Modern Warfare III Beta is sharp and shaping up to give us the best Call of Duty in a long while

It’s just over a month until we dive back into the world of Call of Duty and for now, the landscape seems pretty familiar.

Lots of guns, lots of shooting, and everything from Kill Confirmed to Domination. You know this drill.

One of the most interesting things out of all this is the MW3 Beta is getting an exclusive week headstart on PlayStation. Probably one of the last times this will ever happen with the Microsoft x Activision/Blizzard/King deal set to close as soon as this week!

The other, of course, is the return of those classic Modern Warfare 2 maps that are so beloved.

We’ve been able to dive in and check out the beta alongside those who’ve pre-ordered on PlayStation this weekend, though, and the good news is this feels smooth, fun to play, and as good as COD has ever felt.

The beta itself is pretty generous all told. While there’s the two playlists, there’s the five maps and modes across them. You’ve got the classic COD modes – Kill Confirmed, Domination, Hardpoint and of course, Team Deathmatch – in there, as well as some familiar maps from series history.

Estate, a familiar favourite from Modern Warfare 2 is back, as is Favela, Skidrow and yes, Rust. These maps have been given a more modern lick of paint but you’ll feel right at home on them if you’ve any familiar history with the series.

Everything looks and feels great. MW3 is shaping up to be a wonderful homage to the series over the past 20 years but with a user interface that is slick, easily navigatable, interactive and encourages regular play.

Kit yourself out with vast loadouts where you can level up weapons and adjust your gear, boots, and gloves. Set your killstreaks and tailor your experience with new additions like Guardian-SC which could be a really interesting equipment piece for future matches. It’s essentially a beam that stuns members of the opposing team when they step out into it.

I’m already seeing this used to great effect in Hardpoint and Domination when hidden around the corner and you’re trying to capture a point but are slowed right down to a snail’s pace.

There’s Daily Challenges for you to complete – ranging from getting kills with a Thermobaric to 15 kills with an SMG – all in the name of building your XP, levelling up and building up to that prestigious prestige.

Graphically, the game looks better than ever as gunfire spreads, grenades pop off and you’ve got wide visibility of an area. I don’t know whether it’s just me but I could spot where I’m getting shot from much easier than ever before from shines from a gun and movement from on high. I was able to respond better and stay focused on my goals.

Even using the preset classes makes it easier for you to be able to play the way that suits you best and it offers a lot more customization and possibility for when you dive onto the battlefield.

The classic, vintage modes work as well as ever and remain a pleasure to play so you can settle yourself back in and feel right at home. But it’s perhaps the Ground War people will be most interested in here which feels akin to Battlefield’s Conquest mode.

You ride tanks around, have to capture the five main power points on the map and engage in large-scale warfare. The map’s great with some excellent cover points but also some great outdoor spaces to get into some vehicular combat.

This ended up being my go-to mode over the weekend and the one I was performing best at. It just feels like a natural fit for COD and works so well in this setting, particularly when you’re also throwing in aerical combat into the fray.

Performance wise, I didn’t encounter any issues during the Beta. It might just be the smoothest Beta I’ve played in fact, but it’s a testament to the resources Activision have at their disposal and how COD is in such a steady, stable rhythm right now.

I didn’t struggle to find players yet, despite the beta not really coming into its own until next weekend when Xbox and PC owners can dive in as well and we can also really test out the cross-platform functionality.

Overall, to absolutely no one’s surprise, Modern Warfare 3 is already shaping up to be super solid. We’ll be back checking it out again next week when it opens up even further, but this has all the makings of being one of the best Call of Duty releases in years. I’m excited to see how the rest of the content shapes up when the campaign and open world zombies drop with the full release next month.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare III is out November 10th on PC, Xbox and PlayStation 

Modern Warfare III Beta is open to all PlayStation players until October 10. PC/Xbox owners can join from October 12 until October 16.

Code kindly provided by Activision/Blizzard for review purposes.

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