Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is not the threequel we deserved, but in no way in hell it's a 4/10 game
It's that time of year when a lot of people, especially on X, like to express their dislike for the new Call of Duty release, this time being Modern Warfare 3. However, this year, it feels like there's just more hate than usual. While I understand some pain points, which I will delve into as this review progresses, a lot of it just feels unwarranted.
If you've read any of my other reviews in the past, you know the drill and how I like to review Call of Duty games. Unlike most, I get super excited about Call of Duty for its campaigns because even when they are kind of bad, they are still pretty enjoyable.
The reboot of the Modern Warfare timeline, let's call it that, was phenomenal in my books. It was more grounded, real, and visceral, with sequences somewhat inspired by real-world events and an excellent cast of new actors portraying some of the best characters in Call of Duty history. It helped a lot that the games looked and sounded incredible too.
Modern Warfare 3 picks up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off, with Task Force 141 hunting down Makarov, an ultranationalist terrorist with the goal of plunging the world into a new World War through some despicable means.
In a cool twist, the game begins by putting you in the shoes of the bad guys as they raid a Russian gulag to free Makarov. After Price and the rest of TF 141 discover his escape, the hunt is on to bring him back to justice or, better yet, put a bullet through his skull, as that seems to be the only way to stop him.
Throughout the campaign, TF 141 reunites with old friends like Farrah, Alex, and Nikolaj, as well as some old enemies turned temporary allies. It was quite nice to see familiar faces reappear. The banter between the cast and the bonds they have created were enjoyable, although I would have liked to see more of it. At the same time, witnessing the interactions between them and these 'freenemies' was intriguing. In one cutscene, another party is reintroduced, and Ghost, in his beautiful British accent, declares, 'Let's launch a fucking airstrike at them now and end it.
Now, one of the major points that received a lot of online criticism, among other things, is how the campaign is structured in Modern Warfare 3. The game introduces missions called 'Open Combat Missions' into the campaign, a departure from the usual linear missions in Call of Duty. These missions, as suggested by their name, drop you into fairly large open maps with one or two objectives, offering total freedom in how you approach and complete them. The areas are rich with weapons and gear, ranging from silenced guns to RPGs and killstreaks, allowing you to choose how to handle each objective.
Personally, I loved this new concept and found it refreshing. Playing on Veteran, the only right way to experience any Call of Duty campaign, these missions proved to be quite challenging and fun. Although I died numerous times, I didn't mind, as each attempt allowed for a different approach. There's ample room for experimentation. Upon restarting the level, given the rarity of checkpoints in these missions, a Loadout screen appears. Here, you can modify your loadout and equip any weapons or gear found in prior runs at that mission. It's akin to some sort of roguelike gameplay. So, if my C4 - RPG - gun blazing tactic failed one time, the next attempt might involve a more stealthy approach. In my opinion, that's pretty cool.
The primary grievance that the online community has with these missions—and, to some extent, I can empathize with them, although my sentiments differ—is that these sequences reuse assets from Warzone and other multiplayer maps. Additionally, they lack the blockbuster setpieces that Call of Duty games are known for. When you throw in the whole ABK-Microsoft deal, the fact that Call of Duty is an Xbox IP, and the narrative that Xbox is supposedly dying and doesn't deserve to carry Call of Duty with it, the discourse (or rather, the hate) surrounding MW3 has become exhausting. Navigating through the cesspool of hateful posts on X (Twitter), review bombing, and accusations of developer laziness has been absolutely insane. Even major press outlets giving low scores like 4-5/10 only made things worse.
A 4/10? A lower score than the abysmal Redfall and Quantum Error? Now, I understand that the campaign is not as good or long as last year's Modern Warfare 2 since they only had one year to develop the game, but a 4/10?
I don't know, man. This hate feels unwarranted. Although short, you have all the Call of Duty staples here: stealth missions set in snow, desert, mountains, underground facilities, an underwater sequence, the godly AC130 mission, and an excellent tense mission similar to the Piccadilly mission from MW 2019 but on steroids. Then you have the open combat missions that you can complete at your own pace. Personally, I'm surprised at the quality of the content that the dev teams put together in such a short time. I'm also glad that the story is not over, as MW3 feels like the Infinity War to the Endgame that will be MW4. I can't wait to see how much more I'll despise Makarov in the next campaign, whether it's developed by Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer, or whoever takes charge.
Damn... time to talk about the multiplayer. Well, I don't know what I can say here. It's Call of Duty multiplayer—you either love it and keep playing or hate it and still play while waiting for the next installment. Personally, I don't stick around much longer with the multiplayer after reviewing Call of Duty games. So, I don't really know how much better or worse the movement, guns, time to kill (TTK), killstreaks, progression, maps, and all the other things that might be important are compared to previous installments. I just know that if I load into a game and see that the other players have default skins, I'll enjoy the game because I'll do well.
However, if I load into a match and see Groot sniping with a .50 from across the map, Lilith from Diablo 4 erasing players from existence, and Nicki Minaj raining down death from a chopper gunner, I know Skill-Based Matchmaking has kicked in, and I just put my controller down and leave. So, I'm not the right guy to give you feedback on how Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer is. Check out YouTube or Twitch streamers who play Call of Duty for a living, hear what they have to say, and continue from there.
As for the Zombies mode, I must say that, in the time I spent with it, I enjoyed it. It's definitely a departure from the old round-based experience set in maps specifically designed for the Zombies mode. This time around, you spawn into an 'altered' version of the upcoming new Warzone 2 map, Urzikstan. The map is filled with points of interest, buildings to explore, tons of loot to pick up, assignments to complete, challenges, hives to clear, mini-bosses to fight, and tons of zombies to kill.
Since there are no rounds per se, the map is split into different threat levels, ranging from low to high. Zombies and other creatures in the higher threat zones are, of course, more powerful. At the same time, the loot you'll find is way better, and the assignments will pay out more, and so on. Pack-a-Punch machines are also spread throughout the map, allowing you to upgrade your weapons based on the threat level zone you find them in. A higher threat zone will enable you to upgrade your weapons to higher levels and so on.
Once you are satisfied with the loot you have collected and any cool weapons, you can call in an extraction. After killing what feels like 800 zombies, you can make your exfil. Since this is a massive map, multiple teams of 3 players spawn in, and what's cooler is that you can join them to fight against harder bosses or ping them to help you out if you and the rest of your team are down. It's a lot of fun and definitely something that I will go back and play from time to time.
That about covers all that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has to offer. The campaign is short, but the quality of what's there is still good. Just keep in mind that if you want to get the most out of it, you need to play it on Veteran difficulty. The story is great, and there are a couple of tense moments that will stick with you long after you complete it. As for multiplayer, I don't know, and as for Zombies, you just read three paragraphs, so you know.
Would I personally spend $70 to buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? No. Does this game deserve a 4/10 score or the hate it's getting? Absolutely not. Having said that, if you are someone like me, I don't recommend you get this game at full price. If you are someone who plays Call of Duty multiplayer, you probably have already bought it, so thanks for reading!
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a promo code provided by Plaion. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is out now on PlayStation, PC and Xbox.