Modern Warfare 3 came in hot, with a whole host of new maps, new weapons and a new story mode that'll get fans ready to lock 'n load.
But did it hit the mark, in a way that would satisfy both current gen gamers and those looking to take a nostalgia trip to Modern Warfare games of 10 years ago?
I suppose that depends on who you ask. The game has somewhat split the gaming community's opinion almost right down the center. Some think it's one of the better entries in a while, others have suggested that the game could easily exist as a DLC pack for Modern Warfare 2. We actually don't think it's getting enough credit, as we're having the most fun with this Call of Duty that we've had in quite a while. Probably since Black Ops: Cold War.
First, let's talk about all the things that make this one of our new favorites in recent memory. First off, the maps are awesome. Of course, that's because many of them are throwbacks to the days of the original MW2/MW3 (like Terminal, for example). I can't think of any map that had more hype or anticipation surrounding it than this one in particular. For old players that have stuck with the franchise over the years, this was like a homecoming. That map could be the Blood Gulch of Call of Duty games (Halo reference for those paying attention). Some maps did take some getting used to, as far as their sheer scale, in comparison to the fairly small Team Deathmatch squad sizes. This really lent itself to a more laid-back strategy of literally scoping out the enemy from a corner and doing a lot less run 'n gun gameplay.
A huge factor in our enjoyment was the fact that, from the start, I was able to jump into my old MW2 content. So I loaded up my Shredder operator skin, picked up my ISO Hemlock and went to town from level one. That's because everything from MW2 was transferable and unlocked, reducing the amount of grind that you feel early on in the first few days of the game. We spent opening weekend absolutely wrecking people, and it felt like we were just extending last years' experience )rather than having to start again from scratch). Which can be super frustrating.
Peace through strength. - Farah Karim
However, the progression system for the weapons this year has definitely caused some controversy. Gone are the tuning elements for each individual attachment, but now you are required to complete daily challenges in order to unlock certain perks, care packages, weapons and more. Honestly, at first, we weren't sure how we felt about this. And frankly, there were several pieces of gear we just assumed we'd never get. Because some of the requirements seemed beyond my capabilities as a player. We're just CoD casuals over here, but we found the daily challenges to be a pleasant surprise (and a lot easier than we had anticipated to finish). As of this writing, we pretty much unlocked every option that is of interest, and it didn't take all that long to do. It's worth noting that not everyone is a fan of this, but for someone like me who is an achievement hunter on Xbox Live, this gives me more to do and a purpose behind it. Which makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something instead of just grinding for the sake of grinding. The reward at the end at least gives you something to work towards.
We could spend hours digging into the minutiae of everything MW3's online multiplayer element has to offer. But the biggest takeaway is, if you liked last year's version...you'll love this year as well. Some have claimed that there isn't enough difference between the releases, but we just chalk that up to diminishing returns. At some point the gap between that "new car smell" is simply going to be negligible. So we just have to learn to enjoy our current spot in the current-gen hardware cycle and find our pleasures as they come. MW3 is more of what we love, and that can't be bad.
However, there is one huge problem plaguing the community at present, which we hope is fixed very soon. We admit this freely, we're campers at heart. As mentioned above, our favorite thing to do is find a spot that no one knows about, dig in with our scope and start picking people off. But a recent glitch, having to do with the proximity warning of inactive players, has been kicking people inadvertently. Some have jumped to the conclusion that this is an added feature, and Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer have decided to finally crack down on campers. We simply can't believe that's true, as no developer in their right mind whatever presumed to overstep their bounds and dictate how a player should play in their sandbox. So we're chalking this up to a bug, and we're monitoring the @CallOfDuty Updates page on X for any news. Will update our review at the top when the fix has been released. We hope it's coming very soon, because we've been kicked on more than one occasion, even while racking up kills and kill streaks (which is heartbreaking).
It's important to remember that Modern Warfare 3 isn't just about Team Deathmatch. There are tons of other really fun options, that'll fit anyone's play style. Of course, you have the massive Warzone 2 mode returning, that is so incredibly expansive, it merits its own separate review. But you also have things like Ground War and Invasion, which takes you out of these small close-quarters fights, and puts you into larger scale battles, with tanks, helicopters and all the fun that you Battlefield vets will love.
And of course, there's zombies! Which again, has gotten mixed reviews from the fan base. While some have stated its repetitive, again, we have to ask.. what's wrong with that? We feel context is important here, and keeping these things in perspective is key before loading up the mode. We expect waves and waves of endless hordes, clear the area, move to the next, wash/rinse/repeat. We find this is fun for not just a chill evening with your buddies that you squad up with, but a great way to level up guns. And it takes things down a notch, from the stress that can exist around a Friday night multiplayer lobby of Kill Confirmed or Hardpoint.
As for the story mode, we get a new take on a familiar favorite. It stands to reason that there are going to be some folks that don't particularly care for the online portion of many games, and an immersive, character driven experience is what does it for them. While I can't say this is the deepest story Call of Duty as ever put together cinematically, it definitely has been one of the most fun from a game play perspective. It's absolutely great getting a feel for some of the maps that then reappear in scaled down versions for the multiplayer modes. Highrise is a good example, which appears in both the story mode and online. But one of the biggest changes is the fact that several of the chapters are considered open-world missions. Which essentially allows you to craft your own line from A to B to C, tackling things in a much non-linear fashion. Although there are more straightforward missions mixed in as well, for those who don't want to go completely GTA Style with their Call of Duty.
While it could have been a tad bit longer, overall we enjoyed it and aren't as nitpicky as others have been in regards to it not feeling new enough. Again, see our point above about diminishing returns, but we feel that this Call of Duty story is on par with many that we've seen in recent years. But we also load in for the multiplayer 90% of the time, so we're much more forgiving on what the story mode had to offer. The cutscene graphics are great, and not far off from what we get in the in-game engine, and the sound design is bangin'. The distant crack of a far off rifle, or the thunderous sound of unloading an entire clip down a narrow hallway, feels like it's right out of a John Wick film.
With another Call of Duty behind us, and this one polarizing the fan base perhaps more than ever, we do have to ask a vital question. That is, is it time that Call of Duty moves away from its traditional yearly model, and adopts something more akin to what a franchise like Fortnite has done. Where the game is ALWAYS out, and there's no launch per se. But each content drop is rolled out as a chapter or season, which is basically how Modern Warfare 3 presented things this year. Having everything available from MW2, really showed us that this game can just be its own engine, which we download add-ons to, like weapons, map packs, cosmetics and so forth.
Either way, we always enjoy the fall, because we know as soon as the leaves start to turn, there will usually be a new CoD right around the corner. MW3 this year was no exception. We played the beta and it wet our appetite for everything that was to come (and the final product did not disappoint). Once the inactivity bug is patched (and we're no longer getting kicked), we'd be willing to bump this score up a whole other point, because that's just how much fun we've been having!