Fans of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare have known for quite a while that the game is going to earn its M rating. Things like white phosphorous have the previous Call of Duty studio head worried. These controversial aspects of the game are about to get dialed up to 11 if the ESRB's description of the game is any indication.
Along with white phosphorous, the game will apparently have a child soldier section, as well as a host of other aspects that could easily warrant an M rating. According to the ESRB, this includes but is not limited to the more conventional reasons behind any shooter's M rating. This includes the fact that players "use machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, and explosives to kill enemies in frenetic combat."
However, there is also very Call of Duty: Modern Warfare-specific reasoning behind the rating. For example, in some situations, players may be forced to "threaten a suspect's family during an interrogation." Similarly, one particular "sequence depicts players' character interrogated/tortured via waterboarding; if players select certain dialogue options, then a bound prisoner is seen executed." This information treads spoiler territory on ESRB's part but it is important for parents to note nonetheless.
Additionally, there are cutscenes that display similarly hard-to-watch moments, such as one where players witness "civilians (including children) killed by a gas attack." Furthermore, there are other scenes involving (potentially lethal) violence directed toward children, including a scene with "a boy held hostage" and "young siblings attacked in their home," where "players can control their ability to fight back."
The gaming industry has taken some risks in storytelling over time, including the Call of Duty series, where the "No Russian" mission was considered astronomically controversial in 2009. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare appears to be taking things to the modern extreme, even with hyper-violent games like Gears 5 and more currently being major players in the gaming scene. As one of the most anticipated titles of this Fall, if not the most, the game is likely to have all eyes on it come its October 25 release date.