With less than a week to the release of the much anticipated Call of Duty: Black Ops III, now is as good a time as ever to look at what players can expect from the newest entry in the series. Every year developer Activision’s highly successful franchise adds both new features and gameplay tweaks to continue to keep the long running series fun and exciting. This year’s entry seems no different.
Black Ops III seems to be continuing the series trend of taking place in futuristic environments, much like every title since Black Ops II, which is great in my opinion. Advanced Warfare and Black Ops II’s futuristic settings were the most appealing story-wise since the original Modern Warfare. The sci-fi aspects of these future battlefields allow for storytelling that is hard to accomplish with modern day settings. It allows the developers to develop new weapons and technology, that isn’t present in a modern day setting, to enhance gameplay. In this title the characters are even augmented, in a way reminiscent of Deus Ex, which should allow for interesting twists to gameplay.
One of the most interesting new features of Treyarch’s upcoming shooter is the campaign being designed for co-op play. Some of the fondest memories I have of the Call of Duty series are of the spec ops missions in Modern Warfare 2. Sitting on the couch with my wife playing the game split-screen, running through these missions, was extremely fun. I hope the co-op campaign structure of Black Ops III delivers the same level of joy.
Interestingly, there are two changes in the campaign that I find odd (though I can see purpose within the first of the two). All campaign missions will be unlocked from the get go this time around. Since multiplayer is the main aspect of Call of Duty games that most players enjoy, this new feature allows players to experience campaign missions that friends may brag about being great without having to play through the whole game. The second of the two changes is the exclusion of a campaign in last-gen versions of the game. Though this seems to be an odd design choice, it may be due to time restrictions.
After playing the beta for Black Ops III, I can say that the game boasts the same tight gameplay experience that fans have come to enjoy with the series. Black Ops III‘s gameplay felt similar to Black Ops II in my opinion, though it was much smoother and had a Titanfall-esque flare to it. Black Ops III allows for players to utilize jumping abilities similar to what we received in last years Advanced Warfare. Player opinion continues to be a split among fans of the series; some players loved the jump mechanics whereas others hated them. To me, the mechanic adds a new layer of strategy to the game and I am glad that it is returning.
There are also happens to be a lot more customization options available for players this time around. Among these options are super soldier classes, such as “Call Sign: Prophet” and “Call Sign: Nomad.” These two new classes offer special abilities outside of the regular gun customization or killstreak perks. It reminds me of the way your characters can have different abilities in titles like Borderlands or even Destiny—a welcomed addition should this new gameplay mechanic be balanced correctly.
The multiplayer experience of Call of Duty continues to evolve to keep the game fresh. Where some players may feel that old titles off the pristine version of the multiplayer experience, I enjoy the new experience offered every year with the various changes made to the series. As long as Activision keeps the experience fresh, Call of Duty will remain at the top.
Call of Duty‘s beloved zombie mode, Treyarch’s bread and butter, returns in Black Ops III as well. Every iteration of the series has offered some type of horde or mission mode since World at War was released and zombies is the king of these modes. Zombie mode is thrilling and nail biting, but remains fun. The teamwork involved has continually kept me coming back to Black Ops II three years since it was released and I hope that this version delivers as well.
This year’s iteration includes a progression system, which allows players to build up their characters and not have to start from scratch on every play through. This could be a welcoming addition, though half of the fun is earning power-ups throughout each match of zombies mode. Abilities this time are served to players through a bubble gum machine—which is campy, but so is zombie mode, so it fits. Like previous versions of this staple game mode, new celebrity vocal talents like Ron Pearlman and Jeff Goldblum are joining the fight agains the undead. Zombies looks destined to deliver.
All in all, the package looks well worth the wait, especially on current-gen platforms. The campaign is darker than ever, the multiplayer is fast and tight, and zombie mode looks like a blast. The Black Ops series has been a fan favorite since Treyarch established it, and this one seem like it will continue that tradition. November 6th is just around the corner, so we will see if they live up to the standards that have been set. But, as of this moment, all signs point to yes.