Impressions

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III & Warzone Season 3 impressions — High on the supply

We’re kind of stuck in a conundrum as a Call of Duty community. While there are still things that need fixing (and flabbergasted that some haven’t been changed or repaired like CODcaster) there’s not a lot you can complain about when it comes to Call of Duty’s seasonal content. I mean this as a gentle rip at the community at large, because while I’ve been having fun, they’ve been finding things to be mad about. That said, I’m just not sure how you can do that now, with Sledgehammer, Raven, and all of the other studios involved delivering an even better season of content in their third drop, which is commendable given how incredible Season 2 has been.

To begin, how the heck we got four maps at the start of a season has me stupefied. Seriously, four maps is large for an entire season, including the Reloaded portion. Dropping it at launch is on another level. We were lucky to get two maps some seasons in the past, and even then one could be a remaster (looking at you Modern Warfare II Season 2). Even better, each map has a different feel both in design and visuals, so the variety is adding a lot of spice in the map mix. We’re eating well in the Modern Warfare III era, and I have to give credit where it’s due.

What’s even more impressive is how these maps have delivered with a fresh feeling. Two aren’t brand new, strictly speaking, with Tanked pulled from Warzone’s Vondel map, and Growhouse a new variant of Sphere from Vanguard. Maybe I just don’t drop into that area, but Tanked is an especially impressive map. I’m on the record for not caring for MWII’s Warzone pulls (Vondel Waterfront is rough), but somehow Sledgehammer have properly modified this one.

Tanked is colorful and fun. The zoo setting from Vondel has a lot to like about it, with tons of differing locations that all tie together in a way that makes sense. From the habitats, to the aquarium, to the noodle restaurant, it all works. It’s a proper size too, not too big and not too small. I’m really surprised it hasn’t been considered as a Ranked map (possibly has rough spawns), because it seems made for it, with great lanes and routes that fit almost any playstyle. For something that isn’t a full new map, it’s incredibly well retrofitted.

Growhouse is in a similar place, even if it’s not the best map. Given it was a Reloaded map in Vanguard (smaller update, so hard to do impressions on), we never discussed it. It’s an odd map that fits in the Dome or Shoot House category; it’s smaller and more set as a good map for movement practice and leveling up your guns. That said, I love the flow for TDM, and the overhaul is a lot more intensive than I expected. I was able to get a lot of my shotgun weekly challenges done on it if that tells you something. It doesn’t work well in every game mode given its odd verticality and lanes, but it’s useful.

Now, for the two brand new maps, Emergency and 6 Star. Emergency is another smaller map, even if it’s open space in front of a larger building leads you to think it’s bigger. It’s another that has a good three lane design and routes for quick flanks in between. That said, the sightlines can be a little cheesy, with open space and spawns that aren’t just predictable, but that can allow a skilled sniper to farm them. I’d definitely recommend grinding the levels for your new MORS sniper rifle on this one as it’s set up for you to do well.

6 Star is the best of the bunch in a great group, and it is simply a vibe. Not only is this tower-top luxury space fun to run around, but the bright and vivid setting brings a lot of light to the usual dark corners we tend to see on war torn maps. Similar to Vista, it’s a win of a locale. It’s not just pretty either, but it’s mixy. There are plenty of lanes, but also a ton of cut-throughs and sneaky routes to be taken where the submachine guns are super effective. It feels fair – a playground where anyone can get involved. I don’t think there’s a game mode it won’t work on, and with 6 Star making its way to two modes in Ranked, this is your signal Sledgehammer: more of this please.

Moving on to the firepower, there are two notable additions in the FJX Horus submachine gun and the MORS sniper rifle. The FJX Horus is an interesting one, mainly because while it’s a good gun, I’m not sure where it fills a gap in the SMG lineup. It exists somewhere between the WSP-9 and WSP Swarm in terms of how you use it, being really fast but requiring extra shots to make up for the lower damage rate. When using it, I have noticed a lot of vertical and horizontal recoil, but it’s pretty simple to control, so I’ve been able to center my shots and get some nice multi-kills because of it. I just don’t know if I’d prefer it over the Rival-9 or WSP Swarm, and it’s not making a difference in Warzone either.

A gun that is making a difference though is the MORS sniper rifle. This is the most unique sniper in the game, and possibly the most unique weapon. When it fires, you know it, with an almost laser charge sound. Part of that lies in its origins, being an Advanced Warfare weapon that has made its way over. It also has a special barrel that caught me off guard when I used the blueprint from the battle pass. To get maximum damage, you can charge your shot by holding down your trigger, and then releasing it to devastating results. This one IS the gun to use in Warzone (until it’s nerfed), with one-hit downing potential. Here’s a great loadout to use, courtesy of Warzone Loadout.

Speaking of Warzone, the much awaited return of Rebirth Island is here. This is another one I didn’t get to experience nearly as much, but I played my fair share and oddly wasn’t a big fan. Here in Modern Warfare III’s gameplay loop however, it’s been fantastic. It’s such a tight experience, (the smallest map in the game) which results in near instant gunfights no matter where you land. The spacing is expertly done, with every level of the verticality not seeming impossible to push. If anything, there are moments where I wonder if it’s better to play the low ground, given you can get caught outside the circle and cede map control to anyone under you.

Something that continues to surprise me is how Raven has managed to retrofit this map to the game’s style. While MW2019 still had slide canceling and such, newer mechanics that have been introduced over multiple Warzone iterations have to be considered when you’re rebuilding a map. Yet again, these dev teams are proving to be experts of their craft, making the guns and gameplay work to perfection on Rebirth Island.

One thing Fortune’s Keep did differently that isn’t as prevalent here is changing up the layout. You can swim outside the island and in general, but it doesn’t seem that much more is different. With a Godzilla vs Kong event on the horizon, is there a chance we might have some big scaley incoming changes? There’s no immediate problem with the map design – it’s S-tier – but new stuff is always welcomed. All that said, Rebirth is an amazing past map that deserved to be brought forward, and works and looks spectacular in this era of Warzone.

'Bringing Rebirth Island Back' Intel Drop | Call of Duty: Warzone

Something often overlooked by fans (including me), is the addition of new gear. Vests, boots, and other bits of gear are better known as perks. These slip into the background usually, and honestly, I don’t think that they matter much even today. A lot of what has been incoming is a version of previous Call of Duty perks, like the compression carrier vest that is simply Quick Fix. It’s great to have options, but I’m not sure what these add to the game when it’s already somewhat overrun with perks, along with their being much more important ones to your kit in the game already. This runs in tandem with the modes, as Capture the Flag and One in the Chamber are cool, but more nice to have than game changers. Future games could stand to focus on quality over quantity here.

To close out, there are two things we need to talk about: the battle pass and live service element. This season’s battle pass is certainly a lot of fun, with Snoop Dogg returning, but also in an epic Doberman form. It’s hysterical and I love it. As I mentioned earlier, the MORS has a charge barrel, and there’s a blueprint in here with it. Again, fantastic by the team to incorporate those changes into the battle pass so you can give it a try. Overall, you’re still earning the battle pass back with your game time, so it’s still as great a deal as ever, and BlackCell has some sick variants well worth the thirty bucks.

As for the live service part, Sledgehammer and Raven continue to deliver in a big way. The bundles have been awesome, with Cheech and Chong incoming, a brain in a jar, and the epic Godzilla X Kong bundles. The only bad mark here is the Beast Glove, which requires you to buy all four GXK bundles to get it. I get selling cool bundles, but this works its way into the stratosphere for live service, requiring $80 of an investment for one item, which feels a little predatory.

Season 3 BlackCell Battle Pass Upgrade | Call of Duty: Warzone & Modern Warfare III

The communication behind the live service has continued to be stellar, with the teams quickly addressing some of the issues behind the launch. Besides that, the incredibly broken Renetti build that took over Warzone for a week is already gone. While I’d like to see the HRM nerfed to bring in a new close range meta, we’re continuing to see Sledgehammer and Raven listening to the community to speak to the problems that arise. A big thank you to all the Call of Duty teams involved.

While this takes care of all of what was included in the opening of Season 3, I hate having to jump on the mistreatment of Zombies here at the end, but I have to. In what has been multiple tremendous seasons, Zombies saw updates in the first one and then had extremely incremental ones afterwards. This mode is fantastic and addictive, and Activision even brought up how well it has done. If that’s so, why has it been so neglected like this? I understand Treyarch has ceded their involvement to High Moon Studios in order to focus on their next Call of Duty game, and if that’s the case it could be why we’ve seen nothing. That said, if we hit Season 4 without a big Zombies drop, I’m very scared for the future of arguably the best part of the Modern Warfare III launch.

In summation, unless you’re a Zombies fan, this blowout of a season has been so much fun to take in. While not every piece of content has landed, we’ve received such an influx of stuff that it’s impossible not to find something you’ll like. Here’s hoping somehow the high standard we’re now seeing set will continue to be hit as we post up on the back half of Modern Warfare III.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

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.

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