How Different is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 From Its Predecessors: An Analysis

How Modern Warfare 3 is the Same

Obviously, at its heart, MW3 plays the same way as all the other Call of Duty titles of recent memory. Infinity Ward has tweaked things here and there, but the primary gameplay remains unchanged. Most of the gametypes are still present. In multiplayer in general, much of what you’ll be doing is playing recycled concepts from older games: MW3 maintains MW2′s cooperative Spec-Ops mode as well as the multiplayer mode for which Call of Duty is famous. It has added a new mode to Spec-Ops called Survival, but this is a hybrid of standard Spec-Ops missions and an Infinity Ward spin on Treyarch’s Zombies mode — a fresh take on an old concept.

You’ll instantly know what you’re doing when you pick up an MW3 controller or bring a mouse to bear if you’re a CoD fan, which is both positive and negative. On the one hand, you’ll be familiar with the game and it’ll feel good. On the other hand, there’s little new to learn here, not much to adapt to, and very little that will test your skills. When it comes to similarities, MW3 provides a lot of new toys, but how you play with them is the same as the old ones.

In a word, how similar is MW3 to the last three games: very.

The Differences

That’s not to say that MW3 doesn’t have quite a few new tricks up its sleeve — more so, perhaps, than previous titles.

First off, the game adds two new modes: Kill Confirmed and Team Defender. Both are meant to amp up Call of Duty players’ teamwork requirements, and they do well in that account. Kill Confirmed adds an additional layer to team deathmatch by requiring players collect dog tags from downed enemies to score points, de-emphasizing the actual kill and emphasizing the team play required to snag enemy dog tags from the line of fire, as well as reclaim friendly players’ tags to deny points to the enemy. It require all new strategy.

Team Defender is like Capture the Flag, but without a place to return the flag to to score points. Instead, when a team captures the enemy flag, a timer starts. The idea is to rack up as much time in possession of the enemy flag as possible, while working to protect your own flag from capture.

Teamwork is a major portion of Modern Warfare 3, and in many ways this game encourages players to work together more than any other Call of Duty title. To this end, the Killstreak system has been completely reworked into customizable “Strike Packages,” which allow players to choose generalized killstreaks based on how they play. There’s the standard Commando package, which includes things like air strikes and is based on kills, just like in other CoD titles; the Support package, which is based on points gained for both kills and objective gameplay, doesn’t reset when the player is killed, and provides rewards based on helping the team excel rather than the individual; and the Specialist pack, which lets players tack on additional perks as they rack up additional kills, but which reset when the player is killed.

This attention to play style follows in the footsteps of Black Ops’ unlock system without emulating it — Infinity Ward has actually found a way to accommodate players who aren’t necessarily sniper savants or shotgun-toting hellions. This means greater teamwork and greater support for more kinds of play.

There’s also the Call of Duty: Elite service, which is in full effect in Modern Warfare 3, even if you choose not to subscribe to it. The free tier of the service offers a lot of advantages the previous games haven’t been capable of delivering as far as stats tracking, social gameplay and the like. There are a lot more opportunities to connect with other players, which is very cool given the number of people who sign on to Call of Duty every day.

Finally, Infinity Ward has found a much better way to make weapons available to players through the Weapon Specialization system. Even though players will be gathering experience points in matches that will unlock weapons and perks for them, there’s now a much bigger incentive to play with the weapons you like. Working with a weapon allows you to “specialize” in it, unlocking attachments and other benefits you can’t get by switching guns a lot. This means you’re able to find weapons you love, get great with them, and reap the rewards on the battlefield. In previous CoD titles, the benefit is always to complete challenges with lots of different weapons in order to unlock more experience and level up faster to get even better weapons and perks.

Hit Page 3 for Modern Warfare 3′s differences from earlier Call of Duty titles, or head back to Page 1.

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24 Comments on How Different is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 From Its Predecessors: An Analysis


On September 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

60 dollars for new maps and slight tweaks.

Way to go Craptivision and Infinity Turd.


On September 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Recoloring a wall with a different coat a paint doesn’t change the fact, it’s the same damn wall.


On September 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm

“MW1 heavily favors snipers, whereas MW2 fixes that (somewhat) with its map design.” it is good to design a game that somewhat give advantages to team work, so I think that a game that gives great advantage to, for example, a team with a riot shield and a sniper guy on their team would be a great game. I hope that this is the case for MW3. And BTW, my friend is the audio director for MW3 and Black Ops :D


On September 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Every single Call of Duty game since the first Modern Warfare have simply been expansion packs. New maps, weapons, features, but the same exact OLD, DATED ENGINE with the SAME GAMEPLAY. I’m done with CoD forever.


On September 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Are you guys stupid? You say that CoD is the same thing buy you go and buy games like RE,GoW,Gears,LBP2,AC2… this hypocrisy.


On September 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm

A lot of you probably haven’t played CoD since MW2 or W@W. If you honestly can’t tell the difference between MW2 and Black Ops, you should really just never make an article or post. There’s a word I’m looking for–it’s called a “death-streak.” And those aren’t in BO. Black Ops sucks ass, but at least it has the decency to be different and graphically superior to other CoD games. Sure, it sucks. But it’s not the same game, nor the same guns or anything. I absolutely hate it and can’t wait for MW3. My friends and I love playing it. Maybe that’s why I play MW3. Because I have friends and I don’t have to use the word “IRL” to be serious.


On September 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm

To all the fools who bash cod, have you played more than mw2 or waw? or you spam crap on how black ops is the same with quickoping and other ASSumptions that aint true and you woudlnt know because you HAVENT played the damn game?

Cod is a great game, as for being the “same” what about assasin creed revelations? looks like brotherhood which looked like ac2, not to mention uncharted 3, mass effect 3, spiderman edge of time or the recent kilzone 3 and dead space 2?

Do you KNOW anything at all?

as for the “same old engine”

The engine is FINE and the code is completly changed, there is nothing left from idtech 3.

Also sometimes changing engine and the game radically is a bad move, eg fear 2, far cry 2, crysis 2, resistance 3.

Some of the best sequels are basicly a 1.5, like say doom 2, diablo 2 and fallout 2.

Finally battlefield 3 is the same old battlefield game with the SAME generic gameplay, only diffirnce is theys showoff pc dx11 graphics, when the game is pretty much bf2 with less stuff in it and bc2/moh gunplay.

Even the vehicles and the weapons are from bf2/bc2, hell even bc1 had the same weapons as bc2.

Hell the classes are from bf2142 and the customization menu fro moh.

So nope not much new to it.


On September 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Thank you Dakan45. To all the people saying the engine is same, the new MW3 features dynamic lighting which blinds you from windows and assists in dark maps. And to all you s complaining about graphics, put you ty video resolution to 1080 hd on youtube. BIG Difference


On September 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Wow…where do I start.

@Gamer_5670 – I can tell you’re smart (sarcasm). I can also tell you’re a console gamer. In response to my accusation of CoD being the same game every year, you list a bunch of (ty) console games and their sequels. Oh and by the way, you listed Gears twice….tard.

@JakeyBee – I’ve played every single CoD up to this point quite extensively. I really can’t make much sense of your argument, especially the last sentence which I suppose was intended to be an insult. Anyway, MW2 and BO really aren’t that different. MW2 failed because there were no dedicated servers. Black Ops failed because it was a HORRIBLE, lazy console port full of bugs and performance issues even on top-of-the-line PCs. Even if MW3 manages to be successful in both these regards, it’s still the same tired gameplay we’ve seen since 2007.

@dakan45 – Like I said, I’ve played every single CoD to date. Also, I never mentioned anything about quickscoping. Oh, wait…you must be a console got too, because PC gamers don’t need that stupid aim assist bull, so there’s no quickscoping to worry about. Oh look, you ARE a console got…just like Gamer you list a bunch of ty console sequels in an attempt to back up your argument. As for Battlefield? That game blows as well.

Like I said, same ing game every year.


On September 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm

thanks ryan!
all cod defenders can have ur opinions i really dont care but just dont defend it by listing minor tweaks, because no matter what that does not justify $60.


On September 19, 2011 at 9:13 pm

i dont care what you people say the 1st game was great and every 1 loved it and every time a new 1 is comeing out every one moans saying there there all the same and all this bull so if there the same keep ur old one and stop buying the new 1s year in year out they have added new and better things like thearter mode custom killstreaks new guns maps and much more if these things dont intrest you then go play halo or gears or mw1 n stop hatein on a game that millions are gunna play every day


On September 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm

and that joke who saying “I’ve played every single CoD up to this point quite extensively” GET A F****ING LIFE if ur gunna so much about it get the FCUK of it mate ttttttttttt


On September 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I ‘ave to say, anyone that thinks BLOPS is just a re-skinned MW2 doesn’t play ‘in detail’ – that BLOPS didn’t stack your killstreak ‘kills’ to get the next killstreak was a _huge_ change (given the ubiquitousness of killstreaks in MW2). There were other changes as well (the netcode was considerably better, you could actually lock custom games rather than make sure no friends dropped in unannounced for clan wars), but that was the big ‘un. Since the introduction of Killstreaks, all of the CoDs (in pub games at least) have been unbalanced games catering to the ADHD crowd (Killstreaks are unbalanced by design, as is rewarding people who have played longer by unlocking more perks et al). Best thing to happen to the CoDs was the introduction of ‘Barebones’ (or similarly titled) in MW2 (and carried over to BLOPS).


On September 19, 2011 at 11:17 pm

whats with these kids saying “durrp you havent played since mw 1 so you dont know crap”. ive been playing COD since the true first one on PC, and ill tell you what happened to call of duty, it went to consoles. since it was released on consoles, they completely changed the game. once modern warfare came out, the game hasnt been changed since. its the EXACT same game, with over priced expansions. Call of duty 1 had an expansion that cost 40$ and it added HUGE maps, tanks, jeeps, and new weapons. what do the new 60$ games add? only new same sized maps and new guns.


On September 19, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I didn’t know we had this many stupid kids reading this site. Hell, I didn’t know COD players could read.


On September 20, 2011 at 5:41 am

LOL, I wouldn’t go off not just about bf3 but any game if u can’t speak proper English, LOL, mw3 will be a good game but typing like that makes people think your 8 years old


On September 20, 2011 at 9:23 am

@krunkfu lol you just tried to justify $40 for an expansion pack as being a better value than a new complete game for $60. You are a ing retard.


On September 20, 2011 at 9:58 am

same , different day…


On September 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Cod mw3 and bf3 are gonna be totally different. comparing them is like comparing football and basketball. Just because there both sports, doesnt mean there the same AT ALL. If you happen to love mw3 like me…play it. If you happen to hate it….dont. Theres no need to complain about it sucking. Everyone has there own opinion. Also, your saying cod mw3 sucks on a mw3 article knuckle heads, thats like going on facebook and complaining about it ( which people do)….its a waste of time. Im only even writing this because im tired of people being silly. Im sure half of these kids arent even old enough to be play mw3.


On September 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm

@Ryan i am not a consoel got but i rather play cod than a game with hit dealy, seriously? hit delay? where is the ksill in that.


On November 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Wow. So much hate. Alright here’s a few things that need to be straightened out here… Call of Duty: MW was a revolutionary multiplayer system on consoles. Never before was there online play so intricate on the next gen consoles. Its impact so immense that it spawned many sequels, from WaW to MW3. While it is true that they are similar in gameplay, too similar for many people (actually you could call it similar ad nauseum with each installment,) they DO change things up every installment. Granted it’s not a lot most of the time, it’s enough to distinguish the games from one another.
And really? Why would you tell other people what to do with their money? If someone wants to spend $60 on a game you don’t like or want to buy, why would it concern you? Same goes for Battlefield 3. Why would you care if someone else plays it? it’s a different type of shooter than CoD. Y’all need to calm down and stop calling on extreme sides of arguments (I.E. it makes a huge change or none at all.)
Summary: CoD games play similarly, gameplay hasn’t changed much in the last 5 years, and probably won’t in this installment. Does that make it a bad game not worth $60? Isn’t that decision up to the buyer?


On November 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

mw3 is the same as mw2 tards. keep buying that so they can get more money. MORONS.


On February 1, 2012 at 11:52 am

re same audio director… how come the sound in mw3 is ok-ish & awful in bops (& w@w)?
unfortunately mw3 graphics look like bops. mw3 looked better than both w@w, bops & mw3, just needed mw3
gameplay. the sound & graphics so bad in bops & w@w, i had to trade after a week. Only the gameplay in mw3 has stopped me doing the same.


On January 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

dont yall hate how they make the best stuff to buy not free it suck for every consule