Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the lowest-scoring Call of Duty ever

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has launched as the worst-reviewed game in the franchise’s history, Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising, though – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was originally planned as an addon for Modern Warfare 2, at least that’s according to Bloomberg which published an article in February of this year. Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier stated that his sources said the project began life as a major expansion for Modern Warfare 2 before morphing into a full release which aimed to feel “like a standalone, full-price release and also an extension of Modern Warfare II”.


Activision is denying this, however, saying that it was always planned as a “premium” release. Aaron Halon of Sledgehammer, the developer of Modern Warfare 3, claims that some developers might have been confused because MW3 is a “new type” of direct sequel that allows certain content, such as weapons, to be carried over.

Halon also put out a statement on X, saying:  “We’re proud to be the team to lead the way on Modern Warfare III. We have worked hard to deliver on this vision which has been years in the making. Anything said to the contrary is simply not true – this is our game and we cannot wait to play it online with all of you.”

But Bloomberg disagrees with part of that statement. According to them, Modern Warfare 3 was hastily transitioned into a full game to plug the gap caused by another Call of Duty title being delayed. While the standard Call of Duty development time is around 3-years, Bloomberg said there sources within the team claim that MW3 was made in around a year and a half, though the true timeline is hazy because the original plans were “rebooted” into a new globe-trotting adventure.

“The reboot ate into the schedule and forced the developers to complete the new campaign in roughly 16 months — the shortest development time for a new Call of Duty game in years,” said Jason Schreier.

Whatever the truth of the game’s development, the facts of the matter are that it is currently the worst-scoring Call of Duty in the history of the franchise. On review aggregation site Opencritic it currently holds a combined score of just 56, with only 4% of critics saying that they would recommend it over most other games released this year.

Over on Metacritic, the story is much the same. Metacritic applies different “weights” to reviews from larger sites such as IGN which muddles its overall scoring compared to Opencritic, but Modern Warfare 3 sits at just 53 at the time of writing. Before this, the worst Call of Duty games sat in the low 70s, such as Vanguard.

There is an important caveat, though: several reviews are only accounting for the singleplayer campaign which was accessible a week before the game’s full launch. There’s a chance that if the multiplayer portion is spectacular then the overall score could rise by quite a bit.


Simon Cardy of IGN pulled no punches in his review of the campaign, giving it a measly 4 out of 10: “Underbaked, rehashed, and cobbled together from multiplayer parts, Modern Warfare 3’s single-player campaign is everything a Call of Duty story mode shouldn’t be.”

Gamespot was only slightly less destructive in their review. Giving Modern Warfare 3 just 5 out of 10, they said: “Although its narrative setup is enjoyable, Modern Warfare 3 can’t get out of its own way, with nearly half of the missions being the underwhelming Open Combat style. The bumpy pacing and abrupt ending make Makarov’s big return a disappointment, dragging Modern Warfare 3 down as the weakest entry of an otherwise strong reboot series.”

Billy Givens handled the review for Gaming Trends, covering both the multiplayer and campaign before scoring it a 2.5 out of 5. He writes “…Modern Warfare 3 is the most substantial step back for a franchise that has been inching forward for nearly a decade. The short and forgettable story isn’t remotely absorbing, and its multiplayer has no identity in an ever-expanding sea of more unique shooters. But hey, at least you can spend $20 for a celebrity skin. So maybe it’s time for the company to nix the campaigns altogether and just rebrand the series as what it really is at its core now: a storefront with a multiplayer mode attached.”

Digital Spy also covered both the multiplayer and the campaign in their coverage, and weren’t overly impressed, either. They gave it a 3 out of 5: “If you play Call of Duty for the campaigns, you might be disappointed, but if you’re like pretty much everyone else and play everything else the smash-hit franchise has to offer, it might be a fun distraction.”

Jordan Middler of VGC dished out a meagre 2 out of 5, stating that: “Whether it’s the thrown-together, truly poor-quality single-player offering, the reliance on classic yet familiar multiplayer maps, or wider franchise issues like high skin prices and massive download sizes, Call of Duty feels like it’s swerving out of control.”

The VGC review ended by noting that this disaster has left new Call of Duty owner Microsoft in an unenviable position. It’s a salient point because while Microsoft had absolutely no control over the newest Call of Duty game, it’s still the first entry in the world-famous series to be released under their umbrella. Microsoft will be intent on making sure this mess isn’t repeated in next year’s Call of Duty game, although people calling for the series to take a break will be sorely disappointed – the Call of Duty machine will continue churning out annual releases.