Activison Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III multiplayer, out worldwide on November 10, apparently lets you murder people with marijuana. The detail was revealed in the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s decision summary for marking the first-person shooter as “mature,” and it seems like the natural evolution to smoke rings.
“The game includes a finishing move in which marijuana smoke from a bong can be forced into an opponent’s face,” the ESRB plainly states. “Badges/banners and character outfits also depict cannabis and/or smoking figures.”
From this limited description, I’d say MWIII isn’t attempting any commentary on the world’s anxious relationship to drugs, nor trying to suggest that smoking kills (though, as a finishing move, or one of the series’ complicated kill animations, it literally does). The finisher the ESRB details sounds like the Blowin’ Smoke kill from Warzone, in which players flex on their opponents by breathing a smoke cloud into their faces, except this one is less death by way of secondhand smoke and more “RIP to you after that bong rip.” The point is, I think, that smoking looks sick sometimes, especially if you’re a 17-year-old playing CoD.
Other reasons for the ESRB’s “M” rating (a Call of Duty game hasn’t been approved for teens since Call of Duty 3 in 2006) sound like more all-purpose CoD stuff, including “large explosions, screams of pain, and blood-splatter effects.” There are, of course, “terrorists (dressed as police officers and paramedics),” the ESRB writes, “shooting/killing fleeing civilians inside a stadium concourse; airline passengers getting shot on a plane; prisoners shot inside a cell.”
The game’s recently revealed Zombie mode—the beloved, macabre mode’s first time in a Modern Warfare game—also often results “in decapitation and/or dismemberment; large blood-splatter effects accompany these sequences.” The game will also reanimate every original Modern Warfare II multiplayer map, though those are less grounds for the ESRB’s concern.
In any case, you can watch all these mature video game qualities play out when Modern Warfare III releases on consoles and PC in November.
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Update 09/21/2023 at 1:30 p.m. EST: Replaced references to Treyarch with multiplayer developer Sledgehammer Games; removed “open-world” as a descriptor for MWIII.