Call of Duty Modern Warfare III Deploys With Incredible Multiplayer Combat

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
III Multiplayer
Reviewed On
PlayStation 5
Available For

Like we did with the previous Modern Warfare title, GiN is dividing up our review of Modern Warfare III into the multiplayer side of the game (including the new Zombies mode) and then the single player experience going through the new campaign will come a bit later. First up is multiplayer, written by GiN’s own Michael Blaker, who is a fierce multiplayer competitor who is highly ranked in several popular shooter titles.

Hey all. I’m back with a review of the full release of a game I wrote about during its recent Beta weekends. It’s my Call of Duty Modern Warfare III Multiplayer Review.

Gameplay: Modern Warfare III plays a lot like last year’s Call of Duty release Modern Warfare II, which isn’t a surprise given it’s a direct sequel. What is different this time around is how the systems are implemented.

I did again enjoy my time in Multiplayer this time around, from getting up to the max rank of 55 the day after launch through liberal use of Double XP tokens I had hoarded from Modern Warfare II to checking out the new Zombies mode. For the first time, the Zombies mode is played on an open world map instead of having the players confined inside an old house, fort, or bunker complex. In fact, the new Zombies mode is essentially a skin swap from the DMZ mode found in Call of Duty Warzone 2.0, which was designed as an extraction type shooter like the popular Escape from Tarkov (and other similar titles). In a DMZ type of game mode, players are randomly inserted into a map and must compete objectives, which ultimately helps them build up to a final extraction mission (and generally a big fight) where they can safely leave the level. That is how Zombies are handled in Modern Warfare III, and it’s a good change for sure.

The main problem I had with the DMZ mode in Call of Duty is that it was not really designed for solo players, as it was designed for a small squad of three people. I’d really like to see a mode of DMZ or Zombies balanced around those players who enjoy soloing, like I tend to on maps like this. Oh, I do fine meeting up with a random group of people to fill out the squads in Call of Duty, but I’m a very introverted person so I like to do things on my own unless absolutely necessary. In fact, that is why I stopped playing Warzone’s DMZ mode earlier this year after unlocking the Orion camo (basically you had to unlock all the camos in every weapon, including the Gold, Platinum, and Polyatomic versions of 51 weapons which was the total amount at launch to get it). By the way, I still can’t use the newer weapons that were released during and after Season 1 from the start like it was advertised by Infinity Ward. Seriously Sledgehammer, I’d really like to be able to use that Orion skin on all the ported guns without having to slog through the mastery camo challenges for those skins again.

Anyway, that minor non-soloing setback aside, some of the other issues that made it challenging in DMZ are also now present in Zombies, basically because it’s an extraction shooter which heavily punishes mistakes made in a game mode that is going to cause players to make mistakes. You also can get really unlucky during a run, although that is kind of the name of the game in DMZ-like modes. The new Zombies mode is really going to challenge players, getting progressively harder as the timer ticks down before extracting, making for a learning curve that is highly punishing and basically requires all three players in the squad be very highly competent if you have any hope of succeeding after the first five minutes in a match. Given the very wide range of skills of the players you could randomly be teamed up if you lack friends who play Call of Duty, it can be a very frustrating experience. The fact that every gun, including the older ones from Modern Warfare II, have new camo challenges and are only completable in Zombies mode makes it all the more frustrating for experienced players who take pride in getting said camos.

Oh, did I forget to mention that enemies get harder and harder as you go further and further into the center of the map in Zombies mode? Yeah, that’s a thing as well and makes completing the various missions that much harder. I know some hardcore players love a good challenge, like my younger brother who is a young gamer who loves playing in the hardest modes possible, but personally I’d prefer not to sweat like I’m in a sauna every time I want to just unlock some nice-looking weapon skins for an easy day of gaming. He’s too young for me to suggest playing any real Souls-like titles yet, but in five years I anticipate him enjoying those immensely, but that isn’t relevant to this review, so I’ll move on.

The pure multiplayer part of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is really fun and exciting to play, just like in previous games, but there are a few negatives, mostly due to new design choices. The biggest negative change from Modern Warfare II and other past Call of Duty titles that needs to be mentioned is the choice to lock certain guns, gun attachments, equipment, killsteaks, and perks behind a brand new system called the Armory Unlock system, which only becomes available upon hitting Rank 25. The way it works is that you can designate an item you want to unlock and then complete between three and eight daily challenges to obtain it, instead of it being unlocked as you rank up like in past Call of Duty games. For some items in Modern Warfare III, doing those daily challenges is the only way to unlock them. Now, it’s not all bad news, and it’s not completely punitive since the bonus challenge that is unlocked upon the completion of all three of a given day’s challenges is to win a match, and that, of course, is repeatable infinitely.

So, you aren’t penalized too heavily for playing beyond those first three challenges, and I would’ve called the system a very transparent way to keep players engaged in a very unnecessary time gated system. The caveat here though is that it requires the challenges to properly track and complete, which was absolutely not the case for me when Modern Warfare III first went live. So, all that work I did on the first day winning over 40 matches did nothing for me since I couldn’t complete one of the challenges, namely, “get 20 player kills using SMGs.” It was a highly frustrating problem, especially considering I made it all the way to Rank 45 before stopping on launch day. Frankly, I’d love to see these Armory Unlocks be a secondary means of unlocking key items like how it works with most of the new gun attachments, which are generally done through leveling up guns just like in past Call of Duty titles. The Armory Unlock shouldn’t be the sole means of getting items, of which there are 59 I’ve noticed thus far, but I don’t think it counts the various gun attachments in the armory challenge submenu, so there could easily be many more.

Also, the guns carried over from Modern Warfare II haven’t been properly adjusted to account for players having more health in Modern Warfare III. So, guns from Modern Warfare III are actually substantially weaker than the newer guns, and while this is a way not to overly punish newcomers who lack easy access to those guns at the beginning, it is something that shouldn’t be included regardless because it’s a stupid solution to a problem that is entirely fixable by just having guns be relatively balanced, which they currently aren’t. They don’t have to be perfectly balanced, but accounting for those guns now having to deal 50% more damage to a player isn’t a hard thing to do. It’s just tedious.

Another issue I have is the fact that the perk system is beyond odd and punitive in ways that are unnecessary and baffling in my eyes. What I’m specifically talking about is the vest system which can limit not only how many perks a player gets access to, with some like the gunner vest losing access to the boots (such as with moving faster, climbing improvements, or silent running), while others like the engineer vest lose access to a player’s lethal equipment like grenades or throwing knives. I’d understand if these vests were equipment that gave you incredibly powerful bonuses or the like, but they generally aren’t. The gunner one, for example, allows the old perks from Overkill, which include the ability to equip two primary weapons in one loadout at the expense of secondary equipment like pistols, launchers, or melee weapons. It also includes half of the fast hands perk with the “reloads guns faster” bonus, but not the weapon swap speed bonus which it was usually paired with, and spawning with max ammo every time you start over. That’s it. None of those perks should be something that precludes the use of other perks since all three of those bonuses would be what Modern Warfare II termed as baseline (Overkill), bonus (fast hands which is both weapon swap speed and faster reloading), and the ultimate level with the max ammo on spawn which had no Modern Warfare II equivalent.

In fact, a lot of the perks in Modern Warfare III are perks that really shouldn’t have been decoupled, but instead should’ve been consolidated even more. Stuff like Ghost and Cold Blooded were actually a single item in the Multiplayer Beta in the form of the Ghillie Suit Perk equipment, which was actually a really great change since it actually fits the concept of a ghillie suit in the first place by allowing people to hide more easily. Why they felt the need to change it is beyond me given the very limiting nature of the vest system.

Another thing missing from Modern Warfare III that really shouldn’t have been in my eyes is the weapon tuning system introduced in Modern Warfare II. It allowed players who completely leveled up their guns to tweak their settings on various gun attachments to improve performance at the cost of a slight diminishment in another area. For example, a scope could be adjusted so that it improved aim down sight time, a thing most scopes actually increase by default, mitigating some of the disadvantage of using it at the cost of idle aiming stability, which made the reticle sway around a bit more when not actively aiming (i.e. not moving the reticle around). Those things were really great, and though it was a minor increase, in a game where players try to eke out the smallest of advantages to attack opponents even a millisecond faster, that can mean a lot. It also might open up Sledgehammer games to a lot of criticism as some of the RMT items buyable in Modern Warfare II were sold and advertised specifically as “pro-tuned” which means an actual pro gamer adjusted the tuning to maximize the performance of guns. Some people might think that buying such items prior to Modern Warfare III’s launch would allow them to get the full benefit of such weapons, when that is not the case.

And moving on to weapon blueprints, those that include guns having a preset set of attachments with some minor aesthetic changes like extra textures in the gun model, I’m super bummed that my custom blueprints from Modern Warfare II, a title that is literally the same application on my PlayStation 5, didn’t carry over. So, I had to spend a couple hours going through and recreating them from scratch. Having to recreate each custom blueprint to my preference was extremely tedious. It was made easier by not having to account for weapon tuning, but it was already going to be tiresome having to navigate the expansive menu for attachments in most slots on guns since there are so many choices for most slots. The scope and underbarrel categories specifically were particularly bad. And then I had to repeat that process for my weapon camos and various decals. The camos weren’t too bad given I knew what I was looking for generally since I stick to one specific camo if I don’t have access to the mastery camos like Gold or Polyatomic. So again, not that hard to do, just incredibly tedious and given that the games are required to be installed together to be played (you can’t play Modern Warfare II’s multiplayer without installing Modern Warfare III), the fact that those custom blueprints aren’t transferred over was disappointing and another sign that Modern Warfare III may have been rushed out perhaps a bit too early.

And finally, my most minor gripe with the gameplay is the fact that the tactical equipment doesn’t include my beloved spotter’s scope, a tool I frequently used in Modern Warfare II whenever I sniped or played DMZ. I know for a fact that it’s in the game since it’s used in a campaign mission, but it’s missing from Multiplayer which is a real shame for me. Seriously, please include this piece of equipment in a future update soon, Sledgehammer.

However, all my complaints aside, I still had a ton of fun playing Modern Warfare III. Plus, these are complaints that most gamers aren’t going to care about one way or another, but those gamers who are more experienced with playing titles like this will definitely notice.

Art: The art is pretty great in Modern Warfare III. It’s not significantly different from Modern Warfare II, which is apparent given all the goofy player skins you can experience from it since those also transferred over. Getting sniped by a dude wearing a giant bunny mascot outfit is part of what makes these titles sort of silly, but it’s part of the charm of Modern Warfare battles. There are graphical issues here and there I’ve experienced, like the fact that some letters just mysteriously disappear like the victory pop up at the end of a match missing most of the letters, so it looks like someone added some extra unnecessary spaces and misspelled the name Vicky instead of victory, but these are relatively minor issues.

Music: The sound effects are what players will hear most of the time playing in multiplayer. Frankly, they’re pretty amazing, but the music is very much something that isn’t a big deal in Modern Warfare III multiplayer. Given how many explosions occur, I’m not too surprised.

Overall: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is very entertaining, but there are some issues that more hardcore or solo minded players can find frustrating. Regardless, the good can mostly outweigh the bad, and maybe some of the issues will be fixed or changed in the very near future. But as of right now, while I can’t give Modern Warfare III a higher score, it’s certainly earned 4 out of 5 GiN Gems overall from me.

For those who like: Multiplayer first-person shooters, great gunplay, solid game modes, and huge open world zombie multiplayer madness.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above or some of the more annoying issues outlined above.

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