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December 2023

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Release Date: Nov. 10, 2023


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PC Review - 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 13, 2023 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

A direct sequel to Modern Warfare ll, Captain Price and Task Force 141 must adapt or die in a fight against the ultimate threat in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III.

The 2023 iteration of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III wants to make it difficult for players to play the game. It's packaged with the Call of Duty HQ app, which acts as a central hub for the series' more recent entries from the first Modern Warfare remake onward. After setting aside roughly 175GB for the game, your first boot will be met with a message to reboot the app, since it received an update. You then sit through an ad for Warzone 2.0's latest season and a few windows talking about the benefits of the Battle Pass and opportunities to buy it.

Get past this, and you have to scroll down the menu to find Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III because it isn't at the top of the list — despite being the most recent entry. Select the campaign, and it needs to reboot to reach the game's menu. From there, you wait for the reboot, and you'll finally be able to enter the game. The process is annoying on the PC because it takes far too long to get going, and all of the utilized hard drive space doesn't even include the installation of Modern Warfare II or Warzone 2.0. The process was recently reversed via a patch, and the game now takes you straight to Modern Warfare III, but it makes you work to play any other game in the hub, and there's still the need to reboot after every update.

The kicker is that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III might not be worth all of that work.

Those who pre-ordered the game digitally gained access to the campaign before everyone else, and it already does something different by being a direct continuation of a storyline told in the previous year's Call of Duty entry. The story is that the infamous terrorist leader Vladimir Makarov has been freed from the gulag by soldiers of the PMC Konni Group, who are loyal to him and his cause. Captain Price, the members of Task Force 141, and their affiliates have all focused their energies on stopping Makarov's groups before things get worse. The plot is simple enough, but it alienates those who haven't followed along with every multiplayer season of 2022's Modern Warfare II; big characters presumed to be gone suddenly pop up. More importantly, the game ends on a rather abrupt note, leaving the possibility for this sub-series of the Call of Duty franchise to keep going from a fourth entry and beyond.

The campaigns for these games tend to go for guided bombast, and that's what you'll get in the first mission. The breakout of Makarov hits all of the hallmarks of a typical campaign, including always being with a squad, constant radio chatter in military speak, big explosions, and lots of gunfire. You also get that occasionally with other chapters, such as the attack on a stadium, and the game also adds in a gunship mission.

The problem is that the only memorable mission has the same issue as one of the series' most controversial levels. Since this is Marakov you're dealing with, there has to be an equivalent to the infamous No Russian mission from 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. This time, the mission takes place on a plane, where you play as an Arab woman suddenly forced on the plane to wear a bomb vest while the antagonist detonates it via a timer. Like the No Russian mission when it first launched, there's no way to skip it, and you have to play it. The scene tries to play on the idea of how Marakov is evil, but we've already seen signs of this elsewhere in the game. The scene could be aiming for an emotional response, but the series hasn't proven itself to be capable of doing that. In the end, it feels gross and there for shock value.

These types of guided missions comprise a little less than half of the campaign. The other half is done in an open combat mission style that is reminiscent of Call of Duty: Warzone. The level is open, and while there are objective markers, you can choose to go with a loud or stealthy approach without penalty. Armor shards and guns are everywhere, and there are tools like drones. You can even pick up and swap between full loadouts. You take these missions solo, and you can revive yourself with a kit. For those who have never dabbled with the multiplayer-only Warzone, this approach is different from the norm.

It's intriguing to move to a model where you have free rein over the order of objectives. The problem is that the execution feels less than halfhearted due to a number of big factors. Despite the supposed freedom to hit objectives in any order, the near-constant chatter keeps reminds you of hitting the objectives too often. Almost all of the maps from Warzone are reused, so veteran players hoping to see something new will be disappointed at the recycled content. Enemy AI also varies wildly, as it can spot you beyond walls, and everyone is prompted to attack you while gleefully running into the open to get shot. Enemies seem endless, and the game has the bad habit of spawning them behind you for cheap hits before you can retaliate. There's a lessened sense of satisfaction in beating these stages, and there's definitely some rework needed before this approach can be acceptable in the next series of campaigns.

This is perhaps one of the shorter campaigns that the series has seen. When playing at the default difficulty level, it'll take players roughly four hours to reach the credits unless you go through the open combat mission areas with a fine-toothed comb. You can increase the difficulty level to squeeze more playtime out of the campaign, but that's about it. For a full-priced game, this campaign length feels meager, but if you remember the rumor that this was supposed to be DLC for Modern Warfare II, then the length is in line with expectations, but it doesn't excuse the overall poor quality.

The argument could be made that a lackluster campaign won't matter, as many people look at the series as a go-to multiplayer experience. For those players, they'll either be happy or disappointed to know that the multiplayer experience is exactly the same as it was for Modern Warfare II. The game is still fast-paced enough that you can run around and kill as quickly as you can get killed. Movement and gunplay are crisp, and the overall presentation is just as good as the netcode, which is rock solid. You can expect a few new guns and new leveling tracks, while the modes are exactly the same as before. There are new modes or old modes returning from past games.

There's also the issue of the maps. The game features 16 maps, all of which come from the 2009 version of Modern Warfare 2 but tweaked to fit with the various game modes that have been introduced since that game came out. On the one hand, it is cool to see old maps get some new life by being included in a more modern iteration of the series. Longtime fans will be glad to see some of the classics return, while newcomers will still see these as new maps. On the other hand, the inclusion of touched-up old maps feels like cheating, and it is strange to see maps from Modern Warfare 2 and not Modern Warfare 3, considering the title. This kind of thing would've been fine in DLC, but it's disappointing in a full-priced game. The ability to carry over any guns and cosmetics earned from Modern Warfare II into Modern Warfare III is a nice touch.

With multiplayer not providing anything new and with the campaign being a disappointment, it falls on Zombies to turn things around. This mode uses the DMZ mode from Modern Warfare II as its inspiration instead of preset mini-campaigns. Choosing to go solo or with a fireteam of three total players, you are dropped in a random part of the map to scavenge for items, complete any contract missions you find along the way, and reach an exfil spot to complete the run. Just like in DMZ, death means losing any weapons and gear you have, and you aren't just fighting zombies. Other squads are also present in the map completing their own missions, and they can fight against other squads. The approach works because it's different, devoid of story anyway, and you don't have to deal with the brain-dead AI enemies from DMZ. The only issue one may have is that the presence of zombies never lets up, so you're always going to be stuck in a gunfight without a chance to take a breather. It can serve as the game's lone bright spot if the devs add at least one more location to the map rotation.

Discounting versions that were developed for dedicated handheld systems, the 2023 version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III represents the series at a low. The campaign is painfully short, and while the open combat missions are a neat idea, they needed more time to feel substantial. Zombies are still fun enough, and the same can be said for multiplayer, but the absence of new maps feels wrong for a brand-new game. If the original plan to make this a DLC package were still in play and the price were reasonable, then one could see it being a recommendation for dedicated series fans. As a $70 full price game, however, what's available is pitiful to the point that gamers should stay away from this title and stick with the older stuff instead.

Score: 4.0/10

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