Players can purchase the standard battle pass for 1,000 COD Points (the in-game currency), which translates to $10, or the battle pass bundle for 2,400 COD Points ($24). Modern Warfare has a tiers system tied to its rewards: Players progress through tiers by spending time in the game, completing challenges and gathering experience points through strong play.
Twenty-three tiers are free for everyone and attainable simply by playing the game, though progress will vary from player to player. The free tiers include two new weapons introduced into the game (a fully automatic bullpup Assault Rifle RAM-7 and the LMG spec Holger-26). That’s a notable change for the series, with previous Call of Duty titles criticized for locking game-changing items in randomized loot boxes that required players to spend money with no guarantee of receiving the newly introduced guns. The first of those weapons is available at Tier 15, a big difference from the Black Ops 4 weapons bribes, which were randomized and usually appeared as the final tier in a given season (usually 50 or higher).
The standard battle pass allows players to collect content featured in the remaining 73 tiers, which contain a number of cosmetic items like character skins and weapons blue prints in addition to stickers and calling cards.
Skipping a tier costs 150 COD points. There is also a battle pass bundle that instantly unlocks 20 tiers (for an additional $14) to expedite your progress. The bundle saves players a decent chunk if they don’t want to grind out all 100 tiers.
The new battle pass system was rolled out alongside other Season One content, and a lot of it is free, including the items (like the weapons) that impact game play. Only cosmetic items are kept behind the battle pass paywall — rewards like weapon charms, blueprints, stickers and operator skins.
“This is the largest free content drop in Call of Duty history, and we’re excited that everyone can play all of this new Modern Warfare content together across all platforms," Patrick Kelly, Co-Studio Head and Creative Director, Infinity Ward said in a press release.
Free content outside of the battle pass from Season One includes new maps, multiplayer modes and two new operators.
Keeping premium content exclusive to cosmetic items means players can’t buy competitive advantages or change the gameplay, which maintains an even playing field. It’s also good news for those who don’t want to shell out extra cash. The most expensive bundle seen in the shop on Wednesday, for example, is The Hunstman bundle at $18, which includes a character skin, a weapon blueprint, a new taunt and finishing move, a tier skip and several other cosmetics. That compares favorably to Fortnite where character skins alone can run from $15 to $20.
Completing all tiers will also reward players with 1,300 COD points, more than enough to purchase the Season Two battle pass, assuming the price stays fixed at $10.
According to YouTuber eColiEspresso, who got hands-on time with both maxed out battle passes, grinding through tiers will take an estimated hour of playtime per tier. For context, two multiplayer matches played Wednesday by Launcher staff progressed us halfway through the first tier.
With 100 tiers in total, purchasing solely the standard battle pass still means it will take hours upon hours to progress through all tiers. Again, you can skip a tier by paying 150 COD Points ($1.50). Skipping all 100 would cost 15000 COD points ($150) — if you didn’t elect for the $24 battle pass bundle — which is a steep price. And if you wanted to pay to obtain the new guns from the outset of the season, it would cost a minimum of $30.50. That’s a decent chunk, particularly after spending $60 for the base game, but it’s far cheaper than what players may have needed to shell out to secure the same items in the loot box model.
For those pining for Modern Warfare’s skins, emblems, blueprints and other cosmetic offerings, the battle pass system is a streamlined way to earn guaranteed rewards that keeps you motivated to play. But for those who care more about the core experience, the new battle pass strikes a good balance by being entirely optional.