Modern Warfare 2 campaign difficulty levels explained cover image

Modern Warfare 2 campaign difficulty levels explained


There are multiple difficulty levels in Modern Warfare 2 that let you decide how easy or how challenging the campaign will be.

Call of Duty is notorious for its multiplayer aspects, but it often provides action-packed campaigns. Modern Warfare 2 delivers on that front with a variety of difficulty settings to choose from. There are four total to start with an unlockable fifth setting. That fact might require you to play through it a couple of times if you're one to nail down every achievement. With Recruit, Regular, Hardened, Veteran, and Realism as the difficulty settings, you have plenty of options for a challenge.
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All difficulty levels in the Modern Warfare 2 campaign

The in-game view of selecting the Hardened difficulty setting. (Screenshot via
The in-game view of selecting the Hardened difficulty setting. (Screenshot via
Here is every Modern Warfare 2 campaign difficulty level and a brief overview of what you can expect from each:
  • Recruit: "For players who are new to Call of Duty." This is the easiest difficulty setting in the game. If you want to quickly get through the campaign for the story and unlockable rewards, choose this one.
  • Regular: "Your abilities in combat will be tested." Think of Regular as the Normal mode. It isn't incredibly challenging, but the hints given in Recruit are drastically lowered.
  • Hardened: "Your skills will be strained." Things start to get rough on Hardened. Long-time FPS and Call of Duty players shouldn't struggle too much, but it won't be a walk in the park.
  • Veteran: "You will not survive." Don't be surprised if a Veteran campaign playthrough takes you twice as long as Recruit or Regular.
  • Realism: "Veteran with limited HUD." The Veteran difficulty is turned up a notch here, making it feel like you are really out there with Task Force 141 stopping a global threat in Modern Warfare 2.
They are all available from the start, except for Realism. You will need to unlock the Realism difficulty level before gaining access to it.
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How to unlock Realism difficulty in Modern Warfare 2

Realism is the highest difficulty level in Modern Warfare 2 (Screenshot via
Realism is the highest difficulty level in Modern Warfare 2 (Screenshot via
All it takes to unlock Realism in Modern Warfare 2 is to finish the campaign for the first time. You'll unlock it through beating any difficulty level. If you want to dive into the Realism difficulty quickly, speed through the campaign on Recruit mode.
If you want a bit of a primer before taking on Realism, then you should try Hardened or Veteran. It will take a bit longer to unlock the mode, but you'll have much more experience with the harder parts of the campaign.
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Brandon Moore
Brandon Moore
Editor | Twitter @MothmanMoore
Brandon "Mothman" Moore is an esports journalist based in the United States. He has a heavy background in FPS titles, including professional Valorant coverage from day one. Brandon is a family man who loves writing, gaming, and catching a baseball game.