MW III Campaign Innovation Deep Dive: Open Combat Missions

Task Force 141’s rules of engagement changed to fight the ultimate threat. Learn from Sledgehammer Games and Infinity Ward about Modern Warfare III’s Open Combat Missions in this deep dive.

A New Campaign, a New Innovation: Open Combat Missions

Yesterday, we revealed some incredible footage of Operation 627, the first mission of the Modern Warfare® III Campaign.

The full Campaign is available up to one week prior to the game’s official launch on November 10, and is available through Campaign Early Access, included in all digital pre-order editions of Modern Warfare III (*1).

Campaign Innovation: Open Combat Missions in Detail

In the continued pursuit of innovation throughout Call of Duty, Modern Warfare III’s campaign introduces a new element: “Open Combat Missions.” A departure from traditional Campaign levels, these missions redefine player agency, offering an unparalleled degree of freedom and adaptability tailored to individual playstyles.

Unlike conventional levels, the Open Combat Missions transcend boundaries, empowering players with diverse strategies to achieve their objectives. Whether embracing the shadows with a stealthy approach or unleashing an all-out assault, the gameplay mechanics flexibly accommodate a spectrum of choices, enabling players to forge their own paths towards success.

And it’s something that David Swenson, the Campaign Creative Director at Sledgehammer Games, and his fellow developer Robert Pitts, Associate Director of Level Design, were excited to share as part of this Intel Drop:

Fixed Objectives, Open Combat

Open Combat Missions still have fixed objectives but how you accomplish them is up to you.

Although these missions begin with a set loadout, Swenson explains, you can find a variety of other equipment including additional weapons, Supply Boxes, and other opportunities to change or confirm your approach to what you think is “the most advantageous way to completing the objectives.”

“We knew we wanted a bit more opportunity for the player to craft their own experience,” said Robert Pitts, Associate Director of Level Design at Sledgehammer Games.

Pitts explains that Open Combat Missions are intentionally dispersed throughout the Campaign to create a seamless, intertwined experience between these and the traditional cinematic missions. These missions allow for free roam within enlarged mission boundaries, but in exchange, there are minimal checkpoints, which actually offers you additional opportunities to return to your mission infiltration to rethink your strategy.

Return to Gora Dam

The Intel Drop video showcases several Campaign Open Combat Missions, including one based at Verdansk’s Gora Dam.

Unlike the Gora Dam that players remember from 2019, the Gora River’s waters run deep in 2023. From atop the Dam, Simon “Ghost” Riley – who players control as part of this mission – must defuse several bomb sites in the vicinity of the dam, one of which is on a moving truck.

How Ghost completes this mission is in your hands.

Ghost is armed with a fully kitted-out Assault Rifle for weapons-free engagements, but also has a silenced Sidearm, a pair of binoculars, a lethal and tactical grenade, as well as additional equipment that may contain even more options for completing the mission. This is just Ghost’s infil ordnance; you have a wide variety of weaponry, armaments and other items to optionally gather as the mission progresses, and your tactics change and adapt.

Ten (of Many) Examples of What to Do in Open Combat Missions

In short, Open Combat Missions are not linear. They can be approached from numerous angles, including altering strategies at any point during the mission.

The longer story? Not inclusive of the moment-by-moment choices to be made within these missions, here are ten true-to-the-franchise actions and strategies to use in an Open Combat Mission, though the true number of options present to you is almost limitless, and only restricted by your tactical planning.

These all are not exclusive ideas; think of these as examples of what you can do in Open Combat Missions (in any combination or order you wish) to complete objectives.


Just like in “Operation 627,” remaining off the radar in Open Combat Missions is often a viable strategy.

In most cases, enemies are unaware of your presence. If you draw attention to yourself, such as firing an unsuppressed weapon or walking right up to them, they can either become suspicious or immediately enter an alert state in order to hunt you down (and those actively firing, or foes you’ve previously tagged show up as red markers in places like the Tac Map).

It’s possible in some (but not all) missions to remain completely off the grid during the mission… But you’d better believe it’s difficult to pull this off, especially on Veteran Difficulty!

Guns a-Blazing

Full-on, all-out assaults are common in Call of Duty’s history, and you can pull them off in Open Combat Missions, too.

High-energy, high enemy count, and highly-explosive, going with a Weapons Free approach may not only be a viable strategy, but necessary to mission success.

With that said, on this Campaign’s hardest difficulty settings – much like in Campaign’s past – be prepared to even the odds when you are outnumbered and outgunned by dozens of enemy soldiers, vehicles, and Sentry Turrets, by employing one, a combination of, or as many of the following methods of mission completion:

Using Your Loadout

Not only do you typically have a Primary and Secondary Weapon, Equipment (Lethals and Tacticals), and on-Operator gear like binoculars or NVGs, but another part of your Loadout – and new to this Campaign – is additional equipment:

Here, just like in Call of Duty: Warzone™, you can stow away loadout items like Field Upgrades, Self-Revive Kits, and Equipment pieces for later use, allowing you to use certain strategies more often like…

Picking up Enemy Ordnance

Rather have the enemy’s gun instead of your own?

Feel free; just like the more familiar Campaign missions, your Open Combat Mission Operator can use all kinds of armaments, including those dropped by enemies.

Scavenging for More

New to Call of DutyCampaign missions, it’s possible to find loose loadout items, item boxes, or even the ability to swap to another loadout mid-mission via special loadout crate.

Some of these resources will be in obvious locations, others – especially those that can lead to some interesting strategies – are a bit harder to uncover.

However, your efforts will be rewarded with additional versatility for completing the objective.

On Foot

Most Call of DutyCampaign missions involve boots on the ground combat, so if you rather go the traditional route in Open Combat Missions, very little is stopping you from standard Operator movements…

Or you can slide cancel all over the mission, but don’t expect Tactical Sprint to recharge whenever you do it.

Parachuting, Parkour, and More

Whether its jumping off the Gora Dam or mantling onto balconies, Open Combat Missions offer plenty of verticality and unconventional movement options.

In Water

If there is a body of water in an Open Combat Mission, you are free to dive into it and swim.

This could be a vital component of an overall stealth strategy or, perhaps, an alternate path to an objective.


Open Combat Missions often contain drivable vehicles, whether it is the armored SUV of the hostiles you just eliminated, or an idle four-wheeler with the keys already in the ignition.

And if you want to launch a C4-rigged ATV into an enemy helicopter, then there’s nothing stopping you except the noise and general chaos that this tactic may result in. 

Killstreaks and Interactable Items

It could be as simple as a throwable flammable gas canister, or as complex as calling for an air-to-ground missile – there is plenty more than personal armaments and vehicles to use for some serious firepower.

Remember: during an Open Combat Mission, you can change your approach at any moment. Just keep in mind what many Multiplayer veterans will tell you is key to mission success: Play to finish objectives.

Essentially, Open Combat Missions are based in ideals of player choice and challenge. You’ll be intentionally challenged by enemies in a variety of different ways, in part because “if you get no resistance as you’re going through, then there is no reason to try different strategies.” Pitts explains.

Though the resistance your adversaries bring is as impressive as it is varied, there is still a great deal of room to improvise your way to victory: “You may even decide to challenge yourself on some of these. Like, ‘What’s the fastest I can do this?’ or ‘Can I just bring a knife to a gunfight?’ and really push the bounds of what you can bring as a player.”

Next Mission: Call of Duty Next on October 5

With a deep dive into Open Combat Missions completed, let’s talk about what’s Next.

Call of Duty: Nextreturns on October 5, 2023, and can be watched live on the Official Call of Duty Twitch® Channel or Call of Duty YouTube® Channel.

With the help of Call of Dutydevelopers and community representatives, Call of Duty: Nextis the premier showcase for Modern Warfare IIIMultiplayer, a look forward to what’s coming to Call of Duty: Warzone™, as well as the livestream where updates from Call of Duty’s mobile experiences will be shared.

More intel on Call of Duty: Next will be shared in the coming weeks, but save the date – October 5, 2023 – for this epic event.

Modern Warfare III: Open Beta Dates

Call of Duty: Nextis also the prelude to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare IIIMultiplayer Open Beta. It will feature a variety of maps – both a selection of Core maps from the modernized 16 originals in Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 2(2009), as well as new experiences in Ground War – modes, and a litany of new loadout options to choose from.

NOTE: Carry Forward content will not be available in the Modern Warfare III Multiplayer Beta.

Both Multiplayer Beta weekends will feature Early Access days (*2)as well as an Open Beta period, and it will be First onPlayStation® without a required PlayStation Plus subscription (*3) (*4).

Internet access is required for participation.

More details are to come on the full Beta details, but start marking those calendars to include these important dates:

Weekend One – PlayStation® Exclusive

Available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, the first Beta weekend is scheduled to begin on Friday, October 6 at 10 A.M. PT and end on Tuesday, October 10 at 10 A.M. PT.

PlayStation Early Access: Those who preordered the game on PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5,can begin playing the Beta on Friday, October 6 at 10 AM PT.

PlayStation Open Beta: The rest of the weekend, from Sunday, October 8 at 10 AM PT to Tuesday, October 10 at 10 AM PT, is accessible to all PlayStation players regardless of preorder status.

Weekend Two – Crossplay

The second Beta weekend is for all platforms, and is scheduled to begin on Thursday, October 12 at 10 A.M. PT and end on Monday, October 16 at 10 A.M. PT.

PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5: This is a free Open Beta weekend for all PlayStation 4 and 5 owners, regardless of their pre-order status.

Xbox and PC Early Access: Those who preordered the game for Xbox Series X | S or on Xbox One, or who pre-purchased for PC via or Steam, can begin playing the Beta on Thursday, October 12 at 10 AM PT. An Xbox Live Core Subscription may be required for Xbox players, and a or Steam5 account is required for all PC players.

Xbox and PC Open Beta: The rest of the weekend, from Saturday, October 14 at 10 A.M. PT to Monday, October 16 at 10 A.M. PT, is accessible to Xbox and PC players regardless of their preorder status.

WEEKEND 2 OPEN BETA NOTE: An Xbox Live Core Subscription will not be required for Xbox players, for this period only.

Ready Up – Pre-Order Now

Lock in your pre-orders now to receive immediate rewards in Call of Duty: Warzoneand Modern Warfare IIas well as for Modern Warfare IIIlater in November.

Both physical and digital editions of the game can be pre-ordered on your platform of choice, with all editions detailed in our pre-order guide here.

For more details on everything coming to Modern Warfare III,read the full announcement here and stay tuned for further intel.

Stay frosty.

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