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A 13-year mystery around a secret Call of Duty MW3 ending is over

Captain Price's fate at the end of 2011's Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 could've been very different, as this new post-credits scene reveals.

MW3 post credits scene: Captain Price from the 2011 version of Modern Warfare 3 and a shot of Makarov pointing a pistol with flames behind him

I’m sure many Call of Duty fans would join me in wishing the ending of the current iteration of Modern Warfare 3 would change – that short and not-so-sweet campaign really was a dud, wasn’t it? Well, a new MW3 post-credits scene has been found, but not for the most recent COD game. After 13 years of theories surrounding some unused assets, an alternate ending for 2011’s Modern Warfare 3 has been discovered – and it sees the demise of Captain Price.

Yes, after more than a decade, a new ending for one of the best FPS games has been unearthed. Call of Duty modders Vlad Loktionov and ‘yoyo1love’ have managed to extract this axed alternate ending from the original MW3. While the main event of the game’s ending remains the same – Captain Price kills Makarov by wrapping a makeshift noose around his neck and crashing the both of them through a glass ceiling – Price’s victorious cigar smoking is short-lived. This brief post-credit sequence sees a mysterious figure appear behind Makarov’s swinging body, look at the scene for a few brief seconds, and then leave, before Price drops his cigar and his vision fades, seemingly symbolizing the captain’s death.

The person in question appears to be the mysterious ‘Shadow Man’, whose name was identified in a few files from the multiplayer game’s final mission, including ‘dubai_shadowman_enter’ and ‘dubai_shadowman_exit’. While the mission is called Dust to Dust, its in-game file name is sp_dubai, referencing its location in a Dubai hotel. All that was contained within the shadowman_enter shadowman_exit files were some eerie, echoey recordings of footsteps. And that’s where the trail of this mysterious character went cold.

Now though, we finally get to see Shadowman (and hear those footsteps) in this unearthed new MW3 ending.

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Given that Shadowman appears to be interested in the fate of both Makarov and Price, he would more than likely have been a new threat for the remaining members of Task Force 141 to face if Infinity Ward had made Modern Warfare 4. However, the studio’s next game after MW3 was Call of Duty Ghosts, which went down a whole new narrative path.

While a character called Shadowman featured heavily in Call of Duty Black Ops 3’s Zombies storyline, this appears to be unrelated to MW3’s mystery man.

As to how Loktionov and yoyo1love managed to pull this off, the COD YouTuber they initially shared their findings with, ‘MrDalekJD’, explains that it was “not possible until very recently due to an anti-cheat mechanism that was in the PC version of the game”, which has only now been circumnavigated.

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It’s crazy to me that such a huge potential twist has been hiding within the game for so long. The fact that this was able to be revived and that the assets were buried within the game maybe suggests that there were plans to make a sequel up until fairly close to MW3 launching. I’m personally a fan of MW3’s conclusion and the fact that the Modern Warfare trilogy ended when it did, so I’m not exactly disappointed by the discovery of this alternate ending. It is really cool though to see any kind of gaming mystery unraveled after such a long time – especially when it’s to do with some of the biggest and best games series, like Call of Duty.

So, we’ve taken you back in time, so what about a look ahead to the future of COD? Well, it looks like this year’s new game is heading straight to Xbox Game Pass on day one despite reports that Microsoft was still deliberating what to do with it. Also be sure to drop us a follow on Google News for more stories like this.