Something has smelled a little off about this year's Call of Duty since the earliest rumors of its development. For the first time in series history, CoD is going back to the sequel well after just one year with a new Modern Warfare 3. In another break in tradition, all multiplayer guns, cosmetics, and progression from Modern Warfare 2 (2022) will carry over into MW3.
You could look at the unconventional, Call of Duty smorgasbord-like makeup of Modern Warfare 3 and determine this is simply Activision tinkering with the CoD formula. Viewed under the lens of a 2022 Bloomberg report claiming a new Call of Duty game wouldn't be done in time for 2023, the new Modern Warfare 3 takes on a new light. At the time, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier said the plan was to release more MW2 content to fill in the 2023 gap. When Activision later indicated it planned to release a "premium" CoD in 2023, Schreier said it might have "lots of content," but it'll be more like a "paid expansion" of MW2.
That stopgap project appears to have evolved into Modern Warfare 3, which is not a paid expansion, but in fact a full $70 game releasing November 10.
A dev blog published on the eve of MW3's Warzone reveal event is squarely aimed at the impression that Modern Warfare 3 won't be a true "premium release." Activision wants you to know MW3 is the real deal, and you should consider its $70 price tag business as usual.
"Our vision to deliver back-to-back Modern Warfare games has been years in the making," the blog reads. "From the start of development across both Modern Warfare II and Modern Warfare III, Sledgehammer Games has worked closely with Infinity Ward to create a blockbuster sequel in the Modern Warfare series, featuring the return of iconic heroes and villains alike."
While Activision sees Modern Warfare 3 as a regularly-scheduled premium release, it also seemingly acknowledges that MW3 won't feel as distinct as a normal annual CoD.
"Each title release represents an epic experience that stands on its own in terms of unique gameplay and innovation. Modern Warfare 3, however, pays off what the previous titles have set up."
It does sound like MW3 will at least check off the boxes people expect most from a CoD game. There's a new campaign, co-op modes, and zombies (another strange first for Modern Warfare). But the real meat of CoD is competitive multiplayer, and in that area, Activision has so far described MW3 as more different than new. A bullet list of the MW3 highlights Activision is "most excited about" doesn't say much about multiplayer beyond a new perk system and new Gunsmith parts:
- For the first time ever, a direct sequel in back-to-back years delivering an all new Campaign that marks the return of Makarov.
- With Carry Forward, players can continue to enjoy player inventory and weapon progression from last year’s Modern Warfare II into this year’s all-new, Modern Warfare III.
- Did someone say Zombies? More information coming soon on the new Modern Warfare® Zombies: The largest Zombies offering to date.
- New Open Combat missions in Campaign; new Combat Vests and Perk system for customizing your Multiplayer Operator; new Tac-Stance movement; new After-Market Parts for unparalleled Gunsmith customization and more.
- One access point for your future Call of Duty content. Starting with Modern Warfare II and Warzone, and now with Modern Warfare III and beyond, players can navigate all their content in one place, we call it Call of Duty HQ – making it easier to select which game and modes you wish to play.
- New additions to Ricochet Anti-Cheat™ as well as new anti-toxicity plans to continue to deliver a fun, fair and welcoming online experience for all players.
- Roadmap of post launch live seasons of additional new content.
In fact, the most exciting multiplayer news so far isn't new stuff, but the return of old stuff. As PCGamesN reported, a Modern Warfare 3 text messaging promotion has all but confirmed that remastered versions of every classic map from Modern Warfare 2 (the 2009 one) will make an appearance. I know a few people for whom that alone would justify whatever price tag Activision plans to slap on this year's game.
We'll know more about Modern Warfare 3 this time tomorrow, when the Warzone Shadow Siege limited-time event begins at 10:30 AM PT.