We've been gentle so far in our revealing of what we know about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. We've tip-toed through the minefield of spoilers, and tried to reveal only facts anyone would want to know. That ends here.

What follows is a detailed summary of what we understand are the events of Modern Warfare 3 described to us by those in possession of dozens of images from the game, as well as voice over recordings. While we haven't seen the game in action ourselves, we believe that the imagery and this plot description is accurate. That doesn't mean things can't change before release. Levels could be altered or completely cut before the game gets into your hands.

While we're still keeping some major, pivotal moments close to our chest—let's just say we know some things we wish we didn't know—we're about to lay the whole story out for you from beginning to end. Don't read on if you want to experience the narrative of Activision's bombshell shooter free from spoilers.

There are spoilers here. You've been warned.

Modern Warfare 3 opens as Modern Warfare 2 closed: The United States under siege by Russian forces, ultranationalist Vladimir Makarov on the loose, Captain John "Soap" MacTavish and Captain John Price wounded and on the run with the Russian informant known as Nikolai.

Fleeing to a safehouse in Dharmasala, India, the three are attacked by Makarov's men. In this firefight players take on the role of Yuri, a loyalist who works for Nikolai. Their safehouse compromised, the group flee the area in a helicopter.

The game then cuts to Manhattan where Russia is launching an attack on the city from a fleet of ships parked in the Hudson River. (It appears the famous U.S.S. Intrepid may be destroyed.) The U.S. calls in Delta Force to repel the attack. You take on the role of Frost, a Delta Force operative under the command of Sandman. Your goal is to take out a jamming tower on top of the New York Stock Exchange to open the area for a U.S. counterattack.

Following the mission, Delta flies out of the city on a Blackhawk, gunning down enemy choppers as they make their way to the harbor where they have to infiltrate and take down a Russian sub which is coordinating the attack.

The Campaign Settings of MW3
  • Dharmasala, India
  • New York, New York
  • A plane transporting the president of Russia
  • A town in Sierra Leone
  • London, England
  • Mogadishu, Somalia
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Paris, France
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • A castle in the Czech mountains
  • Berlin, Germany
  • The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Washington. D.C.

As the New York missions wrap up the game jumps forward in time half a year, thrusting players into the role of a Russian agent tasked with protecting the president of Russia as he flies to sign a peace treaty with the U.S. The plane is attacked by hijackers mid-air who attempt to kidnap the president and his daughter. The daughter manages to escape. The president of Russia in hand, Makarov vows to prevent a peace treaty by getting the launch codes out of the president and launching an attack against the U.S.

The game then returns us to Price, Soap and Yuri, now in Africa in a search for Makarov. They meet with a local South African arms dealer who tells them about a shipment of chemical weapons that Makarov is trying to buy. The group make their way to Sierra Leone to secure the weapons from African militia.

Where You'll Go, How You'll Kill, and Who Will Die in Modern Warfare 3S

Next, players take on the role of an SAS operative who is tasked with stopping a delivery of weapons of mass destruction at a London dockyard. A gun battle ensues, and the agents are chased through the London subway. The mission culminates with a series of unmarked trucks exploding in front of the house of Parliament, releasing a deadly chemical agent.

Several other European cities and military bases are hit by similar terrorist attacks backed by Russia, and the death toll rises to the tens of thousands. The series of chemical attacks opens the door for a Russian military blitz strikes across the continent.

Price discovers that the South African arms dealer who tipped them off about the chemical weapons deceived them and travels to Somalia to find the man and interrogate him. Through the arms dealer, Price discovers that Makarov's right hand man, Volk, is hiding out in Paris.

The game's attention next shifts to Hamburg, Germany where players take on the role of a U.S. tank gunner fighting to push back a Russian advance backed by armored divisions.

Where You'll Go, How You'll Kill, and Who Will Die in Modern Warfare 3S

As Hamburg falls, the game shifts us back to the story of Price and his crew. Now in Paris, players control Delta Force operative Frost who, with the help of the French special forces, leads an assault on Volk's location in the underground catacombs of the city. Next, players take to the sky supporting Frost's ground movements as a gunner in an AC-130.

After capturing and interrogating Volk, Frost learns that Makarov has a meeting in a Prague hotel. Players control Yuri as he and Soap slip into the Russian-controlled city and set-up an ambush for Makarov in a church bell tower. Makarov somehow catches wind of the trap and escapes. Soap, Yuri and Price then have to fight their way out of the city.

Yuri leads the team to one of Makarov's headquarters in the Czech mountains and the group infiltrates the location, looking for clues. They discover that the ultranationlist has the president and is trying to get the codes out of him. Makarov has also discovered the location of the Russian president's daughter. The group move out to Berlin to try and prevent her kidnapping. Playing as Frost, gamers must find the daughter and protect her, while making their way through war-torn Berlin. The daughter, however, is captured and flown away.

Frost next makes his way to the Kremlin where a task force of operatives attack and free the hostages, but Makarov manages to escape again.

The game's final mission occurs in Dubai, where Yuri, Price and Sandman launch an assault on a heavily guarded hotel, eventually finding Makarov and, yes, finally killing him.

It also appears that the game may also include a post-credits level that features the burning of Washington, D. C.

The stage seems set for a passing of the torch: from player-controlled members of Task Force 141 to the new characters from Delta Force.

We've contacted Activision for comment and will update the story when and if they provide reaction.

*Note, the audio in the video above comes from what we're told was something created for the game's presentation at the upcoming E3 show in L.A. next month.


Where You'll Go, How You'll Kill, and Who Will Die in Modern Warfare 3

Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer Features Battles in Brooklyn, Clash in Mogadishu

Packed with 15 levels set in locations around the world, from Manhattan to the catacombs of Paris, Modern Warfare 3's near-future campaign looks to be an experience that will top anything seen before in a Call of Duty game. More »


Where You'll Go, How You'll Kill, and Who Will Die in Modern Warfare 3

The Modern Warfare 3 Files: Exclusive First Details on the Biggest Game of 2011

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is coming Nov. 8, 2011, Kotaku has learned, delivering with it mammoth battles that engulf a dozen cities around the world including New York, Paris and London.
Multiple sources have shared details of the game's story, art, sounds and game modes with Kotaku, noting... More »