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No more nuke! How Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer is fixing kill streaks, perks, weapons and matches

Taking the stage at Call of Duty XP last night, Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling let the crowd know that big changes are in the works for the Modern Warfare franchise, most of them relating to the games’ balance. Some of the biggest complaints from fans, he said, came from the cheesier perks and kill-streak rewards, which tipped the scales hugely in the favor of experienced players. So the worst offenders – like the infamous, match-ending nuke – are gone, and in their place is a new kill-streak system designed to even the odds a bit and reward different kinds of play.

Referred to as “strike packages,” the new kill streaks are divided into three categories: Assault, Support and Specialist. Pick the Assault path, and you’ll unlock the same rewards kill streaks usually unlock, all designed to punish the enemy (i.e. airstrikes). Support, meanwhile, gives bonuses designed to help your entire team – anti-helicopter SAM turrets, for example, or countermeasures against ally-revealing UAVs – and picking it means that your kill-streak counter won’t reset when you die. Meanwhile, the third option, Specialist, grants bonus perks, with streaks steadily unlocking even more perks until players eventually have every available perk activated at once.

MW3 will also introduce a “weapon proficiency” feature, which means your weapons will level up with use, enabling players to earn enhancements for their favorites. And finally, it’ll put enough match variables at players’ disposal - including map, team and gameplay options – that customizing matches can produce what the game’s creators call “user-generated game modes,” which can apparently be saved for later use.

And, of course, there’s Call of Duty Elite to consider. Once a controversial idea, MW3’s companion subscription service will actually offer a bunch of free features for those who choose not to subscribe, including things like the ability to join groups based on your interests and/or affiliations, access to apps that show heat maps and player lists of your games, and assorted other tools designed to keep you interested. Invest in the premium membership, however – which costs $49.99 a year, and is included in the Hardened Edition of MW3 – and you’ll get access to every piece of DLC released for MW3 first and more often, with monthly content drops planned.

Premium subscriptions will also enable clans to level up together, grant entry into online competitions, and grant players eight times more video-replay capacity than non-paying players. Strategy and analysis videos from the world’s best players will be made available as well, and subscriptions will also open up access to Elite TV, which features CoD-themed videos made by Hollywood talent. Two shows were announced, the first being Friday Night Fights. Created by Ridley and Tony Scott, the show pits real-world rivals against each other in CoD. Also announced was Noobtube, in which Will Arnett and Jason Bateman apparently go online to smack-talk players.

That's all very impressive, but the most noticeable changes are the ones the casual players are just going to jump straight into, which is to say the new modes and maps. For details and impressions of those, read our hands-on multiplayer preview.

Sep 2, 2011

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34 comments

  • Yeager1122 - September 3, 2011 9:30 p.m.

    They say it will be more balanced every time and it never is there will be hackers and veterans will be favored just like always.
  • TheHolyHandGrenade - September 3, 2011 7:06 p.m.

    Ill be playing TF2 and skyrim, but i kinda like the idea of separating the Kill streaks.
  • brizzie - September 3, 2011 4:50 p.m.

    I agree with D0CCON they can say balance as much as they want but that type of crap doesn't help their case.
  • c-c-c-combo breaker - September 3, 2011 2:45 p.m.

    I think I'll buy this game a tab before BF3, because I prefer running around and leveling up solo without giving much of a damn about what my teammates do. If it doesn't have a bad connection/over powered guns like blops, it should be a good game, worthy of 40 quid. Battlefield does look very nice too though, I'm glad that Dice have gone to even greater lengths to prove that their game is not CoD, should not be compared to CoD, and is great fun to play in its own right. Kudos to the companies making these games, I believe my money will be well spent.
  • Voodoowolfe - September 3, 2011 1:09 p.m.

    The last two CoD games I bought for PC were hacked in days of release. And this sounds just like the same game, looks like it too. I agree with Voltanis, aren't MW2 and BlOps where you kill so many people and you unlock the attachments? Isn't that getting enhancements for your favorite weapons? Oh well, same game just charging for it again.
  • Limbo - September 3, 2011 11:40 a.m.

    As if anyone on CoD will ever choose the Support killstreaks.
  • Voodoowolfe - September 3, 2011 12:54 p.m.

    true dat. One of things I loved most about MoH. Using support actions was a fairly big advantage for your team. But yeah, I haven't played on a CoD team in quite a while where people worked together.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 4, 2011 1:50 a.m.

    I don't know about that - I will certainly give them a try. It's alright if you can get online with your friends and get a proper team going. It'll be quite satisfying using radars and SAM turrets to completely counter a team full of attack helicopter spammers.
  • ahuythgtenf - September 3, 2011 10:53 a.m.

    No thanks, they should have fixed it in MW2, not bring out a whole new game just for fixes. I don't see how fixing problems an old game has, if they're going to make you pay £45 to get it. After all, the COD games are just yearly small updates now anyway.
  • Regadrex - September 3, 2011 8:11 a.m.

    I'm relatively new to the COD series, having only owned MW2 and Black ops, and I was wondering whether a title retains some of the more popular additions by the previous instalment. I know that Black ops left some of MW2's killstreaks/ weapons/ etc. and added some of their own, but will MW3 retain some things introduce by Black Ops, considering they're made by different studios, such as diving to prone? This could effect whether I'm going to buy this over BF3. (And please, no COD/BF fanboy gibberish, just an honest answer please)
  • jackthemenace - September 3, 2011 2:03 a.m.

    So, to even it out NOT in favour of veteran players, they've changed it so ONE path is exactly the same, one path supports YOUR team by giving you missile launchers to ill the other team, and one path gives you every perk at once? Sounds SLIGHTLY more fair, I guess... But the idea of giving you weapon proficiency REALLY doesn't help their "don't favour veteran players" approach.
  • cchen04 - September 3, 2011 10:58 a.m.

    Agreed on the weapon proficiency. I don't see how they are going to do this. Upgrades are either going to be noticeably advantageous which is only going to make it even harder on newbies. Or the upgrades are nearly useless, in which case, why did they even bother in the first place?
  • ThatGuyFromTV - September 3, 2011 11:15 p.m.

    I think it's going to be like BlOps's money system, except that stuff earned with one weapon can only be used for attachments on said weapon. BlOps went a tad too far with the freeform money approach, this looks like it could be an improvement.
  • KungFoo - September 3, 2011 1:49 a.m.

    The supporting part of a killstreak I like the sound of. However, as with MW2 and Black Ops, I find it rare you see Call of Duty players actually working well as a team unless I'm in a party with my mates. So torn between this and Battlefield though. Can only really invest online time into one of them. Decisions decisions...
  • HumorTumor - September 2, 2011 9:23 p.m.

    It all sounds nice. But if the game still plays exactly the same, I'm not too interested. and the majority of the fan base really turns me off. However, they do have a couple months to convince me. I'm not denying the game per say, but I'm extremely dubious of it.
  • clstirens - September 2, 2011 8:38 p.m.

    Reminds me of Medal of Honor's killstreak method. Ever kill streak you earned gave you two options, either you helped your team with support, or you called in some kind of attack. All of this looks nice, but I'm pretty much tired of buying the annual call of duty, and MW2 burned me SO HARD with all of it's problems (even after the initial exploits were fixed). That being said, i'm glad major changes are coming, the fans are probably tired of the EXACT same style of perks and killstreaks.
  • avantguardian - September 2, 2011 7:50 p.m.

    what i'd REALLY like to see (which will NEVER happen btw)is this: anyone who nets, say, 5 kills within a 20 ft. radius of each other will have a "bonus", which consists of a giant tag that floats above their heads and shows up on the opposing teams' radar that says simply: "CAMPER"...would change the entire FPS genre for the better;) but yeah, i'll take no nukes instead, i guess...
  • Voltanis - September 2, 2011 10:19 p.m.

    ^ This. Except replace "giant tag that floats above their heads" with "suicide device attached to the camper which will detonate unless they move 100ft away from their last kill".

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