Call of Duty's best new item is a drone that can kill enemies around corners

modern warfare 3
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

I've come to appreciate Call of Duty's newfound love for unorthodox gadgets. Every CoD these days has at least one weird gear or throwable that replaces your grenade or takes up the "field equipment" slot that replenishes on cooldown. In last year's Modern Warfare 2 reboot, the Drill Charge was a star. This year, Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer has come out swinging with the Breacher Drone.

I played a good chunk of MW3 over the weekend during the PS5-exclusive beta, and while I sorely missed my mouse and keyboard, blowing people up from around corners helped fill in my controller skill gap. The Breacher Drone is a pocket-sized drone that flies in a straight line until one of two things happens:

  1. It collides with something, and then blows up
  2. It detects an enemy, and then blows up

It's quite literally a quad copter with a block of C4 zip-tied to it, and while past CoDs have toyed with similar gadgets as field equipment or killstreaks, this is the first time such a device has occupied the grenade slot. That's what makes the Breacher Drone so good, at least so far: it's decently powerful, flexible, and you always have one when you respawn. It's the ultimate expression of "throw it and forget it," and it often gets a kill.

MW3 lead developer Sledgehammer Games says the Breacher Drone became an "instant favorite" at the studio, and I can see why. It's easily the longest-range explosive to ever occupy the grenade slot. As far as I can tell, the drone will keep flying forever straight until it reaches a destination. Its explosion radius is pretty big, too—closer to a C4 in payload than a puny frag grenade. Players are hurling these things across the map to root out snipers, gliding them past corners to catch an enemy in proximity, and even shooting them mid-flight to trigger an early detonation.

Nobody is ready to declare what is or isn't overpowered in MW3 after only four days of beta, but the Breacher Drone is looking like the frontrunner of its category. It flies farther, explodes bigger, and deals its damage as soon as it's close enough to make an impact. The only downsides are that it takes around twice as long to deploy as a standard grenade, and it can be destroyed mid-flight if enemies react quickly (so far they don't). The long deployment time can definitely make a difference—I've been killed while in the middle of the throwing animation several times—but I'm not sure I would've survived those encounters trying to throw a Semtex, either.

As much as I'm enjoying the Breacher Drone, it doesn't really hold a candle to the Drill Charge. Where the Breacher Drone is basically a more mobile version of a C4, the Drill Charge's ability to pierce through any wall and blow up the other side added a new dimension to run-and-gun CoD that briefly reminded me of the best parts of Rainbow Six Siege. It was the perfect counter to entrenched snipers no matter their position, and learning clever placements (like on ceilings or on the other side of thin doors) had me studying CoD maps harder than I have since 2006.

I still keep the Drill Charge equipped to every one of my MW2 classes, but I'm afraid those days might come to end when everyone switches over to MW3.

The Drill Charge isn't in the MW3 multiplayer beta, and considering The Breacher Drone fills a similar niche, I wouldn't be surprised if Sledgehammer decides there can only be one.

The MW3 beta continues this week on more platforms (PC and Xbox included) starting October 12 for those who pre-order the game. The beta will then open up to all players from October 14-16. 

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.