapons are of the following types:

Primary weapon types

  • assault rifles
  • combat rifles
  • submachine guns
  • shotguns
  • LMGs
  • sniper rifles
  • sniper rifles
  • melee

There are only three types of sub-weapons.

Secondary Weapon Types

Weapons are further broken down into platforms, which are laid out much like a skill tree in an RPG, displaying attachments that you can unlock for a specific weapon. When viewing a weapon from either the loadout or weapon menu screens, you can view platform progress by pressing V on your keyboard (touchpad on PlayStation, view button on Xbox).

For example, the M4 Platform is a weapon family consisting of the M4 Assault Rifle, 556 Icarus LMG, FTAC Recon Battle Rifle, M16 Assault Rifle, and FSS Hurricane SMG.

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You level each weapon by getting out there and getting kills. Some weapons on a given platform are locked behind a weapon layer. For example, to get the Bryson 890 shotgun, you need to build your Bryson 800 to level 16. You can also upgrade each individual weapon for even more customization.

The Gunsmith menu shows a variety of weapon modification options.

screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

Customize weapons and accessories with the Gunsmith

When viewing a specific loadout in the menus, some weapons have a “Gunsmith” option. Here you can change how your weapon is built.

Gunsmith’s Build Weapon tab allows you to install numerous different “modifications” to the gun’s optics, muzzles, magazines, stocks, and ammo types. You can select up to five mods at any time, and also swap out the weapon’s receiver – essentially the core to which everything else attaches – with others from the weapon’s platform family. (Note that not all weapon mods are compatible with each other within the same platform.)

After making gunsmith modifications, you can jump straight into the shooting range to test the appearance of the new modifications. It also loads fairly quickly, so while you can’t directly A/B certain mods, you can still get a good feel for each selection without being stuck behind a loading screen forever.

Each mod affects stats in a unique way, and each has specific advantages and disadvantages. The 419MM EXF barrel, for example, increases your damage range, hip fire accuracy, and projectile speed (pros) but at the cost of Aim Down Sight speed and hip recoil control (cons).

The second tab in the Gunsmith interface is Customize. Here you can apply different weapon charms, skins, stickers and more such things. Each camo skin has different requirements, but it’s very similar to unlocking attachments: simply earn weapon XP by getting kills and completing specific challenges given under each camo skin. There are also Weapon Mastery challenges that you can complete once you’ve unlocked Gold, Platinum, Polyatomic, and Orion skins.

The higher you level up a specific weapon, the more attachments you gain access to. Once you’ve maxed out a particular weapon, you can start tuning those attachments to gain even more control over their performance.

The weapon tuning menu shows a number of options for changing a weapon's stats.

screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

attune weapons Modern Warfare II

Weapon tuning allows you to further tweak the pros and cons of each attachment. Keep in mind that you have to reach level 20 with a specific weapon in order to discontinue the mods.

You can’t tune every attachment, but the ones you can offer two sets of sliders, allowing you to max out a weapon’s strengths or dial back a bit of the disadvantages. Keep in mind that these are all fine-tuning adjustments. For example, if you want to maximize your Aim Down Sights speed, you’d better make mods that prioritize that rather than trying to compensate for slower ADS speeds via weapon tuning. That is, the high TTK rate of Modern Warfare II means even the finest adjustments can make a difference in the heat of battle.

The image on the right uses weapon tuning to compensate for a slower aimdown sight speed.
gif: Activision / Kotaku

Weapon tuning is really best used when you have a good feel for the weapons and mods you like. This phase of weapon customization is more of an art than a science, so take your time to figure out what works best for you.

level weapon Modern Warfare II

Getting the most out of your weapons is one of the main goals of the game, and you’ll make the most progress with weapons you’re actively using. Holstering or slinging a gun won’t cut it; In order to level a weapon, you have to be out there and use it to put lead in your enemies.

With so many weapon options, it’s a good idea to start with a few weapons, two or three at most. Playing with the Overkill perk (available with the Assault preset pack) is a good way to see what it feels like to wield two primary weapons at the same time.

The weapon progression tree shows different attachments to unlock.

screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

Don’t forget to take advantage of weapon XP boosts as well. You can choose these in the multiplayer matchmaking screen. Be careful though, as your XP boosts will count down in real-time outside of games. With that in mind, it’s best to save XP boosts for use in playlists that don’t have as much wait time.

Quick Play and Ground War usually have faster queues. Keep in mind, however, that in 32v32 modes like Ground War you may find yourself caught up in gunfights less often since you’ll often spend time moving between objectives. On the other hand, this can be a good opportunity to level up a sniper or marksman rifle since you’ll have more distance to work with. If you want to upgrade melee weapons like shotguns, smaller 6v6 matches might be your best bet, but your mileage may vary.

One thing I like to do is Set aside a loadout specifically for weapon leveling. Call it “Leveling” and just use it to swap out the weapons you want to progress with, leaving your main charges untouched and giving you the freedom to choose when to switch up your playstyle in a match.

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Swapping out a weapon in a loadout you intend to use regularly will reset all changes, which isn’t ideal. A special “leveling” loadout allows you to prioritize your remaining nine loadout choices with the weapons, mods, and tunings you prefer. You might also want to prioritize certain perks that can make leveling a bit easier. With Overkill, for example, you have two primary weapons on the field, so you can progress with two at once (although you must be actively using a specific weapon to earn Weapon XP on it.) I also like to have Fast Hands for one Leveling Loadout equipped as it allows for faster switching between weapons, which is helpful when trying to train both. Scavenger is another good perk for leveling up weapons as it allows you to acquire more ammo during a match.

Modern Warfare II didn’t disappoint when it comes to delivering a bunch of fun guns to shoot and blow shit up. Spend a little time gearing up your guns and you’ll probably play better and look cooler when you’re out there on the field. And once you get a feel for the weapons and mods you prefer, don’t forget to give weapon tuning a chance to further tweak how the game feels to you.

https://kotaku.com/call-of-duty-mw2-guns-loadout-weapon-tuning-platform-1849754448 What you should know about Modern Warfare II weapon mods and tuning

Curtis Crabtree

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