E3 2011: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer hands-on
Spec Ops was one of my favorite inclusions in Modern Warfare 2, but I had complaints. While the mode was challenging and pushed players to hone their skills, the levels were all truncated snippets of portions of the single-player campaign, which put the team in the position of having to craft the game based around the restrictions of the singleplayer campaign’s level design. It certainly worked and I spent hours trying to better myself, but I craved more openness. At E3, I got a chance to sit down with one portion of Modern Warfare 3‘s revamped Spec Ops suite, survival mode.
I dropped in with a member of Activision’s QA team riding shotgun. Survival is a wave mode where enemies swarm out at players incrementally, ala Gears of War or Treyarch’s zombies mode. Working together, players must hold their ground against increasingly more challenging waves of enemies. We started out with just pistols, but the first few enemies fell quickly since they were armed with shotguns that couldn’t compete against our range. Foes were dispatched and shotguns were collected for personal use. Once the round was over, our scores were tallied on the screen and in-game cash was awarded. Cash is rewarded not only based on how many kills and assists you have, but also on if you can complete certain objectives during the round. If you can pull off a kill streak or land a certain amount of headshots, you’ll earn more money that can be used for better equipment.
After a few rounds, our enemies changed tactics. They were soon wearing Kevlar and armed with AK-47s. It was time to upgrade our equipment. We needed a little help so we picked up a mobile turret and set it up. The turret auto-fired on our enemies and helped us cover an exposed flank. It couldn’t have come at a better time. We were camped out in a corner of Dome, the demo map, and had three potential directions our foes could come at us from. My play partner covered one exposed area, I covered another and our helpful turret covered the third. The enemies didn’t stand a chance, but after a wave got sliced down by the turret, the next assault team changed tactics. They went directly for it, with five of them rushing, all of them concentrating their fire on the turret and ignoring us. This changed the flow of the fight as it was now as much about protecting the turret as it was about protecting each other.
It was at this point that the enemy called in the bigger guns. A helicopter came in and aggressively pursued us across the map. We took refuge in some nearby shelter and started peppering it with shots, but it the helicopter backed out of range of our assault rifles and started to lay waste. I went down, but fortunately the helicopter moved to try to get a better angle on my partner and he was able to revive me. I used the moment to sprint across an exposed court yard and to dive into another building. With the helicopter focusing its attention on my teammate, I was able to do enough damage to knock it out of the sky.
My least favorite enemy in the entire history of video games (at least since I first played Resident Evil) then showed up – the dogs. For whatever reason, I’m incapable of taking down dogs without taking serious damage. The dogs came out and we got through the wave, but I went down again. After another revive and restocking our ammo using the funds that we purchased, we were attacked by another round of dogs. Only this time, they were dogs strapped with C4 that exploded upon their death. This time, my teammate went down and I had to clear the room by myself. I started to sweat. I threw a couple flashbangs out and then shot at a dog that was mixed up with some enemy soldiers. Their momentary blindness gave me just enough time for the dog to explode, taking them all out with them.
And then more came. This time, we faced Juggernauts, heavily armored enemies that only die with headshots. Flashbangs were the trick and we were able to execute the first few, but gradually, regular enemies started to be replaced by swarms of Juggernauts – and these too were soon replaced by Juggernauts with shields. We holed up in the dome on which the map is named, each guarding one of the two entrances, when shielded juggernauts appeared from both sides. Out of flashbangs and with nowhere to go, I fell first. My teammate was able to revive me, but then he fell. I sprinted quickly out of the room and worked my way around a nearby forklift. I managed a miracle headshot against one of the juggernauts and took him down, but not without sustaining some heavy damage. The other juggernaut was aware of where I was and closing in. No time to recover, I prayed and sprayed to no avail. The Juggernauts took us down.
What was most impressive was that we played 13 rounds of the game and I had no idea how quickly time passed by. The QA guys told me to keep in mind that the game was still in alpha development stage, but I honestly think they could ship this map today and it would be better than most shooters that are out now. Of course, there are certainly balancing tweaks that need to be performed and I didn’t have enough time to toy with the game and figure out how to exploit it, but it’s safe to say that fans will dig this. What bums me out most about all of it is that I have to wait all the way until November to exact revenge on those damn Juggernauts.