Playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer mode feels akin to receiving a mixtape from an unwanted admirer, except with less thought having been put into it. It is predictable, not quite as good as the source material that it is lifting from, and all parties involved are acutely aware of the ulterior motives behind it. The best thing that can be said for the multiplayer is that it is at least superior to Modern Warfare 3’s utterly garbage campaign.
Before we get into the weeds of what makes this thing such a lazy letdown, let’s start things off with a positive. Comparing the launch state of the game to how things looked during the multiplayer beta, there has been a noticeable visual upgrade applied. The graphics have shed the prominent blurriness seen in the beta, presenting a sharper look.
The other positive component of the Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer comes in the form of classic game modes like Team Deathmatch, which still hold up and delivers on everything you’d expect it to. TDM is the backbone of Call of Duty multiplayer and Modern Warfare 3 is no different, conveying the adrenaline-pumping action that we have all come to expect.
Unfortunately for every fun, classic mode like Team Deathmatch, there is also a Ground War. This mode fall completely flat on its face, feeling boring and tired. It lacks any sort of exciting innovation and leaves players yearning for sort of chaotic skirmishes that can found in the tried-and-true classic modes.
Speaking of call-backs to the past, something that feels somewhat retro in a bad way is the game’s UI, which hasn’t been updated at all for this year’s entry. In 2023, after playing games that feature much cleaner HUDs, (or even no HUD at all,) this thing just feels unsophisticated, overly busy, and cumbersome.
What’s old is not new.
As was widely reported prior to release, more than half the multiplayer maps featured in Modern Warfare 3 (2023) are updated Modern Warfare 2 (2009) maps. Unfortunately, none of the 12 new maps feel memorable, with all of them failing to stand out in any major way. Not to mention that the majority of lobbies that I played in voted to play in an old map over a new one. While this is likely owed to nostalgia, it raises the question of whether there is any real merit in just recycling past glories.
It is not just the multiplayer maps that are in dire need of innovation, the game modes also feel stale. Kill Confirmed and Control try to infuse some variety, but neither of these modes has ever felt like a true game-changer. Cutthroat, is the name of the completely new game mode present in this year’s offering. It is a round-based mode where three teams of three battle it out. However, it has been plagued with respawn point issues on certain classic maps since launch that were never designed with this new mode in mind.
Another mode that was touted to make its glorious return in Modern Warfare 3 is the iconic COD Zombies mode. Unfortunately, even though this should have seemingly been a slam duck, it is yet another let-down. On paper, an open-world Zombies mode doesn’t sound like an outright terrible idea. In practice, it is nothing more than a reskinned version of Warzone’s DMZ mode; a lazy re-tread that is far from thrilling.
Not only does the choice to rework DMZ feel lazy, but the Urzikstan open world map lacks the intimacy required and fails to deliver on the intensity that a Zombies mode should convey. It is simply too vast, making it feel lifeless in comparison with past Zombies mode maps and leaving players with one of the most lackluster Zombies experiences in the mode’s 15 year history.
When it was announced that Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer would rehash old maps from Modern Warfare 2, it felt like a lazy cash grab, but at least there was some nostalgia there to carry it off. A similar sentiment came when players realized that the campaign was just made up of old Warzone Verdansk maps, – albeit with the nostalgia being far more recent, – but at least those two examples brought with it a light feeling of joy based on pure nostalgia.
Is anyone on the planet nostalgic for DMZ? The answer to that question is objectively no. So then why did the developers feel like slapping a Zombies skin over DMZ and adding a random weapons box would be enough for this new iteration to live up to the fond memories that COD players have of the old Zombies modes? It feels like a forced attempt at reinventing a classic, sorely lacking the pulse-pounding intensity that makes the original Zombies mode memorable.
In the end, Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer is a one let-down after another. There are some expectedly fun moments to be had when playing with friends in Team Deathmatch, but there is absolutely nothing here that pushes the envelope is any significant way whatsoever. To go back to my opening metaphor, if this is the guy sending you his mixtape, get him blocked immediately on all forms of social media.
Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer – 3/10