It’s that time of the year again: the new Call Of Duty is on the horizon. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 releases in November and will be one of the last big releases for the year. Soon we will be bombarded with pre-order advertisements and Mountain Dew promotions. I took a break from Call Of Duty when Black Ops 2 ended up being pretty terrible. I came back to the franchise last year and ended up pleasantly surprised. Advanced Warfare was a breath of fresh air for the series, even if it wasn’t the complete overhaul players wanted.
It’s only a few months until Activision’s annual cash cow makes its appearance and dominates the market — thanks to Amazon and their enthusiasm for giving Beta keys away, I’ve managed to spend some time on the multiplayer portion of the game. Please remember that this is a beta build and might not necessarily reflect the finished product, but with only a few months till release it likely will.
First thing’s first: it’s Call of Duty as you know it. Same game modes, same weapons, and even the same maps. Sure they may look different, but it’s still just a mix of choke points and vantage spots. At first I found myself getting quite frustrated, being matched against people already several levels higher than me. This made for an instantly frustrating difficulty curve, but after half an hour I got back into the Call of Duty flow, racking up kill streaks and above average K/D ratios. The beta includes three maps: Combine, Hunted and Evac. The maps are fairly varied and suited to different play styles. I feel the maps are a lot weaker than last year’s offering, Treyarch have stripped the verticality in favor of a more enclosed setting, giving players the ability to chain together wall runs and jumps. This can lead to some fun moments; I managed to run over the top of two enemies earlier and kill them from behind. I do like the idea, but ultimately falls short as Titanfall did it better.
Specialist classes are the other big addition this year. Specialists are elite soldiers that each have individual special abilities and weapons. So far I’ve only used the Outrider class because it has a ridiculously fun Compound Bow. You earn the use of special weapons by scoring points in-game, you are then granted the use of your ability for a limited time or until you die. The Compound Bow is probably the weapon I’ve had the most fun with: it fires a bit like the crossbow did on the original Black Ops. Here’s a video of me racking up a few kills with it.
The usual weapons are making an appearance again this year, and although they have different names it’s usually the same mix. You have your standard assault rifles with a mix between long and medium range, shotguns, pistols, sub-machine guns, LMG’s, and launchers — pretty much everything you expect from a Call of Duty title. There’s also a creation system that gives players 64 layers to play with, meaning near limitless potential for customization. Of course, this also means you’re more likely to see some form of bigotry painted on the body of the gun — any bets on how soon that will happen?
There are some things I really dislike about Black Ops 3, and TTK (Time To Kill) is definitely one of them. Call of Duty has always had a pretty ridiculous TTK, it’s just kinda expected. This year, it seems Treyarch & co. have made it even easier to kill and be killed. It leads to some really frustrating games where you never really get the chance to find your flow. I’m fairly good at Call of Duty; I’ve never had a K/D ratio below 1.5, but even I was having a really tough time in some of the games. Once again the kill streaks are incredibly annoying. One streak sees a horde of electronic balls hunting down players and killing them — you can’t make this stuff up! It was one of those moments when I realized why I stopped playing the Call of Duty series. If you add a terrible spawn rotation on these issues then you’ve got some really terrible moments. I would often spawn right in front of the enemy team and just get instantly killed. I know Call of Duty has reasonably small maps compared to other FPS games, but it doesn’t make the experience any less frustrating. I would rather have a wait time in order to ensure I can spawn in a safe place, or maybe even a choice based system.
Overall, Black Ops 3 is good. It’s the standard Call of Duty game you either love or hate. It doesn’t really matter what I think because the same people will go out and buy it like they do each year. Which is why they will never need to stray away from the core concept, and why they will never have to create something original. People are going to throw their money at this title regardless. Before you do though, just remember that you can probably get Advanced Warfare much cheaper — and have a better time playing with it.