While I have been pretty happy overall with Call of Duty’s direction over the last few years, I can understand how Modern Warfare II rubbed people the wrong way. The push towards realism has driven many fans away, straying from the roots that made the franchise so popular. In all of the lead up to Modern Warfare III, we’ve heard of a bunch of changes from Sledgehammer Games (the developer) that at least sound good. The question is, can they deliver on those promises?
Most of these revolve around movement, time to kill (referred to as TTK from here on), and other features preferred in a Call of Duty game. Beginning with movement, this is something Call of Duty “moved” from in Modern Warfare II, slowing the players down to the point it was better to walk everywhere with irons up. This included taking out the much abused “Slide Cancel”, a favorite of players who loved tweaking around the map.
Thankfully, it has returned, and in my opinion in a much better way. Originally this was a triple button press, and it would unintentionally reset the players tactical sprint. Here, it’s down to two presses, along with removing that reset. It feels super smooth, almost a gliding motion compared to the rougher MW19 slide cancel. I like that it’s something all players have access to now, not just the ones figuring out the timings. Movement in general just feels great, hearkening back to the arcadey design we remember from past titles.
Similarly, TTK has been a cause of contention. As someone who used to play hardcore and was more casual, I understand the reasoning, but MWII was almost hardcore in core matches. Now, MWIII is increasing health to 150, and with the current weapon set feels just about perfect. I do think there’s a little bit of tuning that needs to be done, with some moments where I just felt melted, but it’s an overall win. According to XclusiveAce (a fantastic content creator you can find here), the TTK matches up nearly one to one with Black Ops Cold War, and that game is the best example of fast but fair.
These two blend together to make the gameplay work immaculately. Having someone be able to relentlessly challenge you with no repercussions sucks. Similarly, having to rush a power position over and over against someone with seemingly infinite health is no fun. Blending both of these raises the skill gap, giving you the ability to survive along with the chance to assault positions via faster movement.
Sledgehammer lit a spark of excitement amongst Call of Duty fans with their unveiling of bringing forward every map from 2009’s Modern Warfare 2 into the modern era via remake. These are some of the most beloved and iconic maps with “1v1 me on Rust” being notorious in game chats. During the beta, we played on five of the upcoming maps: Estate, Favela, Highrise, Rust, and Skidrow. Bringing maps from a completely different era of gaming into the modern age where we move faster, slide farther, and play in new and inventive styles is no easy task.
Thankfully, the team excelled as all five maps feel and play like I remember growing up while gracefully meshing into the new era. There are new jump spots, lines of sight, and flank options that balance nostaliga and modernization. If Sledgehammer has enlarged the scale of the maps, you can’t tell, which is a testament to their design capabilities in retaining the feel while bringing them forward. With 16 total remade maps launching on day one, I can’t wait to see even more of my old stomping grounds brought back to life. Not only that, you can again chase red dots, with these returning to the mini-map.
The maps are only half of the equation though, because if the gunplay isn’t right you can chalk those good vibes. That’s not the case here, as the best in the business have brought their A game. I noticed right off the bat that the recoil is much closer to their Black Ops counterparts, not that it’s non-existent, but definitely tuned down. Because of this, even the SMGs can feel like lasers with the right attachments. Really, there isn’t a gun missing that world-class Call of Duty gunplay; there’s a reason people continue to gravitate to the franchise.
One of the more prominent differences coming out of the beta is the identity of sniper rifles. At its core, sniping focuses on precise aim and high damage from a long range with a disadvantage in closer engagements. Both sniper rifles available in the beta stray from that customary feel and function in which we’ve come to expect.
The KV Inhibitor and Longbow offer a larger magazine, higher aim assist, and increased mobility with a significant decrease in range and damage. They excel in close to mid-range gunfights and severely suffer at their expected long range with the majority of hits not killing in one shot (with the exception of headshots). Of course, we have to take everything with a grain of salt as these two guns won’t be the only available weapons in this class. With the “Carry Forward” initiative and other guns Sledgehammer will be introducing, it’ll be interesting to see how the landscape shapes up with a new TTK, map pool, and philosophy.
As for modes, there was a bunch to enjoy, with things like Hardpoint and Domination. There’s not a lot to go over here; if you’ve played a Call of Duty or FPS game you know how most of these will function. That said, I want to highlight two of them, Search and Destroy and Cutthroat. Search and Destroy flows so well in Modern Warfare III, because of multiple factors. We’ve already talked about the combo of faster movement and higher TTK, and that makes for interesting engagements. Adding in the old maps, which were already great for S&D back in the day, just makes for a fantastic gameplay experience.
Cutthroat is something that’s interesting, but I want to see it on launch day with its full package of guns and maps. Too often my team was third-partied, which boiled down to three teams waiting for another to make a mistake. An easy descriptor is that it’s an extremely slow Gunfight match with an extra team. If that sounds great to you, it’s up your alley.
While there is still much more to learn from the additional injections of maps, guns, modes, and more in Modern Warfare III, I’d like to end our analysis on something outside of the game itself. One of the first impressions I had was hearing Sledgehammer planning to address the Battle Rage issue after COD NEXT. This was compounded into it being a massive problem, making the game literally unplayable.
However, Sledgehammer quickly answered, with a hotfix that was inserted in hours. Sure, this shouldn’t have made it into the game, but at least it was made right. After the first weekend of play, there was more feedback to give, like visibility of enemies, a delay with the slide cancel, and more. Sledgehammer went to work and had multiple of these things addressed, and while there’s still more they can do, the communication has been immaculate and transparent in a way we’ve not seen in quite some time. I really appreciate the team and their dedication to the players, not just in what they’re saying, but in what they’re doing.
Balance adjustments to Battle Rage are now live in the #MW3 Beta.
– Reduced max duration from 10s to 6s
– Kills will no longer increase the effect duration
– Health regeneration now begins upon killing an enemy
– Incoming damage will now interrupt health regeneration
– Removed… pic.twitter.com/hEBNvAiBwA
— Sledgehammer Games (@SHGames) October 7, 2023
Altogether, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III feels like a culmination of feedback from the players. Not only does it feel good, it plays good, and the nostalgia of the MW2 2009 maps forges an instant connection. There’s a joke every year in the Call of Duty community that CDL Pro Attach will name the new title the “best Call of Duty of all time”. While we’re a bit away from launch, we’re closer to his sentiment being the real deal. Call of Duty is back, baby.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III arrives on November 10th on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series consoles, and PC via Steam or Battle.net. Pre-orders will receive early campaign access on November 2nd.
David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.
Noah is the resident weeb who spends most of his time gaming and watching anime. His goal is to expand his skills while meeting new people. You have probably seen him feeding the other team kills in Overwatch Comp or speculating Star Wars and One Piece. Follow him on twitter @RigsbyNoah.