Everything we know about the Call of Duty MW3 campaign

Here’s the latest details and speculation on the Call of Duty MW3 campaign and story mode that is set to deliver a bombastic narrative in the 2023 game.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 campaign: Captain Price aiming his weapon to the left side of the image. The background is tinted green.

As the third entry in a reboot trilogy that takes creative liberties over the original games, 2023’s Call of Duty MW3 campaign is set to take things up a notch with the formal introduction of the iconic villain Makarov. It’s probably been a while since you last played the story modes of the previous entries, so here’s all you need to know to get up with speed with the Modern Warfare 3 campaign.

The Call of Duty MW3 (2023) campaign will finally pay off all the developments we’ve seen over the past two games when we see Makarov – the villain of the original Modern Warfare trilogy – take center stage. With the Task Force 141 crew likely joined by some old and new MW3 characters, there will be lots to sink our teeth into outside of MW3 multiplayer. Get ready as the MW3 release date is fast approaching, so there’s no better time to dive into the latest Modern Warfare 3 campaign details and rumors.

Call of Duty MW3 campaign

The Call of Duty MW3 (2023) campaign will follow Task Force 141 against the increasing threat of Vladimir Makarov, who was seen briefly at the end of the Modern Warfare 2 story and confirmed in a dedicated trailer.

Based on the campaign mode of MW2 (2022), players can expect a globe-trotting story, with action-packed set pieces and infiltration missions that make use of the deep weapons sandbox, equipment, and vehicles. While Activision is yet to fully reveal the Modern Warfare 3 campaign, its flare for dramatic and bombastic action will no doubt continue.

The campaign also introduces “Open Combat Missions”, as confirmed in a recent COD blog post, which will give players much more freedom during the narrative of the game. For example, if you wanted to approach a mission guns-blazing, or approach it with a lights-out exclusively-stealth mindset, you can do so. It’s unclear what the limitations are, but we imagine set plot points are always going to happen, such as major character deaths.

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Another first for the series though, the MW3 campaign release will mark “the first time ever” in series history that we’ve got “a direct sequel in back-to-back years”. This is great for keeping the campaign and narrative threaded through this trilogy relevant and in players’ minds, without a jarring switch between Modern Warfare and Black Ops, for example.

Call of Duty MW3 campaign release date

The early access Call of Duty MW3 campaign release date is Thursday, November 2, 2023, on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC, eight days ahead of the full release according to in-game files.

Through an update to MW2 leading up to the official in-game reveal event, crafty players were able to access the in-game files which revealed the full suite of bonuses with the Vault Edition, confirming a series of leaks. Alongside various other MW3 pre-order and Vault Edition bonuses revealed was early access to the MW3 campaign.

While MW3 early access will likely be limited to the campaign mode, it does mean you can jump in and experience the blockbuster story with plenty of time to spare before the release of the multiplayer and other modes.

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Call of Duty MW3 campaign story speculation

With the end of Modern Warfare 2’s story hinting at the arrival of Vladimir Makarov – the main villain of the original trilogy – the MW3 campaign and story will focus on Task Force 141 attempting to stop Makarov before it’s too late. This is also suggested in the official MW3 Makarov trailer, which revealed some of the events of the story and his new look. Check out our MW3 cast guide for more on the actor behind Makarov and the other major characters.

In the ending scene of the MW2, we see Kate Laswell and the Task Force 141 members drinking in a bar when Laswell details intel on a new threat. Captain Price and the team reveal that this threat isn’t new. Instead, it’s the one and only Vladimir Makarov, setting him up to be the main antagonist in Modern Warfare 3.

We then cut to a Russian airliner which is subsequently hijacked by Makarov’s soldiers. Perhaps the most interesting detail in this scene is the text message sent by Makarov, simply reading ‘No Russian’. Those that have played the original Modern Warfare 2 will no doubt know immediately what this means, as ‘No Russian’ is the name of one of the most controversial missions in Call of Duty history.

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It’s possible that the MW3 campaign will begin with a similarly devastating mission to MW2’s No Russian level, highlighting the brutality and threat posed by Makarov. This is hinted at in the dedicated Makarov trailer which showcased short gameplay sections of civilians running from a blast at a soccer stadium, which happens to be Verdansk’s stadium, as well as several crashed planes swarmed by soldiers.

It could be that the MW3 No Russian mission, if it does feature, puts a spin on the controversial airport massacre mission, most likely changing the setting but keeping the heavy theme. Nevertheless, it’s Task Force 141’s job to stop him and that’s likely where the campaign will kick off in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.

Another plot point worth considering is that of Commander Shepherd. In the original trilogy, this villain had a much more obvious role, killing both Ghost and Roach in one of the most recognizable scenes in the series, before being killed by a well-placed throwing knife in the game’s closing moments.

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In the reboot trilogy, however, Shepherd has largely acted behind the scenes and is still alive (and on the run) in the third game. So, it’s likely that Shepherd will show up once again and fill the role of a secondary antagonist to Makarov, potentially with the game repeating history after an actor for the game spoiled the ending of the game.

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MW3 campaign gameplay

At Gamescom 2023, we saw our first gameplay of the Call of Duty MW3 campaign, which showcased one of the opening missions – Operation 627.

Operation 627 sees Alpha Team making an underwater entry into a gulag, offering up a great espionage atmosphere as you sneak through the facility using night vision and supressed weapons.

This mission looks to be a twist on the classic MW2 mission ‘The Gulag’, which saw you break into a gulag to free Captain Price, known as Prisoner #627. If the name parallel wasn’t enough, there’s even the memorable scene of rappelling down the central chamber of the gulag.

Whether the prisoner is still Captain Price in the reboot is yet to be seen as the gameplay ends after planting a bomb on the prison cell door.

Will the Call of Duty MW3 campaign have co-op?

The Call of Duty MW3 campaign is expected to be single-player only, without any multiplayer co-op support, based on the lack of co-op functionality in recent Call of Duty campaigns.

Though the series has dabbled with co-op in the past, such as in Modern Warfare 2’s PvE Raid missions, campaign co-op is generally not a supported feature.

That’s where the possibility of MW3 Spec Ops comes in, as this has typically offered co-op action in narrative setting, albeit outside of the main campaign. There’s also potential for Raids to make a return as well as an additional co-op experience.

MW3 campaign: Makarov looking menacingly at the camera.

Call of Duty MW3 campaign difficulty modes speculation

The Call of Duty MW3 campaign is likely to feature the same difficulty modes as the previous two games. These are:

  • Recruit
  • Regular
  • Hardened
  • Veteran
  • Realism

Recruit and Regular are the standard difficulty modes that most players will use, at least on their first completion of the campaign. On the other hand, Hardened, Veteran, and Realism have typically taken the difficulty up to very tricky heights.

While MW3’s campaign balancing could be on the easier end of the scale, we’d recommend only those looking for a challenge should attempt these higher-difficulty options.

That’s all there is to know about the Call of Duty MW3 campaign right now, though hopefully, Activision will reveal more details soon. If the third entry in the reboot trilogy can deliver on the intensity of the originals and build upon the narrative of the two games before it, Modern Warfare 3 could be one of the best FPS games once it comes out.