The Call of Duty cycle goes round again. This year, Treyarch step back into the light with their excellent Black Ops series, unfortunately the campaign doesn’t hold up to the excellence of the previous titles but zombies and competitive multiplayer more than fill the void.
Black Ops has gone über futuristic. What Advanced Warfare started, Black Ops has continued, and then some. Consequently it feels like the story has jumped series rather than continuing the dark and sinister storyline of Black Ops. The campaign plods on but goes out with a bang, ending on some mind twisting missions and a sequence that sticks you at the controls of a VTOL.
The campaign is rife with tech, futuristic weapons and robots – it’s like Syknet has brought down Judgment Day and you are smack bang in the middle of it with little to no explanation as to what the purpose of the mission is. The story then is rather lost, poorly told and tries to be too clever for it’s own good. By the time the credits rolled it had lost me on the way, with little care for the soldiers I met or the story it attempted to tell. The level structure can’t escape from being linear either. Each area might be large enough to offer multiple routes through, but it’s little more than the usual CoD shoot ‘em up grind with the odd set piece thrown in.
New to the game are cybercore abilities – cybernetic enhancements that can be used to manipulate electronics, close the distance to your target or generally create chaos among the enemy ranks. The cores are fun to use and offer a slight distraction from the run and gun CoD mechanics, however, they are a little cumbersome to select and choose the correct attack for your current predicament and I often relied on the same two abilities.
The campaign’s saving grace is four-player co-op – things are always more fun with friends – and if you make it to the end, there’s an extra campaign that unlocks and it’s pretty damn awesome – Nightmare is an alternate campaign with an undead twist and it’s bloody brilliant.
While the cybernetic cores don’t make the jump to multiplayer, the excellent new movement system does. This new mobility is pitched somewhere between Titanfall and Halo. The new combat opportunities it brings are fresh and a welcome change from the repetitive nature of the yearly CoD. It works really well once you get your head out of Titanfall, and an excellent Mirror’s Edge playlist helps ingrain these new abilities. Your magnetic boots stick to the surface enabling you to wall run – environment traversal is no longer just a means of getting from point A to B – and presents some great combat options.
The multiplayer maps are exceptionally well designed, putting those from previous titles to shame. The different wall run areas aren’t obvious, which means you’ll need to keep your head on a swivel for traversal opportunities. An invisible wall does block off some areas, which puts a dent on the freedom of movement while underwater areas of each map make for a great change of pace to firefights – I’ve had some intense battles while submerged.
Specialists are at the heart of multiplayer this year. Each character has a unique weapon and ability, one can be selected to use and it gradually charges over the duration of a match. There are several characters to choose from and the abilities provide an additional option to your combat – a bit like scorestreaks – but open to all as they gradually recharge and don’t reset when you respawn.
One thing that really turned me away from the series was the overuse of kill and score streaks. At times I would get pounded by wave after wave of air strike or gunship attack. Thankfully it’s been dialed back in Black Ops 3 and although at times this still happens, it was far less frequent. Melee kills have taken a step in the other direction. Now it takes a couple of good gun butts to put someone down – best stick to your guns.
Bots return, which is great if you want to get some practice in or if you need a break from the CoD community, and the pick-10 loadouts also return. Weapons, equipment and perks unlock as you rank up, and can be selected after you’ve spent an unlock token to purchase them.
The star of the game is the excellent Shadows of Evil zombies. If you picked up the season pass you also get The GIANT map – a remake of Der Riese. Zombie Veterans will chew up the hidden objectives of Shadows of Evil for breakfast, but those that take it at face value could miss its hidden charms so grab a mate who is well versed at zombies and you too will soon fall to its undead heart.
It didn’t take long for me to become hooked to trying to best the map – it’s an absolute blast – and beyond the wave-based survival there’s a ton of extras to uncover. The bonus zombie campaign, the new Dead Ops arcade and Shadows of Evil make the zombie content of Black Ops III cause enough to buy the game, that is if you are a zombie fan.
Black Ops III does have it’s fair share of troubles, from the inevitable balancing of weapons that Treyarch will undoubtedly fine tune over time, to some really strange server drop-outs. The most frustrating issue was some odd occurrences of lag. Sometimes I had to work extra hard to score a kill, players were like bullet sponges while I dropped from a single shot. I even managed to score a kill on someone who was nowhere near where I shot my gun! The campaign suffers from the odd bug too; from textures failing to load and on a few occasions my progress didn’t save. With the huge amount of content in Black Ops III I wonder if Treyarch have spread themselves a little too thin?
There’s something for everybody in Black Ops III – it’s guaranteed to satisfy your CoD itch and the online maps are some of the best I’ve seen in a Call of Duty game. For me, zombies easily steal the show.
Call of Duty Black Ops III’s beta will launch for Xbox One on August 26 – one week later than PS4. The beta will include three maps that have all been developed with Treyarch’s new momentum-based chained-movement system firmly at their core:
And fan favourite modes return for the beta, so don’t expect any surprises:
Capture the Flag
Search & Destroy
The beta will also introduce Black Ops’ new class system – Specialists – which sounds a little similar to how Ubisoft are handling their classes in Rainbow Six Siege. There’s eight to choose from, each can be ranked up and comes with their own weapon preference and ability sets.
Finally, players will also get to experience the new Weapon Paintshop – an evolution of the Emblem Editor – customise the look of your weapon fully with 64 editable layers, I wonder how long it will be before we see a full penis graphic wrapped gun!
The Call of Duty Endowment initiative has launched an Omaze campaign with the support of Treyarch, offering a variety of Call of Duty Black Ops III rewards and a shot at the main prize – a trip to Treyarch’s studio to be zombified and appear in a future piece of zombie DLC for Black Ops III, you’ll even get a tour of the studio and have lunch with Mark Lamia, Studio Head at Treyarch.
Check out this awesome promo video from the man himself:
Each reward has a limited amount to be claimed, a bit like Kickstarter tiers, and includes a number of entries into the zombie draw, which closes on August 31, 2015 at 11:59pm PST.
Tiers start as low as $10 and go up to $50,000. Rewards include exclusive t-shirts, signed Call of Duty props and memorabilia, and a “walk-on” role in a Call of Duty live action trailer!
Check out their campaign page now for a chance to become a Call of Duty zombie, support veterans finding work outside of the forces, and of course, nab yourself a sweet bit of swag in the process.
Get your beverages on ice with the Juggernog fridge Edition – the centrepiece to Black Ops 3’s OTT Collector’s Edition.
In the past we’ve seen Night vision goggles and drones, but now there’s something that we might be able to use on a daily basis (I’m looking at you Neale – not that you need any encouragement) a full size beer fridge, well I say beer, it can store 12 330ml (12oz) cans – coke-sized cans.
The news comes from a New Zealand site who have the edition up for $289.99, with the contents including:
Fully functional mini fridge with lights and audio from the game
Perk-a-cola coasters and tin
Concept Art cards
The Giant zombies map
Three personalisation packs
Kind of cool, right? I guess the real question is, is this legit? Well, Treyarch did tweet linking to the below Instagram post, which does look about the right size of a mini fridge!
As expected, Black Ops III has jumped over to PlayStation. The game was mysteriously absent from Microsoft’s conference, although with such strong showings from Halo and Gears of War, it’s no surprise that Call of Duty has switched allegiances.
The deal will more than likely be similar to the one that Xbox has enjoyed over the past few years – offering PlayStation the DLC first and a beta, which starts in August.
November 6 is the new “Black” Friday, the next Call of Duty will be in your grubby its. The world reveal trailer has been released, a beta for pre-orders confirmed and a whole host of assets for fans of the series to drool over – only one question remains, “Will you be taking the Black?”
Queue the comparisons to other games – Destiny… Titanfall… Deus Ex… check out the reveal trailer below and make up your own mind – for me, I really like the look of it – fast gameplay with a reveal trailer that doesn’t dwell too much on showing off the grandeur set pieces that COD is renowned for.
As good as it looks though, with Battlefront and Halo 5 out in the same release period, COD will have to fall to third on my list – good job my birthday is at the end of the year – no prizes for guessing the three things on my list!
Now, let’s see if PlayStation announce any exclusivity in the next 24 hours – last year, Xbox waited 24 hours before unveiling their deal with Activision.
For years Xbox has enjoyed timed exclusivity on Call of Duty’s various DLC packs, but could this be about to change? CharlieIntel seems to think so. The points they make could just be coincidence but I for one wouldn’t be surprised to see a shift in power of exclusivity.
PlayStation 4 has a bigger user base.
Activision have already shown their hand by giving Destiny special attention on PS4.
Microsoft have Halo 5 coming out around the same time.
Could Halo 5 be the biggest reason that Activision might push their multiplayer shooter to a platform that doesn’t have a direct rival? My gut feeling is yes, so I’ll side with CharlieIntel on this and say this – prepare to see PlayStation take the limelight with Black Ops III DLC.
No doubt tomorrow’s reveal will tell us more in regards to the future of any DLC exclusivity.
Elsewhere on the internet of leaks, a Dutch retailer has released some promotional material indicating a November 6 launch date with access to a beta for those that pre-order. We’ve all seen some clever photoshopping in the past, but could these ‘leaks’ be legit?
The world reveal is penned for tomorrow so we won’t have long to ponder this question, but if LongSensation’s claims are true, I must admit to considering picking up the next Call of Duty, besides, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Black Ops and although the teaser trailer focused on prosthetic limbs, something I thought Advanced Warfare had covered, I’m hopeful that the true focus of Black Ops III continues on the themes of its previous titles – mind control and psychological warfare.
For now, I’m hopeful that the new Call of Duty will indeed have a four-player co-op campaign – I do love a bit of co-op – and the statement that the campaign can be tackled in a variety of ways is most appealing. It all sounds rather promising, and from the sloppy visuals of this leak, I would think that whoever grabbed these shots, did so in a rush before being busted – surely some heads will roll for this, or at least they should!
Fight the undead in an all-new horror story
No Treyarch title would be complete without its signature Zombies offering – a full-game experience with its own distinct storyline right out of the box.
XP progression system
Black Ops III Zombies is the most immersive and ambitious Call of Duty Zombies to date, with a full XP-based progression system for players that adds depth and re-playability to be engaging gameplay Zombies fans have come to expect.
Prepare for a leveled-up multiplayer
New Movement System
With Black Ops III, Treyarch premieres a new momentum-based chained-movement system, allowing players to fluidly move through the environment with finesse, using controlled thrust jumps, slides, and mantling abilities in a multitude of combinations, all while maintaining complete control over your weapon at all times.
Tailored map design
Maps are designed from the ground-up for the new movement system, allowing players to be successful with traditional movement, as well as advanced tactics and maneuvers.
Black Ops III multiplayer also introduces the new Specialist character system, which allows players to rank up and master each specific character’s battle-hardened capabilities and weapons. With this addition to Traditional and Weapons XP progressions system, Black Ops III multiplayer gives three different ways to rank up.
A Call of Duty campaign unlike anything before it
Treyarch elevates the Call of Duty social gaming experience by delivering a campaign with the ability to play cooperatively with up to four players online, using the same battle-tested network infrastructure and social systems that support its world-class Multiplayer and Zombies games modes.
Cinematic arena-style play
Designed for co-op and re-playability, players encounter all the epic cinematic gameplay moments Call of Duty is known for delivering as well as new open-area arena-style gameplay elements designed to allow players to approach the game with a different strategy each time they play.
And now, every player is completely customizable: from weapons and loadouts, to abilities and outfits, all with full progression systems and a personalized armory to show off accomplishments, providing a constantly-evolving campaign experience.