Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (2023) Single-Player Campaign – Review

If you're looking for a great follow-up to 2022's Modern Warfare 2, this ain't it.

Release Date
November 10, 2023
Sledgehammer Games
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Reviewed on
Review copy provided by

I always consider Modern Warfare as Call of Duty’s highest benchmark of the franchise in terms of quality with its single-player campaign. 2019’s reboot of Infinity Ward’s most successful Call of Duty was one of those experiences that I loved. That jam-packed action alongside an impressive visual overhaul that aims realism made the 2019 arcade first-person shooter an enjoyable product. Modern Warfare 2 was the same; while I wanted its story to be similar to its 2009 release, the narrative did not fail to grab my attention throughout my playthrough especially when Makarov became the biggest tease after the end of the campaign. However, I can’t say the same for Sledgehammer Games’ Modern Warfare 3.

Don’t get me wrong, Sledgehammer is a great studio. Its Call of Duty: WWII packed an incredible story that delivers the emotional drama and horror of the 1944 European theatre, but its take on Modern Warfare 3 felt disjointed, all over the place, and, unfortunately, bland. There are gameplay design directions that made me question Sledgehammer’s decisions for Modern Warfare 3’s single-player offering.

The story continues immediately after the events of Modern Warfare 2. During the game’s prologue, your main task is to extract a prisoner from the gulag, and here comes the fun part. You’re working for the man himself, the leader of an extremist Russian group, Vladimir Makarov.

While the prologue sets you up for an exciting feeling to know what kind of action you’ll get in the following missions and how the story will unfold, you’ll instead slowly feel that everything is confusing and completely rushed. They brought back characters from the dead, and if you have not been playing the seasons of Warzone like me, you won’t understand how Graves and Alex were brought back to life. My initial reaction after hearing Farah talk to Graves about the missiles was: is this a prequel mission? Then a few more missions after, I came to realize that it wasn’t. This plot direction and decision left me bewildered and hugely disappointed. Activision’s decision to forcefully integrate the plot into Warzone leaves those who only play Call of Duty for its single-player confused.

Regardless of my gripes with its story, in typical Call of Duty campaign fashion, we’re given different points of view from characters we control in the game, from Captain Price to Makarov’s lackey Andrei Nolan. What’s great about its campaign is no other than the action and voice-acting. Barry Sloane nails his portrayal of our beloved Captain John Price, with an outstanding supporting performance from Julian Kostov as our main antagonist Vladimir Makarov.

The introduction of Open Combat Missions felt like a change of pace, a new way for us Call of Duty fans to experience a single-player campaign direction like no other in the franchise; however, Open Combat Missions was undeniably one of the worst. The idea was great, but Sledgehammer seemed like they rushed the open-ended missions. It’s completely uninspired and is basically Call of Duty Warzone.

In Open Combat Missions, you’re dropped into a sizeable map with scattered objectives. You loot for weapons with various mods, armor plates, and equipment like night vision goggles. Your task is to complete those missions ranging from destroying enemy helicopters to investigating a crash site by hacking into working mobile devices that, unrealistically, survived the crash.

Since Open Combat Missions is basically Warzone, you can go guns blazing and battle against endless waves of enemies until you run out of ammo or take a stealthier approach for survivability. However, the latter is clearly unbaked, and there are times when stealth is supposed to be the better option, but you’re left with no choice but to pull the trigger and alert any nearby enemies.

My biggest gripe is that when you restart the entire mission after dying, since there are no checkpoints, the game already unlocks the weapons you’ve looted from the weapon caches and all the usable equipment you found on the map, giving you a huge advantage so you can breeze through the entire mission. This is where the campaign feels rushed; you’re not punished for your decisions, as the game hands you all the best weapons you found instead.

Despite being uninspired and dull, some Open Combat Missions were undeniably fun, like the one where you have to clear out enemies on every floor of the building, leading to holding off waves of incoming attack until the Skyhook arrives. Open Combat Missions would have been great if it involved more engaging objectives.

Like its predecessor, Modern Warfare 3 looks and feels amazing on both PC and PS5. The controls have been a little bit refined, becoming a bit responsive compared to its predecessor, and the integration of the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers has always been an excellent add-on for immersion. The franchise has reached its peak in terms of graphics and its overall structure. Overall, this decision to keep the engine is definitely worth it.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3’s disappointingly dull 5-6 hour campaign is the new kind of worst in my definition of worse. They could’ve done justice for Makarov and the entire Modern Warfare plot. This is the first time I have been disappointed with a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare story. It’s lifeless, dull, and overall terrible.

Score Definition
It’s playable, but the game does have a lot of setbacks. The dialogue and sound are just horrible, or it might be plagued with bad mechanics.
Great cast of voice actors
Integration of Warzone overall.
The entire plot is disjointed.
Its writing is all over the place.
Open Combat Missions were uninteresting.