Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer preview – hands-on with the new maps and new modes

If Call of Duty looks like an unstoppable, inevitable juggernaut of success at this point, it’s for one very good reason: Multiplayer. While the series has taken lumps from critics for its short campaigns, its multiplayer action has become a huge, mainstream cultural phenomenon, and if what we’ve seen at the Call of Duty XP event is any indication, Modern Warfare 3’s new modes and maps look poised to continue that trend for some time. 

First, the modes…

New mode: Kill Confirmed

Kill Confirmed isn’t that much different from the standard team deathmatch, although there is one important difference: defeated players leave behind dog tags. If you can grab said dog tags, you’ll net an extra 50 points for “confirming” the kill. Conversely, you can also grab a fallen teammate’s tags, and net another 50 for denying confirmation to the opposing team. It might seem like a small bonus, but in fact it poses an additional danger for all but the most reckless players. Grabbing the tags might be a quick score boost, but is it worth risking exposure where a guy was just gunned down? We’re betting some players will also be able to turn tags to their advantage, laying in wait for enemies to storm in blindly and try to grab them.

In any case, those things are fun to grab. Especially if you can manage to gun down an enemy who was just about to snag your dead teammate’s tags, in which case you’ll score both the denial and the confirmation bonus. That dog tags add an element of strategy and risk is just the icing on the cake.

New mode: Spec Ops Survival

We also played Spec Ops Survival, MW3’s answer to Gears of War’s Horde mode (or World at War’s/Black Ops’ Zombies mode, if you want to keep it in the series).Here, one or two players are given full run of one of the six multiplayer maps, and are then tasked with defending the area against ever-tougher waves of enemies. The baddies start as low-end militia armed with crappy weapons, but soon graduate to better-armed soldiers, dogs, attack choppers, suicide soldiers strapped with C4, armored juggernauts, dogs strapped with C4 and more juggernauts.

To fend them off, you’ll start with nothing but a basic pistol. Survive the first wave, however, and you’ll unlock a weapons store, where you can buy new guns or upgrade/refill your existing ones using money you’ve earned by killing enemies. Living through the second wave, meanwhile, unlocks an equipment store with items that range from grenades to sentry turrets that can be carried, moved and placed just about anywhere.

Finally, surviving the third wave unlocks an airstrike store, giving players the chance to buy a cruise missile, an attack chopper or – and these guys came in surprisingly useful – a visit from Delta Squad, who rappel in from a helicopter and will follow you around, watching your back until they’re all dead. After that, the new unlocks stop, but the enemies don’t – and ultimately, we were only able to stay alive until the eleventh wave, when the swarming soldiers and dogs ultimately proved too much to handle.

Until we tasted defeat, though, SOS was absurdly fun, and didn’t seem to suffer at all from allowing only two players – although to be fair, that was partly because the game’s settings made us insanely tough, and death wasn’t instant. Instead, getting gunned down in SOS means you’ll be crawling around and bleeding out for a while, until your partner finds you, in which case they’ll be able to revive you pretty quickly.

Interestingly, Special Ops will be the only multiplayer mode that you’ll be able to level up in during offline play – and any emblems or titles you earn can be carried over into normal multiplayer. If nothing else, this should give newcomers a way to practice and improve a bit before they take their game online.

New maps: Dome, Arkaden, Resistance, Village, Underground

As for the maps we played on, they consisted of Dome, a desert outpost dominated by a large geodesic dome; Arkaden, a ruined German mall designed for Search & Destroy games; Resistance, a slice of urban Paris with beautiful staircases and sloping roads, ideal for domination and Kill Confirmed; Village, a sprawling African shantytown; and Underground, set inside a bomb-ravaged London tube station. The maps are meant to reflect the game’s World War III storyline, and while they have some familiar elements – there’s a cave with a small waterfall in Village, for example, that’s a dead ringer for a similar feature in MW2’s Afghan map – they all felt unique. Especially Underground, whose shattering glass, underground passageways and wrecked trains quickly made it a favorite of the XP crowd.

In spite of all the cool new stuff, however, what we’ve seen of MW3’s multiplayer so far doesn’t seem to be too radical a departure from what we’re used to – although that’s probably a good thing, as far as its fans are concerned. The important thing is that it’s still a lot of fun (or at least, what we played was), and the things we’ve seen so far show the level of polish and promise we’ve come to expect from the series. Assuming it holds up as well after it’s released into the wild as it did during the few controlled hours we played it (and assuming the Call of Duty Elite content is as good as it sounds), Call of Duty fans should have a lot to be excited about this November.

Sep 2, 2011


  • TroyKK - October 17, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    Here's a 250+ page online Modern Warfare 3 Strategy Guide:
  • haisaikk - September 8, 2011 10:33 a.m.

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  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - September 6, 2011 5:48 a.m.

    I cannot wait for this. I loved Spec Ops and it looks like MW3 is taking a lot of cues from Horde and Firefight for SOS, which is awesome. Also, I think BF3 fanboys have now overtaken PS3 fanboys as the most annoying people on the internet. Congratulations, I guess.
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  • porjos - September 6, 2011 11:52 a.m.

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  • Jedipimp0712 - September 4, 2011 1:12 p.m.

    to be honest, i would rather be using modern weapons to kill zombies than the 70's and 40's weapons of the world powers. i do like the new feature of SOS. and i should say i completely agree with you on the different DLC. but, respectfully agree to disagree on the price of map packs. i find it insane that people can afford all of those, especially in an economy like this. i have 1240 MS points left on my account. i can not afford 5 packs over a year. (i think there are 4 for black ops as of now)especially when they say things in their dev videos like "these are recycled maps that we originally scrapped, or were from previous titles" not exactly what i want to spend my money and time on. would you not rather have free maps from a game like battlefield 3?
  • CitizenWolfie - September 4, 2011 2:56 a.m.

    I know this will seem a bit redundant given that CoD (even though I'm a fan) doesn't change much from game to game, but after reading the last section about the maps, it sounds like they're running out of ideas for MP maps now. Underground and Resistence sound great, but Dome, Village and Arkaden all sound similar to previous games. I know there's only SO many warzone scenarios to use but I think a lot of people are a bit bored of playing desert base/ruined city/arctic base/abandoned factories now. I think that's why maps like Highrise, Carnival, Terminal (MW2) and Nuketown (Black Ops) are so popular as they are a bit different. I really enjoy CoD multiplayer for the madness that it is but even I'm suffering from mapathy now.
  • Yeager1122 - September 3, 2011 9:35 p.m.

    Ill just play it at a friends house first cod i wont buy just tired of it.
  • Lando81 - September 3, 2011 6:01 p.m.

    MEHR MERH BITCHING ABOUT HOW THIS LOOKS SO MUCH WORSE THAN BF3. Can we grow up children? There's room for both. Personally I prefer the gameplay of COD to that of BF3. <notice how I didn't say that Battlefield is inferior in any way, shape, or form.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 4, 2011 2:59 a.m.

    Amen Lando81. They're both so different except the "modern" part. It must be cool to hate Call of Duty or something. I say this as someone who will be getting both games with my hard earned money.
  • ParagonT - September 4, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    The reason people hate call of duty is because of the amount of time they spend on their development of games. In the real world, sometimes people do not only pay for the quality of an item, but also the time spend on said item. It sounds horrible, but life isn't fair and that's how it is. Also by stating that, people have a right to complain as much as others have the right to complain about complainers. (Hypocritical? I think so.) Why do they have a right to complain? Because if they spent at least 3-5 years on the game like many other developers do, there would be double the content, more maps, better graphics, better animations, and a more polished experience. What does this have to do with complaining on a thread? Because first of all, it makes people feel better, secondly it is how they get their voice out there to developers, and finally, its how they are able to share their reasoning or ideas with others. Don't deny them this because you both are doing it now. Another note, by blindly just accepting these trivial matters, you are helping the downfall of the industry where publishers will nickel and dime every consumer until gaming becomes a hobby for the well off and a shoddy pieces of crap for installments. (More well of than those can afford it now and shoddier). Unlike some people on here, some do care about the good of the industry and wants CoD to fail hard in order to learn a lesson. You think that just because BF3 is projected to take more than 30% of CoD's fan-base away, is reason for Activision to stop pumping out CoD titles? Think again. If EA takes 3 years off to make another good Battlefield installment or another shooter IP, CoD will have 2 or 3 "new" CoD games come out during that time, making triple the money as EA due to their "fan-base". Why should this matter? Because it shows people that just because "competition" makes people assume that they will make better games, does not make it so. CoD has something called a trending online game title. As when a new CoD game comes out, usually a majority of the previous CoD gamers will switch to it, leaving the previous CoD installment lacking in online resources. Thus adding more pressure to switch. In conclusion for this wonderful essay, people complain in order to be heard. One complainer doesn't make much of a splash in a pond you know? But I'm a bit tired of CoD sponging off of their trend, although they do have a right to do so, as a consumer... **** THAT.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 4, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    My issue personally was not with the "downfall of the industry" and people have the right to complain about whatever they want. I think what Lando81 and myself were referring to was the fact that whenever a Call of Duty article is posted, the comments section is flooded with people saying how much CoD sucks and how much better Battlefield will be. I'd bet that most of the people (if you're not then well done you) who post these sort of comments have either A: Not played a Call of Duty game since CoD4 or B: Would be saying the same thing if Battlefield was the big yearly seller instead of Call of Duty. I'm not denying people the right to have an opinion. I just think people should be aware that this does not mean their opinion is right. I like Call of Duty. I also like the look of Battlefield. I do not feel I should have to be defending something I like. "The reason people hate call of duty is because of the amount of time they spend on their development of games." Your argument about CoD being developed in a short time seems misguided - there are two separate development teams working on two separate games. Just because they come out every year under the same publisher doesn't mean they are made by the same devs. Infinity Ward therefore have a 2 year development cycle. This is the same amount of time as Uncharted, Dead Space or Arkham City. But regardless of this, let's not forget that EA (among other publishers) are quite happy doing the exact same thing with their yearly updates such as FIFA, Madden or (with THQ) the Smackdown games. Just because the gameplay is largely the same doesn't mean they are less valid as a gaming experience than say, Bioshock. Capcom are far bigger culprits than Activision for releasing the same game with added stuff. Look at all the Street Fighter "editions." This has been "the industry" way for as long as I can remember and it's gone from strength to strength. I think you're being *slightly* over dramatic in suggesting it's causing the gaming industry to come crashing down. Besides which, the majority of the negative comments do not state that they hate Call of Duty for the development time anyway. Most consist of "Call of Duty sucks!" or "Battlefield FTW." It's not adding to the discussion in any way and nobody seems bothered about backing up their opinions with reason. You obvious HAVE done this, hence your long response so congratulations, you are not one of the mindless haters I was referring to. TL:DR - U mad bro?
  • Jedipimp0712 - September 4, 2011 1:27 p.m.

    i find this whole thing interesting. i have all of the call of duty games (besides cod 3). i also have bad company, bad company 2, battlefield 2, and battlefield 2142? (not sure of the exact name, have not played it for a while). i also have many other shooters, with over 60 days logged in all of them combined (yes, i just tallied that. ha ha) and i have to say, even though i have the most time spent on call of duty 4 out of all those titles (TF2, CSS, and Battlefield BC2 ) i would stand behind my reasoning that the battlefield series is better than the cod series. for multiple reasons. 1: call of duty has a ton of kids in their community. which i do not like. 2:the call of duty engine has not had a complete overhaul in just about 7-8 years. 3: the technical (engine) aspects of the call of duty series is kind of sh!t if you compare it to what you can do in the BF series. look up engine specs, and if you can understand that you will know what im talking about. but everyone is entitled to their opinion ;)
  • CitizenWolfie - September 4, 2011 2:35 p.m.

    Well said Jedipimp. As mentioned I'm looking forward to both games but I was just a bit tired of seeing all the Call of Duty hate all the time. They're such radically different play styles. Its like comparing street fighter to soul calibur. For me its only since I got an Xbox did I even consider BF due to getting friends together to play it. I'm looking forward to some bug scale skirmishes in BF but at the same time I will still enjoy more fast paced arcade fun in MW3. As Lando81 says above, there's room for both!
  • CitizenWolfie - September 4, 2011 2:37 p.m.

    *Big scale skirmishes. Damn my phone :(
  • Jedipimp0712 - September 4, 2011 9:18 p.m.

    i prefer PC myself... but if you like xbox, thats on you! lol. there were other things i wanted to type for why i dont like call of duty compared to BF3, and they are all technical aspects. but im not going to change anyones mind here. i know that. i myself, am going to be getting both for various reasons. probably going to get MW3 for xbox (i want it for PC, but i have more friends on xbox than PC that would play with me) and BF3 for PC, because i dont care about my friends for that. i just want to have 64 player matches!
  • Terrorrizor - September 5, 2011 2:34 a.m.

    Like you said in three years 2 or 3 cod games'll be released, because infinity ward makes one while Treyarch releases one right? I just hat that Black Ops will only be out a year when MW3 is released. COD's should be 2 or 3 years apart from each other. Even the map packs felt rushed, and with my first COD game (Black Ops) I have learned it's not really worth buying map packs in the long run, unless they're zombie packs that you can play without others. Btw 150 bucks for MW3 on Hardened or Prestige? (I forget which) that is just ridiculous.
  • JADENkOTOR - September 4, 2011 5:38 p.m.

    This looks so much worse than Battlefield 3... So much worse.
  • spideralex90 - September 2, 2011 11:33 p.m.

    Yawn. Battlefield will be in my hands a full two weeks before this game. This is a rent at best.

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