You'll love it if:
- You enjoy smooth gunplay and movement
- You are a fan of the Modern Warfare series and need every version
Not for you if:
- You are looking a new revamped experience compared to last year's release
This weekend, I was able to experience the Open Beta for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. More specifically, I had access to the online multiplayer game modes on PC, I managed to reach the level 30 cap to unlock all available items and gear upgrades and play through all the various modes and maps.
Modern Warfare III brings us back a lot of classic maps, and from what we were allowed to see on the beta, they are mostly remastered of the classic Modern Warfare 2 (2009) maps. The maps are still exciting and show that the classic Call of Duty formula still works for fun, quick matches. A popular sentiment thus far is that what we got in Modern Warfare III is what we should have gotten in Modern Warfare II last year. I’ll go into more detail about this below, after talking about the major changes to the combat system and what the game positively changed in this release.
Overall, the game is more finely tuned, and fluid movement is back, there is a longer time-to-kill (TTK), and maps have been remastered and play mostly well. The revamped mini-map has the same player locators, but there are some noteworthy changes.
Modern Warfare 3 fixes many of the rough issues found in last year’s game with more advanced combat and mobility options. Many fan-favorite maps and features make a return but leave me and many others thinking that this is a glorified patch update. Score streaks are lacking in the open beta, and respawn mechanics threaten the health of the multiplayer. While the mechanics are great, and the gameplay is smooth, it feels hard personally to justify the $70 price tag.
Modern Warfare (?)
Currently in the open beta, Call of Duty Modern Warfare III only contains remastered maps from previous games as well as maps currently found in Modern Warfare 2 (2009). Highrise was introduced in the PC version and for Search & Destroy. It was as fun as I remember from the original Modern Warfare series. Unfortunately, Hardpoint and even Team Deathmatch, to an extent, suffer from one big issue that rings true across the maps: the abhorrent spawn system. This is a bigger issue I’ll go into later.
What I also enjoy is that mobility and movement in Modern Warfare III are amped up relative to last year’s release. Slide canceling is back, to an extent – not in its full power from the original Modern Warfare, but you can still glide across the map very quickly. Jumpshots are still here as well, and very impressively, we have drop shots making a comeback. These movement tricks, in addition to the increased health, lead to some very exciting gunfights.
Health has been increased to 150, similar to what we’re used to from Treyarch’s Black Ops series, and this makes such a fun difference, in my opinion. TTK is in that sweet spot where you can still have one-shot kills with snipers and shotguns if you aim well, but you also won’t find yourself getting beamed down the moment you round a corner.
Overall, the changes to the combat mobility and time to kill leave for a satisfying gameplay experience in S&D and Team Deathmatch for most parts. With the larger maps, Domination and Hardpoint suffer from how respawning in the game works. Additionally, skill-based matchmaking seems to be here still, and while I understand why it exists, over time, this really brings the enjoyment of the game down. Skill-based matchmaking, plus connection issues, leads to really varying gameplay experiences between games.
One change I have not touched on yet is the changing of how Perks work in this game as well as the return of the Dead Silence. You no longer have perks to add to your loadout, but instead, you have different gloves, boots, and armor accessories that function as perks. For example, in your glove slot, you could have gloves that increase weapon-swapping speed or armor that reduces your kill streak or score streak requirement. Essentially it is the fast hands perk or the hardline perk.
One of these equipment options is a boot upgrade that reduces movement noise and is essentially the dead silent perk. This perk is a welcome return in modes like search and destroy, where you don’t always have to be afraid of rounding corners and getting beamed down by a player with their volume maxed out, knowing where you are without even seeing you.
Now, what’s interesting about this new perk setup is you also get to select a Loadout Vest before going into actually customizing your loadout. Vests function very similarly to how classes do in Battlefield: you have the Infantry Vest, Engineer, Mechanic, and so on. Each Vest can change the passive resistances of your soldier (like a hidden perk of sorts), but it can also affect the number of “perks” you take into battle, with some vests removing the gloves or the boot accessory.
The Gun Fights
Talking about being beamed to death, we now have a 150-health pool which really helps with gun fights and reactivity. Sometimes this will lead to moments where you’re wondering why this one opponent won’t die after absorbing bullets like a sponge. For the most part, however, this allows more reactivity and usage of movement tricks to enable more exciting fights.
The movement in this game is also faster and more engaging. While they did not increase movement speeds across the board, they enabled players to slide cancel in this game again, they have allowed Dropshots to be more viable, especially with the increased time to kill, and they kept in Jumpshots – a staple since the original Modern Warfare 2. There is one boot “perk,” I’ll call it, that even allows for longer and faster sliding and enables you to aim down sights while doing so fully.
While you can’t (thankfully) bunny hop across the map like in earlier modern warfare games, the additional movement we see in this game does allow for exciting gunplay and firefights. The old mini-map returning with red dot icons for unsilenced gunfire really helps with gameplay and working towards score streaks. Being able to switch from score streaks and kill streaks as well is a great returning mechanic. And finally, I do love the new drone lethal equipment, and it’s just so fun and versatile.
Before going into detail about some of the major issues, I first want to talk about some things I just found annoying or were poor design choices.
The first thing I disliked about gameplay was that you could not loop score streaks or kill streaks. While I understand that they probably didn’t want players to generate nukes with looping chopper gunners or AC130s, it felt that once you got 7 or 8 kills for your SAE or Juggernaut recon suit, that was it until you died and could do it again. There wasn’t anything to really strive for unless you wanted to go for a Nuke, and it feels like a step backward compared to what we’re used to from the more recent Call of Duty titles. Instead of disabling score streak-loops, they could have counted gun & equipment kills toward the Nuke.
The second thing about score streaks, at least in the open beta, was that their score streaks were very underwhelming. Early on, we had the usual UAV and Counter-UAV, but later, in the chain, the best we had were the SAE which is essentially a Lightning Strike that can get you a few kills, and the Juggernaut Recon. While they are interesting once or twice, they’re really underwhelming compared to other streaks like the Chopper Gunner or AC-130. Overall, it seemed disappointing, but you can probably expect better score streak variety on release.
Here it is, the most egregious problem you knew was coming, player spawns. This was the biggest problem when playing in the Modern Warfare 3 Open Beta. What I mean by this is normally, in first-person shooter games, you have designated spawn points around the map, and they can shift as members of the opposing team occupy certain map areas. In theory, respawning into a game should put you near enough to the action but not in such a way where your dying and respawning is an advantage.
In a vacuum, let’s look at Team Deathmatch. You kill an opponent; they respawn on the other side of the map or essentially in any spawn point not “covered” by one of your ally players. This is how it works in the most basic form and allows for the flow of maps to work naturally and have players running toward each other almost constantly. This is even more important in Domination and Hardpoint game modes.
If a team controls a point, the opposing team should not be spawning right behind said point, this is how map control works. In the open beta, this was by far the most frustrating, where controlling a point or areas on the map meant nothing essentially. This gave every game mode a free-for-all type feel where you would kill someone only to have that player spawn right behind you and kill you back right away. So much so that almost always the objective correct thing to do was turn 180 degrees right after you kill someone to catch them respawning and running back to where they just died.
Overall, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 fixes a lot of problems that plagued last year’s release. Combat sees a vast improvement with increased time to kill and more varied gunplay options. Mobility is back, and the classic mini-map makes a return. Skill-Based-Matchmaking appears to be here to stay, however, and the spawning is in desperate need of fixing. Overall, this game feels much more like a patch fix to Modern Warfare 2 thus far than it does the new mainline game.
I feel that when given the option to buy Modern Warfare 3 for 70 Euros or wait a year for the next release and still play Modern Warfare 2, most players may simply just want to wait. While the game is made well, and it’s definitely fun, it’s hard to justify paying another 70, especially when it’s been confirmed that all MW 2 accounts and progress will get ported into this game. This really feels like an expensive patch update so far, and I hope the main release of the game will change my opinion on the matter.