All Call of Duty Games to Play Before Modern Warfare 3

Modern Warfare 3 is going to be a unique Call of Duty experience. The game’s main storyline will push fans into uncharted waters, all while dangling the scent of something familiar just over our heads. We may be familiar with characters like Gaz, Ghost, Price, and the dastardly Vladimir Makarov, but we have no idea how their story will play out this time around.

That same strange blend will be present in Multiplayer, as all Modern Warfare 2 (2009) maps are making their return at launch. We’ll be taking over old stomping grounds with new weapons, strategies, and over ten years of shared experience. Not to mention that all of our MW2 (2022) and Warzone 2.0 gear will be rolling along with us thanks to the new Carry Forward system.

If November seems like too long to wait for you, we’ve got some ideas about which games are worth replaying to get yourself prepared for the beloved franchise’s next era.

Related: Modern Warfare 3 Details Revealed: Classic MW2 Maps, Zombies, Campaign Teaser

Modern Warfare (2019) & Modern Warfare 2 (2022)

Image via Activision

Okay, I’m going to get the obvious ones out of the way first. If you’re fuzzy on the details of Task Force 141’s rebooted story, then it’s certainly worth revisiting both Campaigns here. This current incarnation is the superior version in my opinion, and while no one will forget the original Modern Warfare 2’s ending anytime soon, we’ve got a more enthralling story in this series.

There’s high tension, higher stakes, and some of the most dynamic characters in Call of Duty’s long history. It’s all made better by the first game’s moral system, allowing you to shape parts of the journey as you play. Modern Warfare 2 introduced several exciting new characters and locations as well, all of which formed a nice bridge between where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Image via Activision

It’s easy to look back at older titles with rose-tinted glasses, but MW (2019) stands the test of time in every way. I replayed both games over the summer for our “Story So Far” recap, and it may have been even more fun this time around.

We’ll have a better idea about which Multiplayer experiences line up closest after Call of Duty Next, but knowing that movement was a big focus for Modern Warfare 3, I think getting a good dose of both prequels will set you up for success no matter what.

CoD Games to Revisit before MW3: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

John "Soap" MacTavish is an icon in the Call of Duty world.
Image via Activision.

Call this one predictable as well, but so it goes when game elements are being pul led directly into a reboot. Often thought of as Call of Duty’s pinnacle, the original Modern Warfare 2 is a special game no matter how you slice it.

Not only did it improve on the Call of Duty 4 formula which redefined the entire multiplayer FPS genre, but MW2 also delivered a stellar campaign that cemented Task Force 141’s place in the hearts of the fans. It’s been 12 years since we first experienced it, but the beautiful camaraderie, sickening betrayals, and excellent gunplay all help Modern Warfare 2 stand the test of time.

Highrise is one of Modern Warfare 2's most iconic maps.
Image via Activision.

No conversation about MW2 is complete without mentioning the maps, which is exactly why they’re all coming back in Modern Warfare 3. Some of CoD’s most iconic locations – names like Terminal, Highrise, Scrapyard, and Rust – debuted in this game and left an indelible mark on the franchise and the industry as a whole.

We may have left behind the days of picking a single attachment (or two if you had the Bling perk), but so many of Infinity Ward’s innovations here have stuck with all of the future releases, and for good reason too. Let’s not forget that this was the first CoD title where you could choose your own killstreaks. It’s classic, pure, and wildly unforgettable.

Whether you played hundreds of hours like I have, or you’re just getting to experience it for the first time, I envy every minute you spend running around the old stomping grounds.

Wild Card Choice – Call of Duty: Vanguard

Image via Activison

Vanguard may seem like an unconventional choice, but given what we’ve heard about the speed of Modern Warfare 3, it seems like Sledgehammer Games is cranking things back up a notch this year.

MW2 (2022) slowed down the franchise’s pace of play drastically, aiming for something more in line with classic titles, and its predecessor may have played a part in that. Vanguard is by far the most high-octane boots-on-the-ground game in the entire series.

Black Ops 4’s 5v5 playlists are a close second, but thematically, I wouldn’t be shocked if MW3 carries a little bit of that iconic, pure adrenaline SHG flavor. You won’t get much out of playing the campaign over again (it’s fantastic, just not very relevant), but hopping back into some MP matches wouldn’t be a bad idea to prepare yourself for the chaos to come.

Image via Call of Duty

Also, weapon-feel is something to think about. Each main studio has its own style of gunplay, and since there hasn’t been time for Sledgehammer to reinvent the wheel, it’s reasonable to assume MW3 and VG will share a similar ideology in that department.

That should take care of your trip back through the Call of Duty history books. If you’re looking for more info on Modern Warfare 3, check out our beta guide so that you’ll be set to get in the game as soon as humanly possible.

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