Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a total nostalgia play, but dammit, it's working

This year's new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is full of old maps from the original 2009 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which is confusing both in terms of the series timeline, and because this is a new $70 game, not a remaster. And yet, despite the mild embarrassment that comes with feeling nostalgic for Call of Duty maps, I have to say I'm a little excited.

All 16 launch maps from 2009's Modern Warfare 2 are included in 2023's Modern Warfare 3, and Activision leans into the nostalgia angle in a new blog post about them, which begins: "Welcome home."

If it's been a while since you played the original Modern Warfare 2, see if these names ring any bells: Afghan, Derail, Estate, Favela, Karachi, Highrise, Invasion, Quarry, Rundown, Rust, Scrapyard, Skidrow, Sub Base, Terminal, Underpass, and Wasteland.

I immediately flash back to the late 2000s on reading the list. I played the hell out of Modern Warfare 2 back then, and had the less common experience of visiting Infinity Ward's office and writing a strategy guide to these maps for a magazine, because, yeah, I was doing this job 14 years ago, too. The sights and layouts of Afghan, Scrapyard, Favela, Derail, Estate, and Highrise are particularly stuck in my memory.

The new versions of these maps won't be totally identical to the originals, though.

"The way we approached it is, 'How are we going to make the best versions of those maps that people have ever played?'" said art director Matt Abbott in the video embedded above. "Because that's what we want as fans."

To that end, adjustments have been made to "fit more modern gameplay," said design director Zach Hodson. As one example, you can now mantle to places you couldn't originally reach on the skyscraper rooftops of Highrise, but Hodson says that "for the most part [the maps are] going to feel incredibly similar" to the originals.

The blog post goes into a little more depth on the changes: "Because of technological advancements in Call of Duty's animation and movement techniques over the past 14 years, Operators can Tactical Sprint and leap between rooftops, mantle, and navigate alleyways with Tac-Stance, giving players more confidence during these frenetic, close-quarters engagements," it reads. "Essentially, a 'modernized' Modern Warfare 2 (2009) map means an authentic multiplayer experience with learnings from the Call of Duty franchise's rich history."

The upcoming Modern Warfare 3 is a bit of a weird one for the series. For the first time, all unlocks from last year's game, the new Modern Warfare 2, will carry over. This is also the first time since 2007 that a Call of Duty game was followed with a direct sequel the next year. It was rumored for a while that Activision was planning a big expansion to Modern Warfare 2 instead of a whole new game this year, and it certainly feels like Modern Warfare 3 could've started that way.

If Modern Warfare 3 does end up feeling a little slim, though, a certain kind of nostalgia-prone sap (me) might be appeased by these 16 remade maps anyway. You can read more about them on the Call of Duty blog. Modern Warfare 3 will be out November 10. 

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.