Wondering exactly what’s going on during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 ending? Like the previous Modern Warfare reboot, MW2 leaves players on yet another cliffhanger, teasing heavily at a Modern Warfare 3 reboot with story elements from the original series. But beyond the very obvious spoiler bait, there are a few plot threads that aren’t particularly well explained with Hassan, Shepherd, and the 141 crew.
So, join us as we recap and explain the Modern Warfare 2 ending and post-credits cutscene, and offer our best guess as to what this all means for the future of the FPS game series. And just to get this out of the way: there are major plot spoilers ahead.
Modern Warfare 2 ending and post-credits explained
The best place to start, of course, is with a quick recap of the main story. Modern Warfare 2 2022 takes place three years after the events of the first reboot and follows Task Force 141 on a globetrotting journey to track down and reclaim a series of US missiles that have fallen into the hands of terrorist cell Al Qatala. The team is being guided by CIA supervisor Kate Laswell from the first game, but this time she’s working alongside General Shepherd.
After tracking a lead on the missiles to Amsterdam, the 141 discover that Al Qatala is working with the Las Almas drug cartel, which leads them south of the US border where they gain a new team member from the Mexican Special Forces, Colonel Alejandro Vargas.
Shepherd also recruits a PMC called Shadow Company to assist in recovering the missile, however, halfway through the story it becomes clear that Shepherd’s goal is to cover up the whole incident, and he’s actually known about how the missiles went AWOL for a couple of months. To help him do this as quickly as possible, Shepherd puts Shadow Company – led by Philip Graves – in charge, boots 141 off the mission, imprisons a number of Vargas’s soldiers and steals his base.
This prompts a confrontation and Graves attempts to kill Ghost, Vargas, and Soap, who escape to the streets of Las Almas. While trying to link back up, Soap and Ghost witness Shadow Company tearing through Las Almas, killing innocent civilians to find the two 141 operatives.
Eventually, Captain John Price discovers this and questions Shepherd about the fiasco, who effectively confirms that he believes it’s more important for the US to cover this up than it is to consider the legality of Shadow Company’s actions or any loyalty to 141. Price promises to hunt Shepherd down, but this is the last we see of him in MW2. Next, the team recapture Vargas’s base and kill Graves in a pretty anticlimactic tank battle. In recapturing the base, Task Force 141 also discovers that the last missile has been smuggled to Chicago where it’ll be aimed at Washington, D.C., so that’s the final stop in the campaign.
The missile is launched while Task Force 141 is infiltrating the skyscraper it was being held in, and to prevent it from reaching its destination they now need to grab the launch controls off Hassan and detonate it remotely before it reaches its destination. Soap manages to do this and Hassan is killed by Ghost in another somewhat anticlimactic showdown.
The story then skips ahead to a meeting between Laswell and 141 in a dive bar. Laswell confirms that Shepherd has vanished without a trace – so we expect to meet him in the inevitable Modern Warfare 3 – but also says she’s been digging into more information about Russian involvement in the missile heist. She passes around a picture of her main lead, and Price instantly recognises the person as Makarov.
It’s at this point the credits roll, but it’s only a very short credit sequence before we’re watching a final cutscene set aboard a plane. Here we see a man meticulously assemble a pistol while texting others to ask if they’re ready. When they confirm by text, the camera pulls back as three armed men get out of their seats and move up the plane. The final text message reads “No Russian”. It’s worth noting that Makarov isn’t necessarily on the plane – when we see the text message it’s from ‘M’, which could be Makarov, so he could be anywhere.
Who is Makarov?
So, what does it all mean? In case you didn’t recognise the references, Makarov is the main antagonist of the original Modern Warfare 2 and we first meet him during a mission (called No Russian) in which the player carries out a terrorist attack on a Russian airport. In that mission, you control an undercover CIA operative who’s trying to infiltrate Makarov’s group. After carrying out the attack you make your escape, only for Makarov to execute you and leave your body behind.
The reason that mission is called ‘No Russian’ is that Makarov wants to trick the Russian authorities into thinking that Americans carried out the attack – hence leaving an American body behind and not speaking any Russian. As a result, Russia declares war on the United States, effectively starting World War Three.
With Shepherd – who’s also a key antagonist in the original MW2 – also missing, this game is clearly setting players up for a retelling of that story, albeit with some twists to keep it feeling fresh.
Interestingly, Price and 141 know who Makarov is, but Laswell doesn’t. This is because – as we discover in the original MW3 – Makarov is also at Pripyat when Price attempts to assassinate Imran Zakhaev.
There’s a chance that we won’t have to wait for a Modern Warfare 3 reboot to see Makarov. With Spec Ops and Warzone 2 also likely to have some narrative elements, Makarov could actually play a very small role in those.
And that’s your lot: a breakdown of the Modern Warfare 2 ending that tantalising post-credits sequence. It’s one of the better Call of Duty campaigns in our opinion, but perhaps not an all-timer. Once you’re done with the campaign, it’s time to turn your attention to the achievements and trophies list. With the multiplayer release fast approaching, you should be gearing up with the best MW2 MP5 loadout and MW2 M4 loadout for multiplayer so you can get a good start on the grind.