Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III gives decade-old title new sheen but leaves me feeling old

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III gives decade-old title new sheen but leaves me feeling old
PHOTO: Activision Blizzard

One year older, one year wiser - and one more year apart from the younger generation of gamers.

That's exactly how I felt when I booted up the new multiplayer beta for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (MWIII) (2023) and realised just how difficult it is to get good at video games.

Call of Duty (COD) used to be the bread and butter of content I consumed on YouTube when I was younger, and the original COD Modern Warfare III released in 2011 was one of the installments that caught my eye, although I admittedly never got to play it myself.

While it's a nice shout to see maps like Favela, Skidrow and Highrise in this 2023 game, it's also a sobering reminder of one key distinction: watching pros play and playing the map myself are two very different beasts.

Grainy, gritty and realistic

The first thing that stood out to me when playing the game is just how unique the look of MWIII is compared to other popular first-person shooter titles at present.

With its grainy, gritty textures and dull colour tones, MWIII stands out amid the current era of shooters with more vibrant designs, such as Valorant or Apex Legends.

It also provides a slightly different take at 'realism' compared to the recently released tactical shooter, Counter-Strike 2, which arguably has slightly more cartoonish character designs.

The maps themselves also seem to have been designed with this realism in mind, as the very streets you fight on feel cluttered with debris that bring out that human element, all without detracting from the gameplay too much.

Crisp sounds, but could be better

Sound also plays a crucial role in creating an immersive experience for players, and studios that have worked on games in the COD series do seem to have this down to an art.

Gun sounds, from shooting to reloads, are crisp and satisfying in COD, while the radio chatter upon killstreak activation helped seal the deal.

Although there may still be room for improvement in terms of giving guns a bit more auditoral impact or individuality, the current iteration of sounds serve their purpose.


Solid core gameplay loop

At its core, COD games feel simple - you go in with your gun, shoot enemies, level your guns and upgrade them before repeating it all over again.

However, it's everything else that works in tandem with this loop that makes MWIII feel timeless and rewarding.

For instance, the short respawn timers are great at keeping me engaged, especially since I got more acquainted with the respawn screen than I liked after dying to players (presumably younger) with faster reflexes.

Self-deprecation aside, it was also the clean gunplay and responsive movement controls that really propelled my gameplay experience to the next level.

A special shout-out also goes to the breach drone, a new gadget that you can send flying towards an enemy that will explode on impact.

When it wasn't being used against me, this new equipment helped me secure kills and made my time in MWIII more hilarious than it should have been.

The other side of the coin

Even so, there are still aspects of the game that could use some improvement.

For one, the respawns did feel a bit problematic at times - on Highrise, I was sniping on one end of the map, only for spawns to flip because my teammates pushed up too far.


I was promptly overrun by about three foes that spawned behind me, leaving me in disbelief.

Another constant problem with the game is the Time To Kill (TTK), which refers to how long it takes to gun down an enemy.

It did sometimes feel like an eternity would pass while shooting an enemy without them dying - but much of it could really just be a skill issue.

Regardless, these difficulties I faced during the multiplayer beta are essentially just perennial problems that all COD games have that have persisted through time.

For a beta, this was a great experience that left me wanting to keep levelling up my guns and playing the game more - although it would certainly have been a better experience if I were better at clicking heads.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III will be out on Nov 10, 2023.

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