In the scene after the credits, three hooded passengers on a Russian plane covertly assembles 3D-printed guns in preparation for a hijacking. When one of the shooters texts that he’s ready, the other party, named “M”, gives the go-ahead for the mission with an answer that should be familiar to longtime “Call of Duty” players: “No Russian.”
The reboot series reintroduced familiar protagonists from the original, such as British SAS officers Captain Price and Soap MacTavish, but most of the antagonists are new additions. An exception was Imran Zakhaev, a Russian weapons fighter and revolutionary in “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”, which was reworked in 2019 as a senior Soviet official. “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.”
In the original trilogy, Zakhaev was the leader of the Ultranationalists, a revolutionary paramilitary group that accuses the current government of being corrupted by Western ideologies and interests. He is killed at the end of “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”, and Makarov takes over the ultranationalists in the resulting power vacuum. Makarov then commits numerous horrific terrorist attacks, the most notorious of which is the infamous “No Russian” mission in 2009’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”.
“No Russian” puts the player in the role of an undercover CIA agent embedded in an ultra-nationalist cell as they carry out a horrific act of terrorism at a Russian airport. Before the attack, Makarov warns the squad – “Remember, no Russian” – in English before stepping out of an elevator and brutally shooting dozens of civilians waiting at customs. The rest of the map involves walking slowly through the airport, killing all the other innocents in sight. As a player, you can choose to participate in the massacre or walk through it without firing a shot, at least until the police and military appear. Whatever your choice, the slaughter continues all around you.
At the end of the mission, Makarov kills the player’s character (the CIA agent), informing him that he knew his true identity all along. When the Russian authorities discover the body of an American soldier and determine that the mass shooting was carried out with American weapons, it leads to an all-out war between the United States and Russia.
The level was very polarizing when released. Some game critics called it proof that games were a legitimate art form willing to tackle inconvenient topics; others dismissed it as a fumbling series played for shock value. Outside of industry, politicians and religious leaders demanded a cultural reckoning, arguing that video games were a particularly dangerous breeding ground for violence because of their interactivity. “No Russian” was censored in Germany and was removed outright in the Russian version of the game. Even the game’s own development team disagreed on “No Russian”: Joel Emslie, art director of the Infinity Ward studio, said the studio’s staff were deeply divided over the mission.
“There was one side of the studio that thought it should be played from the perspective of a guard getting caught up in it, and there was another side that liked the way it was going,” Emslie told Game Informer. “There was a point where we discussed how bloody we would get with the people who got hit. I pulled back and said, ‘You don’t need it. People are tagged and their squibs go off; it’s all right.’ ”
While it’s clear that Makarov will be the Big Bad of the next ‘Modern Warfare’ campaign, it’s not known how he’ll play in the bigger story; the reboot series is quite different from the original. The scene after the credits references several beats that don’t exactly match the “No Russian” mission of the original — but still rhyme well enough. The “M” from the post-credits scene is almost certainly Makarov, though it’s unclear if he’s one of the three gunmen or if he’s ordering the hijack from afar.
More broadly, General Shepherd, the traitorous American officer who was killed in 2009’s “Modern Warfare 2”, plays a similar role in the reboot and disappears at the end of “Modern Warfare II”. Philip Graves, CEO of the shady private military equipment Shadow Company, was ostensibly killed in “Modern Warfare II”, but we never saw the body. Both could be involved in a subplot marking Makarov’s rise to power.
From the story in “Call of Duty: Warzone” we can assume that Makarov took over the ultranationalists after that Price killed Victor Zakhaev, son of Imran Zakhaev. The recent Modern Warfare campaigns have not featured the ultra-nationalists prominently, but it is strongly suggested that the ultra-nationalists have pulled the strings behind all the global threats Task Force 141 has faced. The villain of 2019’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” was the rogue Russian General Roman Barkov. Fiercely anti-Western, Barkov ruled the fictional country of Urzikstan with an iron fist, justifying war crimes and atrocities in the name of public order. Although it was never said in-game, Barkov clearly had feelings aligned with the ultra-nationalist ideology.
The post-credits scene may also have triggered the return of “Alex”, the CIA agent from 2019’s “Modern Warfare”, whose background is shrouded in secrecy. In the finale of “Modern Warfare,” Alex was left to destroy Barkov’s clandestine chemical plant and “died” (off-camera, of course) in the ensuing explosion. He was confirmed alive when he returned for “Call of Duty: Warzone”, but lost his left leg while escaping.
Makarov’s on-screen debut may not be far off. “Call of Duty” skips a 2023 title release in favor of “Modern Warfare II” DLC that will add more campaign content, according to noted “Call of Duty” leaker TheGhostofHope. Jason Schreier of Bloomberg confirmed the claim.
Infinity Ward has made a habit of remixing memorable set pieces from the previous games, such as the ghillie suit sniper scene in ‘Modern Warfare 2’, which was enhanced by a much more impressive sniping mission in ‘Modern Warfare II’. We can play that scene after the credits – depending on how much the developer wants to push the boundaries with “No Russian” more than a decade after its original release.