CoD: Modern Warfare 3 MP Beta Is Drenched In Sweaty Movement And Nostalgia


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s early access multiplayer beta went live over the weekend, giving PlayStation users the first chance to get hands-on with this continuation of the rebooted Modern Warfare series. Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer brings back classic features and remastered maps, but a significant change to the game's movement mechanics may be daunting for the casual player.

Classic maps with modernized movement

At launch, Modern Warfare 3's core multiplayer map pool consists exclusively of the full map list from 2009's Modern Warfare 2. These maps are remastered for Call of Duty's current unified engine, featuring updated graphics and the addition of interactable doors.

I've wanted these remastered Modern Warfare 2 maps for quite some time, and it's a nice punch of nostalgia having them all back, but it does feel disappointing to only get old maps at launch this year. I would've preferred a mix of old and brand-new core maps for Modern Warfare 3's release, but instead we'll be getting those new maps as post-launch content. It seems a little backwards.

The beta gave us a chance to play Favela, Estate, and Skidrow, which are maps we've not seen in Call of Duty in more than a decade. We also got hands-on with the fan-favorite Rust map and a new Ground War map called Popov Power. Overall, the nostalgia here was captivating. These maps look beautifully remastered, and I was surprised by how quickly I remembered the layouts, old callouts, and my favorite routes to take on each returning map. If you played the original Modern Warfare 2, you'll quickly feel at home in Modern Warfare 3, but the movement and pace of the new game lend it a different feel.

While last year's Modern Warfare 2 dialed back the movement to slow things down for a more classic feel, Modern Warfare 3 brings back the snappy aim and sweaty movement of the more recent Call of Duty games. The sprinting and sliding is so much faster and more fluid here, and while it can feel great to cruise around the map, it will likely feel a bit jarring for the casual players preferring the slower and more methodical movement of Modern Warfare 2. The pace of the game falls somewhere between Modern Warfare 2019 and Vanguard's speedy movement.

Slide-canceling also returns. This is an advanced movement used by high-skilled players to slide and avoid enemy fire, which is performed by canceling the slide animation to reset the tactical sprint and maintain momentum. While the movement doesn't feel quite as overpowered and broken as it did in Modern Warfare 2019 and Warzone, it'll still likely create a huge skill gap that affects the average Call of Duty player just trying to play casually on the weekends.

Still a lot like MW2

If you can adjust to the movement changes, Modern Warfare 3 still feels much like Modern Warfare 2. The UI is largely unchanged, there's a similar feel with the guns, and the game modes are the typical offerings, such as Domination, Team Deathmatch, and Hardpoint.

Most of the killstreaks are familiar options, with streaks like the UAV, Counter UAV, SAE jets, and a SAM turret, but there is a new Mosquito drone that circles from above and dive bombs enemies. A juggernaut suit is also available, but this high-end streak is not a lethal suit like seen in the past. This juggernaut is equipped for getting intel, and it is much less threatening on the map, as the player wields a normal shotgun, riot shield, and radar to ping nearby enemies instead of having a beastly minigun to mow down your whole team from a distance.

As part of the older generation of CoD players, I really enjoyed last year's Modern Warfare 2 and don't mind Modern Warfare 3 feeling like a bit more of the same. However, I can see how some people might look at this year's game and see Modern Warfare 3 as glorified DLC if they're only playing multiplayer.

One great change is the time-to-kill feels much better here than last year's game, as player health is bumped up from 100 to 150. This gives you more time to react when you're taking damage, and it feels much more in line with Black Ops Cold War's time-to-kill. The only time you feel insta-deleted in Modern Warfare 3 is when you get sniped. There were two sniper rifles featured in the early access, and both guns were a one-shot menace.

Skidrow remastered map


A few core features return

Last year's Modern Warfare 2 launched with some controversy as it removed some features that are considered staples of the Call of Duty multiplayer experience, including red dots on the minimap, the traditional perk system, and the ability to cancel your reload animation. All of these return in Modern Warfare 3.

Just like old times, Modern Warfare 3 lets you have all of your selected perks available at the start of the match. The only difference this year is that perk categories are broken up into four wearable item types: gloves, tactical vests, boots, and a gear item. For example, the Scavenger gloves are the same as Call of Duty's classic Scavenger perk of the past, allowing you to collect ammo and throwing knives from enemies, and Covert Sneakers from the Boots category serves as the familiar Dead Silence perk that eliminates your footstep audio.

Not having the option to cancel your reload created some awkward moments and untimely deaths in Modern Warfare 2, but this can be avoided once again in Modern Warfare 3 with the ability to cancel your reload animation. And with the classic minimap back, you'll need to equip a suppressor to your gun if you want to stay off enemy radars, as firing unsuppressed weapons will ping you as a red dot on the map.

On the downside

Call of Duty's Gunsmith feature returns, which offers customization to cater to all different playstyles, but it seems to be on par with Modern Warfare 2's overly complex and confusing weapon progression and customization. There were a host of attachments available, but just like last year's game, unlocking attachments for a particular gun forces players to use other guns. For example, there were three suppressed muzzle attachments available to unlock for my favorite gun in the beta, the MCW assault rifle, but each one was frustratingly locked behind the weapon progression of either a sniper or a different assault rifle. With each gun having anywhere from 28-32 levels each, it's going to make it difficult for the casual player to unlock and try out Modern Warfare 3's full range of customization during this limited playtest, and perhaps even the full game. While MW2's weapon tuning wasn't available in the beta, it's very possible that feature will be returning at launch, adding another layer of complexity.

My time with the beta was met with very few issues, and the game ran great on my PlayStation 5. However, one of the main problems experienced during my time with Modern Warfare 3 was visibility. I shot at a lot of teammates over the weekend, because the little colored dots and diamonds above players' heads either didn't show up right away or were not very visible at times. This could be improved with some additional highlighting, player name tags, or something to help differentiate between friends and foes. If not, the game will get really messy at launch when everyone is dressed as Snoop Dogg or some spooky Halloween skin and no one can tell who's side anyone is on.

Lastly, one of the biggest bummers of this early access was that longtime Call of Duty players didn't really have much new stuff to try out. CoD betas over the last few years have all introduced brand-new maps and fresh game modes to test drive. There is an interesting 3v3v3 multi-team mode called Cutthroat announced for Modern Warfare 3, and it feels like a missed opportunity to not offer up this new game mode in week one of the beta.

Despite the negatives, this was still an enjoyable and smooth-running first week of the beta with multiplayer that looks to cater to the older generation of players with remastered maps and classic features, while also compromising with the twitchy-fast movement the newer generation now expects from Call of Duty. I'm just not sure if nostalgia is going to be enough to save casual players from the frustration of facing off against slide-canceling sweat lords and the unnecessarily complex weapon progression and customization.

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