Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is officially this year's Call of Duty title, and ahead of launch, the team is running multiple beta tests across different platforms to gauge community feedback. The Xbox open beta is about to go live shortly, so we've been hands-on with the early access version to see how things are shaping up on the multiplayer front for CoD 2023.
The long and short of our time with the beta is that MW3 feels a lot like last year's Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, at least from a technical perspective. This is no bad thing - the bones of MW2 were absolutely fantastic and last year's CoD release remains one of the best-feeling FPS titles on the market. It's Sledgehammer Games at the helm this year though, so things have changed somewhat.
The team has made a concerted effort to speed things up this year - one of the biggest community complaints from last year's title was that things felt too slow to play, at least on the multiplayer front. MW3 encourages fast movement and a run & gun style of play, so if that's your thing, you'll probably get on quite well with this year's offering.
The faster base movement speed makes the new MW3 feel a bit more like an older COD title, something that extends to the content present in multiplayer at launch as well (and in this beta for that matter). For those of you who don't know, this year's COD contains every single multiplayer map from the original MW2, and five of those are present in the beta. We've got Rust, Favela, Estate, Highrise and Skidrow here - and we've been having a great time revisiting these classic levels.
Sure, it does feel like you're getting short changed a little bit with so much old and reused content, but at the end of the day these maps work for a reason and the standard of new, original maps in the series these days isn't at the same level anymore - for the most part anyway. We're already looking forward to playing the rest of these classic 2009-era maps in the full release, but if you're yearning for some new playgrounds to take names on, the team is bringing brand-new maps to the full game via post-launch seasons.
Weaponry has a 'throwback' feel to it as well. You've got versions of the classic ACR and UMP weapons from the original MW series, among others - although there are some new ones mixed in. Gunplay feels almost identical to last year's game, and this is where MW3 most feels like 'DLC' for 2022's MW2. Taking down enemies doesn't feel much different to last year — aside from a longer time-to-kill in MW3 — although you could arguably say most Call of Duty titles feel similar in the shooting department.
The modes present here are franchise mainstays too for the most part - we've had TDM, Kill Confirmed, Domination and Hardpoint to play around with since the start of the beta. There are no surprises with these, they all work well with MW3's fast and frantic style - we've probably enjoyed Domination and Hardpoint the most during our time with the beta. Search & Destroy, and a brand-new mode, have just been added to the rotation too, and we're curious to see how those feel once we've got more playtime in.
For the most part, the beta has been stable for us on Xbox Series X and PS5, and it's definitely worth a download if you're looking for something that closely resembles the final release - at least on current-gen. On Xbox, you have the option to use 120Hz with the right display, and the game will default to this higher refresh rate if it's selected in your console settings. If you can, we absolutely recommend playing at 120FPS - the added smoothness is lovely in a frantic FPS like this.
Modern Warfare 3 is turning into exactly what we expected as soon as we first heard about it - a glorified DLC package for last year's game that fully hones in on classic CoD nostalgia. However, that doesn't mean it's not worth your time - these maps remain a blast to play and the game's mechanics are further refined from last year's MW2. We're definitely hooked enough to want to try the full game out anyway, and we can absolutely recommend giving the beta a go to see if you too are pulled back in by these old school Call of Duty battlegrounds.
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Open Beta goes live on Xbox this Saturday, October 14. For the full beta release times, check out our guide down below.