Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III Review | The price ain’t right

Modern Warfare III is good, but it's more like a DLC than a proper new Call of Duty entry.

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Another year, another CoD and this time around, it’s a remake of 2011’s MW3 that primarily remakes 2009’s MW2. Confusing? A little bit. Is it fun though? Most definitely. The best thing about Call of Duty: Modern Ware III is that it is nearly exactly what last year’s Modern Warfare II should’ve been. The entire marketing push for this game was to communicate that Sledgehammer Games was reverting all the odd and controversial design and creative decisions Infinity Ward made. As it turns out, the only thing last year’s CoD had to do was listen to the community. MWIII is a product of that feedback and it’s an infinitely much better game for it.

Call of Duty games, for better or worse, have always stood out as one of the most significant FPS multiplayer experiences of the year. The franchise has had a chokehold on the genre for so long since its inception that even at its critically lowest state, would still sell record numbers in sales and popularity. Personally, CoD has always been a comfort franchise. A series of games that I can pick up and enjoy at almost any time. Some years I get really into it, some years I don’t. From what I’ve experienced so far, it’s looking like this time around, I’ll be the former.

There are 3 main components of Modern Warfare III: campaign, multiplayer, and zombies, all of which have massively varying degrees of quality and success. The fact of the matter is that it’s still Call of Duty as we’ve all come to know it as. And in a lot of cases, a little bit too familiar for its own good. Given how this title uses up so much of existing assets from MWII due to the extremely limited development time, Modern Warfare III ends up feeling like it could’ve been received so much better if it came as an update rather than a full-priced release.

A silly little action flick

Modern Warfare III Campaign

Modern Warfare III’s campaign is easily the worst part of the package. It’s a measly 4-hour experience that is all shine but nothing of substance. As much as Call of Duty games have always been about the multiplayer, the campaigns have always had a special place in my heart. They’re dumb fun popcorn blockbusters that I can just kick back, relax, and enjoy for a couple of hours. The Modern Warfare remakes have gone the more somber route when it came to their execution. There were still a few notable set pieces, but the impact of recent Modern Warfare campaigns primarily came from what the stories were trying to say rather than from what can be the biggest explosion one can make. However, Modern Warfare III fails to make any sort of lasting impression simply because it ends before it can even get a proper footing. While it’s not the worst campaign in the franchise, it’s definitely one of the more forgettable ones.

The biggest feature that the developers were touting about is the open combat missions in MWIII which are great in theory, but underbaked in its final form. Here in lies the most disappointing aspect of the campaign which bleeds into the rest of the game itself: there’s a lot of re-used content. Open combat missions are basically Warzone, so much to the point that it even uses a lot of Verdansk’s landmarks as levels for some of the missions. You run around medium to large spaces from one objective to another, stealthily or guns blazing, collecting ammo, weapons, and armor plates. It’s mini-Warzone without all the fun random factors of being in an online setting.

While I get that the developers were going for, offering a sense of freedom and scale to the campaign experience, it’s just not what I look for in a CoD campaign. I want bombastic action, tightly designed levels, cool characters, thought-provoking commentaries on war and violence, etc. Instead, what we got with MWIII seems like a last-ditch effort to fill up a contractual obligation.

I will however say that the MWIII still contains the fantastic presentation quality that the remake series has had. Character models, VFX, level details, and audio design is about as phenomenal as you’d expect them to be with the series.

Unfortunately, the story itself is nothing to write home about. Makarov is finally out in the wild and Task Force 141 has to stop him. There are more significant stakes in the story. Something which the previous two MW campaigns have lacked a bit. I only wish MWIII was able to flesh them out further. Price is still an expected standout. His presence encapsulates the best parts of the Modern Warfare remakes. Subtle yet defined. Aggressive yet calculated.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast doesn’t get enough time to shine as a result. Even the big bad himself, Makarov, feels like a shell of his former self. What was once a highly intimidating and unpredictable opposing figure is now more reminiscent of a frustrated young adult who didn’t get what he wanted when he was a child. He is still very much a villain here, but he never gets the chance to be fully developed into one that I loved to hate as much as the original Makarov was able to do. All that being said, there are still glimpses of great emotional beats here that do hit when they needed to, for the most part.

I am bummed to report that some of the significant characters that were introduced in MWII do not make a return in MWIII’s campaign. It all just feels like it’s lacking a lot of the substance that made the first 2 so special. The problem with MWIII’s campaign is not that it’s short, it’s that it didn’t do anything worthwhile in what little runtime it had. The best thing I can say about it is that I hope it’s a sign that Verdansk is coming back to Warzone. The remastered environments are already being used anyways. That would be something very special.

Other than achievement hunting, there’s not much reason to go back and replay MWIII’s campaign. I do wish that they would bring back the Intel collectibles that were so fun to hunt down in classic CoD titles. Additionally, I feel like it could be great for the mode if it contained a bunch of special rewards that players could take with them to multiplayer. Whether it be cosmetics like calling cards, camos, and operator skins based on specific challenges or side content that can be accomplished. These would give so much more weight and relevance to CoD campaigns, making them a true part of the overall package rather than the first one to be deleted to save space.

The one thing that excites me is that if there’s anything that the ending and post-credits scene have communicated is that we’re definitely having more Modern Warfare titles. No longer are the developers tied to re-capturing iconic moments from the classic trilogy, they can now have a little bit more freedom with where they want to take the story. That’s something to look out for.

Killing the dead

Modern Warfare III Zombies

This would be the first time in a Modern Warfare game that a zombies mode would be playable. Given that Treyarch is the studio that’s spearheading this endeavor, all signs were pointing upwards. True enough, shooting the undead is a great little pastime in MWIII.

However, it is worth saying that zombies in MWIII is basically just a reskinned DMZ from MWII.  It’s basically the same thing with the only difference is that your team is not competing with someone else. It even uses the same map from Warzone 2.0. While I am sad that this is not the usual round-based zombies mode that Treyarch have dang near perfected over the years, MWIII’s zombies is still an interesting time to be had.

As of the writing of this review, it is one of the fastest way to level up guns as you can just mow through hordes of the undead when extraction time comes. Just don’t leave and continue calling the chopper and mobs will continue to spawn. It’s open-world zombies. Not as tightly designed as I would’ve preferred but it’s nice to have here. The zombies mode exclusive camos are great and definitely worth going for if you are a completionist. This will definitely be in my to-do list sometime in 2024.

Hopefully, when future seasonal updates come, zombies would get some love from Treyarch. Perhaps a new map that’s more catered to the zombie experience rather than a reskinned one.

Shoot your shot

Modern Warfare III Multiplayer

Modern Warfare III’s multiplayer is (as expected) the best thing about the game. It is also because it is exactly what Modern Warfare II should’ve been. Last year’s title set the bar so incredibly low that the only way Sledgehammer Games could’ve gone is up and they definitely did with this one.

The most interesting part about Modern Warfare III is that this was initially heavily rumored to be a DLC expansion to last year’s MWII. Shortly after the community realized that MWII is just simply not it and abandoned ship, a sudden pivot was made, and Sledgehammer Games had no choice but to somehow make a full release with just a little over a year. The result of this is that MWIII uses a lot of what was already established in MWII. The only significant differences are movement systems, maps, and guns. Everything else is pretty much the same.

The remastered maps from classic MW2 are a delightful throwback, skillfully reworked to enhance both visual appeal and mechanical viability. Movement in the game feels fluid and responsive, maintaining the high standards of gunplay that define the Modern Warfare series. For those who love slide-cancelling, it’s here and it’s much simpler to pull off. It just makes the flow and feel of the matches be much smoother and adds a layer of skill gap that I personally enjoy.

One of the standout improvements for me lies in the elimination of weapon tuning, streamlining the loadout creation process and reducing unnecessary bloat. The decision to increase health levels adds a layer of depth to the gameplay, contributing to a more balanced and competitive experience. The extended time to kill is a welcome change, providing players with greater opportunities for strategic engagement.

Modern Warfare III does have its drawbacks. While the remastered MW2 maps evoke a sense of nostalgia, the overall experience can sometimes feel like a content update rather than a standalone game. The continued use of the messy UI might leave me yearning for a more intuitive interface. Furthermore, certain progression tracking issues hinder the accuracy of player achievements and milestones. This can be frustrating especially since a lot of the unlocks for gear in the game is tied to completing these challenges.

The problem with bringing back classic MW2 maps is that they were not originally designed with some modern game modes in mind. This oversight becomes apparent in modes like hardpoint, where spawn issues can compromise the overall flow of the game. This can cause long-term issues with the competitive scene and even when Ranked Play eventually releases.

It’s still very much modern-day Call of Duty multiplayer. The IW engine, first introduced in 2019’s Modern Warfare remake, feels like a necessary evolution for the franchise. Gunplay is some of the best in the industry with the looks to back it up. All the weapons and cosmetics from MWII carries over to MWIII which is a fantastic call given how much monetary and time investment those require. Making them obsolete with each new title just didn’t make sense.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III Review Final Verdict – 7/10

To be frank, Modern Warfare III is the most fun I’ve had in a modern-day CoD in a while. It’s mostly due to the fact that it addresses nearly every single blatant design failure that MWII wore proudly on its chest. Following up a massive disappointment is not as difficult of a job especially since you’re using the same skeleton and just polishing everything up around it.

Despite me being very critical about the campaign, at the end of the day it’s really just a massive, missed potential given how great the past 2 entries have been. It felt like it’s missing an entire 3rd act that we’ll just get through seasonal storytelling or wait for yet another full priced release.

Zombies is just a reskinned DMZ but it’s fun at least, thanks to the Treyarch touch. If I were to guess, the devvelopers are using MWIII as a testing ground for what zombies will look like in future Black Ops games. Hopefully round-based zombies is part of that vision but the open-world gimmick is starting to grow on me a little bit. Definitely a fun time to be had with the right group of friends to squad up with.

Multiplayer is multiplayer. It’s fast, frantic, addicting, and dopamine inducing. The main problem I have with this and evven the entirety of MWIII is that it’s packaged as a full-blown $70 experience when it really doesn’t deserve to be. If this was presented as a massive content expansion sold at a discounted price, then I would be more accepting of what we got. A great multiplayer does not excuse a lackluster campaign and a serviceable zombies mode.

A lot of the issues and recycling in MWIII can be attributed to the short amount of time Sledgehammer Games was allowed to work on it. But, pulling off what they did, giving the community a lot of the changes that we were begging for, is impressive in it of itself. I also noticed that they’re more communicative and transparent when it comes to future updates and intent with the design decisions they made. All of this is making me very optimistic for MWIII moving forward.

This review was made using a game code for the PS5 provided by the publisher. 


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is fantastic when viewed as a DLC expansion instead of the $70 package it is being sold for right now. A lot of the positives of the game comes from backtracking the questionable design decisions that were present in MWII. While that makes for a much better multiplayer experience, the campaign and zombies offerings leave so much more to be desired. Nevertheless, Sledgehammer Games have shown that they care about what the player base wants and it's looking like this will be a CoD worth sticking with to see what else the studio has been cooking up.