Modern Warfare 3 is this year’s Call of Duty, whether we like it or not. Call of Duty fans are Call of Duty fans, so they’re going to play this year’s game regardless. They generally have their own opinions about every tiny detail, and they’re unlikely to be reading this.
Modern Warfare 3, however, has another ace up its sleeve: nostalgia! More specifically, it’s laser-focused on reminding you of all the hours you spent playing the 2009 Modern Warfare 2. That is, of course, because all 16 of those maps have been remade for Modern Warfare 3, and they’re going to be available on day one.
But 2023’s Call of Duty is quite different from those heady days, and you probably need a little bit of a primer on how things work in this one. We aim to offer answers to the questions you might have in this guide.
Stop worrying about movement
Call of Duty has changed, and somehow turned into a movement shooter. The best you could hope for back in the day was strafing and the occasional jumping. These days, though, you’re looking at slide-cancelling, jumping around corners, crouching/going prone mid-firefight and so on.
Movement in Modern Warfare 3 in particular is faster than last year’s game, so expect people to be flying around corners, juking your bullets, and using movement mechanics initially intended as defensive tools offensively. The game has very little penalty to all that monkey business, so you’re going to run into it more regularly than you might expect.
But what if I told you that you don’t actually have to participate in this dance?! The time to kill (TTK) is longer this year, and closer to Treyarch’s games than it is to Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer Call of Duty’s. You can take your time and, so long as you’re accurate, you won’t actually need to move much.
The other thing that’s well worth keeping in mind is that modern Call of Duty relies on strict skill-based matchmaking, which basically means that the better you do, the more you’ll end up in lobbies at or above your skill level.
If you take it easy and just play like you used to in 2009, your competition won’t change much. Believe it or not, it’s possible to end up in lobbies where you’re actually going to be surprised to see someone utilising all that movement nonsense, not the other way around.
Perks are clothes and accessories now
Modern Warfare 3 does technically have many of the perks you’d expect in Call of Duty, but the game frames them differently. You’ll now have to build your character around Vests, Gloves, Boots, and Gear.
There are six Vests in multiplayer, and it’s best to decide on a Vest before you get on with the rest of them. Vests will dictate how the rest of your build flows. Depending on your chosen Vest, each can increase/decrease the number of tacticals/lethals you can have, as well as Gloves, Boots, Gear, and even Field Upgrade. A Vest can also remove a slot entirely.
Gloves (Six) have bonuses and perks that target weapon handling, accuracy, ADS time and even let you reset grenade fuses. All Vests have a Gloves slot. On the other hand, Boots (Six) target movement abilities, speed, footstep sound and so on. Unlike Gloves, however, Boots are not available on every Vest.
The Gear (12) slot covers everything else, such as immunity to certain types of damage, damage reduction, warning systems, killstreak interaction and so on. All Vests have a Gear slot, but some offer two slots.
There’s a Dead Silence-style always-on perk
On the subject of classic perks, Modern Warfare 3 does bring back the ability to have an always-active footstep dampening perk. In this case, it’s one of the six Boots, called Covert Sneakers.
You can equip the Covert Sneakers pair of Boots on all Vests, with the exception of the Gunner Vest - as it does not have a Boots slot.
Maps may be classic, but don’t expect them to play how you remember
It’s true that every map in Modern Warfare 3 is a remake of one of the original, 2009 Modern Warfare 2 maps. While all 16 maps are virtually identical, they’re not quite going to play the same way they did back then.
There are two reasons for that. One, the faster movement, ability to mantle over cover quickly, clamber up to higher surfaces will all alter the way you interact with every corner of the map. Places you previously thought were out of reach may very well be someone’s favourite camping spot.
The biggest contributor to the change in map flow, however, comes from the spawns. In 2009, Call of Duty relied on fixed spawn locations for every team. This made spawns more predictable (remember the days of flipping spawns?), but it had the side effect of creating instances of spawn trapping; where one team could trap the other in their spawn until everyone quits.
Modern Call of Duty, including Modern Warfare 3, rely instead on what you can refer to as a squad-spawn system. You will often spawn at or near teammates, regardless of where they are. This makes it much harder to predict where the enemy is coming from, which means the chances of flipping the spawns are lower.
The unfortunate side effect of squad spawning is that you can sometimes find yourself surrounded by more enemies than you can handle, simply because the game decided to spawn you on a teammate just as they died, leaving you to fend for yourself. Use that information to your advantage.
The classic minimap returns
If you haven’t been keeping up with modern Call of Duty, Infinity Ward started a trend of changing the behaviour of the minimap with the 2019 Modern Warfare reboot. That design has evolved in a few ways since then, but Sledgehammer Games decided to bring it back to basics with Modern Warfare 3.
In simple terms, all unsuppressed weapon fire will show up on the minimap. This is, of course, unless you are using anything that prevents that from happening. A UAV scan will reveal everyone, unless they’re using anti-UAV items.
Basically, use a suppressor if you don’t wish to appear on the minimap when you fire your weapon.
Map voting is in, but lobbies will disband after every match
Being able to vote on the next map is another classic feature that returns in Modern Warfare 3. It honestly feels a little pointless, considering every lobby is going to be different, not to mention the fact you can get stuck in a rut as players keep voting for the most popular maps, meaning you're going to miss out on many of the not-so-popular ones.
Map voting works as it has always done, so there isn’t much more to share there.
Weapon platforms and unlocking attachments
If you missed last year’s Modern Warfare 2, then you should familiarise yourself with the weapon platform system. In pretty much every Call of Duty game prior, unlocking an attachment for any weapon required you spend time grinding weapon XP on said weapon - basically: using it.
This has now changed, however, as some attachments are universal and will be available on the same class of weapons once they’re unlocked once. The upshot is that it allows you to guarantee some basic attachments (like sights) on any new weapon you decide to use.
You’ll essentially be unlocking attachments for more weapons than you want to use, by using the weapon you like. The downside is that unlocking certain, major attachments will force you to use weapons you may not necessarily gravitate towards, in order to unlock something for the weapon you’re currently a fan of.
This is what a weapon platform is: a set of shared components, attachments and such that reward you for spending time with the entire platform - meaning the assault rifle, SMGs, LMG, and DMR variants of each of them.
Tactical Stance (Tac-Stance) is a bit of a gimmick
New in Modern Warfare 3 is what the game calls Tac-Stance, which is a middle ground between full-on ADS, and hipfire. Tac-Stance effectively functions the same as equipping a Canted Laser on your weapon in Modern Warfare 2, in that it, well, cants the weapon to offer you more accuracy than hipfire, but less than ADS.
You move faster in Tac-Stance than you do when aiming down sights, so it’s good in situations where you feel you’re going to need to strafe or move faster than ADS allows. It also makes snapping onto different targets smoother, as your field of view will be wider.
You can change the behaviour of Tac-Stance, how to toggle it on/off and so on in the options menu. It’s worth messing around with those settings (or turning Tac-Stance off entirely) as it’s going to compete for muscle memory with things like weapon mounting, so take the time to familiarise yourself with it.