Modern Warfare 3 Dedicated Server Setup Guide

By   /   4 years ago

Want to set up your own Modern Warfare 3 dedicated server ? follow the instructions to set up your dedicated server and learn how you can get other people host and join that server.

The steps are pretty simple – install the files, configure your server, and get it online. The configuration part involves creating a recipe and a playlist.

Once your dedicated server is online, you will need RCON to control it. We will go step by step in this guide, so let’s get started. For more help on Modern Warfare 3, read our Weapons Equipment, Perks, Streaks, and Strike Packages, and Crashes troubleshooting guide.

Modern Warfare 3 Dedicated Server Setup

There are five steps to get your Modern Warfare 3 server online and they are:

  1. Create a Set of Recipes
  2. Create a Playlist
  3. Start Dedicated Server Executable and Console
  4. Set Up Playlist, Map Rotation, and Go LIVE!

Step 1 – How To Create and Edit Modern Warfare 3 Recipes

Recipe in principle is a set of match rules you assign to a given map. In this section, you will learn you can create, save, change, and load recipes in Modern Warfare 3 dedicated server. You will find several example recipes in the folder location specified below, which you can edit using any standard text editor.

Example Recipes can be found here:

\steamapps\common\modern warfare 3\admin\*.dsr

*If you can’t find them here, look in the players2 folder.

How To Create a Recipes in Modern Warfare 3 – Match Rules
You will find the recipe section via Private Match Game Setup Screen in Modern Warfare 3 – Play > Private Match > Game Setup. Start by selecting the game mode you want to create a recipe for.

Subjected to whatever game mode you select, you will given different set of options when you select Options. You can tweak these game options here to your liking.

Once you have made all the changes, save the recipe to the admin folder used by the Dedicated Server by selecting Save Recipe To Disk option in the pop-up menu. The location to the folder, that is -\steamapps\common\modern warfare 3\admin\

How To Load Recipes in Modern Warfare 3 – Match Rules
Now, you have already saved recipe that you created in the last step in admin folder of Modern Warfare 3 root directory. Which is -\steamapps\common\modern warfare 3\admin\

If you are confused by the Steam Root folder name – It would be ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam’ in most of the cases. Can be different, if you have installed Steam in other than default location, hence using Steam Root folder name here makes things easy to refer to.

Recipes are saved in .dsr file formats, which can be edited using any standard notepad. You can edit them using the notepad, save the changes and select these modified recipes by selecting the Load Recipe From Disk Option from the bottom Menu of the Game Setup screen.

When you select that option, it will open a list of modified custom Recipes which you can load. Select the custom match rules recipe you want to load for your server and continue to the next step.

Step 2 – Dedicated Server Playlist

It’s a text file which has the match rules – recipes and map rotation settings. You can also set several different settings for how map recipes pair, weight and frequency a given is rotated to and all that stuff. Playlists in Modern Warfare 3 are .dspl file format but still editable with a standard text editor.

The content inside the playlist is in the following format:

<level_name>, <recipe_name>, <weight>
<level_name>, <recipe_name>, <weight>
<level_name>, <recipe_name>, <weight>
For Example:

mp_alpha, Custom_1, 1
mp_bootleg, Custom_1, 1

If you want to rotate the maps on random, you can put a * to denote it. In any case, there is an example .dspl playlist that will guide you to edit playlists in Modern Warfare 3 and has all the info you need to change any Playlist – Including Map Names, Recipes, and how to assign weights to a map rotation.

The example Playlist can be found in:

\steamapps\common\modern warfare 3\admin\default.dspl

When you change settings or edit a playlist or a recipe during an active session, the changes will be reflected in the next map.

Step 3 – How To Start Modern Warfare 3 Dedicated Server

Once you have set up Modern Warfare 3 recipes and playlists, you are ready to start your Modern Warfare 3 dedicated server. First, make sure all the important files are in the admin directory – \steamapps\common\modern warfare 3\admin

Start the Dedicated Server from Steam > Tools Menu. It will open the Dedicated Server Console. Name it by typing sv_hostnamein the dedicated server console. Replace with the name of your Dedicated Server say – Noob’s Haven.

Step 4 – Load Playlist and Setup Map Rotation

Similarly, you can set up the map rotation by loading your Playlist. You can type sv_maprotationto load the map rotation playlist and then, type start_map_rotate to push the changes live!

Want to play a private match ? password protect your server. Type ‘set g_password’ in Modern Warfare 3 dedicated console to password protect your server.

How To Tweak Modern Warfare 3 Server CFG – Configuration Settings

You can set the ports and other settings for your Modern Warfare 3 Dedicated Server by editing the following default server cfg or creating a new and pasting it in the following directory:

\steamapps\common\modern warfare 3\admin\server.cfg

The above default CFG has everything you would need to get started with your first Modern Warfare 3 server. We will update this step of the guide with an optimized server configuration file. Stay Tuned!

How To Join and Host Modern Warfare 3 Dedicated Server

Enable the server browser in options menu by selecting Dedicated Servers in the Options. Once you have done that, servers will be available in the multiplayer menu. Simply select Servers and browse to find the low-ping servers online and hit connect to join the party.

Things You Should Know

Dedicated Server Shortcut
After you have made the changes in players2 folder, you can start the server using this shortcut:

“X:\Steam\steamapps\common\call of duty modern warfare 3\iw5mp_server.exe” +set sv_maprotation your_map_rotation +start_map_rotate

It’s simple to create a shortcut, create a text file, change the above line of code and direct it to the location of the server executable. Paste the code in that text file and change the file extension to .bat and you are good to go!

Alternatively, you can create a shortcut on desktop and change the code in the target tab – you will have to add +set sv_maprotation your_map_rotation to launch your Modern Warfare 3 dedicated server.

Modern Warfare 3 Dedicated Server Video Tutorial

If you face any issues, let us know, and we will try to help you out.

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  • Hafez

    Hi all
    I have a problem for days and searching for solution and i will be very grateful if someone helps me.
    I can make a dedicated server and i can even play with my brother with lan in home but when i want to play with my friends with our hamachi network online my friends cannot see my server what our my problem?meantime we can play survival mode online with hamachi ip.

    • Anonymous

      It sounds like a firewall issue. Most people forget that if they are using a wireless router that they are behind two firewalls. Windows comes with a firewall built in and is enabled by default in addition to the router having one as well.

      To configure the server to work behind a router, one of two things need to be done. The first, and easiest, is to just DMZ your internal network IP address in the router settings. Be aware that your internal network IP address is not the same as the IP address you publicly use on the internet and likely begins with 192. For more information on DMZ and what internal IP address it’s using on your network you will need to read the documentation that came with your router. Alternatively use a search engine like DuckDuckGo to find the manual online if you do not have a physical copy of it.

      The second way to make the dedicated server accessible by the internet is to use Port Forwarding (recommended), instead of DMZ (not recommended). To do that you need to know the port ranges the dedicated server runs on (refer to its documentation), and you open those specific ports allowing them to accept incoming packets. Port Forwarding is also available inside your router’s configuration.

      I understand this is not a whole lot of information but anybody with a little bit of technical background can get a server running with that explanation in no time at all. If you don’t understand any of it at all then you should look for a step by step instruction guide to port forwarding written for your router model.

      Also as a forewarning, DMZ is not recommended because it will allow a single computer on your home network to bypass the router’s internal firewall completely leaving all your ports open to be exploited by those who know how. In other words, you should really use Port Forwarding.

  • austin

    server configuration – insufficient cpu performance 8.9879 ghz for 16 clients. Minimum 9.0000 ghz required.
    anything i can do bout this

  • Pete

    after the new update 1.7.413 now nothing work cannot see my server online only in lan mode (Lan Tab)any idea

  • Jano

    No Steam Master Servers found. Server will LAN visible only.
    What can I do?

  • CCity

    Hey Guys, ive got a little problem, im doing my dedicated server well for lan…
    but when i want to connect with another pc (Always on LAn), the game write me Unable to connect to host..

  • Marius.

    hi, how do i load my recipe, i mean how do i make a server with my recipe? please help.

    • Marius.

      nvm i found but now how do i put without the respawn?

  • ogi

    can someone tell how can I make my server to have a lot of EXP maybe on a kill 7000? thanks :)

  • Leonardo Ratafia

    Nice guide, to setup a server with hardcore mode and no 10 secs respawn you must type “set scr_dm_playerrespawndelay -1” in the RCON

  • Lloyd

    Can you use the set_ip command if you want to run more servers on a different ip address?

  • ogi

    Can you tell me how can I make in my dedicated server the console to message some text ? and how can I ban people with names for example !/34T$%Y! and ตัวอย่าง.? And the last thing is can I make an autoban? Please if you can help me I’ll be verry grateful :)

  • lord

    hi ,thnx for post .i have create the server but when client want to join show error \server is a diffrent version 1.2\ ,what’s wrong ?

  • kevin

    how can i change 18 player to 12 player thx

  • Phoenix

    i was able to start a LAN server but for some reason i m not able to see it under LAN tab… what shud i do???

  • LUIS


  • luis

    i can only view my server on land under the server menu; how can i get it to show on internet?

  • Scott

    I have a dedicated server from game server provider. How do I get my server set up like the mode, game play, maps, etc? None of the directions pertain to me they all reference Steam and I’m not hosting my Dedi through Steam. Is there another method of server set up someone can direct me too? I’ve asked my host, they are clueless.


  • Wayne

    How do i edit the map rotation or server.cfg file so players return to the lobby after each match?
    Also, how can i set the countdown timer between each match start?

  • Glenn Tobey

    My server freezes after the step \Initializing Steam Game Server: game port 27014, auth port 8766, query port 27017, gamedir modernwarfare3, version\.

    Windows forces me to close it during that step.

  • Jan Zakrzewski

    don’t no what to doo NAT not found somebody help my please

  • Jan Zakrzewski

    nic nie dziala wciaz error NAT nie znaleziony

  • Karl

    I cant find a admin folder in steamapps/common/modernwarfare3

    • Zawad Iftikhar

      look in players2 folder.

  • Sean

    How do you load the recipe once you’ve started your dedciated server? I see how to load and start the map rotation, but my recipe does not seem to be being used.

    • Zawad Iftikhar

      Recipe should load during the Game Setup.