Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3’s campaign is one of the worst in the series’ history. We note the seemingly relatively manageable development time and the “that used to be DLC” character in every corner of Sledgehammer’s shooter.
But Call of Duty traditionally doesn’t just consist of solo mode, this year it also includes extensive multiplayer and a revised Zombies co-op mode in the overall package.
We’ve been playing a lot over the last few days and the multiplayer part could really boost Modern Warfare 3’s overall rating – even if not by much.
And 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, published in early November, here:
It feels good!
There are two main reasons for this. On the one hand is the overall feel of the game. Compared to the almost sedate Modern Warfare 2, Sledgehammer has noticeably increased the pace of play in MW3, which, in combination with the now more effective jumping and sliding maneuvers, results in significantly more dynamic matches than last year.
The slightly longer time to kill 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-perfect gunplay and excellent, versatile controls, Modern Warfare 3 simply feels good and right in multiplayer.
The 100+ weapons in the usual categories like assault rifles, SMGs, light machine guns, etc. play differently, have a lot of power and very satisfying hit feedback.
Overall, we get the feeling that the nearly 30 new weapons are a bit stronger compared to their older counterparts. However, in a very subtle way and not in such a way that the balance is completely undermined here. Especially since all weapons can be equipped with various attachments and modified.
Great maps with some exceptions
However, a good gaming experience couldn’t develop sufficiently without proper amusement parks, which brings us to the second advantage of Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer: the maps. Yes, we also rolled our eyes when it was announced that 16 of the 20 maps were visually and gameplay-adapted versions of maps from Modern Warfare 2 (2009). But when it comes to the actual matches, it turns out that there are some pretty good maps.
For example, in Terminal we fight in an airport, in Afghanistan we play cat and mouse around a crashed cargo plane in the desert and in Karachi we dive into frenzied house-to-house fighting.
Almost all of the 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 things still work well today, fights on the compact Rust map in particular take on a grotesque, chaotic quality, and particularly twisty maps like Skidrow don’t mesh well with the increased pace of play. Additionally, some of the recycled maps look significantly too large – at least for classic 6v6.
During our testing rounds, there were also issues with Skill Based Matchmaking (SBMM) being too difficult and with spawns. In some cases they barely change and on some maps – like Rust – we happened to be 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 usual. And I admit that’s a bit of an understatement for us, because MW3 relies heavily on the familiar.
The only new feature is the “Merciless” variant, in which three groups of three compete against each other. Whoever is the last team standing wins most often.
Unmerciful has at least turned out to be a good addition so far: the games we’ve played have all been exciting and intense. Here, of course, it is advisable to join a fixed and, ideally, well-coordinated group, because agreements are particularly important in this modality.
We were also happy to see the return of war mode, which we enjoyed in Call of Duty: WW2. Each game plays like a mini-campaign across multiple sections. A team must first capture some points, then escort a tank, and then stop a missile from being launched at a base.
The other team must avoid this at all costs. As fun as this mode is, it wears thin very quickly. Since there is only one scenario or one map, after just a few games we wanted more variation.
Ground warfare mode, which is also designed for large groups and maps and reminiscent of Battlefield, is also back; for example, there are also various vehicles such as quad bikes or jeeps.
The games didn’t really start well in this mode because of the somewhat confusing and sniper-filled maps. You can simply say that Call of Duty’s strengths lie in compact 6v6 skirmishes.
Lots to unlock
All of this falls into 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 Unlocks. These are unlocked at level 25 and to get the corresponding items we have to complete daily challenges.
What initially seems like an interesting new element quickly feels like an artificial lengthening of gameplay time, as only a few challenges can be completed each day. Either way, this will probably bother fans who spend a lot of time in multiplayer, but it will probably bother everyone else.
The new Arsenal unlocks tie certain unlocks to daily challenges.
In MW3, turnstiles can also be modified with various accessories, but these must first be activated.
Other gameplay tweaks are quite marginal and were not noted either positively or negatively in testing. For example, certain abilities (perks) are now tied to items of clothing like vests or shoes, but there is a big enough variation here that invites you to experiment.
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’ll have to struggle with in places, because Modern Warfare 3’s menus are horrible. The screen is so full of elements and the structure is so unintuitive that navigation didn’t work well even after hours of playing.
Zombie mode: no real characters
Zombie mode is the third cornerstone of CoD Modern Warfare 3 and has probably seen the biggest change. Previous CoD zombie modes have always been classic wave modes in which the objective was to fend off increasingly stronger and larger hordes of zombies in specially constructed areas. It has always had its charm, mainly thanks to the crazy scenarios and the many built-in Easter eggs.
And that’s exactly what the new zombie mode almost completely lacks. Because it’s basically just a copy of the DMZ mode introduced in Warzone last year. So, alone or with up to two colleagues, we’re dropped into a huge map – the new Urzikistan Warzone map, by the way – and blast hordes of undead there.
We complete smaller, repeating side tasks quickly to buy or find better weapons and equipment. After three quarters of an hour at most, we will set off again and be able to start the next round more fully equipped.
Aside from the AI opponents, who are now zombies, Zombies mode only occasionally nods in the direction of its predecessors, for example with some names or power-ups like the item that briefly gives double points. Everything else is a pasted-together Warzone variant that is surprisingly reminiscent of Free2Play CoD, both mechanically and visually.
However, that doesn’t mean the mode doesn’t work well in terms of gameplay. On the contrary, the basic strengths like good gunplay also apply here and with a solid team you can certainly have fun, the mode is particularly 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 over from the predecessor, Warzone scenarios in zombie mode: the updated character of the campaign also extends to multiplayer and, therefore, the entire game. Overall, Modern Warfare 3 feels like DLC rather than a new game, which would justify the full price. The balance sheet, therefore, reads as follows:
- Campaign: 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 go down as the biggest disappointment in the series’ history to date.