The Modern Warfare 3 Map Problem

By now, I’m sure most of you have noticed that Modern Warfare 3 just isn’t as fun as some of the previous Call of Duty titles.  I know I sure have.  Hell, I loved Black Ops to no end, and I played it for nearly a year straight.  So why then, when I bought MW3, did I almost immediately dislike it?  That’s the question I’ve been pondering non-stop for the past month or so, and I think I’ve finally found the answer.

And it's not just the screaming kids...

See, when people say that MW3 sucks because it’s just more of the same, it doesn’t sound quite right to me.  Because I loved Black Ops so much, more of the same may have been a disappointment, but it would have by no means killed the game for me.  In fact, by this point I’m begging for more of the same, because what I see is a reduction in quality, and that’s something I just can’t stomach.  Hell, I can handle pretty much the same game repackaged and sold to me again as long as it was a game that I liked.  But to take an old formula and somehow make it worse?  That’s where I get mad.  So what did MW3 do wrong when in the past they’ve done so right?  It’s the maps.  The maps are what make MW3 suck so badly.

Fuck you Good Guy Greg, I'm going all-out Scumbag Steve on this one...

I used to think that maybe it was just Battlefield 3 that ruined me on the MW3 maps, due to the size difference.  And sure, after playing those gigantic BF3 maps you’re bound to feel a bit claustrophobic in Call of Duty.  And while I think that plays a part in it, I think the problem lies with a fundamental breakdown in level design.  Maps are such an integral part of multiplayer shooters that to bungle them, you bungle the entire game.  I still hold out hope that any future DLC will have better maps, but that still doesn’t fix the problem at hand.  Every map that came with the game suffers from the same fundamental problem, and I know why it is.

This is plausibly the only level I like in the game...

See, people have complained about camping for ages, especially since you can no longer watch your opponent’s screen and prevent him from sitting around killing you all day.  And camping can be rather annoying.  But it is greatly abated by something Call of Duty has had for years: the killcam.  When you are killed, you get to see how your opponent did it.  If he’s camping in a certain spot, you’ll see it.  And if you have any sort of ability to strategize, you’ll be able to counter it next time, turning his immobility into predictability and be able use it against him.  But, as gamers tend to do, complaints about camping never ceased, and in an admirable attempt at listening to fans, I think Call of Duty worked to reduce camping even more.  And though this is a laudable goal, it worked against them in a major way.


See, Infinity Ward though they’d reduce camping by removing any places to hide on the maps.  They thought that by allowing multiple entrances into every spot, no one would feel safe to camp and they’d be forced to get up and move around.  And while to an extent reducing camping is a good goal, what they in effect did was create nothing but maps with circular flows.  This means that the games go pretty much like whirlpools, with people running in set patterns around the levels, flowing through it like water.  This served to create the negative perception people have about Call of Duty, that it is just a run-and-gun game with no strategy.  Because if Infinity Ward eliminates all strategic points on the map (to reduce camping) what they really do is reduce all semblance of strategy at all, leaving people to frantically run because nowhere is safe.  Mix that with the fact that the maps are tiny, and you’ve got a good game of laser tag, but nothing more.

This is Seatown, but they all suffer from the same problem.

I get that they wanted to reduce an annoying problem, and I understand that camping can be that problem sometimes.  But I believe the Killcam addressed the camping problem sufficiently, and I think any further work to discourage it simply served to reduce gameplay options to the point that everyone must run, all the time, always.  And if you are on the run all the time, there are no strategic ways to hold positions or fight over strategic areas.  It becomes less of a battle and more of what kids do with toy guns in the woods, just run around like idiots until they get bored.  In fact, to hold strategic positions in MW3, you’d have to have a good team who works together well just so you could cover the multitude of entry points that are present in every area.  That’s right, you’d need good teammates in a game of MW3, which brings us to our next category:

A formula like Call of Duty was tweaked to near perfection.  They had done so many things right and improved in so many ways over the years.  They had created the preeminent FPS and were the biggest seller out there by far.  And then Infinity Ward came along and fucked the scales up so badly that they sold us a terribly off-balance game.  Sure, it’s got great weapons and other cool things in it, but with the gameplay so skewed and the maps so terrible, the styles of combat are greatly reduced.  Without camping or big maps, there really is no reason to even include sniper rifles in the game.  Without places to hide, the introduction of easily obtainable killstreaks overpowered the game.  And without the ability to properly use strategy in your gameplay, there really is no reason to be playing MW3 at all.  The maps are the fundamental problem here, and a simple patch won’t fix it.  They have to reevaluate how they design their levels, and hopefully whatever the next installment of CoD is can redeem what was once a really fun franchise to play.  But until then, they’ve broken the balance, and the blame falls squarely on Infinity Ward’s map design.

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2 Responses to “The Modern Warfare 3 Map Problem”

  1. I dont have anything to add, nor have I played the multiplayer of MW3. However, from a general FPS perspective I think that was a very good observation on how multiple entry points all over the maps create just a frantic, run and gun game. Honestly, I don’t have that big of a problem with campers, and I didn’t know it was such a big problem in the prior CODs.


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