Loyal Call of Duty fans were tingling with anticipation when Sledgehammer Games formally announced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The direct sequel to 2022’s Modern Warfare II was billed as a blockbuster triple-A title, but what players have received would be disappointing if it was a $25 DLC instead of a $100 full-price game.
Call of Duty titles are rarely favorites to win the Game of the Year awards with the top rated online sportsbooks, but they are almost always a massive hit with the game’s fanbase. Not this release; it has the worst overall rating across any Call of Duty title since the franchise began in 2003. Players clambered over themselves to pay $70 for the standard cross-gen edition or $100 for the Vault Edition, and they expected a complete game for their investment. However, Sledgehammer Games and Activision have released something akin to a budget DLC, resulting in an uproar from loyal Call of Duty players.
A Boring, Dull, Single-Player Campaign
Most Call of Duty players do not buy the latest release for the single-player campaign. Those who do, do not expect a 35-hour epic adventure, but they expect it to last longer than three hours. OK, the three-hour campaign length was set by someone playing on the easiest difficulty. Still, Modern Warfare III’s campaign can be done and dusted in less than 10 hours, even in the notoriously tricky veteran setting.
The campaign’s significant new addition is what Sledgehammer Games calls “open combat missions.” These comprise half of the story’s chapters and take a more open-world approach than traditional linear Call of Duty missions. Theoretically, they are a great idea, allowing for more freedom to approach each mission. Unfortunately, the openness removes one thing that Call of Duty campaigns was once famous for: blockbuster storytelling with over-the-top, explosive set pieces.
The entire campaign feels like it was rushed and bolted together with previously used Call of Duty locations, such as the opening mission where you start in the gulag dragged straight out of Warzone’s Verdansk. It feels a bit meh and lacks the love shown in previous campaigns.
Nostalgia Only Gets You So Far in Multiplayer
Although the single-player campaign is bitterly disappointing, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’s multiplayer modes are great fun, even if they are almost all recycled from maps of old. There is a comforting sense of nostalgia when you run around classic maps like Afghan, Highrise, and Rust, but the whole experience feels like Modern Warfare III is simply a map pack for Modern Warfare II. There are 16 maps at launch, a solid number, even if they are mostly remastered versions of old classics.
Modern Warfare III’s multiplayer sees the return of slide canceling, which has received as much negativity as positive remarks. Slide canceling is a manoeuvre you can make by combining tactical sprint, sliding, hitting the slide button again to stop, and then hitting jump to cancel the slide-end animation that would normally slow down your character. Players adept at slide canceling use the move to their advantage as it helps throw enemies off track. However, players who cannot slide cancel will tend to be haters of the move.
A significant plus point for Modern Warfare III is having all your Modern Warfare II weapons ready and waiting for you to use. Previously, with the launch of a new Call of Duty title each year, players were resigned to having to grind new weapons and leave their old ones in the past.
Does Open-World Zombies Work?
Most Call of Duty fans, myself included, were delighted to learn that Treyarch was back on board and creating a zombie mode, although there was some initial skepticism about how the mode was structured. Out goes the tried and tested format, where players take on increasingly difficult zombies in waves. In comes an open-world format using the upcoming new Warzone map of Urzikstan.
The new zombie mode is called Operation Deadbolt, and although I have had some fun moments exploring the vast map, the entire mode feels slow and dull. The mode is essentially Modern Warfare II’s popular DMZ mode but with NPCs reskinned as zombies, right down to having to extract before you are overwhelmed with zombies, much like the gas in DMZ.
The only way you would know you are playing a Call of Duty zombie mode would be by seeing the zombies wandering around the map. Perhaps Treyarch will tweak the mode and make it more like previous zombie titles where narrow corridors and must-avoid chokepoints set your pulse soaring.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is not a bad game, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a disappointing release by Call of Duty standards. Sledgehammer Games and Activision deny that Modern Warfare III, which we are playing, was initially meant to be a DLC for the prequel. They claim the game has “been in development for years,” but they are lying through their teeth.
Sledgehammer Games has cherry-picked its favorite parts of old Call of Duty games and stuck them together in an incoherent hodge-bodge of a game. Modern Warfare III lacks its own identity and seems confused at times.
If Modern Warfare III was billed as a $25-$30 DLC, which is what it actually is, there would be few complaints from Call of Duty players, including yours truly. However, Modern Warfare comes with a price tag of up to $100, and for that, players have the right to expect a whole new game that is a worthy sequel to last year’s title.
The fact that early sales of Modern Warfare III are reportedly over a quarter less than Modern Warfare II is a fact that speaks for itself.