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All MW3 game modes and playlists

Here are all the Modern Warfare 3 game modes and their objectives, from regular Team Deathmatch to large-scale map modes like Invasion.

What are the game modes in Modern Warfare 3? We could play Team Deathmatch all day, but we can’t deny that it gets boring after the hundredth game. Not only does adding some variety to your usual batch of game modes keep things fresh, but you also become a stronger player by learning how enemies behave during different situations.

Our definitive list of all the MW3 game modes includes all modes that appear in the FPS game following the Warfare 3 release date, as well as what they entail. Of course, we expect the devs to regularly add more with their seasonal content drops every few months, and we’ll be updating our list of current game modes and active playlists in Modern Warfare 3 accordingly. So, if you’re looking to test your MW3 guns in all-new situations, now’s the time.

MW3 game modes

Here are all game modes in Modern Warfare 3:

  • Control
  • Cutthroat
  • Domination
  • Free For All
  • Ground War
  • Gun Game
  • Hardpoint
  • Invasion
  • Kill Confirmed
  • Search and Destroy
  • Team Deathmatch
  • War
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The attacking team must capture two points on the map to win the game. Both teams have 30 lives, forcing players to rethink how they approach combat as their respawns are limited. Attackers must capture both points to secure one point, after which the teams swap over so the attacks become the defenders. The first team to acquire three points wins.


Cutthroat is a 3v3v3 game mode that pits players against one another with just a single life each. Your goal is to either eliminate the opposing enemy teams or capture the overtime flag to win each round.


There are three objectives split into A, B, and C that teams must fight to maintain control over. It takes ten seconds to capture each point, but the enemy team can contest the point by standing on it at the same time. As teams hold an objective, they gain one point per second. The team that reaches the score limit wins the game.

Free For All

As the name implies, each player must fend for themselves as they fight against up to 11 other soldiers. The player with the most amount of points after the time limit ends wins the game.

Ground War

A large-scale battle involving ground and air vehicles that also includes points to secure and hold. As each team secures more points, the spawn locations on the map move further ahead to make the action more intense. While most game modes feature 6v6, Ground War is playable with up to 64 players.

Gun Game

While aspects of Gun Game change depending on the game, certain principles always stay the same. Players are given a weapon that they must land a kill with, after which the weapon transforms into a new gun. This weapon might be in the same class, or it could be something entirely different. As players progress through the levels, the guns typically get harder to use until you reach the last level where you have to kill someone using a knife.


Featuring the titular hardpoint zone, this location constantly moves around the map as teams fight to secure it. The team that secures the Hardpoint for the longest amount of time wins.


Invasion is Team Deathmatch on a massive scale – a 20v20 match, to be precise, with an additional 20 AI soldiers per team. Like War, Invasion plays out on a large purpose-built map to accommodate the sheer number of players in this MW3 game mode.

Kill Confirmed

Similar to Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed forces players to play aggressively as they hunt for dog tags scattered on the ground via player deaths. Pick up enemy dog tags to earn points for your team, and pick up your team’s dog tags to stop the opposing side from earning points.

Search and Destroy

If you’ve ever played Counter-Strike, this mode should sound familiar. One team must plant a bomb on the map in two designated zones, the other team has to defend against the attacking team. There are no respawns in this mode, and the defending team can lose if the bomb explodes before they have the time to defuse it.

Team Deathmatch

Eliminate the enemy team to earn points. Reach the score limit to win the game.


In War, two teams of 6v6 must attack and defend objectives within a large, purpose-built map. These objectives can range from securing a capture point to escorting a tank. War puts your communication skills to the test, as you coordinate your teammates to push back the enemy and take their position

MW3 playlists

In Modern Warfare 3, players can pick the exact game mode they want to play, but it’s also possible to select a playlist that contains a variety of game modes across the MW3 maps.

Here are the current playlists in Modern Warfare 3:

  • War
  • Cutthroat
  • Ground War
  • Invasion

A soldier in a gas mask crouches as an explosion goes off behind him in War, one of the MW3 game modes.

MW3 missing game modes

There are plenty of fan-favorite game modes from previous entries in the Call of Duty series that haven’t debuted with MW3’s launch. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be added later down the road.

Here are the game modes that could be added to Modern Warfare 3 in the future:

  • Headquarters


Teams must work together to fight to capture the Headquarters. Whoever holds the Headquarters has respawns temporarily disabled as they fight to defend the capture point from the enemy team. Once the Headquarters goes down, a new capture point is established somewhere on the map.

Those are all of the MW3 game modes available to jump into right now in the multiplayer game. Check out the latest MW3 weekly challenges to scoop up some easy XP while you play, as well as how to unlock MW3 camos if you’re after a flashy new skin. Last but not least, we’ve got the best MW3 loadouts to give you an edge, regardless of what MW3 game mode you pick.