Preview: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
It is nearly that time of year again, and yet another Call of Duty is soon to arrive, ready and waiting to suck countless hours of our lives into its famously addictive Multiplayer, and continue the cliffhanger that was Modern Warfare 2′s ending. It goes without saying that this is easily the biggest title of the year, but does it have enough to dazzle us all once again, especially considering the heat being received by Battlefield 3? That is what we want to find out.
Caveshen and myself are going to dive head first into Modern Warfare 3, letting you know, in immaculate detail, what you can expect from Activision and Infinity Ward’s latest entry into their long running franchise. While Caveshen brings you up to speed with the Singleplayer, I will handle the Multiplayer, informing you of changes that hopefully don’t only involve perks. Will Modern Warfare 3 stand its ground and once again show the world why it’s top dog, or will this be the beginning of the end for this much
trolled loved franchise.
If there is a word that can be used to effortlessly describe the Call of Duty series in its entirety, that word would be “pedigree”. No, not the thing you feed your dog. But pedigree. Real pedigree.
The Call of Duty series is like a well-groomed, well-bred race-horse, in that respect. It competes right at the top and consistently delivers, as is expected of it time after time after time. And it does so with an air of grace and gusto that confounds its competitors, leaving them trailing and wondering what the fuck just happened.
The Call of Duty series has constantly been at the forefront of the definitive FPS experience, for years now. And it’s been that way ever since it was a fledgling title developed by an otherwise unknown entity, at the time. With the exception of the black sheep that is Call of Duty 3, every title before and after has been well-received and well-loved by fans of the series. Each game hasn’t shied away from memorable moments, either. From retaking Stalingrad in the first Call of Duty — a game I hold dear to my heart — to storming Pointe Du Hoc and its deadly cliffs in Call of Duty 2, to getting nuked in the beak in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, to killing zombies of the Nazi variant in Call of Duty: World at War, to trying your hardest not to utter a word of Russian in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, to storming a compound with explosive crossbows in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Every game has a special moment for every gamer that has played it.
And it’s this mentality that is being carried forward to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3′s Singleplayer experience, continuing from the story laid out from the beginning of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and extended upon in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Now you might wonder, “How on Gordon Freeman’s gravitational Earth will they do that?” and the answer is really simple.
World War 3.
Remember World War 2 games, and how many of them there were in past times? It’s one of the most over-saturated topics of interest in the current day and age of gaming with regards to historical setting, and frankly, people are sick and tired of killing Krauts and Japs with Thompsons and M1 Garands.
How many World War 3 games have you played?
The Call of Duty series has never shied away from the “Go big or go home” ethos, and certainly the Modern Warfare series has been a suitably over-the-top and at times just ridiculous group of games, with regards to story, setting and scripted events. Modern Warfare 3 then, is actually being developed as something of a joint venture with the aforementioned Infinity Ward (or what’s left of it) at the helm, but joined in the hypothetical cockpit by Sledgehammer Games on the forward gun, and Raven Software on the side-mounted turret.
The premise of the story leading up to this point is simple, and spoilerific, but really if you played the previous games this should just be revision for you, and if you haven’t, just skip this paragraph. In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, in an attempt to stop an arms dealer from fuelling global warfare with nuclear devices, the British Task Force 141, with the aid of the US Marine Corps, attempted to seek him out and end him. His name was Imran Zakhaev, and though attempts to kill him were entirely successful by the end, there was one fatal flaw that nobody had accounted for: his understudy, Vladimir Makarov. In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Makarov betrayed an undercover CIA agent working in his elite ring of Ultranationalist terrorists, after shooting up a Russian airport full of innocent civilians. This then led to the Russian Federation falsely believing that the attack was initiated by America, and subsequently, Russia invaded American soil. A harrowing moment for any and all that first walked out of their bunker to witness the Whitehouse in ruins, with Russian flags hanging from its roof. The Americans were successful in driving back the invading Russian forces from the Whitehouse, but only temporarily.
Cue Modern Warfare 3, with the world now into full-blown warfare. Shells, grenades, missiles, Antoine Dodson, everywhere. And only you and your band of merry (playable) men to stop it all.
Series favourite Captain John “Soap” MacTavish of Task Force 141 makes a welcome return to this threequel, along with his senior; former SAS Captain John Price, and Russian informant Nikolai. All three, featured in all of the Modern Warfare games, are now on the run after their (successful) efforts to stop a traitorous leader at the end of Modern Warfare 2. Makarov too makes his return, as the primary antagonist. There are also several new characters for gamers to take control of, with Delta Force operatives Derek “Frost” Westbrook and Sandman, Special Air Service Sergeant Marcus Burns, Russian federal security agent Yuri, and a returning — if a little less known — character from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare named Wallcroft.
There are also a few secondary characters that have been confirmed with Truck, Grinch and Grunt forming the remainder of the Delta Force fire team.
Each character will be your vehicle of control as you navigate through various perspectives of a worldwide war, with the Russians not only continuing their invasion of America, but expanding their offensive into Europe with such places as England, France and Germany all under siege, and all to be visited by you the gamer, through the course of the game. There are also going to be levels that put you in such places as Somalia, Sierra Leone, Moscow and Dubai.
One can’t help but get the feeling that Modern Warfare 3 is going to be something epic, more than just in terms of scale.
Each character will fight at different perspectives and locations, from the over-bearing sky-scraper-lined streets of New York to the “bong-bong-bong” Big Ben background of London, to the Eiffel Tower (expect a mission where you jump off it, or something) in Paris, to — and I’m just spit-balling here — Porsche’s factory in Stuttgart, all with the overall goal of pushing back the invading Russians and retaking the Western half of Earth, with the aim of liberty and freedom and a lack of nuclear device detonation.
Remember: No Russian.
But your pivotal role in World War 3 can only hold your attention for so long, and soon you’ll find yourself stuck into Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer. What is undeniably the biggest draw for the series, and where their pedigree shines the brightest, Call of Duty’s multiplayer component has been top dog for years now, being the go-to online shooter of our generation. However, many will argue that this is simply due to the lack of a solid competitor, saying that the unchanging formula will soon give way to a stronger, more diverse alternative. On the other hand, many say that if it isn’t broken, why try and fix it? While the debates are endless, the facts are clear. Call of Duty’s online multiplayer is by far the biggest out there, and Activision want to make sure that it continues to dominate with Modern Warfare 3.
One of the main complaints when it comes to CoD’s online component is the lack of a change. There never seems to be anything drastically added or removed, and besides more maps to lay waste to opponents in, there isn’t really much innovation. Perks and abilities are added and removed, switched and tweaked, but that doesn’t really count. Or does it?
While it’s not completely drastic, there are some very interesting changes being introduced with Modern Warfare 3. These changes affect numerous things such as killstreak rewards, perks, weapon customisation and player profiles. Some changes have also been made to cater for every type of online player, from 12 year old NooBs who scream at everyone over the microphone, all the way up to serious Vets who play for a living. Activision and Infinity Ward have made sure to leave no stone unturned, and it’s looking seriously awesome.
Firstly, we have the major change as to how Killstreaks will affect your game. Infinity Ward wanted to tweak these rewards so that a good Kill / Death ratio was not the only thing on everyone’s mind when it came to matches, and more tactical teamwork was emphasised. In the place of the old Killstreak system, players will now select between three different “Strike Packages”, which have been split into Assault, Support and Specialist. Assault is kind of like the default package, and works in the exact same manner as Killstreaks did, Kill a few people without dying, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with UAV’s, Airstrikes and other familiar rewards, as well as a couple of new ones such as Remote Controlled Helicopters and Attack Drones. Raining hell down on my enemies while piloting a mosquito-like aircraft? Damn straight.
Support works a bit differently, and it’s here where you can see innovative ideas beginning to creep in. Players who select this package will work on a points system rather than just kills, and points will be retained even after dying. Not only will you earn points for kills, but other team based objectives such as capturing points or supporting your team in similar manners. This allows you to unlock rewards that will help you become a more efficient part of your team, and a crucial member as well. For example, you could reach enough points to unlock a ballistic vest, hand it over to a player attempting to capture a point in Domination and allow him to soak up more bullet fire in order to effectively capture the point. Support is more about overall victory, rather than self glory (so clearly, no children will be picking this package).
Support can also be a wise choice for the casual player. You know, people who aren’t always able to go on 7-kill streaks, match after match after match. As your points don’t disappear when you die, you will eventually be able to experience rewards just like everyone else, allowing you to also jump in on the frantic fun without feeling like you’re just a walking headshot waiting to happen. Support rewards are also very team-based, with options like Counter UAV’s Airdrops and even Decoy Airdrops that explode when opened by enemies.
Lastly, there is the Specialist Strike Package. This particular package targets the expert player, and is all about high reward in exchange for high risk. Specialists don’t receive killstreak rewards at all. Sounding like a bit of a disadvantage right? Well, instead of killstreaks, Specialist players will activate extra perks as they rank up kills, stacking them on top of their predetermined ones. What will eventually happen (if you are exceptionally good) is that you will have your three default perks running, as well as another three or four extra ones active as well. The balancing comes into play when you die, as you will lose all those additional perks and start from scratch. Talk about high risk.
Having all these extra perks makes the Specialist package quite strategic too, with you being able to map out highly efficient perk orders. For example, you might know that you won’t need the scavenger perk right at the beginning of your life, so you may choose to slot it in after you have reached 4 or 5 kills, or you may know that you will need to capture the flag early in the game, so why not slot in Extreme Conditioning in order to give you a sprinting edge. Building up lots of perks can make you a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, but knowing that one stray bullet can end your god-like power is sure to keep you cautious. Infinity Ward have also said that they will be removing some perks that make players rely more on the perk rather than skill. Quick-Scope will make a return however, and the ability to quickly jump to prone or “dolphin dive” has been removed due to some serous balancing issues.
Weapon customisation has also been given a bit of an overhaul, with the introduction of something called weapon proficiencies. The currency based system from Black Ops is gone, and Infinity Ward has opted for a revised reward based system. In the past, players had to complete sometimes infuriating tasks in order to unlock certain attachments for their favourite weapons. However, in Modern Warfare 3, your weapons will level up on a per-weapon basis, meaning that the more you use a weapon, the more attachments and proficiencies you unlock for them. Special weapon proficiencies can include perks like reducing weapon recoil or being able to hold your breath longer when aiming with scopes, although only one weapon perk will be able to be equipped at a time, and only on primary weapons. Hybrid scopes have also been introduced, allowing you to switch between two different scopes or sights while on the battlefield.
In terms of game modes, expect to see your usual criminals back in action, including free-for-all, team deathmatch, capture the flag, sabotage, domination and more. The third-person game mode from Modern Warfare 2 won’t be making a return, mainly due to its poor reception, and Wager matches that Black Ops showed off won’t be present either, largely due to the fact that a monetary system is no longer used. However, there are two new very intriguing game modes that have been announced and were shown off at the recently held Call of Duty XP Event. Firstly there is “Team Defender” which is sort of like Halo’s Oddball mode. Teams must capture the enemy team’s flag and hold it in order to accumulate points, until a pre-determined score is reached. The most interesting addition however is a mode called “Confirmed Kill”. In this mode, teams fight for kills, just as in team deathmatch, but with a bit of a twist. When you kill an enemy, they drop their dog tags, and your kill will only be registered if you or a teammate picks them up. Enemies can also pick up fallen allies’ dog tags, denying the kill to the opposing team. This creates a more strategic aspect to traditional team deathmatch, as teams will now have to stick together and decide when the time is right to engage the enemy. Also, this will surely bring down the number of annoying campers on servers, as they will not be able to simply sit back and rack up the kill count.
Speaking of servers, PC gamers will be glad to know that Infinity Ward have learned from their mistake regarding servers in Modern Warfare 2, and so Modern Warfare 3 will indeed have dedicated servers. So all those shirts you have been printing over the last few months that read “Boycott Modern Warfare 3″, yeah that was all a waste of money. Sorry about that. Consoles will also support splitscreen online and offline multiplayer, which was M.I.A in Modern Warfare 2.
Private matches have also been given some TLC, with various game modes being added to the playlist. Additions include “Infection” (where the infected kills enemies to recruit them to their team), “Drop Zone” (where you must hold a drop zone for points and care packages) and “Team Juggernaut” (each team plays alongside an AI Juggernaut character). Some popular wager game modes have also been brought over, purely for fun, and these include “Gun Game” (be the first to get one kill with every gun in the game) and “One in the Chamber” (in which players are only allowed one pistol with one bullet and three lives where they can only get more bullets by killing other players). The highly successful Spec-ops mode introduced in Modern Warfare 2 will also be featured, with more outrageous challenges and endless waves of enemies for you and your friends spend countless hours on.
Now that is already a lot of changes to the award winning formula, but Infinity Ward was not entirely satisfied with that. Cue the extremely confusing and mysterious Call of Duty Elite service, which will be making its first appearance with Modern Warfare 3. Now, to most people (including myself), I really didn’t know what this service was, and quite frankly not many people really cared earlier on in the year. It tracked stats and made your profile look pretty, what’s the big deal. Well now that the full details of this service have been released, it has become quite an interesting addition, and should be something that regular DLC customers should pay attention to (and let’s face it, as much as you bitch about DLC, the reason it still exists is because everyone is buying into it, so don’t act like you’re not one of them).
Premium members of the Elite service will have to fork out $49.99 per year (Around R350.00) for a host of services which can be seen below:
- Subscribers will get a year’s worth of downloadable content for Modern Warfare 3. That is over 20 pieces of new content, spooled out over monthly content drops. That content will include new maps, new game modes and more, with a total cost of over $60 if purchased separately.
- Call of Duty Elite subscribers will have access to daily and weekly competitions and events, which will offer both real and virtual prizes.
- Subscribers will be able to level up their clans in competition (though simply creating or joining a clan is still a free option).
- Subscribers will have “eight times” more video sharing capacity than standard users.
- Subscribers will have access to “expert strategy and analysis,” including tips on guns, maps, and perks, which will be updated and maintained by “real humans.”
- And finally, subscribers will get to watch “Elite TV,” a service of “premium episodic entertainment” themed around Call of Duty.
If you purchase the Hardened Edition of Modern Warfare 3, you will get free access to a year’s worth of Premium content allowing you to decide if it will be worth the renewal at the end of the year. Everything else, such as real-time match and score information, the heatmap readouts of kills and deaths, clan support, career information and comparing services, and even video sharing, will all be available for free, allowing everyone to get in on the Call of Duty Elite service, which is a nice touch. It goes a long way to make Activision seem a little less greedy, which is saying quite a lot.
There is no doubt that Modern Warfare will be an immediate hit, and sell obscene amounts of copies in its first week, and subsequent weeks that follow. However, Infinity Ward didn’t seem content on just making a few changes here or there. Smart move, especially considering how strong Battlefield 3 is looking. They wanted to make sure that the pedigree continued, and far beyond the one year life span the Call of Duty games seem to have (except for Modern Warfare).
Will it be enough to hold off the pressure from EA? Probably, so don’t expect to see an alarming drop of people on servers when both games drop later this year. But, will it be enough to convince people that it is still the better of the two? Now that is the real question.