Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta thoughts

A Beta is a great way to test the balancing, stability and overall functionality of a new multiplayer title, and Activision and Treyarch are no strangers to this process for the Call of Duty franchise, so it’s not unsurprising that the Beta build of the latest Call of Duty, Black Ops 3, is largely stable and feature complete, with only a few minor issues for the developers to iron out before November. But how does it play? Well we jumped right in to find out the answer to that very question.

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Series fans will be delighted to hear it plays precisely how you’d expect a Call of Duty title to play. Despite the changes to the formula in this latest iteration, the core concepts of fast paced, quick kills, loadout focused action in an intimate arena, are all still very much intact. It feels, sounds and plays like the Call of Duty we’ve all come to know, with the new and tweaked additions only enhancing that embedded identity.

Specialists have been added to the experience, forcing you to choose one of nine that will then dictate your look and special abilities on the battlefield. Each Specialist has their own special weapon and ability, both of which you can unlock as you progress and then unleash on your foes in a match once you ability gauge is full. These take the form of a bow with explosive arrows, a spike that detonates and kills everyone around you, or kinetic armour, as well as many more. However, in our experience the gauge typically only fills up once per match, and as powerful as the abilities and weapons can be, they still require a skilled hand to use them effectively, therefore not unbalancing the fight. It’s a very different approach to previous Call of Duty titles, giving your online persona some much-needed characterisation as well as dipping its toe in the class-based systems so popular elsewhere.

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Additionally you can now use a boost jump, wall running and floor sliding, ala Titanfall, to traverse the map, however, they are limited, so don’t expect to pull off any gravity defying manoeuvres, instead it adds a much-needed sense of fluidity to overall movement as well as an increase in the speed players can get to points of elevation, eliminating the stair camping issues that cropped up in previous titles. As such an extra emphasis has been put on elevation, so whilst the maps remain small, the extra height provides new and more interesting options for navigating them and achieving glorious kills.

Otherwise Black Ops 3’s multiplayer offering feels very much inline with previous Treyarch iterations, the most important factor is still the weapon loadouts you choose and unlocking deadly kill streaks, alongside a good-looking, crisp battlefield with terrific lighting and a brighter colour pallet. The maps on offer in the Beta did, however, feel very samey, all largely taking place outside in lush green environments. However, they did show great versatility for the numerous game modes on offer. Domination in particular felt remarkable well-balanced for map size and navigation options, putting the pressure on defending teams and providing assaulting teams with a slight advantage, making the to-and-fro frequent, intense and exciting.

Indeed, there’s a lot on offer with Black Ops 3’s multiplayer, with a wide collection of modes to suit everyone’s play style. Moreover, Treyarch have maintained the Call of Duty identity while enhancing it in key areas. As such it’s likely to keep its current user-base happy and pull a few wandering veterans back that haven’t gelled with the larger, more open battlefields the genre is flirting with elsewhere. Here’s hoping map variety improves for release, but all in all things seem to be shaping up well for the third Black Ops title.