I'm not asking for an opinion of which is better, but rather, what are the ACTUAL differences between the two games gameplay? they are very similar, how do they differ?

Does one have killstreaks and the other a different system that's similar? Do both have weapon customisation that allows you to enter matches with different load-outs, or do you start with default equipment in one?


There are actually several differences, almost too many to list, but I'll give it my best shot! Here's a brief rundown of the type of gameplay for each game.

Battlefield 3

  • Large maps capable of 12vs12 matches (Xbox 360/PS3), or 32v32 (PC)
  • Vehicle warfare consisting of boats, jets, tanks, and HMMWVs
  • Four Classes to choose from (Recon, Support, Assault, Engineer)
  • Generally slower paced battles due to the size of the maps
  • Able to play with your friends in Squads of 4
  • Gametypes include Rush (Assault/Defend objective), Conquest (Capture points and hold them), Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch (Up to 4 squads of up to 4 players compete for the highest score), Squad Rush (Rush, but with one squad of 4 vs another squad of 4), and Hardcore gametypes (All game modes with limited HUD, friendly fire, and faster deaths)
  • Destructible environments (Able to destroy entire buildings in some cases, killing anyone caught inside)

Modern Warfare 3

  • Smaller maps allowing for more twitch-based gunplay
  • Kill Confirmed mode (Your kill doesn't count until you collect a dogtag dropped by your target)
  • Kill Streaks
  • Perks enabling faster acquisition of kill streak rewards, sprinting longer distances, able to swap weapons/reload faster, etc.
  • No vehicles

There are more differences, but I can't think of any more off the top of my head. Here are some similarities between the two:

  • High level of customization, with each weapon having several unlocks (extended mags, grips, sights, etc.)
  • Complete challenges to earn XP and advance in Rank, unlocking additional weapons

While both games are extremely fun in their own ways, it really depends on what you're looking for in a shooter.

enter image description here

I would like to note that this image is in no way attempting to show which of the two are better, but rather it is meant to show the theoretical age groups you're more likely to be playing with in each game.

  • Also, why were the bullets spaced differently? I tried fixing it, but had no luck. – Niro Dec 30 '11 at 17:35
  • Actually the map size and number of players is not really relevant. you make it sound as if they are not considered both small. Surely MW3 is smaller but nowadays 32 vs 32 is average. 12 vs 12 can't be considered anything but small. – Chobeat Dec 30 '11 at 17:40
  • Thanks for that. I forgot that the PC had 32v32 compared to 360s 12v12. – Niro Dec 30 '11 at 17:45
  • ah ok, i never played BF3, but i always knew it had pretty big maps. There was something weird about it having just 12 vs 12. – Chobeat Dec 30 '11 at 20:52
  • I haven't played MW3 yet but based on previous COD titles the level of destruction you can cause is a significant difference between the titles. – Daniel Ballinger Dec 31 '11 at 17:43

Tristan's answer covers most of it, but I'll elaborate on some more differences:

  • Team play vs individual play: In BF3 there is lot of items and actions that are meant for helping out your teammates, not you directly. You have enemies spotting. You have Assault healing and reviving, you have Support proving ammo, you have Recon laser designating targets, you have Engineer fixing vehicles. On the other hand in MW3 it's all about getting more individual kills, some MW3 players even get annoyed at getting their kills "stolen" by teammate.

  • Tactics vs reflexes: In BF3 you can get impressive results using tactical moves like flanking or getting nice elevated position overlooking the objective. With maps varying in size so much, lot depends on choice of attachments, as it's quite different to engage enemy at distance to engaging in CQB. On the other hand in MW3 it's more about being in constant movement and being quicker to get headshot than your opponent, most players have their set of favorite attachments which they'll use on any map, as they are all what you'd consider CQB by BF3 standards.

  • Objectives and score vs kills and streaks: Most good BF3 players play objectives (capturing flags in Conquest, arming/disarming m-coms in Rush), there are no kill streaks and ppl camping for high K/D rather than playing objectives are frowned upon. You can get to be MVP with much less kills than other players, as playing objectives is worth lots of points. In MW3 however in most game types win depends on amount of kills, so in MW3 it's perfectly valid winning strategy to go high K/D and get even more kills using kill streak bonuses.

  • Realistic weapons and attachments: Although this doesn't directly affect gameplay, some people do find it important for weapons to be modeled after real-life ones. This is the case of weapons in BF3. They are modeled after ones that are commonly used, also in single/co-op correct factions use correct weapons, so you have for example Iranians using KH2002, Specnaz using AS Val and AN-94 etc. The attachments are also modeled after real life ones. Their behavior is more realistic. On the other hand in MW3 you have some quite exotic weapons, in the single/co-op the opposition uses totally mismatched weapons (Specnaz using FAMAS??). Weapons' behavior is highly unrealistic (quick-scoping, no bullet drop), and most of the attachments are not modeled after any real-life ones.

Of course that doesn't make either of them less fun. It just depends on what kind of gameplay are you looking for. If it's fast paced, individualistic simple shooter, then it's MW3, if it's slower paced, more complicated and realistic tactical shooter, then it's BF3.


There are a great many differences between the two games. For example, Battlefield:3 is much more open. It is considered more realistic because it has a whole new level of game play. Most of your game-play environment can "blow up". There are vehicles and planes. The game has bigger maps and different game modes. Call of Duty on the other hand traditionally has smaller maps with some planes/helicopters but they are awarded through kill streaks.

In both games you can have customized classes however in battlefield you have 4 main classes that you can customize weapons geared towards that specific 'type'. Such as Engineer class will have sub machine guns mainly with repair tools and rocket launchers. While the sniper class would have sniper rifles and detection gear. Both games have weapon customization and each specific gun can be leveled up to unlock things like new sights for the weapons.

So to sum up: Battlefield: 3 -Bigger maps, More 'realism', no kill streaks, tons of vehicle combat, and speicalization benifits. Typically slower paced gameplay. Call of Duty: Modern Warefare: 3- Smaller maps, Kill streaks with each planes, etc. Less vehicles. Typically faster paced gameplay.

Planes in battlefield: enter image description here Killstreaks in Modern Warefare enter image description here

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