E3 2011: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hands-On Preview

E3 2011: We leave the single-player campaign and buddy up for our first hands-on look at Modern Warfare 3's new Spec Ops mode.


Spec Ops made its Call of Duty debut as part of the Modern Warfare 2 package and gave players a chance to defend a location against waves of attackers of escalating difficulty. The game mode returns in Modern Warfare 3 and brings with it a new mode in Survival; an army of two experience where you lean on either an AI buddy, for same-console split-screen play, or go online.

Today, we had a chance to get hands-on with the new mode, with our demo located on Dome, a level that will also appear as a multiplayer map. Activision reps confirmed that these levels will not come from the single-player campaign. Beginning initially with only a pistol, you will need to either get used to it or scrounge the weapons of fallen enemies for freebie upgrades. The first group we took on were all fans of the shotgun, but within a few short waves, enemies were packing submachine guns and assault rifles. Afraid of germs from secondhand guns? There's also the option to spend the money you earn from felled troops on more advanced weapons, items, and special perks.

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Human life is meant to be priceless, but our targets worked out to about $150 per kill, with us earning a cool 20 beans for dealing damage but our buddy landing the finishing blow. Bonuses are given for earning kill streaks, and you don't get perks like the spy planes, radio-controlled cars with munitions strapped to them, or gruesome napalm strikes (that we saw anyway), but you will get some extra cash for the kitty just for doing your job well by earning successive kills without taking damage. Be warned, though: Catching even a single stray bullet with your character will reset your counter, which is marked at the bottom of the screen by a yellow progress bar.

The Dome map was split into a few distinct zones: the shell of a gutted office building, an outdoor area with parked military vehicles, and a bunker area down a ramp (a good spot for hiding in wait for targets to approach the incline). There were also two open spaces begging for machine gun turrets and grenade launchers, as well as the level's namesake dome: an indoor section with a large cement column blocking line of sight to its second doorway.

Located in three of these areas (the office, underground bunker, and dome room) were supply boxes. When we had enough money and wanted to upgrade our salvaged kit to something that packed a harder punch, we wandered down to drop some coin. Like the outfitting options in Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer, each weapon has an assortment of available unique upgrades, such as red dot and ACOG scopes as substitutes for raw iron sights, as well as under-barrel grenade launchers. Ammunition doesn't automatically restock between rounds, so you'll need to keep some cash handy to replenish.

While the box of tricks in the dome was limited to offering new guns, the others played host to something a little nastier. The one marked on the heads-up display with a grenade icon sold explosive and flashbang grenades, as well as Kevlar vests. It also sold portable auto machine gun and grenade turrets. Once purchased, they were automatically assigned a location on the D pad ready for use and could be activated at will. Once placed in your preferred location, your partner can still pick up and reposition them. This became a crucial tactic when one of the waves replaced ground grunts carrying riffles with attack helicopters. At that point, we squirreled our unmanned guns away under cover to avoid our investment being blown to bits.

Because each player approaches combat differently, it's unlikely all players will earn cash at the same rate. Thus, at times, there may be an imbalance with the virtual checkbook. As a result, if you're a little light, you can either take a $500 handout from your mate at a time or play the role of generous benefactor bankrolling the mission. Because you can only have a single type of turret in operation at any time per player, it makes sense to share the wealth, giving your friend a chance to pay for either another of the same kind or a complimentary type to use in tandem.

The third and final shop granted us access to more valuable and exotic items, such as Delta Force reinforcements and predator drones. Calling in Delta Force dropped a half-dozen extra men on the field to help even the numbers. Your teammate has his name clearly visible and hovering above the character model at all times, but that isn't the case with other squadmates. In the heat of battle, the green crosshairs of friendlies easily went unseen, and friendly fire meant it was easy to perforate part of our own group with itchy trigger fingers.

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Player stats flash up onscreen at the end of each wave with ratings for your weapon accuracy, number of kills achieved, and total cash earned. There's a leveling system at play here to rank up as you go, but none of the weapons or items we came across in the stores were out of our reach if we had the dollars.

Enemy combatant AI went easy on us at the start, moving in packs and clumping near walls and vehicles. But as the mode continued on and the waves rolled by, riot shield-wielding enemies and juggernauts joined the fray and made better use of flanking. For this reason, communication between you and your friend becomes essential to cover blind spots, and we had fun plugging away at bad guys and searching out the optimal spots to hold to cover two entrances simultaneously.

The Modern Warfare 3 content train now seems to be gaining speed, giving us our first look just before E3, taking the wraps off the first details of its proposed Call of Duty: Elite service details, demoing a new chunk of single-player content during Microsoft's E3 press conference, and now throwing open the doors on the closest thing we've seen so far to multiplayer. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more on Modern Warfare 3 from E3 2011 in anticipation of its release on November 8 this year.

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Avatar image for jewdragon19

bf3 is the same sh"T as bad company dice sucks....people forgot about how wack Medal of Honor was last year...

Avatar image for Skatman8

Same Sh*t Different Day ,Battlefield3 At least offers a new game engine and every game they make they have Heaps of play styles and variety to their games.

Avatar image for ForwardtoBack

This Spec-Ops mode kinna reminds me of other modes of other games(the GoW series, for example.) It does seem like the CoD games are recycling old content and just making it all shiny again with a different, newer package.

Avatar image for aamir69

First of all i totally agree with Nunonfss, no matter howmany thumbs down you give him or me. Here is what my experience so far with Black Ops. Now can somebody make me understand this BS from activision. I bought this game when it came out since tryarch was involved hoping this game would be as good as COD WaW. I stopped playing this game back then coz of this shuttering problem. Then installed again in march hoping they have fixed it. And now again in august the problem is still there. I know some people may not have it but for sure lot of people have this issue with them. Do they even care to fix or all their attention is on over hyping MW3 via gaming sites? and this is my question to game reviewers. How can you ignore such issues while rating the game? Maybe you are scared that the fanboys will hate you for giving a low score I don't care even MW3 is so good that it gives you an orgasm every 10mins of gameplay, but i am not buying it.

Avatar image for basianman

this game will be awesome with spec ops and all those little improvements, i just hope they give there engine a little upgrade (guess not)

Avatar image for Nunonfss

1) all COD fanboys Shut up, because all of you know that COD dont have nothing new since COD 4 2) The 2 games are different 3) I am a BF fan, but I like to play COD too, an BF is better and you know it. 4)COD isnt for skilled players only if skilled is choosing comando and killing guys at a distance of 3 meters . 5) I love COD 4, but I hate COD franchise, because is always the same sh*t. 6)I have read one guy saying that COD is better because it runs at 60 FPS, lol play COD 4 and you have 60 FPS too, play MARIO and you have 60 FPS too, play Battlefield 3 and ... OHH you dont have 60 FPS because it has a engine that is for the next gereration -.- 7) MW3 is going to suck, because they will not have COMANDO. OHH and COD only sells because of the publicity. Correct me If I'm wrong

Avatar image for AIRWALKTDK666

@kratos-vs-cloud it will always be the most popular franchise, not necessarily the best.

Avatar image for Sh-may-cry

just the same. nothing new. battlefield 3 is better.

Avatar image for kratos-vs-cloud

Call of duty will always be the best FPS franchise no matter what.

Avatar image for xXxIRyanxXx

I heard about this same feature except better in a game called GoW3 a few months ago. COD is yet again reduced to taking ideas from other games and making them worse.

Avatar image for terminator661

guys, even if some of you dont buy this game, another 60 million other people will.

Avatar image for titanking54ps3

All of the call of duty games since cod 4 have been the same game with different "coatings" skip this for skyrim and battle field 3

Avatar image for kaem79

I feel pity over those who waste time, money and effort into this mediocre game. Can't you all your gaming history?

Avatar image for NighTmarE_evo

Copy & Paste.

Avatar image for aaronfhff123

I hope you can shoot out lights and open doors this time around. Mw2 and black op s were too linear. And add realistic damage to the campaign(bullet wounds from small rounds, gore from explosives).

Avatar image for mindikadilan


Avatar image for St1ckyB4ndit

Why are people having a fanboy war when this is talking about the Spec-Op mode of MW3. Simply just buy the game you and not buy the other!

Avatar image for kazumashadow

You guys get paid for promoting CoD or Battlefield? That's what i thought so stop whinning about wich one is better, everywere i go there is a comment about CoD being a game for homos or Battlefield being so stupid.

Avatar image for aamir69

OK guys, specially game reviewing websites like gamespot. Please stop reaching point of orgasms when you review Call of Duty games. Every time you rate COD in your head, its 8+. Why? what for? Having better graphics? Yeah yeah you can edit your soldier and make him do Yee Haw and what not. BF got bigger maps than COD, COD maps are like playing hide & seek in your house only with Killstreaks BF got tanks, helis and aircrafts. Your maps are as big as inside of a tank or aircraft. You put a nail in the coffin by steam crap. If the host leaves the game, its 50/50 that you will be able to connect to your new host(who is probably downloading pron at the same time). Oh thats not your fault right? its that fn steam. What an excuse.

Avatar image for TheWarscent

Ill get it for the single player story,,,,then back to gamestop.The rest of the time ill be in all out war on BF3 blowing holes in buildings,mowing down trees in my firing lane,and laying down suppressive fire all while working as a TEAM to complete a multiplay objective

Avatar image for gaffer-93

Havent enjoyed a single player campaign on a call of duty game since call of duty 4 and Im pretty sure thats not going to change. I have no doubt that the multiplayer will be good though. Lets hope its better than Black Ops. What a pile of steaming sh!t..... graphics were awfull, sound was even worse and the multiplayer experience was nothing like MW2. Really enjoyed and continue to enjoy the Zombies though, the only redeeming factor of that game, and it is truly is great fun.

Avatar image for ferntfactor

not super interested in all the buying stuff. unneeded complexity. but does look great. one suggestion... De-struct-a-bil-ity!

Avatar image for Gunathar

We know it will be exciting. We know it will have a fun single-player campaign and addictive multiplayer. We know we will buy it for sure. And Activision knows it too. I just hope we get something new instead of the same old recipe...

Avatar image for Ultimate39

I'm only getting MW3 to see what happens to Soap and Price, but this sounds pretty interesting.

Avatar image for IND_Gotya

Not keeping my hopes high, because of the MW2 debacle (though its was an okay game). I guess I will most probably still get this one, if only to finish off the story. Need more info though, so best not to hurry into it.

Avatar image for reesterbunny

This sounds better than the rest of em

Avatar image for madg23

ummmm so if the enemies have riot shields that means you can pick 'em up and hopefully they are brought back in multiplayer? and i am a huge fan of survival/co-op games because it really see's how co-operative you are with other people. just simply cant wait!

Avatar image for CoUGHnBulle77z

@Fowsed, Of course not this is Activision here!

Avatar image for mikees1

Not that i'll really be playing this much but i would much rather you called SAS as reinforcements than delta force. The SAS are THE elite!

Avatar image for Fowsed

will tis be the last call of duty???? because I will want more

Avatar image for mw2hardcore

by the way great game but i will buy this BF3 both

Avatar image for mw2hardcore

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for mw2hardcore

hi guyz. please , read my blog post abot mw3 weapons , illstreaks and atachments wishlist

Avatar image for damojeebs

Geezus...mw3 is better than bf3...bf3 is better than mw3. who gives a f***,buy both play both enjoy both cause i know i will.

Avatar image for luneth77

Wow, based on all online comments, MW3 feels like an underdog this year.

Avatar image for wedran123

Hmmm...it said MW2 on it when i played it at a friends....guess this is some FREE dlc.....must be *SARCASM ABOUT FREE OFF*

Avatar image for trivolution

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for trivolution

Guys, no fighting here. Justin Bieber is the true enemy.

Avatar image for true_hurdler

@berzerk0912: Yea, probably the nicest dlc you'll ever see for any game actually

Avatar image for GamerLegend10

i think they want to make a survival mode due to the huge success of zombies on Treyarchs games...i hope this mode can be as entertaining.

Avatar image for SDSkarface

all this argument about BF vs MW3 its really simple.. the one with the better graphics and dx11 wins. period. Activision is demoing this at e3 on a lolbox 360 while Dice showed up to E3 with a PC gaming rig something unheard of these days.

Avatar image for Shanks_D_Chop

@TigerRifle1 A couple of WaW maps featured tanks. While lacking in variety it did add an extra dimension to the battle. And if you think tank = rape-age you are sorely mistaken.

Avatar image for TigerRifle1

Sammoth,The problem isn't having vehicles in the game its having vehicles and killstreaks together.

Avatar image for sammoth

@TigerRifle1 If you knew anything about the COD franchise you would of known the first one had vehicles and was prolly one of the best ones ever released. Then it got dumbed down to what we have today. Killtreaks are just as cheap as someone who jumps in a tank.

Avatar image for Raellis

@carl_rayer A sequel that is better than its predecessor.

Avatar image for TigerRifle1

whitetiger, why would you want vehicles. The killstreaks are the vehicles, there'd be no point to having player-ready vehicles and killstreaks together, unless the point was perpetual rapeage by the first one to wimp out and hop in a vehicle.

Avatar image for berzerk0912

Nice dlc for MW2.

Avatar image for bdixon76

I don't really get the CoD/B3 comparison. Both take skill albeit, different skill, but they are totally different games. You can't deny CoD is a action/arcade style fps and Battlefield is a tactical fps. I myself always prefer tactical over run and gun, but that's just my thing. CoD cranks out games so often its hard to judge improvments because they are small and they have to keep that going to keep gamer interest. Battlefield takes longer to release because they know and want the game to stand on its own 2 feet longer which gives them time to give the game a little more love, but I think it just plays to the mindset of a tactical fps gamer.... my2cents

Avatar image for josh7845

Everyone says it's the same game as the last one (I, of course, agree) yet I know this game will somehow out-sell Black Ops.

Avatar image for COUNTHORROR

the idea of delta force is nice, but i hope they put some new mixes in the game so that it wont be just new weapons and kill streaks and that's it. but i like the idea of the double scope on 1 weapon :)