Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 developer Sledgehammer Games has finally lifted the lid on what it’s got in store for PS5 and Xbox players clamoring to get into MW3 Ranked Play, which is set to arrive with the Season 1 Reloaded update on January 17.
Mirroring MW2’s ranked experience, this year’s mode will once again revolve around 4v4 matches “using the same settings, maps, and modes as the Call of Duty League.” This is excellent news for those fancying themselves the next Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter. Available once you reach level 55 which, let’s face it, you probably achieved a while back, MW3 Ranked will grant you access to every unlockable item in one of the best FPS games. That’s if it hasn’t been restricted in the official CDL competitive rules. By the way, friendly fire is enabled in this mode, so funny business isn’t advised.
As with last year’s game, you’ll be assigned both a rank and a Skill Division when you first load in. Your rank is a permanent value that will increase as you earn stars across seasons. Meanwhile, everyone will start their ranked grind in Bronze 1 for the first season, necessitating the accumulation of Skill Rating (SR) to climb all the way up to the Season 1 cap of Diamond 1. At the end of each season, you’ll be set back three ranked tiers – a soft reset that ensures you earn your place back in the Top 250 time and time again.
Sledgehammer says that “being inactive, disconnecting from matches, and engaging in repeated friendly fire” will result in SR penalties. When queuing up then, make sure you’re free of distractions, are using one of our recommended Modern Warfare 3 VPN options, and aren’t a dick in-game to give yourself the best chances of reaching your peak. If you’re balling out consistently, you can also earn yourself a Hot Streak, signified by a flaming rank that lets everyone know you’ve got your carry pants on. The rank is lost should you lose or 72 hours elapse.
As for the included MW3 Ranked modes, you can look forward to the classic competitive trio of Search & Destroy, Hardpoint, and Control. Across the three modes, the map pool includes a mix of Highrise, Invasion, Karachi, Skidrow, Sub Base, and Terminal.
Players of a certain vintage will probably come over all nostalgic – if you haven’t already drowned in the nostalgia MW3 provides with its lineup of remastered Modern Warfare 2 (2007) maps. Playing competitively in arenas like Karachi will no doubt dredge up memories for some players of early MLG esports events and GameBattles tournaments – which is fitting, given the historic service is sadly due to cease operations a couple of days before Season 1 Reloaded and Ranked Play kick-off.
Of course, what is a ranked mode without shiny incentives? Winning your first 50 MW3 ranked matches will yield cosmetic goodies, as well as a weapon blueprint for the Pro Issue Gutter Knife at various milestones. Likewise, at the end of each ranked season, there’ll be separate Skill Division rewards. These will range from an emblem for those in Bronze & Silver, all the way up to operator skins, weapon charms, and calling cards for those who reach the zenith of the ranked ladder.
Needless to say, it’s great to finally have ranked back in CoD. While popping off in standard lobbies is all well and good, there’s no better way to test yourself than against those of equivalent skill. The promise of a few extra cosmetics might not sound particularly enticing for many, but if there are weapon blueprints and operator skins to be had, we’re locked in.
The introduction of ranked will hopefully also relieve some of the pressure on MW3’s biggest issue – matchmaking. Since launch, the backlash against the shooter’s perceived use of a skill-based matchmaking system has been considerable. This has left many fighting for their lives in games where they were hoping for a more casual experience. With the most die-hard players hopefully heeding the call to go and attain ranked glory, match quality for those hopping on for a quick game or two may improve, though we’re still expecting to see plenty of sweats running around.
With that being said, MW3 multiplayer has, for the most part, been a far better experience mechanically than its predecessor. In our Call of Duty MW3 review we praise “the faster-paced action and higher health” that this year’s game has brought with it, meriting a spot on our best multiplayer games list (let’s not talk about the poor campaign). Now a new CoD ranked season is on the horizon, there’s a lot to be excited about despite MW3’s shaky start.