Find out what the latest evolution of the chart-busting shooter is like to play.
Bullets ricochet off walls while smoke billows from burnt out vehicles inside a giant aircraft hangar on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Outside, army jeeps buzz around as squads of camouflaged combatants prowl through a debris-strewn car park on a dusty evening.
It looks every bit the Hollywood war zone, yet the cavernous space which hosted the filming of James Cameron's blockbuster movie, Avatar, is actually home to the two-day Call of Duty XP event. Here, thousands of fans – and eu.playstation.com – are getting their first taste of the radical overhaul of one of the biggest games around. Here's what to expect from the multiplayer modes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on PlayStation 3.
More features and options than you can shake a spent ammo clip at have been crammed into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. One of the cleverest ideas is also one of the simplest, as the Kill Confirmed mode offers you and your squad the opportunity to make up for tactical errors.
Whenever a teammate is taken down, he drops his dog tags, initiating a frantic scramble for them by both sides – whoever picks them up gains the points for the kill, confirming it. However, should the fallen player's own side retrieve his tags, the kill is denied and the opposing team misses out on the points.
Players of all skill levels can enjoy Kill Confirmed mode, as new strategies come into play to tip the balance in favour of risk or reward. Unclaimed dog tags could be used as bait to draw players into a trap, or you might see teams sweeping the streets as one unit to flush out enemies.
Joining Kill Confirmed is the intriguing Team Defender mode, in which two teams battle for the possession of a single flag. In the tight, twisting streets of London and Paris, this becomes one of the most tense offerings in the game, as elaborate traps can be sprung, with the attacking team funnelling the flag holders into dead ends and vicious firefights.
Joint developers Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games are keen to stress the need for a balanced experience. "When we took a closer look at certain modes from previous games, like Search and Destroy, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, we actually found that the top players were focusing on helping their team rather than just racking up the kills," Robert Bowling, creative strategist at Infinity Ward, says. "It was clear that Killstreaks were better suited to only one game type – Team Deathmatch."
Replacing the Killstreaks of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a new system called Pointstreaks. Rewards now come in three selectable strike packages, each offering a distinct set of special bonuses depending on your style of play. If you like to play as a walking tank, destroying equipment, vehicles and anyone foolish enough to get in your way, you'll rack up enough points for the Assault package.
Achieve nine kills and you'll gain access to a special strafing ability, while 15 kills gives you the awesome Juggernaut suit – which really is like strapping on armour plating.
Support bonuses are awarded to those who go all out to complete objectives for their team, such as tracking down a rival flag and capturing it. Crucially, points will continue to tick over even when a task is accomplished, and you can take your pick from boosts including bulletproof armour, reconnaissance drones and air attacks.
Topping off the list of nearly 30 Pointstreak rewards is the Specialist package. Hardened Call of Duty veterans will lick their lips at the prospect of perks designed to encourage solo combat skills – so you won't get any help from your team. Instead, every time you kill an enemy you'll unlock multiple bonuses at once, including the ability to cloak yourself from radar devices, nail targets at greater range and aim faster.
Weapons gain their own experience points (XP) as you use them, alongside the Pointstreak rewards. This XP can then be spent on special upgrades such as Attachments – letting you augment your gun with a torch or grenade launcher – the recoil-reducing Kick and much more, introducing a huge amount of variety to the way you tackle maps and modes.
With 16 maps, 40 weapons and millions of battle-hardened players around the world via PlayStation Network, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is set to be a thrilling PS3 experience when it launches in November 2011. Keep your sights on eu.playstation.com for more intel on the game.