Published on November 20th, 2023 | by Branden Zavaleta
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Review #PS5
Summary: Like its predecessors, Modern Warfare 3 is a punchy military shooter with few rivals. It’s not a revolution, but the new zombies world spices things up.
Evolution not revolution
Like the flowers of spring, each year brings a new addition to the Call of Duty franchise. This year is Modern Warfare 3, or is it Modern Warfare 6? Anyway, the military shooter is alive and well with another shiny bullet in the magazine. The campaign mode is slick, though rocky to new fans, the multiplayer is the crown jewel as always, and the zombies mode has had a surprising makeover.
But first, the campaign. If you haven’t been paying attention to the extensive lore of the Call of Duty franchise, dropping into MW3’s campaign will be exciting but confusing. Like getting flashbanged for Christmas. Your first mission is breaking into a military black site on a stormy coast. You and your elite squad scale the walls and take out the watchmen. Eventually you incite a prison riot and break out the VIP— some guy named Makarov. It’s an exciting set piece to open the campaign on, but it’s better if you know who Markarov is— the big bad of the original Modern Warfare trilogy. This can be said for the rest of the campaign too– the better you know the lore, the more you’ll enjoy it.
It makes plenty of sense for a sequel, but I know only two or three people who’ve actually completed the campaign for any COD game, and that wasn’t last year’s MW2 (which is only vaguely like the original). But don’t let that turn you off as there are some stellar maps and missions in the campaign– my personal favourite was infiltrating a missile base in the picturesque alps of Urzikstan.
It’s a shame that most of these maps haven’t been adapted for the multiplayer or zombie modes, because there’s a lot of exciting variety on display here. That’s partly due to the new open combat missions, where you have more freedom to explore and improvise than any other Call of Duty. And it’s partly due to MW3 pushing its revamped game engine to the limit for killer visuals— though it’s still not beating out UE5 games like Alan Wake 2.
On the other hand, the multiplayer mode is completely unblemished, perfect even. The biggest hiccup is that the menus are a little finicky. Aside from that, it’s a treasure. The sound design is unrivalled—when a sniper’s bullet first blew out my guy’s brain, my real head snapped back from the crack ringing out through my headphones; All the original MW2 maps are back and beautiful; The gameplay changes hit that perfect balance between too extravagant and boring— minimap red dots are back, and war mode too; And the matchmaking works like a dream.
But the game mode that has seen the biggest change is Zombies. Diehards will love it or hate it, but big changes have been made– much bigger than even Cold War’s changes (though the inspiration clearly started here with the Onslaught mode). Now instead of being cooped up in a claustrophobic locale, you and other squads are free roaming through a massive map like in Call of Duty: Warzone (and a lot like Escape from Tarkov).
Each mission you drop in with some of your stocked weaponry, complete contracts like killing minibosses, or escorting vehicles, then you exfil out to save your loot for the next match. It makes everything except exfil at a lot less tense– running away is always an option– but it does make exfilling with your hard earned loot a real nailbiter (by the way, if you get downed in the escape helicopter, you can still exfil).
Currently Zombies has only the on map– a real dustbowl in Urzikstan– which does get a little stale, but it has enough places of interest and events to conquer that it’ll tide you over until the next map drops, but if you want the classic round-based experience, Cold War is still on top.
So is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (2023) worth coughing up the hundred bucks for? If you’ve been loving the campaigns so far, I’m sure it is, and if you loved Cold War’s Onslaught zombies mode, it is. And if you just love the multiplayer mode, or want to enjoy the War Zone integration? It’s good, it’s a real firecracker, but it’s only a few hairs better than last year’s release.