Ruining work productivity on November 8, the game is widely expected to continue the franchise's trend of breaking its own entertainment launch records. First it smashed records with Modern Warfare 2, then went ahead and obliterated those with last year's Black Ops. Can it pull off the three-peat?
We won't know for certain until after the midnight launch parties die down a bit, but we know plenty about the game already. Here are five things you should know, too.
It's a worldwide war.
Modern Warfare 3 scoops up even more frequent flier miles by letting players shoot it out from New York to Somalia, with pitstops in hot spots like London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, and Dubai. That even includes a stop at Wall Street to take out a radar installation , uh, 'occupying' the New York Stock Exchange. Though it likely won't pack the controversial punch of Modern Warfare 2's notorious 'No Russian' level, expect plenty of cinematic wow moments over the course of the game's campaign.
It's got new modes.
If you play the single-player at all, that is. The majority of players will probably be picking this bad boy up purely for the multiplayer. The good news is that they'll have some cool surprises waiting for them.
One of the game's buzziest new modes is 'Kill Confirmed,' which plays out like a typical Team Deathmatch, but requires that players snag the dog tags of downed enemies for the kills to count. Should your teammates grab your tag before the enemy does, the kill is denied. Take out four guys with an amazing grenade toss? You better grab their dog tags, too, or it doesn't count.
If you prefer to play co-operatively, the new 'Spec-Ops: Survival' mode is the way to go. Waves of enemies will come pouring in at your and your buddies; take them out to gain funds, which you can then spend on a wide range of defenses. Think Gears of War's Horde mode or Halo's Firefight and you've got the picture.
It's a package deal.
Players will now choose one of three 'Strike Packages' — Assault, Support or Specialist — which reward different play styles. Prefer to focus on completing objectives rather than just gunning down foes? You'll rack up "Pointstreaks" either way, which will unlock different abilities for the three different packages. The result is a game that rewards more play styles — and more players.
It's a number-cruncher.
Launching alongside Modern Warfare 3 is Call of Duty: Elite, a service that keeps track of every bullet fired and offers all sorts of advice to turn you into a Call of Duty pro. It comes in two models: a free version, which grants access to robust matchmaking features, stat tracking and loads of guides and tips, and a subscription-based service that includes all sorts of cool extras for the Call of Duty die-hard, such as early access to downloadable content, daily tournaments with prizes, clan benefits, and more. Check out this handy chart for the specifics.
Should you pony up for the extras? It runs $50 a year, so that really depends on how seriously you take your Duty. Either way, expect Elite to make you a better player.
It's on pace to break records. Again.
Pre-orders are a good indicator for how a game might fare at retail — and Modern Warfare 3's pre-orders are already pretty impressive.
Earlier this year, both GameStop and UK retailer GAME noted that Modern Warfare 3 was on pace to outperform Black Ops, and though Activision itself has remained coy on the actual pre-order figures, they seem impressed with how it's shaking out.
"Call of Duty: Black Ops set records for the most pre-orders of a game," the company told us in a statement. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is tracking substantially ahead of that number."
Sound familiar? That's because Black Ops managed to outpace Modern Warfare 2 as well, and went on to breaks that game's launch sales numbers.