Call of Duty Warzone 2.0 faces backlash over cultural misrepresentation and Arabic translation errors

Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward has been criticized for its use of Arabic language and misrepresentation of culture in Warzone 2.

Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail was among those who spoke about the game and shared a detailed review thread posted on ResetEra.

“Why don’t you hire Arabs for once [and] locals to make sure the places where you seem to be insisting on blowing us up would pass at least the critical eye of a three-year-old,” Ismail wrote on Twitter. “It’s embarrassing for the development of the game as a whole.”

Eurogamer Newscast: Was Nintendo Direct and PlayStation State of Play a disappointment?

In details ResetEra post shared by Ismail, user Dance Inferno began: “I created a thread a while ago about how the Modern Warfare reboot frustrated non-Arabic speaking actors playing Arabic speaking roles, which meant that as a native speaker of Arabic, I had to resort to reading subtitles to figure out what a fucking so-called Arabic-speaking character was saying (their accents were horribly unintelligible).

“I had some hope that Infinity Ward would have addressed this issue for this new release, but alas, from the Warzone 2 footage released yesterday, it looks like their handling of the Middle East is still as comical as ever. she was in 2019.”

The poster went on to highlight several aspects of the game, including its new map of the city of Al Mazrah, which is found in the game’s fictional version of Iraq known as the Republic of Adal – qu they claim to be a “complete bastardization of the Arabic language”. “.

Dance Inferno noted that the developer was hesitant to have the city’s billboards written in Arabic. Instead, they’re mostly written in English, which Dance Inferno said is unlikely in an Arabic-speaking country.

“The vast majority of citizens speak Arabic as their primary language, and it would be downright weird not to have any Arabic billboards in the main city center. At the very least, you would have billboards in Arabic and English,” they wrote.

Meanwhile, the Arabic that appears in Warzone 2 has been mistranslated. Dance Inferno highlighted the airport here, acknowledging the two signs for ‘international departures’ and ‘local departures’. While Dance Inferno said the translation of the international departures is “passable”, they called the Arabic translation of the local departures sign “a brutal bastardization of all things holy”. Infinity Ward translated this sign as “المغادرين المحلية”.

“The best way to translate this into English while still retaining the atrocious nail-on-board grammar is ‘Departing Passengers Domestic,'” Dance Inferno wrote. “It’s even worse than that because the word for ‘Domestic’ isn’t even conjugated correctly – it’s a singular adjective attached to a plural noun, which is a big no-no in Arabic.”


Warzone 2 airport signs.

Dance Inferno also drew attention to a sign in Warzone 2’s Taraq Village which, when translated into English, reads “Halal Hookah Bar”. Dance Inferno blasted Infinity Ward for using ‘Western’ words on its Arabic signs, saying: “No one in the Middle East uses the term ‘bar’ to refer to a place where you have hookah… The fact that the word ‘bar'” appearing on an Arabic billboard in an Islamic country where bars as a concept don’t exist is just mind blowing to me. And the fact that it is part of the term ‘hookah bar’ shows a remarkable lack of any modicum of cultural awareness or research”.

The user ended their post by comparing this setting with the game’s Mexican map. “What makes me even sadder is that their treatment of the Mexico map feels so authentic and they clearly had Hispanic devs working on this map,” they wrote. “[Infinity Ward] clearly has the resources to do an authentic depiction of a foreign country, it’s just a shame they didn’t bother to apply that effort to their main map of the Middle East.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time a Call of Duty game has made headlines for its disrespectful depictions of other nations. In 2012, Activision apologized to the Muslim community after hanging a painting above the toilet in Modern Warfare 2 that had sacred teachings written around its frame.

More recently, Activision issued an apology for its depiction of the Quran in Call of Duty: Vanguard.