Modern Warfare 3 looks even more like DLC disguised as a sequel after promising to "Carry Forward" most of Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 3 Makarov trailer
(Image credit: Activision)

In possibly the most confusing move to ever come from the increasingly confusing Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will "Carry Forward" basically all the guns, cosmetics, and progression from Modern Warfare 2 in a one-way upgrade that sure smacks of DLC to me. 

A new blog post outlined the scope of the Carry Forward feature earlier today, several days ahead of the Warzone-set reveal which will hopefully tell us what the game with the three on it will actually bring to the table. For now, we know that it contains a sizable majority of Modern Warfare 2 content. 

Carry Forward has been packaged as a way to, "for the first time in Call of Duty's history," have "a massive repository of armaments ready to use on day one," sort of like a quick-start button. OK, that gets a tentative but optimistic 'cool.' Here's how this Carry Forward business works:

  • In Season 1 of MW3, you'll have access to almost all "Operators, Weapons, Blueprints, and cosmetic equipment accessible" based on your unlocks in MW2.
  • If an Operator appears in both games, they are "regarded as the same character."
  • For skins and cosmetics, if you didn't unlock limited-time MW2 skins when they were available, or MW3 doesn't include, say, the exact vehicle that a skin is for, those won't transfer over.
  • There are also plans for "integrating Player Level, Battle Pass access, and Weapon progression among these games," which is perhaps the biggest red flag, because how do you do that between meaningfully different games? 
  • Attachments, weapon charms, and most Tactical and Lethal equipment will transfer as well. 
  • However, you'll have to re-unlock MW2 guns in MW3 via specific challenges, and you can of course get these guns even if you didn't get them in MW2 first. 
  • However, "weapon progression will continuously update between games" once you get them, which implies there will indeed be plenty of reasons to go back to MW2 post-MW3.
  • Triple however: there is no "Carry Back" system for MW3; the new content won't be usable in MW2. 

Throughout its history, Call of Duty has repeatedly been accused of rehashing the same game without significant updates or additions, and I don't know if MW3 is going to beat the allegations by reusing a ton of stuff from MW2, touting it as a good thing for player progression, and presumably charging more than the price of the season pass that this looks like. It might be good, great even, but it's sounding like a campaign DLC right now. 

I appreciate the granular detail, but the fact that 19 chunky questions were necessary for the blog post to explain this feature doesn't bode well. It even asks: "Is there a reason to purchase Modern Warfare II if all the weapons are available in Modern Warfare III?" Here's the official answer: 

"Yes. You would be able to have some or all of your Modern Warfare 2 weaponry arsenal fully leveled up and unlocked, along with their associated Camos, ready for Modern Warfare 3 launch, provided you put in the appropriate time to unlock and level up this content in MW2, prior to – or even after – playing MW3."

I want to reiterate that Modern Warfare 3 has not yet been properly revealed, so maybe it will shoot straight past expectations with heaps of new content. That being said, is this not exactly how DLC works? Buy the game now and play it so you're ready for the new content? That's what you tell people interested in trying Destiny 2 or Final Fantasy 14's next expansion, or the Elden Ring DLC, or the possible-but-not-confirmed Baldur's Gate 3 DLC

The feature itself actually sounds like a good idea, if only because it spares you the grind to regain guns you already have. But I also expect the actual new content of MW3 to now be under extra pressure to justify whatever the price tag ends up being. Call of Duty fans were already worried that such a short release cycle would lead to glorified DLC, and after this news, I reckon this MW3 reveal is really going to have to bring the heat. 

Activision has been pushing back against reports that Call of Duty 2023 would be a smaller, expansion-style entry for some time, repeatedly insisting that it will be a "full premium release" as if that means anything.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.