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MW3 multiplayer, maps, modes, and more in Season 1

Keep up to date with all the changes to MW3 multiplayer in Season 1, from new maps and modes to fresh meta weapons and all the goodies in the battle pass.

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer already improved upon its predecessor at launch, but Season 1 adds a staggering amount of content for players to sink their teeth into. So, here’s everything you need to know about Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer during Season 1, from new maps, modes, weapons, and more.

From our experience with the game for our MW3 reviewCall of Duty MW3 multiplayer improves on many of the issues players have felt over recent months with Modern Warfare 2. With multiplayer being the defining experience of any annually-released Call of Duty game with every player attempting to unlock all of the MW3 camos, the multiplayer in the latest entry of the best FPS game series certainly delivers.

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer builds upon the structure of MW2 with overhauls to the Perk system, new health, and mini-map features, alongside new maps, remastered maps, Gunsmith updates, and new weapons. There are a total of 37 weapons (and 77 returning ones), 20 maps, 13 game modes at launch, and 25 Operators, with more being added in Season updates.

While Modern Warfare 3 is undeniably building upon the foundations of MW2, the small but focused changes make for a much better gameplay experience that’s more in line with fan expectations.

MW3 multiplayer: A player aiming their assault rifle at an enemy in a quarry.

Overall, Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer is much faster than recent entries in the series, which sought to slow everything down with long animations and a blazing fast time-to-kill rewarding a slower playstyle. From our time with the game, this has paid off massively.

Furthermore, this has an almost uncanny impact on the nostalgic feeling of the slate of remastered maps from MW2 (2009) – more on this later. Despite the majority of maps being from over a decade ago, they feel almost brand-new due to the fast movement and climbing animations of MW3 multiplayer.

Read on below to find out more about all of the new features and important changes made with Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer, and how they will impact you when you play.

MW3 multiplayer Season 1: The Season 1 Battle Pass in the unlock screen, showing each sector and its associated rewards.

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer Season 1

MW3 Season 1 brings the following new additions to Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer:

  • Five new weapons
  • Nine new MW3 Aftermarket Parts
  • Two new Killstreaks
  • Four new maps (three Core 6v6 arenas, one 2v2 map)
  • Return of Gunfight (plus Team Gunfight), All or Nothing, Infected, and Headquarters modes
  • New Vortex mode
  • New MW3 ranked play mode
  • The MW3 Season 1 Battle Pass containing weapon blueprints, Operators, and more
  • Festive event

Like previous installments, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 features Seasons post-launch, which usually offers new guns, maps, modes, and more. Going forward, these updates provide the live-service structure, with players eagerly anticipating all the new content and changes that are made with the release of a new Season and the mid-Season Reloaded update.

Check out our guide on MW3 Season 1 to find out more about the debut content drop and all the great new additions it brings. Of course, we can’t forget about Warzone either, which will also be receiving a plethora of new content in MW3 Season 1.

MW3 multiplayer Season 1: The player reloading the TAQ Evolvere LMG, painted in an orange camo.

The most obvious addition, however, is the five new guns:

  • XRK Stalker – sniper
  • RAM-7 – assault rifle
  • HRM-9 – SMG
  • TAQ Evolvere – LMG
  • Stormender – launcher

These have the potential to completely overturn the MW3 multiplayer meta, as well as the case with Season weapons in the previous game. Generally, these new additions bring an element of power creep to multiplayer, being better than the existing selection of guns in almost every way. After all, it’s hard to get players excited about new weapons if they’re worse than what they already have.

Similarly, the Season 1 maps added to MW3 multiplayer are also integral to the experience. CoD players are nothing if not dedicated and will quickly exhaust the ‘new map’ feeling of launch (especially with the MW3 multiplayer maps being remasters), so Seasons spice up the action with new arenas. MW3 Season 1 adds Meat, Greece, Rio, and Training Facility to expand the multiplayer offering. Most importantly, these are brand-new maps, not remakes of existing ones from previous games. As a result, we’re hoping these keep players’ attention for much longer than the launch selection.

Players who purchase the Vault Edition, which is the most expensive of the MW3 editions to buy, get access to the first Season’s battle pass thanks to Call of Duty MW3 Blackcell, a premium seasonal bundle. It also includes 50 tier skips, putting you through half of the battle pass straightaway.

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Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer new features

There are a variety of important new features, systems, and impactful changes in MW3 multiplayer. If you’re a vexed MW2 player, you’ll find a lot to like in this game, though it’s not quite as much of a reinvention as fans had hoped for.

The MW3 multiplayer new features are:

MW3 multiplayer: Quick-Grip Gloves in the Perk and Gear menu of the loadouts screen.

MW3 Perk and Gear system

MW3 multiplayer introduces a new Perk system that swaps them out for individual gear pieces and vests, while also returning many of the classic Perks to the series. While these are effectively the same as traditional Perks in moment-to-moment gameplay, this new system changes how you decide which ones to use.

With the addition of a Vest slot, you can choose from four different armored vests that dictate which Perk slots you have available. For example, the Infantry Vest includes a Gloves, Boots, and Gear slot, while the Gunner Vest only has access to Gloves and Gear. This means that, when making your loadout, you’ll have to think very carefully about which Vest bonuses you’d like, as you’ll be sacrificing the Perk gear slots you have access to.

On that note, each gear category gives a variety of different ‘Perks’ to choose from. Gloves typically modify weapon handling, such as the Quick-Grip Gloves offering increased weapon swap speed. Boots, on the other hand, often alter movement, such as the Tactical Pads increasing slide distance and allowing for full ADS while sliding, alongside overall animation swiftness. The Gear slot is the most diverse, providing numerous useful boons like EOD Padding acting like the Flak Jacket Perk to reduce damage from non-Killstreak explosives and fire.

The biggest change is that these gear pieces no longer have to be earned during a match, as they were in MW2, returning to the approach of older games in the series where Perks are permanent effects in your loadout.

MW3 multiplayer: A player shooting at an enemy in Tac Stance.

MW3 Tac-Stance and movement changes

MW3 multiplayer also sees the addition of the Tac-Stance movement system and a series of tweaks to player movement from MW2. This includes:

  • You can slide cancel
  • You can cancel partial reloads
  • Mantling is faster and you can mantle while sprinting
  • You can fire during and immediately after sprinting
  • Tactical Sprint durations are increased
  • Tactical Sprint recharges while sprinting
  • New Tac-Stance suited for close-quarters combat

These all make MW3 multiplayer a much faster and more responsive experience, especially compared to MW2 which can often feel sluggish. In action, this is one of, if not the most impactful changes and new additions that we felt when playing multiplayer, completely altering our approach to firefights.

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MW3 Aftermarket Parts

MW3 multiplayer also debuts the Aftermarket Parts feature, offering unparalleled Gunsmith customization. These dramatically shift the approach to the Call of Duty MW3 Gunsmith and add an extra layer of customization by completely changing how a weapon works. For example, you can turn a pistol into a fully-automatic carbine, or dual-wield SMGs.

These MW3 Aftermarket Parts unlocks are generally earned by completing weekly challenges, rather than through individual weapon progression. They’re certainly useful when building the best MW3 loadouts too.

MW3 mutliplayer: A player firing at an enemy with a submachine gun at close range on the Favela map.

MW3 health changes

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer features increased health and a lengthening to the time-to-kill (TTK) overall compared to its predecessor, except in Hardcore modes, of course.

With base health now increased to 150 and a reduced headshot multiplier, the TTK is much longer. In our experience, this allows for more counter-play and a less frustrating experience overall with more time to return fire.

Remember though, the same applies to your opponents. Just because you’ve got the edge, doesn’t mean they can’t steal a win from you.

MW3 multiplayer: A player aiming down the sights of the weapon on the Favela map.

MW3 classic mini-map

MW3 multiplayer sees the return of the classic mini-map behavior seen in older Call of Duty titles. The map displays red dots indicating when an enemy is firing an unsuppressed weapon. Not only does this make suppressors more impactful than they were in MW2, but it’s also a great tool for tracking down enemy players nearby. With how tricky it can be to identify players in MW2 and MW3 (despite improvements), this is a welcome change.

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Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer Carry Forward

As a series-first, MW3 multiplayer allows you to transfer over all your weapons, camos, Operators, and purchased bundles from MW2 and Warzone in a system called ‘Carry Forward’. Yes, that means the best MW3 guns and weapons list features not only a great offering of brand-new firearms but also a staggering large arsenal of MW2 weapons.

You’ll be pleased to know then, that your progress with these weapons, camos, and attachments are also intact. That means veterans won’t have to re-earn and grind out everything all over again and can instead focus on the new additions. Check out MW2 to MW3 skins transfer and MW2 to MW3 camos transfer to learn more.

The same also applies to a handful of the maps, as we’ll explain now.

MW3 multiplayer: Four soldiers firing their weapons, with one holding a riot shield.

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer maps

Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer includes 20 maps at launch, including several new and exciting maps to play on in the competitive modes, as is standard for each new Call of Duty title. However, the core map offerings are made up of remastered maps from the original, widely-beloved Modern Warfare 2.

While the new maps were relegated to Ground War, Invasion, and War game modes at launch, with the suite of remastered maps acting as the ‘main’ maps for the traditional 6v6 modes, Season 1 changes this up. With each Season, brand-new maps will be added to the core 6v6 modes, so there will be a mix of new and remastered MW2 (2009) maps towards the end of the MW3 multiplayer cycle.

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However, you might not know that Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 will also be receiving a handful of maps from its predecessor, starting with MW3 Season 1.

Labeled “Modern Warfare 2 Carry Forward maps”, arenas from its predecessor will gradually be added to a separate playlist in MW3. Activision explicitly states that these maps are “completely additive”, meaning they will “appear in addition to a full complement of new (and remastered) seasonal maps and other content”. You can rest easy that MW3 multiplayer won’t all be re-treads of old ground.

The first batch of MW2 (2022) maps being ported into MW3 multiplayer include Farm 18, Mercado, and Shoot House, with more coming with each Season. Given how modern they are anyhow, these will be graphically identical to how they are in MW2 (2022), though the new features, mechanics, and changes made in the sequel will still be present. Likewise, new modes like Cutthroat also won’t be playable on these Carry Forward maps.

Check out our guide going over all of the MW3 maps in detail to learn more about the differences between the original and remastered versions, as well as the handful of brand-new maps in the game.

Despite how fun these maps are to play for long-time veterans like ourselves, it’s nonetheless surprising to see MW2 maps remade in this title, rather than the MW2 2022 game. However, given MW3 was reportedly going to be an expansion of the previous game, it makes more sense as to why we’re seeing these maps now. Furthermore, it’s also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Call of Duty with many of the greatest hits. Nevertheless, given the namesake, it’s a shame not to see MW3 maps from the 2011 game make a comeback, such as Resistance and Hardhat.

While MW2 has subtly remade various maps before by including them within Ground War and Warzone maps, such as Terminal and Highrise, the MW3 maps are faithful remakes of the originals. So, if you’re looking for a nostalgia trip, MW3 multiplayer does just that. However, with all the changes to the series since the original rendition of these maps, such as new movement systems, weapons, and attachments, even remastered maps offer a radically different experience than what you might expect, as we quickly discovered for ourselves.

Unfortunately, some maps should’ve been left in the past. Considering the fast-paced high-octane action of MW3, maps like Derail can feel like a slog to get through. From our experience, despite the Team Deathmatch score cap being brought down from 100 in recent CoD games to 75 again, some maps are so big that the score isn’t reached, while maps like Rust shine due to how quickly you can win.

MW3 multiplayer: A player aiming and firing at an enemy in a hallway.

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer game modes

The majority of the MW3 multiplayer modes have appeared in nearly all modern COD games so it’s not surprising to see them return in MW3 multiplayer. However, one mode in particular stands out – War Mode from COD WW2 (2018). That’s right, War Mode has finally returned thanks to MW3 multiplayer in 2023.

Another notable mode is Cutthroat, a brand-new 3v3v3 competitive mode added to MW3 multiplayer at launch. Here, you’ll only have one life per round, with the simple goal of eliminating the enemy or capturing the overtime flag.

From our time playing Cutthroat, it’s certainly an interesting addition. It keeps the competitive energy of a mode like Search and Destroy while removing the necessity of another objective. However, if the match goes on for too long, teams can attempt to capture the Overtime Flag to win the match.

Check out our guide to the MW3 modes to find out about all the game modes you can play, how they’ve changed, and which ones are missing or on their way next.

MW3 multiplayer: An infographic showing all the MW3 Operators you can get at launch.

Call of Duty MW3 multiplayer Operators

In MW3 multiplayer, there are 25 new Operators to choose from in the base game, as well as the existing selection of MW2 Operators that are transferred forward. The new MW3 Operators are:

  • Price: Nemesis Reactive Skin is available by purchasing the MW3 Vault Edition.
  • Ghost: Nemesis Reactive Skin is available by purchasing the MW3 Vault Edition.
  • Blueprint: Available by default.
  • Rocket: Available by default.
  • Byline: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Scorch: Unlocked after completing a challenge in Modern Warfare Zombies.
  • Ripper: Unlocked after completing a challenge in Modern Warfare Zombies.
  • Pathfinder: Unlocked after completing the Crash Site campaign mission.
  • Warrior: Available after purchasing the Call of Duty Endowment “Warrior” Pack, available November 10.
  • Riptide: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • BBQ: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Jabber: Unlocked after completing the Danger Close campaign mission.
  • Jet: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Warden: Operator (Nemesis Reactive Skin) available by purchasing the MW3 Vault Edition.
  • Makarov: Operator (Nemesis Reactive Skin) is available by purchasing the MW3 Vault Edition.
  • Blaze: Available by default.
  • Thirst: Available by default.
  • Alpine: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Enigma: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Bantam: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Doc: Unlocked after completing the Highrise campaign mission.
  • Raptor: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Corso: Unlocked after completing the Reactor campaign mission.
  • Swagger: Unlocked after completing a challenge in multiplayer.
  • Lockpick: Available on PlayStation only, when pre-ordering the Digital Standard or Vault Edition.

Several of these new Operators are unlocked through the MW3 campaign mode and by making your way through the MW3 missions list. So, if you want to collect them all, you’ll need to spend some time outside of multiplayer, unfortunately.

Likewise, each Season brings new Operators and new characters can be purchased from the shop too, though these involve parting with hard-earned cash to acquire.

MW3 multiplayer thoughts

The overall consensus is that MW3’s multiplayer is a much better experience than MW2’s online portion, delivering a lot of the changes that fans had hoped for. Unfortunately, some issues still plague the game, like the MW3 server status showing that packet loss issues still cause plenty of lag and problems.

Unfortunately, MW3’s Metacritic score doesn’t give the multiplayer the praise it deserves due to how much the game’s maps and mechanics feel like a copy-paste of last year’s entry. The PS5 version of the game is currently sitting at an average of 56 from critics, while players have given it an exaggerated 1.6 score. There’s no way that MW3 deserves a 1.6, but Metacritic users are known to review bomb titles, giving games an unfair score.

However, that doesn’t negate our and other player’s complaints. Not only is it an expensive game for what you get, which is essentially an advanced map pack, but the issues and bugs that plague the experience can truly ruin it. Double XP tokens can be wasted as you crash out of the game frequently, and other issues affect modes like MW3 Zombies.

Over time, we hope that these issues are resolved, but all eyes are on Treyarch’s next Call of Duty game to renovate the series to new heights. That being said, it’s very possible that we’re finally seeing CoD fatigue, as we believe that paying out $70 every year for essentially the same game is getting tedious, to say the least.

Another noticeable issue is weapon balance. With so many MW3 guns, it’s a shame that only a small handful are viable in the current meta, particularly the MW3 Holger loadout, MW3 BAS-B loadout, MW3 Rival-9 loadout, and the MW3 MCW loadout. These weapons absolutely dominate the rest of the arsenal, though changes are already being made to help balance things. For example, the SMG class is getting buffed, so keep your eyes on the best MW3 Striker loadout.

That’s all there is to know about MW3 multiplayer in Season 1, including all the important changes and new features, as well as all the maps, modes, and Operators at launch and beyond. We suggest taking a look at our MW3 meta guide to get a good headstart, or by picking up one of the best PS5 controllers or best Xbox controllers for a competitive edge. Read our Modern Warfare 3 VPN guide if you want to get the most out of your online experience with this game.