As Activision gears up to release the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, marketing has been centered around re-introducing an iconic character. Vladimir Makarov, the villain of the original Modern Warfare trilogy is set to return in the 2023 entry. Veteran fans of the franchise will remember him for his compelling characterization, brutal tactics, and how he willed the world into complete chaos and violence. Some of the subject matter around him even made mainstream news headlines. Several major outlets reported on the controversial “No Russian” Campaign Mission back in the day with the original Modern Warfare 2 in 2009.

Makarov’s last major on-screen appearance was over a decade ago in 2011, so there has been plenty of time for fans both old and new to anticipate the character’s arrival into the Rebooted Modern Warfare timeline.

Makarov’s History in the Classic Modern Warfare Games

Modern Warfare 2, MW2, Makarov, No Russian

Makarov in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered

In the Original Timeline, Vladimir Makarov earned himself a spot at the top of the CIA’s Most Wanted Terrorist List. He started his career as a Russian Paratrooper, but later became radicalized and joined up with the Russian Ultranationalists. The Ultranationalists – as their name implies – are a hyper-patriotic Terror Organization who are hellbent on keeping Western interference out of Russia, at any and all cost.

During the events of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, they are led by Imran Zakhaev, a Russian arms dealer and revolutionary. During their time working together, Zakhaev and Makarov would unleash a Nuclear Bomb in The Middle East which killed 30,000 U.S. Marines.

Makarov Versus Our Heroes in Call of Duty

As Makarov rose to power, he eventually made himself known to the SAS Bravo Team. Bravo Team was comprised of such iconic characters as Captain Price, John “Soap” Mactavish, and Gaz. At the end of the game, the team is nearly defeated by Zakhaev and his forces. Gaz is KIA and Price is later captured off-screen but Soap is able to successfully take the shot which kills Zakhaev.

After Soap kills Zakhaev, Makarov develops a passionate vendetta against Bravo Team, whose surviving members later reform as Task Force 141. Makarov leads the Ultranationalists to victory in the fictitious Second Russian Civil War, which concludes by August 10th, 2016. Even after his immense rise to power, he still does boots-on-the-ground work with his own Terror Cell.

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No Russian

Makarov and his men in the “No Russian” mission, through the eyes of PFC. Joseph Allen.

Early on in the Modern Warfare 2 (2009) Campaign, General Shepherd of the U.S. Army scouts the talents of PFC. Joseph Allen and recruits him for a special mission within the CIA. In this mission, Allen adopts a new identity and is placed undercover deep within Makarov’s Terror Cell. With Allen present, Makarov and a small squad execute a terrorist attack on the Russian Civilian population. The crew executes a mass shooting at the Zakhaev International Airport, located in Russia. Throughout the attack, the team uses American weapons and Makarov instructs his men “No Russian”, and they speak in English. Right as the team extracts, Makarov shoots him at point-blank range. Makarov leaves Allen to die and his body is identified as a CIA asset, pinning the blame for the attack on The USA. As Makarov says, “When they find that body, all of Russian will cry for war”.

Call of Duty: World War III

After the discovery of Joseph Allen’s body, tensions between the U.S. and Russia reach a boiling point. All-Out War breaks, with Russia attacking several locations around the Western World. During World War III, Makarov and his men commit several war crimes including Chemical Weapons Attacks and the use of Truck Bombs against civilian populations. The latter is seen through a devastating mission where players take the role of a father filming home videos on vacation with his wife and daughter. All three are killed during the explosion.

The Ultranationalist Russian Military invades several cities which suffer heavy military and civilian casualties. However, attacking several cities with great significance like Washington DC, New York, Paris, Hamburg, and London is not enough for Makarov. He seeks the launch codes to Russia’s Nuclear Arsenal and kidnaps the Russian President’s teenage daughter in an effort to get them. Thankfully, she is freed relatively unharmed and Makarov is unsuccessful. Eventually, the war ends and Makarov hides out in The Oasis Hotel with a large detachment of his men before the building is stormed and Makarov is killed by Captain Price.

The New Makarov

Modern Warfare 3, MW3, Makarov, Red, Promotional Art, Promo

Image of Makarov from Modern Warfare 3 Promotional Material.

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Makarov has been far more mysterious in the new Modern Warfare timeline, having only been briefly mentioned at the end of MW2 (2022). Still, from the post-credits scene and the Makarov Reveal Trailer released on August 9th, 2023, we know Makarov is a menace to the world. Modern Warfare 3 marketing material has described him as the ultimate threat. In the aforementioned trailer, Captain Price warns that Makarov is “a force of evil, who seeks to tear the world apart piece by piece. To him, every ally is a weapon; Every bystander a shield.” Though unclear how we know from the ending of MW2 that Makarov has made himself known to Task Force 141.

In the new timeline, Makarov is also affiliated with the Ultranationalists and presumably heads them after the death of Zakhaev. Makarov is also the commander of Konni. Konni is a Russian PMC who has already engaged in terrorist activity during the MW2 story, including their attack on Shadow Company and Siege on Vondel. Konni has made quite an enemy with Shadow Company, even going so far as to invade and take over Building 21 and Ashika Island. Konni doesn’t have allegiance to the enemy factions in Modern Warfare 2 either, as they have wiped all Las Almas Cartel presence from DMZ‘s Koschei Complex, a chemical weapons manufacturing facility. They also fight against Al-Qatala in Al-Mazrah. All of Konni’s actions so far align with Makarov’s means and motives in the Original Trilogy.

No Russian 2.0

Modern Warfare 2, MW2, No Russian, Phone, Makarov

In the Modern Warfare 2 post-credits scene, we saw the beginnings of this version of Makarov in action. The brief scene shows an unknown man aboard a Russian Airliner, assembling a handgun resembling a Glock with 3D-printed parts. The man then texts someone listed as “M” on a burner phone. Once it’s clear he’s ready to execute the plan, Makarov texts him those two infamous words; No Russian. In this instance, the Act of Terror seems to be the hijacking of a plane rather than a direct attack on a mass of civilians. It is unclear what the intention is with this plane, but it will certainly be destructive and have massive implications in the story of Modern Warfare 3.

Makarov Reveal Trailer Breakdown

The Makarov Reveal Trailer doesn’t have a lot of details on this new version of the character, as it serves more as a tone-setting teaser for Modern Warfare 3. Through most of the video, Makarov is faceless, brooding, and apparently respected. We see him being escorted through a Russian prison. As he moves through the prison, the group escorting increases in size. Other prisoners stop what they’re doing as he passes, and either watch in awe or stand at attention.

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Surprisingly, the trailer also included our first looks at gameplay, though they are very brief. One of them shows an unknown operator rappelling up the wall of a large, castle-like structure and gearing up to stealthily kill an unsuspecting guard. Eagle-eyed viewers pointed out that the exterior here greatly resembles the Gulag section of the Warzone Verdansk Gulag map. The structure could very well be the prison Makarov is being broken out of in this trailer. Alternatively, there was a Campaign Mission in the Original MW3 – “Stronghold” – which saw members of Task Force 141 stealthily breaking into a Castle which Makarov used as his hideout for some time.

The next section of gameplay includes a look at another familiar Verdansk location. The exterior of the Verdansk Stadium is ablaze. Inside the stadium, civilians run in terror through the stadium as bodies line the walls, through the first-person perspective of a panicked member of the crowd. We get another look at this Mission in the Gameplay Reveal Trailer and saw the members of Task Force 141 trying to stop Makarov’s men as they target civilians. There are also a few shots in another location of Russian Paramilitary near the wreckage of a crashed Airliner, guarding the area and disposing of bodies in the ravaging flames. This could be the aftermath of the No Russian post-credits scene in MW2, but time will tell.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Releases on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S on November 10th, 2023.

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