Captain Price is a standout from the Modern Warfare franchise.
Image via Activision

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Trilogy – The Story So Far

The first two entries in the Modern Warfare Trilogy have been thrilling. Get a refresher before jumping back into the thick of it in Modern Warfare 3.

The rebooted Modern Warfare franchise’s story has been a gripping tale of companionship, sacrifice, loyalty, and betrayal. All the classic characters from the original trilogy have made their way back into the picture. They are blazing a new legacy for themselves, redefining how we, future generations of Call of Duty fans, will imagine them.

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Modern Warfare 3 is on the horizon, and if it lives up to its namesake and closes out this story, then you’ll want to be all caught up on what’s happened so far. From the introduction of Alex Keller to the return of Simon “Ghost” Riley, there’s a lot to catch up on. Fair warning – It’s a long tale, so grab a snack before you start scrolling.

Modern Warfare (2019) Story Recap — What To Know Before MW3

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Modern Warfare (2019) starts with Officer Alex Keller on a covert mission in Verdansk, Kastovia. He and a team of Marines attempt to steal away with a shipment of chemical gas that they believe was set to be unleashed in Urzikstan. The party is attacked by mystery assailants before they can get out, though. The Marines are killed, and Keller is forced to fall back. The fallout from this failed mission threatens to shake things up with the Russian Federation, so the squad’s Handler – Kate Laswell – recruits Captain John Price to help handle things and restore the relationship.

Evil doesn’t wait long, though, as only 24 hours later, Kyle “Gaz” Garrick is sent to London’s Piccadilly Circus to investigate the threat of a terrorist attack. His unit intercepts a suspicious van shortly after arrival, and a sequence of suicide bombings absolutely wrecks the surrounding area. Garrick gets things under control with Price’s help, but the damage is already done.

Modern Warfare Recap: Farrah Karim & Urzikstan’s Liberation Force

Sometime later, Keller is deployed to Urzikstan and instructed to work with Farah Karim. She’s a leader of a rebel cell in the country and needs help deposing the Russian military groups that have massacred her people.

The leader of those groups, General Roman Barkov, is personally responsible for terrible things in Karim’s past, so she agrees to work with Keller to recover the stolen chemical gas as a way to earn the US’ support in her fight. Alex joins up with Farah and her brother Hadir to wipe out a nearby compound, sealing their alliance and gaining the trust of the Karrims and their people.

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Meanwhile, Price and Garrick discover that the group Al-Qatala is responsible for the attacks in London, and the two lead a raid on the group’s London home. This is where they first catch wind of “The Wolf” Omar Sulaman and ultimately discover that he’s operating out of Ramaza Hospital in Urzikstan. Keller is dispatched to the hospital and, with the help of the infamous Demon Dogs Special Forces unit, detain The Wolf and take him into custody. Of course, this doesn’t last long, as another leader of Sulaman’s forces, Jamal “The Butcher” Rahar, launches an attack on the United States Embassy and steals their leader right back.

All of the main movers of the story team up and ambush the group as they escape down Urzikstan’s “Highway of Death,” but they’re interrupted by Roman Barkov’s troops, who are shooting at both of the warring parties. The battle is brought to a violent end when Hadir is revealed to have led the attack on Alex Keller’s Marines at the start of the game. ULF’s backstabber detonates the chemicals and wipes out Barkov troops and Al-Qatala militants alike. Keller and Farah Karim make it to safety, though the latter is shaken by her brother’s actions.

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A flashback triggered by the gas reveals that Farah and Hadir’s father was killed during the first invasion of Urzikstan. The siblings fled but were ultimately captured and imprisoned in Barkov’s camps for a decade. This is where Farah’s hatred of the Russian militant stems from, and another flashback explains that Price is the reason she’s free today, as he helped her spring a jailbreak from the camp she was stuck in. Farah, Keller, and Price take up arms against Oman Sulaman and ultimately kill him in their raid on his homebase. Hadir is nowhere to be found, though, meaning the United States’ lead on the chemical gas is completely dead in the water, and the U.S. government blames Farah and her army. Keller remains loyal to his new companion, remaining in Urzikstan to further her efforts.

MW (2019): St. Petersburg Attack, Price’s Dark Side

The battle then moves to St. Petersburg, where Garrick and Price have intercepted information on an attack against the Russian Federation. The two, alongside new ally Nikolai, sniff out the attack and apprehend The Butcher before anything too serious happens. However, Sulaman’s right hand refuses to talk, and Captain Price threatens the unthinkable — pointing his gun towards the man’s family to coerce him into speaking. Rahar reveals that Hadir is planning an attack on Barkov’s Estate in Moldova.

Garrick and Price track down Hadir and capture him for interrogation, but Barkov’s men show up right on time and make life harder for everyone. It’s a thrilling race to Exfil, but ultimately, the entire team makes it out unscathed. Hadir agrees to turn over information on Barkov’s gas factories, but Laswell turns him over to the Russians instantly, as she wants to wash her hands of his involvement at all.

Modern Warfare: Ending The Fight, Zakhaev Emerges

The strange-found family of Price, Garrick, Keller, and Karim all gather together in a raid on Barkov’s facility in the country of Georgia, with the former two planting explosives around the campus. At the same time, Alex and Farah head off Barkov and stop him from escaping. The fight again picks up, and Keller’s detonation device for the aforementioned explosives is critically damaged. He volunteers to stay behind and manually detonate them, giving his life for the cause. Farah successfully hunts down Barkov and kills him before he can flee, ending her people’s conflict.

Captain Price and Laswell have another meeting after the dust settles to discuss putting together a Special Forces team to combat the emerging threat of another terrorist leader, Victor Zakhaev. Together, they create Taskforce 141 and select Gaz, Simon “Ghost” Riley, and John “Soap” MacTavish as its founding members.

Modern Warfare 2 (2022) Story Recap: What Happened in MW2?

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Modern Warfare 2 gets things started quickly, just like its predecessor. Taskforce 141 is under the supervision of General Shepherd as they conduct a series of attacks on Iranian militants. During this time, an American missile strike kills local General Ghorbrani as he hosts an arms deal in the middle of Al Mazrah. His second-in-command, Quds Force representative Hassan Zyani, begins funneling money into operations against the US as payback against the country for the assassination. This activity triggers the attention of Shepherd and familiar face Kate Laswell. They send Taskforce 141 to Al Mazrah to capture the insurgent, but they ultimately fail, learning that he only had an American missile in his possession.

MW2 Campaign: Los Vaqueros & Shadow Company

The Cowboys of Modern Warfare 2, Los Vaqueros are a lethal group of Mexican border soldiers.
Image via Activision

Meanwhile, John Price and “Gaz” Garrick track one of Hassan’s allies in Amsterdam. The pair learn that the terrorist leader has teamed up with the Mexican Las Almas Cartel and is hiding somewhere around the United States-Mexico border. Enter Colonel Alejandro Vargas and Sgt. Rodolfo “Rudy” Parra, the commanding duo of Los Vaqueros. The two team up with Ghost, Soap, and another new unit in Shadow Company — a group of private military contractors who are also being commanded by Shepherd. The face of that force, Commander Phillip Graves, leads the way as the unlikely allies capture Hassan. Unfortunately, they are forced to let him go due to the threat of a political disaster. Still, they secretly stick a tracking device on his cellphone and keep tabs on his location as he flees to Spain.

Gaz, Laswell, and Price come together again to lead a raid on a Las Almas backed fishing hatchery there and ultimately uncover that the cartel holds Russian-developed GPS devices for the stolen American missiles from before. However, there’s no time to act on that information as Al-Qatala forces take Laswell hostage. General Shepherd urges Gaz and Price not to retaliate but leaves the decision to them. Together, they travel to Urzisktan and meet with old friends Nikolai and Farah Karim.

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On the other side of the world, Alejandro Vargas and Soap capture “El Sin Nombre,” the leader of Las Almas. Her real identity is revealed to be Valeria Garza, a former squadmate of Vargas. She reluctantly turns over the location of the missiles, bringing TF141, Shadow Company, and Los Vaqueros together once again. They are successful in stopping the missiles from launching, but in a familiar twist, Graves and Shadow Company betray their compatriots at the orders of General Shepherd. Vargas is captured, the Los Vaqueros base is raided, and TF141 flees into Las Almas. Shadow Company gives chase, brutally killing innocent people along the way. It takes a combined effort from all of the heroes, but they eventually manage to free Alejandro and the Vaqueros, setting the stage for a huge clash.

Modern Warfare 2: Why Shepherd Betrayed TF141, Makarov Revealed

In time, Kate Laswell explains that General Shepherd and Shadow Company led an illegal missile transport the previous year. Everything went wrong when the Russian private military faction Konni Group attacked, stealing away three missiles away from the Americans. Price has a tense confrontation with Shepherd and promises to hunt him down when their current threats are dealt with. TF141 and Los Vaqueros retake the base that Shadow Company stole away from the Mexican group, killing Phillip Graves in the process. Valeria also reveals that Hassan, the man responsible for setting off this whole chain of events, is hiding in Chicago. Together, the team kills Hassan and stops his villainous plan in its tracks.

While all of that is wrapping up, General Shepherd goes into hiding, as he knows that Price is serious about his promise. As the dust settles, Laswell briefs Taskforce 141 on an Konni Group update where Price identifies their leader as the dastardly Vladimir Makarov. A post-credit scene shows Russian terrorists preparing to hijack a plane when they receive a text that instructs them “No Russian” during the attack.

MW2 Spec Ops & Multiplayer Story Continuation – Hadir’s Fate, Alex & Graves Return

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The story continues from this point via Spec Ops missions, where Price, Laswell, Farah, and Gaz hunt down the last known whereabouts of Alex Keller, which leads them to a Soviet Era nuclear base that houses stolen warheads. They eventually find him Alex alive, and he reveals that Hadir has assumed control of Al Qatala operations. Together, they track Hadir down, though he gets mortally wounded while trying to escape. In his final moments, he urges Farah to use his stolen Warheads on the Russians, as he believes they’re going to lay waste to Urzikstan.

The story is furthered in Multiplayer and Warzone as well, as it’s revealed that several months after the conclusion of the campaign, Valeria has escaped custody, and Vargas is sent to track her down and recapture her. Several weeks later, another terrorist attack is orchestrated in Vondel, a city in the Netherlands. The town is forced to evacuate, and a military group, the Peacekeepers, seizes control of the area. Kate Laswell rounds up mercenaries to fight against this unknown terrorist cell, buying time for her to research their origins and goals.

Image via Activision

During this time, Philip Graves (believed dead) resurfaces and meets with Farah and Alex to suggest Shadow Company and the Urzikstan Liberation Force come together to fight back against the incoming Konni Group invasion of Al Mazrah. In Operation: Rogue Arsenal, Graves rallies all of the combined forces for an attack on the Konni-controlled Zaya Observatory.

Missiles are used to bring the house down so that Shadow Company can raid a bunker hidden underneath and rescue more chemical gas canisters from the hands of Makarov’s people. The base gets unstable, though, and Shadow Company is forced to flee through collapsing tunnels. Most of the soldiers make it out alive, but one of the exfil planes is hijacked by undercover Konni Group operatives who are working under Makarov’s orders. This sets the stage for Vladimir’s big entrance back to the franchise in Modern Warfare 3 and leaves plenty of questions for players to ask heading into the future.


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Alec Mullins
Alec Mullins is a freelance writer for Gamepur who specializes in FPS games. They spend their time writing novels, listening to The Mountain Goats, and watching the Call of Duty League. Alec's previous work can be seen at TheGamer and Dexerto, and he can be contacted via Twitter (@LifeAsAlec).