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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is all in on Modern Warfare 2 nostalgia

Classic villain and multiplayer maps return alongside the first Modern Warfare Zombies

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Activision and developers Sledgehammer Games, Infinity Ward, and Treyarch revealed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on Thursday, during an in-game event in Warzone. This year’s Call of Duty will feature a number of firsts for the franchise: It’s the first back-to-back direct sequel in Call of Duty history; the game’s multiplayer will carry over “a vast amount of content” from last year’s game; and the beloved Zombies co-op mode will be playable in a Modern Warfare setting.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will be released on Nov. 10 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC (via and Steam), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Here’s what Call of Duty fans can expect from this year’s entry.

Modern Warfare 3 campaign

Narratively, Modern Warfare 3 will pick up right where Modern Warfare 2 left off, with Russian ultranationalist Vladimir Makarov dragging Task Force 141 (Price, Soap, Ghost, Gaz, et al.) into a new conflict. Mr. “No Russian” himself was teased as MW3’s big bad during a credits sequence in MW2, and Activision put a face to Makarov’s name earlier this month, with actor Julian Kostov (Shadow and Bone) taking on the role.

Activision and lead developer Sledgehammer Games promise “a new innovation that empowers player decisions” in the Modern Warfare 3 campaign. These Open Combat missions, Activision says, will emphasize player choice with “numerous additional paths and choices to complete objectives.” In practice, that sounds like a stealth vs. guns-blazing approach in portions of the campaign. In the gallery above, you might get a sense of how those player choices will be presented — particularly from the stealthy, let’s-attack-from-under-the-ice side perspective.

Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer

While the campaign side of Modern Warfare 3 appears to be leaning into nostalgia for the events of 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, there’s no question the multiplayer component is fully embracing those warm, fuzzy feelings. All 16 launch maps from the original Modern Warfare 2 are coming to Modern Warfare 3. Those maps have been “modernized with new modes and gameplay features,” with game modes like Hardpoint and Kill Confirmed returning.

There’s a new Cutthroat Mode coming as well, structured as a 3v3v3 fracas on core maps. Activision says more than a dozen new core 6v6 maps will be doled out post-launch.

A quartet of soldiers exchange fire in the Favela map with two taking cover behind an armored riot shield in a screenshot from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer mode Image: Sledgehammer Games, Infinity Ward/Activision

Modern Warfare 3 will also bring back classic minimap behavior, Activision says, with red dots indicating when an opponent is firing an unsuppressed weapon. Map voting is also back, as is faster ADS (aim down sites) out of slides and increased health for longer time-to-kill.

Much of players gear from 2022’s Modern Warfare 2 will carry forward into Modern Warfare 3, including weapons and Operators. That also includes any equippable dogs.

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies

You wanna fight zombies in a Middle Eastern Burger Town parking lot? Call of Duty: Black Ops developer Treyarch has you covered. The studio is pitching in on this year’s game, and bringing its fan-favorite Zombies mode with it.

For Modern Warfare 3’s Zombies mode, Treyarch is integrating PvE extraction mechanics, letting players squad up in an open-world environment and face off against “some of the biggest enemies in Call of Duty history.” Treyarch and Activision describe the Modern Warfare-era Zombies as “an unearthly Dark Aether story” with plenty of secrets.

A zombie Mimic is flanked by a quartet of humanoid zombies outside of Burger Town in a screenshot from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s Zombies mode Image: Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games/Activision

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