The Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 campaign is one of the worst in the entire history of the series. We notice the seemingly relatively manageable development time and the character “that used to be DLC” in every corner of Sledgehammer’s shooter.
But Call of Duty traditionally doesn’t just consist of a solo mode, this year it also includes an extensive multiplayer mode and a revised zombie co-op mode in the overall package.
We’ve been playing it a lot over the last few days and the multiplayer portion may boost Modern Warfare 3’s overall rating, although not by much.
What about the campaign? In this test we will only discuss Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer modes and give the shooter an overall rating. You can read the campaign test, which was published in early November, here:
It feels good!
There are two main reasons for this. On the one hand there is the general feeling of the game. Compared to the almost sedate Modern Warfare 2, Sledgehammer has noticeably increased the pace of play in MW3, which, combined with now more effective jumping and sliding maneuvers, results in significantly more dynamic matches than last year.
The slightly longer kill time and slightly reduced auto-aim assist also ensure that the oft-invoked “Whoever sees the other person first wins” doesn’t automatically apply in MW3, at least significantly less so than in other CoDs.
Combined with the traditionally near-flawless gunplay and excellent, versatile controls, Modern Warfare 3 simply feels good in multiplayer.
The more than 100 weapons in the usual categories, such as assault rifles, submachine guns, light machine guns, etc., play differently, have a lot of power and a very satisfying impact response.
Overall, we get the feeling that the nearly 30 new weapons are a bit more powerful compared to their older counterparts. However, rather subtle and not in such a way that the balance is completely affected. Especially since all weapons can be equipped with numerous accessories and modified.
Great maps with a few exceptions.
However, a good gaming experience could not be sufficiently developed without proper game spaces, which brings us to the second advantage of Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer: the maps. Yes, we also rolled our eyes when it was announced that 16 of the 20 maps were visually and gameplay-wise ports of maps from Modern Warfare 2 (2009). But when it comes to actual matches, it turns out there are some pretty good maps.
For example, in Terminal we fight in an airport, in Afghan we play cat and mouse around a crashed cargo plane in the desert and in Karachi we immerse ourselves in frantic house-to-house combat.
Almost all maps offer a good mix of close combat areas and longer lines of sight and the fact that, unlike Modern Warfare 2, the maps are significantly more vertical and have height differences is also a positive.
The truth is that some maps have aged better than others. While most of it still works well today, fights on Rust’s compact map in particular take on grotesque and chaotic traits, and particularly twisty maps like Skidrow don’t really mesh well with the increased pace of gameplay. Also, some of the recycled maps seem too big, at least for classic 6v6.
During our test rounds there were also issues with skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) being too difficult and spawns. In some cases they barely change and on some maps, like Rust, it happened that we were killed four or five times in a row after a spawn. Hopefully patches will improve this in the future.
The return of war
The modes feature a reunion with many old friends like Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed or Domination, which also work well as always. And we must admit that that is too little for us, because MW3 relies too much on the familiar.
The only new feature is the “Unmerciful” variant, in which three groups of three compete against each other. Whoever is the last surviving team usually wins.
Unmerciful has at least turned out to be a good addition so far: the games we played were all exciting and intense. In this case, of course, it is advisable to join a fixed and, ideally, well-coordinated group, because in this mode agreements are especially important.
We were also happy with the return of war mode, which we liked in Call of Duty: WW2. Each game plays out like a mini-campaign in several sections. A team must first capture some points, then escort a tank, and then avoid a missile launch on a base.
The other team must prevent it at all costs. As fun as this mode is, it wears thin pretty quickly. Since there is only one stage or map, after a few games we wanted more variation.
Also present again is the Ground War mode, which is also designed for large groups and maps and is reminiscent of Battlefield; For example, there are also different vehicles such as quads or jeeps.
The games didn’t really get off to a good start in this mode due to the somewhat confusing and sniper-heavy maps. It is clear that Call of Duty’s strengths lie in the compact 6v6 skirmishes.
Lots to unlock
All this is part of the usual CoD activation spiral, because of course we also gradually level up to level 55 in MW3 and thus unlock various items, killstreaks or other bonuses.
This time, however, many items and even weapons are also linked to a different mechanic, the so-called Armory Unlock. These are unlocked at level 25 and in order to get the corresponding items we have to complete daily challenges.
What initially sounds like a nice new element quickly feels like an artificial extension of play time, as only a handful of challenges can be completed each day. This will probably bother fans who spend a lot of time in multiplayer anyway, but it will probably bother everyone else.
The new Armory Unlocks link certain unlocks to daily challenges.
In MW3, the ratchets can also be modified with various accessories, but they must first be activated.
Other gameplay adjustments are quite marginal and were neither positively nor negatively noticeable in testing. For example, certain abilities (perks) are now tied to clothing items like vests or shoes, but there’s a big enough variation here that it invites experimentation.
Detail fetishists may once again get lost in optimizing their own equipment or adapting weapons; MW3 offers a veritable cornucopia of options here, thanks to the numerous weapons imported from MW2.
One that you have to fight in places, because Modern Warfare 3’s menus are pretty horrible. The screen is so cluttered and the structure so unintuitive that navigation didn’t work properly even after hours of playing.
Zombie mode: no real character
Zombie mode is the third major cornerstone of CoD Modern Warfare 3 and has probably undergone the biggest change. Previous CoD zombie modes were always classic wave modes where the goal was to defend against hordes of increasingly stronger and larger zombies in specially constructed areas. It always had its own charm, especially thanks to the crazy settings and the many built-in Easter eggs.
And that’s exactly what the new zombie mode is sadly almost completely missing. Because it’s basically just a copy of the DMZ mode introduced in Warzone last year. Then, alone or with up to two colleagues, we will be placed on a huge map (the new Warzone map, Urzikstan, by the way) and we will destroy hordes of undead there.
We complete smaller, quickly repeating secondary tasks to buy or find better weapons and equipment. After three quarters of an hour at most we will leave by plane and we can start the next round with more equipment.
Apart from the AI opponents, who are now zombies, the Zombies mode only occasionally nods to its predecessors, for example with some names or power-ups such as the item that briefly grants double points. Everything else is a glued-on variant of Warzone that is strikingly reminiscent of Free2Play CoD both mechanically and visually.
However, that doesn’t mean that the mode doesn’t perform well in terms of gameplay. On the contrary, basic strengths such as good gunplay also apply here, and with solid equipment you can surely have a good time, the mode is especially good for leveling up weapons. The changes make the new zombies feel more interchangeable and inconsequential overall.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3: this is what awaits you in the new zombie mode
Who is this Call of Duty for?
Recycled maps, content taken from the predecessor, Warzone scenes in zombie mode: the updated character of the campaign also extends to multiplayer mode and, therefore, to the entire game. Overall, Modern Warfare 3 feels more like a DLC than a new game, which would justify the overall price. Therefore, the balance is as follows:
- Bell: bad
- Multiplayer: good to very good in places
- Zombies: mediocre
The bottom line is that this is enough for a solid overall rating, but at the same time it is also the worst Call of Duty rating in GamePro history. In fact, we can only recommend CoD Modern Warfare 3 to die-hard multiplayer fans, and only with significant reservations.
If, on the other hand, you want a great shooter campaign or good cooperative modes, there are now many better alternatives than this Call of Duty, which will remain the biggest disappointment in the history of the series to date.