Hands-on with Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer at CoD XP
After spending 4 uninterrupted hours yesterday playing Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer at the community preview day at Call of Duty XP, Activision’s convention dedicated to their record breaking first-person shooter franchise, and another 2-hours so far at today’s opening day taking the whole occasion in, I can report that the game is shaping up well. And the whole ‘Call of Duty extravaganza’ is a real spectacle for anyone, let alone a CoD connoisseur. This place is amazing!
People were paintballing on a life-size recreation of Scrapyard from Modern Warfare 2 and making timed runs in a real-life version of the “pit” (the training level from MW2), there was an armory showcasing a variety of real-life weapons from all CoD games, a real-world recreation of Burger Town (which served delicious burgers), multiple developer keynotes, 100′s of game-stations for people to play Modern Warfare 3 MP, Spec Ops and Black Ops‘ new Zombies map, Moon, and a 60mph zip-line for people to get a birds-eye view of the the Los Angeles venue at break-neck speed. And that was just the half of it.
Among the six-thousand attendees were 32 teams of the best Call of Duty players from all around the globe competing in a live Modern Warfare 3 tournament for a share of the humongous $1 million prize pool, $400k going to the winning team of 4! Overall, there was so much to see and do. Everything devoted to Call of Duty games from the past, present and future. But it was all about Modern Warfare 3 for the majority.
After the event-opening keynote, which unveiled Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer for the first time, people were let loose on the sprawling converted hanger and the Call of Duty-based treats it had to offer. Revelers were spread out around the event, but for the most part were huddled around the numerous Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer game stations getting their game on… me included.
What was Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer like? How did it play?
What you really want to know is how MW3 played, right? Well, after getting a good amount of hands-on time throughout the press/community day of CoD XP, and a few hours so far today, the best way to describe how Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer plays is that it feels more like CoD 4 (the first game in the Modern Warfare series) than Modern Warfare 2 – which is exactly what the developers were aiming for with MW3, and is a good thing in the majority of the Call of Duty communities opinion. It feels like the child of CoD 4 and Modern Warfare 2 with all the B.S like Commando, OMA and the game-ending Nuke removed from Modern Warfare 2, and the gun skill focus and less “frantic” – for want of a better word – nature of CoD 4 left in. It shuns Modern Warfare 2 (to an extent) and builds up on the original Modern Warfare (CoD 4).
It’s hard to put a finger on why it feel’s like a improved and updated CoD 4 in terms of gameplay. The map design, with a little less verticality and complexity, less spam from air support, a heavy focus towards gun skill and the revamped engine are probably some of the factors that play a part in the “back-to-basics feel” of Modern Warfare 3. It’s a less chaotic FPS than Modern warfare 2, which felt less like a FPS and more like a game that required you to dodge huge explosions and heavy fire from air support 90% of the time – or die over-and-over trying to take them down – and gunfight for the other 10%. Modern Warfare 3 feels the other way around. It’s mostly about gun-play.
Strike Packages / Point Streak / Killstreak Rewards
The one vastly different change in Modern Warfare 3′s multiplayer is Points Streak Rewards system, which is the new way of earning the Killstreak Rewards that we have become accustomed to in the previous four Call of Duty games.
Modern Warfare 3′s new Point Streak system awards Killstreak Rewards based on many different in-game actions instead of just stringing together kills. Plants, defuses, captures, defends and assists all count towards earning your killstreak rewards.
The rewards are now separated into three sections, or “Strike Packages”, of which you pick a Strike Package for each of your loadouts and three of the rewards from that package. The three Strike Packages are Assault, Support and Specialist, each of which offers unique rewards.
The Specialist Strike Package, however, gives you additional Perks for racking up points as opposed to the Assault and Support Strike Packages which award you the “traditional” Killstreak Rewards. If you choose the Specialist Strike Package and rack up eight points you will have all of the 14 available perks in the Specialist Package (only until your next death)- which are the pro version.
Your points don’t rest when you die if you choose the Support Package. Respawn and continue building up your points. Yes it sounds strange, but it works. This ultimately means that new players and bad players alike still have a chance to reach the higher Point Streak rewards should they rack up enough points over the length of the match. However, the Assault and Specialist Strike Package do reset on death.
There are plenty of rewards to be had. Old staples like the Attack Helicopter and Precision Airstrike return. But a number of new rewards join the ranks too like the I.M.S (Intelligent Munition System), Little Big Guard and Assault Drone (among others).
Modern Warfare 3′s Perks work just like they have in previous games – pick three and your done, complete related challenges to earn the pro version.
Of course the developers, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer, have put a lot of thought in to Modern Warfare 3′s fifteen Perks over the development cycle, and they seem to be, from the time I’ve had with the game, very well balanced. Nothing stands out as “stupidly over powered” like OMA or Commando from Modern Warfare 2, for example, they’re gone. Even the game-ending kill, the Tactical Nuke – which I wasn’t a fan of – is no-longer.
Modern Warfare 3′s weapons feel like weapons do in Call of Duty games! Of course there is a wide variety of guns in the game, and as you’d expect they all feel that little bit different, but that same “CoD” feel is there when you pull the trigger. When it comes to recoil some kick more than others, but for the most part all of the guns are more than manageable. Nothing more than you’re used to in previous games.
There’s always going to be the go-to gun(s) in Call of Duty games, though, and in this one it seemed to be the UMP 45 I died to the most. It was also the gun that a lot of the top players in the $1 million tournament were using. One guy from Optic was raping with it! The SCAR-L and G36 C were also popular. This may well change once the game is out and people are playing en masse, or if the developers do some more fiddling / balancing before launch.
Quickscoping is well-and-truly back in Modern Warfare 3 (I got quickscoped in the at the end of a match, which of course was embarrassing watching the final kill-cam). Not being a sniper myself I can’t go in to any detail about how easy / hard it is in MW3, but people seemed to be able to pull off quickscopes with relative ease. Damn those pesky snipers!
Interestingly, Modern Warfare 3′s weapons “rank up”. The more you use them, the better they get (less sway for example).
Death Streak Rewards
Remember those Death Streaks that were introduced in Modern Warfare 2 that “rewarded” you with a special ability after dying a certain amount of times in a row? Well, they’re making a return in Modern Warfare 3 and there is even more of them, six to be exact, and a couple of them you’re going to be upset about; Martyrdom and Final Stand.
Four of the 16 multiplayer maps that will launch with Modern Warfare 3 were playable at XP - Dome, Resistance, Underground, and Village. All were very well designed and varied in both locale and size. Dome was particularly small but as you’d expect none were overly-large. There wasn’t too much verticality in the maps when it came to the buildings, although the terrain offered a number of vantage points overlooking portions of the map. They seemed to be a little less complex than Modern Warfare 2′s, although not too simple. Overall, the three that were playable were all well thought out and designed.
Spawns seemed to be a problem with some of the people that I spoke to. I didn’t think they was that bad, though. Not as bad as Black Ops’ was at launch anyway (but they got fixed pretty sharpish.)
All the usual game modes are included in Modern Warfare 3, but one new game mode called “Kill Confirmed” – a brand new mode to the series – was very refreshing and offered a whole new twist on the game.
The idea behind it is that when you kill an opponent he drops a set of dog-tags. OK… here’s the twist! That kill doesn’t register on your teams total until you or a team-mate runs over / collects those tags (confirms the kill). But, and here’s another twist, a member of the other team can collect those tags too, denying the kill. If this happens the kill doesn’t register on your teams total.
The concept makes for some very interesting dynamics. You find yourself sticking in packs so you can help collect dog-tags for your team mates kills, and also collecting the tags of fallen team-mates – rendering the kill useless. Covering your team mates also works well in this mode so that if he gets killed you can kill the person who killed him and collect both sets of tags, negating your team mates death and collecting / confirming a kill for your team. Mini-fights also break out over the dog-tags that have been left on the map, whether that be tags of team-mates (red) or tags of enemies (gold). When a team reaches a certain amount of collected dog-tags or has the most when time runs out, they win. The whole thing works very well as a twist on TDM.
Full game mode list coming soon
Modern Warfare 3 goes one step further when it comes to rewarding you for hitting that prestige button when you reach the maximum level. When you prestige you get taken to the Prestige Shop where you can choose what you want to be rewarded with for prestiging.
Call of Duty Elite
Call of Duty’s new integrated social service, Elite, is deep… too deep to detail here. That will have to wait for another post (coming soon). But it really is an awesome addition to the Call of Duty franchise. Just the free features are numerous. The premium version, though, will set you back $49.99 – the $100 Hardened Edition of Modern Warfare 3 includes a free year. I’m the first to admit that that is not cheap. But, probably the most significant feature included in the Premium subscription – there are lot’s of other features – is that you get every piece of DLC that is released while your sub is still active. Modern Warfare 3 will get DLC every month. That’s right, every month! And that won’t be limited to just maps.
Remember, you don’t have to subscribe to the premium version of Elite. You can sign up for free and get a bunch of great features.
Full Call of Duty Elite Premium and free feature list coming soon
All proceeds from Call of Duty XP will benefit Call of Duty Endowment, the non-profit organization set up by Activision to help place veterans returning home into jobs.