MW3: Release Date, Early Access Campaign, Zombies and Everything We Know

By Klein Felt Posted:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 logo, Zombies

As Call of Duty (COD): Modern Warfare 3 marches its way onto PlayStation, Xbox, and PC, here is everything to know about the latest entry into the storied franchise, including how to get early access, what Activision is doing with Zombies, and when it will release. 

Modern Warfare 3 (more colloquially referred to as MW3) marks the 21st mainline title in the long-running series and the second to sport that same title. 

Serving as the first narrative continuation to come a year after its predecessor in franchise history, MW3 marks Sledgehammer Games' second COD game on the current generation of consoles after 2021's Call of Duty: Vanguard

Call of Duty MW3 Release Date: When Is It Coming Out?

Call of Duty MW3 Keyart

Call of Duty: MW3 is currently slated to release on Friday, November 10. 

Gamers looking to get in on the action have several versions of the game to purchase/pre-order if they feel so inclined. 

The Standard Edition (for PC only) comes in at $69.99 USD, the Cross-Gen Edition for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X is also $69.99 USD, and the Vault Edition will run players $99.99 USD (via Activision). 

Pre-orders have been live since early October, with gamers getting access to some additional content for purchasing early. 

Every MW3 pre-order comes with the Soap Operator pack for Modern Warfare 3, Warzone, and Modern Warfare 2. This digital bounty of goodies comes with the "Unmasked Soap" and "Masked Soap" skins along with the “Shadow Siege” blueprint.

Also, PlayStation gamers who pre-order MW3 digitally get access to the Lockpick Operator Pack. This PlayStation-exclusive operator sports PlayStation blue tactical gear as well as weapons blueprints that also have the same blue color. 

Coming along with the super-sized Vault Edition is the Nemesis Operator Pack with four skins; Ghost, Price, Makarov, and Warden, the Season 1 Blackcell (which comes with a Season 1 battle pass, Exclusive Blackcell battle pass sector, 20 Battle Tokens, a new Operator, new weapon blueprints, 1,100 COD Points, and Exclusive cosmetics), two Weapon Vaults, bonus tier skips, and early campaign access. 

As first reported by Bloomberg, Modern Warfare 3 allows players to "bring over content from last year's game:"

"The new game, 'Modern Warfare 3,' will continue the story and allow players to bring over content from last year's game. Original plans were for 'Modern Warfare 2' to get two years of support. This new one's led by Sledgehammer with support from Infinity Ward, Raven, and others."

While the game was "originally planned as a premium expansion" to last year's Modern Warfare 2, it has "[morphed] into a full title" with deep connections to the 2023 title:

"Following new leaks, Activision tonight confirmed that this year's Call of Duty Modern Warfare will be a continuation of last year's game, as Bloomberg previously reported. It was originally planned as a premium expansion before morphing into a full title."

When Is MW3's Early Access Campaign Releasing?

Call of Duty MW3 Campaign

While MW3 releases officially on Friday, November 10, fans get an early start on the game's campaign. 

For those who pre-ordered, the Modern Warfare 3 campaign will be available to play starting at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, November 2. 

Pre-loads for early access start 24 hours earlier at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, November 1. And with an expected 80-gigabyte download for the upcoming title, gamers will want to get that pre-load going as soon as they can. 

This early access will only make the campaign for MW3 available, with other modes like multiplayer and Zombies being locked until the game is officially out. 

The Modern Warfare 3 campaign is expected to run 7-10 hours, with one of the biggest innovations in this year's title coming in the "Open Combat Missions" the development team has been touting in the run-up to launch. 

During an August interview with Xbox, campaign creative director at lead developer Sledgehammer David Swenson broke down these "Open Combat Missions," highlighting that gamers can "tackle a mission objective however [they] want to:"

"'Call of Duty' campaigns are known for these epic, cinematic, storytelling, narrative-driven missions that take the audience on a thrill ride and Modern Warfare III has all of that. But we’ve also added Open Combat Missions that provide opportunities for you to tackle a mission objective however you want to do it according to your playstyle.”

This will allow for an "incredible level of choice" for the player, something that has not been a significant part of the traditionally linear Call of Duty campaigns up to this point:

“This year we have, what I would say, is a huge innovation for campaign in 'Call of Duty.' We call it Open Combat Missions, and they are missions where we add this incredible level of choice and opportunity to the player.”

Player interest in the Call of Duty campaigns has been on the decline in recent years (according to Ars Technica). So this early access will give those itching to get into the game a chance to play the direct continuation of MW2's story without the worry of falling behind in the hyper-competitive COD multiplayer environment. 

MW3's Zombies Details

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies

After a disappointing return of the Zombies formula in 2021's Call of Duty Vanguard, MW3 will feature a more fully-fledged take on the classic COD mode. 

However, one thing will be significantly different in this particular battle against the undead.

Instead of the traditional round-based gameplay the Zombies mode is known for, MW3 Zombies will instead be a riff on the uber-popular extraction-shooter genre akin to MW2's DMZ mode.

To expound, while gamers may be used to going up against Call of Duty's brand of the undead round-after-round ad infinitum, MW3's take on the mode will feature eight squads of three set free in an open zone, trying to collect resources and escape while keeping zombies at bay. 

The Modern Warfare 3 Zombies map, dubbed Urzikstan, is the "largest Call of Duty Zombies map ever" (via the game's official announcement) with 11 primary points of interest. 

The MW3 Zombies story will directly follow up on the events of Black Ops Cold War's Dark Aether storyline with the mysterious Operation Deadbolt being conceived as the solution to MW3's zombie outbreaks.

Just because the team at Sledgehammer Games is mixing up the Zombies formula does not mean core features will be absent from the mode, however.

It has been made clear Zombies Mode mainstays like the mystery box, perks, and the pack-a-punch machine will all be present, with new additions like Cold War's perk leveling system making an appearance as well. 

Which Maps Are in MW3?

Call of Duty MW3 Multiplayer Maps

At launch, Modern Warfare 3 will feature no new multiplayer maps for gamers to compete in. Instead, the title will sport remade versions of all 16 maps from 2009's fan-favorite Modern Warfare 2

This means classic Call of Duty locales like Terminal, Rust, and Favela will all be playable with a new next-gen coat of paint. 

The full list of MW3 launch maps can be seen below:

  • Highrise
  • Sub Base
  • Estate
  • Terminal
  • Wasteland
  • Afghan
  • Rust
  • Underpass
  • Invasion
  • Karachi
  • Quarry
  • Skidrow
  • Scrapyard
  • Rundown
  • Favela
  • Derail

The MW3 devs have also confirmed (via Dexerto) that over the year following the game's release, it will receive 12 new multiplayer maps on top of these remastered classics. 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 comes to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on Friday, November 10.

- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.