Modern Warfare 3's rushed campaign isn't going over well with fans who pre-ordered: 'This is hands down the worst CoD campaign I've ever played'

modern warfare 3 campaign ghost makarov
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

The months leading up to Modern Warfare 3 have slowly shown us how this year's Call of Duty isn't quite like the others. Nowhere has this become clearer than in the Modern Warfare 3 campaign, which some players are calling one of the worst of the series, and not for the usual reasons a CoD campaign can fall flat.

Fans are pointing to the MW3 campaign's length, a brisk four-ish hours compared to the usual six to eight, and an overreliance on small "Open Combat Missions" as evidence that Modern Warfare 3 was rushed, or didn't get as much development time as usual for the series. The game's official subreddit is currently a flurry of disappointment, memes, and bewilderment at a CoD that doesn't seem like itself this year.

"This is hands down the worst CoD campaign I've ever played and Warzone is 100% to blame," wrote Reddit user D_ultimateplayer in the current top post on the MW3 subreddit. "What a slap in the face. I am shocked and appalled. The writing was on the wall this entire time if you really think about it."

Warzone has come up several times in the MW3 campaign reactions I've seen, probably because of how much Sledgehammer's Open Combat Missions resemble mini Warzone missions. These levels, which make up around half of the campaign, are small sandbox missions that break from the series' usual brand of on-rails setpieces. They're sort of like co-op missions played alone, except they incorporate Warzone mechanics like looting and armor plates. I'm having fun with them, but it is weird how much the campaign relies on them for the heavy lifting.

It do be like that from r/ModernWarfareIII

At the root of the feedback, I'd argue, is a matter of mismanaged expectations driven by how Activison has talked about Modern Warfare 3. It started in 2022, when Bloomberg reported that Call of Duty would not get a full premium release in 2023, instead opting for expansion content for Modern Warfare 2. Activision later announced Modern Warfare 3 as a full, business-as-usual $70 game. But as we learned more about Modern Warfare 3's unusual makeup, the package began to sound more and more like the reported MW2 expansion than a standalone game:

  • Modern Warfare 3 carries over all guns and cosmetics from Modern Warfare 2
  • Modern Warfare 3 will only have remake maps from the 2009 Modern Warfare 2 at launch, a strange map pool
  • There is no dedicated co-op mode, but instead a Treyarch-developed Zombies mode that reuses the Warzone map
  • Modern Warfare 3 is purchased and installed as if it's DLC for MW2
  • You literally have to launch MW2 (now called the CoD HQ) to access MW3

And then there were the red flags, like the fact that Calls of Duty never get direct sequels one year after the previous game, or how Sledgehammer Games would be leading a mainline Modern Warfare project instead of the series' usual stewards, Infinity Ward. No single element is all that alarming, but taken together, they paint a picture of a game cobbled together by necessity.

"This would've been so much better if it was just kept as MW2 Year 2 but god forbid they don't have a 'full' game release every year," wrote Reddit user Much_Adhesiveness871. "We could've skipped MW3 this year and just have taken whatever CoD was up next."

Campaigns aren't the biggest priority for most CoD enjoyers, but especially as Activision has started to release them a full week before the multiplayer, they do set the tone for what's to come. The rest of Modern Warfare 3 releases on November 10, or the night before depending on where you live.

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.