Modern Warfare 2 devs address backlash to Santa Sena Border Crossing map: “We do our best”

Brad Norton
Modern Warfare 2 Santa Sena Border Crossing map

It’s no secret Modern Warfare 2’s Santa Sena Border Crossing map didn’t quite click with a good chunk of the Call of Duty community. In speaking with Infinity Ward, we gleaned some insight on the design goals for this particular map along with their reaction to the backlash.

When Modern Warfare 2 (the second one) hit store shelves at the tail end of last year, it did so with 10 standard multiplayer maps in total. While one was up in the air due to legal concerns and another was ripped straight out after the Beta, much of the initial discourse centered around one of these new maps in particular.

Santa Sena Border Crossing debuted to a sea of criticism, some in jest, some not so kind. The narrowly structured layout had players fighting over a few lanes of congested traffic, with dozens of empty vehicles lined bumper to bumper. On one hand, they allowed for different means of traversal, but on the other, they also led to a great deal of frustration. After all, these vehicles were still intact, meaning they could explode at any given moment and effectively ruin your day.

In some extreme cases, these cars really took out their frustration on the player base in the most unbelievably amusing ways.

So what exactly was the thought process behind this controversial CoD map? What were the developers at Infinity Ward hoping to accomplish? And how did they feel on early backlash to its arrival in MW2? Multiplayer Design Director Geoff Smith gave us some answers in a recent interview.

“Map-wise, we try to have a balance between experiential maps and the more competitive maps,” Smith explained. While some are designed to cater to the “sweaty” crowd, others keep the casual audience in mind instead, prioritizing more unique experiences as opposed to traditional, competitive-friendly layouts.

“Not all of them are super sweaty, balanced ones. There’s ones where ‘hey, it’d be really cool to fight over a border crossing.’ And I know that map’s not super popular in certain groups, but we like to keep it fun and it’s really neat to move through those cars, channeling Sicario. So we try to keep it fun and switch it up, but there’s a balance.”

Concepts like Santa Sena, Crown Raceway, and Zarqwa Hydroelectric from MW2 alone could all fit under that classification. Maps primarily built around big ideas and novel experiences, be it a border crossing, a race track, or a multi-layered design with underwater paths.

“You know, our user base is so huge,” Smith continued. “We try to balance as much as we can. I think it’s important to have these fun, experiential maps, and we obviously have enough for the CDL to have their play space.”

Regarding Border Crossing backlash specifically, as the most obvious example of these ‘experiential’ map designs, Smith joked the devs aren’t “trying to ruin people’s fun on every single map. I think we even looked into keeping those cars from blowing up every round in S&D because that gets really old.

“We kind of just make adjustments as we go, but I think it’s important to have a wide variety of experiences. Not everybody’s into super sweaty matches, so we kind of balance it for everyone. We do our best.”