Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III continues the Modern Warfare storyline in interesting ways. The development team at Sledgehammer Games took a new mission design approach, adding a bit of multiplayer flavor to the campaign. To be clear, the campaign remains single-player only. Some concepts, such as changing the loadout in multiplayer, now appear in single-player missions. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III also offers its standard multiplayer suite, the continuation of the Modern Warfare storyline, new Zombies action, and more Warzone for players that prefer battle royale.
A Story Continued
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III campaign picks up right after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. In fact, the opening mission for this campaign offers an interesting twist. The player becomes part of a team participating in a prison break, which kicks off a series of global events. The main antagonist for the Modern Warfare series, Makarov, returns and continues to wreak havoc and sow distrust wherever he sees fit. The story follows Task Force 141 and the Urzikstan Liberation Force (ULF). These groups work together to try and prevent Makarov from achieving his goals. Some missions revolve around the more linear gameplay that Call of Duty fans expect. Other missions go another route, putting the player in an “open world” space where the player has to make some decisions.
The game lays out the player's objectives in these instances. However, these objectives have no specific order, allowing the player to complete them in any order. For example, on one level, the group's mission involves finding a manifest and attaching tracking beacons on some missiles. What happens first doesn't matter; the person playing the game chooses an approach. This accommodates different types of gameplay. The player can either go into stealth mode and sneak around the area to secure the objective or go in loud with guns blazing and completely wipe out the enemy. Different weapons and upgrades also litter the landscape, so be sure to keep your eyes open at all times.
The campaign offers some fun moments and some nice callbacks to earlier games. The length of the campaign falls in line with the rest of the games in the series. The development team also did a great job on the ending. One matter gets definitively resolved while another thread remains open, presumably for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare IV in a few years.
Unfortunately, some technical problems not typically found in Call of Duty games plague Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. We had to restart a mission occasionally because the audio completely cut out. The music turned off, the audio from the gameplay turned off, and the voices in the cinematics fell silent. It didn't happen often, but it happened enough to warrant a mention in this review. The game also failed to load correctly in several instances, leading to some frustration. As stated above, the development team created a fun campaign. It gave players an interesting continuation of the Modern Warfare story, but these technical bugs hurt. Sometimes, it felt like the team rushed to meet the November release deadline.
The standard multiplayer suite returns with some familiar maps and gameplay. Players familiar with the Call of Duty franchise already know what to expect within the multiplayer suite. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III has seven different modes for multiplayer action. These options include Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All, Search and Destroy, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, and Control. For players who want to jump into the action quickly, select the “Quick Play” option and enjoy.
For those who want to customize their Operator, the team at Sledgehammer Games also has everyone covered. Different skins become available to equip once the player selects an Operator, depending on the bundles available. The player also has a finishing move to choose from so your Operator can eliminate the opposition in style. The standard weapons found here include assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and more. The more a gun gets used, the more experience points get earned towards a new level. As weapons get leveled up, more elements get unlocked, allowing the player to customize their loadout and be a more efficient and deadly player. The gunsmith feature also appears, allowing the player to customize the weapons in several combinations. One of the best options revolves around equipping a silencer so the player position isn't given away when a gun gets fired.
Regarding the maps in the game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III launches with 16 available locations. These maps originally debuted in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. During development, the team took the maps and redesigned them, bringing every map up to modern standards. Classics like “Terminal,” “Quarry,” Favela,” “Highrise,” and more return in all their glory. Playing these maps gives off a great feeling of nostalgia for players who initially experienced them approximately 14 years ago. The multiplayer mode also features daily challenges for players who enjoy revolving challenges, such as getting 35 operator kills, or two Operator kills with Breacher Drones.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III – Enter Zombies
Another mode making a return to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III revolves around an interesting idea from Call of Duty: World War II. War Mode has returned and features two teams going head to head to try and achieve their objective. Both teams have the opportunity for defense and offense to see who comes out on top.
War Mode gives the player multiple goals to complete in a linear experience. The objectives get inspiration from war-like situations. The team on the offensive tries to complete a series of objectives, which pushes them forward and deeper into enemy territory. When it becomes time to play defense, that team must stop the advancing opposition at all costs. The defenders have their own objectives, which involve repelling an enemy attack on their position. The development team created unique maps for this mode, so in addition to the 16 maps available at launch for the standard multiplayer, players have these specialized maps to enjoy as well.
The other big mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III includes zombies. The first Zombies mode in the Modern Warfare franchise, this iteration has some notable changes. Zombies mode features an open-world experience that pits the player against the environment. In this iteration, players form a squad that can team up with other squads. Squads have the freedom to explore the Exclusion Zone as needed.
This Zombies mode supports eight teams of three up to 24 players, meaning a full game has the potential to get pretty crazy. Other gameplay features in this mode include DMZ and Outbreak. There will be a 45-minute countdown, followed by a 15-minute window to make your escape. If the squad successfully exits, it will move the story through multiple acts. The Zombies mode has a story that players should enjoy going through, but details will not be in this review for spoiler reasons.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III's release also coincides with the arrival of Call of Duty HQ. It appears that Call of Duty will be a platform from now on. When the player loads up Call of Duty HQ, players see a Message of the Day. After that, the player sees all the options in the “What's Hot” section, which happens to be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, including campaign, multiplayer, and more.
When the player scrolls down, the actual Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III section showcases what the game offers. Scroll down again and all of the Warzone options become available. Scroll down again to find everything revolving around Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. For those who keep scrolling, there will also be a “Legacy Games” category that features Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Call of Duty: Vanguard. With how the development team at Sledgehammer laid everything out, this appears to be the new way Call of Duty will look in the future. It will become one platform, with each game having its own section.
A few issues popped up while going through the various modes for this review. For starters, a few times when we tried to load a game, it wouldn't do it. Closing out of the game and relaunching worked, but players shouldn't have to do that. In certain spots, the game's audio would dip out, which means restarting the game again. We also experienced instances where a map or something else took an excessive amount of time to load. These technical problems usually don't happen in Call of Duty games, so seeing them came as a shock. It almost seems like some areas didn't receive all the attention needed before the launch. The checkpoint system in the campaign doesn't always work properly either. It can be frustrating when the player completes a series of objectives but gets taken out right before finishing the last part and then has to redo everything. That didn't happen every time, but it becomes immensely frustrating when it does.
All of this leads to a fun Call of Duty game when it works properly. Hopefully, some of these issues get ironed out with patches. As a whole, this package offers a lot of fun experiences for fans. It should play even better once these issues get resolved. As the situation stands, while the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III experience still offers a good time, some aspects need polishing. Once that happens, it should turn a good experience into a great one.
Rating: 7.5/10 Specs
Please Note: Activision provided us with a code for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III on Xbox Series X for review purposes.
Brandon Hofer is a California-based writer who covers the entertainment industry. More specifically, Brandon has covered the gaming industry since 2006, attending and covering the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) every year. Brandon has also attended the Games Developer Conference, Penny Arcade Expo, and various events put on by publishers and developers. Brandon has worked with numerous studios, including Xbox Game Studios, PlayStation, Nintendo, Ubisoft, THQ, Activision, Electronic Arts, and more. Over the years, working with those studios has also allowed Brandon to work with iconic franchises such as the NFL, WWE, and the UFC. Thanks to that experience, Brandon also covers what goes on in the world of sports entertainment, primarily WWE. Brandon's work has appeared on MSN, Muck Rack, Flipboard, GameCrate, Wealth of Geeks, and more.