It's a fair guess that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will follow in the footsteps of last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops, shattering sales records and bringing even more people to video games.
But it's typically not the single player campaign, that draws in those record-breaking numbers. While many, including myself, enjoy the Call of Dutycampaigns, it's the multiplayer that has managed to shift the Call of Duty franchise from a video game to something more akin to a sport.
People play pick-up games of Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2, even Modern Warfare, like they play games of baseball, soccer or shoot some hoops. Like it or not, consider it innovative or rehashed gameplay, the Call of Duty franchise has in many ways transcended what it is to be a video game.
So here's your first, unofficial look at what we can expect from the bread and butter, the heart of Modern Warfare 3 when it hits this fall. Do keep in mind that while the details of the game's single player campaign, first reported by Kotaku via inside sources and later seemingly verified with the official release of a trailer and matching levels, are likely mostly locked in stone, what is delivered with multiplayer could easily shift as the team works to polish and balance the game in the months leading up to release. Multiplayer is also often tweaked after the game hits. It also receives a number of downloadable content packs post launch. With the advent of Elite, that's even more likely.
That being said, here's what our inside sources are telling us is the current state of multiplayer.
The game's multiplayer will be divided into cooperative Special Ops maps and traditional multiplayer maps. There will be no zombie modes in this game, not a surprise since zombies were introduced to the Call of Duty franchise by Treyarch and have, so far, popped up only in the Treyarch-developed games.
Special Ops will include both a survival, horde-like mode and a mission mode, with a total of a dozen maps and missions to choose from between the two.
As we've previously reported, there are 20 maps being worked on for Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer.
It is unclear how many multiplayer and Spec Ops maps and missions will come with the game and how many will be sold at a later date as add-on downloadable content.
Key to the multiplayer experience is the ability for players to level up their characters and unlock perks to modify the effectiveness of their equipment, character and enemy equipment. The multiplayer matches also include killstreaks, which are special one-time rewards that are unlocked after a player kills other players a set number of times without dying.
As could be expected, developers Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games have been working to tweak both killstreaks and perks for Modern Warfare 3.
New perks coming to Modern Warfare 3 include:
Blind Eye: This makes you immune to computer-controlled and player-controlled killstreaks. The pro version makes your launchers lock on faster and gives you extra bullet damage to vehicles.
Assassin: This makes you immune to UAV, thermal, and heartbeat sensors. The pro version also makes you immune to CUAV, EMP and no longer shows your name in red or the crosshair in red when you're targeted.
Point Guard: Every two assists count as a kill towards your killstreak.
Dead Silence: You make no noise.
Recon: Gives you a special kind of radar to spot enemies, most likely. We're not sure on this one.
We're not clear on how many or which previous perks will be coming to the game, but it sounds like the ones that do return will do so from Modern Warfare 2, not Black Ops.
There will also be a bevy of new killstreaks to play with in multiplayer. Here's the rundown on the latest thinking:
EMP Grenade: Temporarily takes out all area electronics. Littlebird: A small-manned helicopter that can controlled and used to gun down enemies. [Updated] Precision Airstrike: Calls in an airstrike on a targeted area. Stealth bomber: Calls in a B2 Spirit to carpet bomb along a line designated by the player. Remote Turret: A remote controlled turret. Directional UAV: A UAV that can be directed into areas to scan for enemies. Remote Mortar: Direct a mortar team using a zoomable camera view of the map to call in strikes. Airdrop Trap: A booby-trapped airdrop. Ammo Resupply: An ammo reloading airdrop. Escort Airdrop: A protected airdrop. Specialist Strike Package: This one remains a mystery to us.
While it's likely that some of the killstreaks will drop out or be added in, we've been told that the team has decided to remove the controversial Tactical Nuke killstreak from the game.
Other tweaks being looked at by the team include making sure things like exploding barrels not counting toward a player's killstreak tally.
We've also learned, unfortunately, that this latest Call of Duty still won't support dedicated servers, instead relying on the hosted servers found in previous iterations of the game. Dedicated servers were removed from the Modern Warfare games starting with Modern Warfare 2. (Modern Warfare 3 appears to be using DemonWare for player authentication, just like with Call of Duty: Black Ops.)
Activision was contacted prior to this story's publication and declined to comment.