This weekend, we at Power Up Gaming, like so many other gamers around the world, have been getting to grips with the beta multiplayer component of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, the forthcoming entry in the iconic Activision-published shooter series.
The Sledgehammer Games-produced Advanced Warfare tried to mix things up with the introduction of Exo suits to the franchise, though the novelty, for many, soon wore off. There are several new additions this time around, as Treyarch return to the reins, with a greater traversal system, specialist classes and new abilities. During the course of the dozen or so matches we’ve played, here’s what we’ve learnt so far.
Black Ops 3 is building on the Exo suits introduced in Advanced Warfare with the new Titanfall-inspired jetpack propulsion system. This new mechanic grants players an increase in both speed and height, allowing them to run along walls, powerslide and thrust jump.
Perhaps the ability that stands out the most here is running along walls, which is a completely new introduction. It’s a great way to get behind your enemies – unless of course you forget to keep running and fall to your death. It’s also useful if you find yourself falling, as you can then grip onto a wall and run around to safety.
In previous Call of Duty games, as well as in most first person shooters, one hit with the end of your gun and the enemy is out for the count. Failing that, you always have a knife handy for the instant kill, or ‘panic knifing’ as it’s also known. Well, not this year. Instead, it now takes two solid hits with the butt of your weapon to lay out your enemy. That is, unless you happen to be powersliding or have the combat knife unlocked and equipped as your secondary weapon.
Scorestreaks have been a key part of the franchise since the early days, and although the weapons changes year-on-year the premise remains the same – and that is no different in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. You start with the standard UAV, a Hellstorm missile that works similar to a Predator (though it can be used to fire a burst of rockets), and the Talon, a remote controlled escort attack drone. We also unlocked the HC-XD, which is much like the RC-XD from the original Black Ops, except that it hovers in a futuristic fashion.
You can now swim underwater, for as long as your breath allows it, and shoot or knife your enemies while under there. Water has been strategically added to maps in the form of pools, waterfalls and rivers which adds a further element to the game we haven’t seen before.
The specialists are also a completely new introduction and add a further element to how you play the game. There are nine such elite soldier types to choose from, each with one power weapon and one ability – but you can only equip one at a time. Similar to classes, you can choose your desired specialist before each match, but unlike them, once you’ve chosen you can’t change your mind mid-match when things aren’t going your way.
The ability bar builds up over time until you’re allowed to activate them. Being awarded points from objectives and kills will also give you a little boost to your meter. Unlike scorestreaks, your meter will not deplete when you die, nor will you lose the use of the ability if you’ve unlocked it but are killed before activating it.
You start with four of these specialists unlocked:
Part of the Brazilian Special Forces, the Outrider’s power weapon is the Sparrow: a bow and arrow that fires explosive bolts that stick into enemies, causing them to explode in a very satisfying manner. Her ability is the Vision Pulse, which will highlight nearby enemies for a short period of time through walls and other objects.
Donnie Walsh, known as Ruin, is the second specialist we tried. His power weapons are the Gravity Spikes, which create a shockwave to his immediate proximity, instantly killing his foes. Overdrive is his ability, which gives you a temporary speed boost, though out of all the options on display we can’t see this one being too popular given the other more interesting offensive and defensive powers to choose from.
A personal favourite so far is the Prophet, a cyborg that uses his advanced technology in the field of battle. Prophet’s weapon of choice is the Tempest, a very powerful weapon that has a short charge time but instantly kills enemies and can also branch off to shock nearby foes. Prophet’s ability is also a fun and unique one. He can relocate himself to a previous position, basically meaning that he can jump back in time by a few seconds. This is particularly useful when you bump into an enemy that may get the better of you; simply jump back a few seconds and you will know where he is waiting.
Finally there’s Battery, who loves explosives and being in the thick of the action. Unsurprisingly then, her specialist weapon is a grenade launcher. You can fire it long distances so that it detonates next to your foes; or, similar to the Sparrow, a direct hit will cause them to explode, which is far more entertaining. Her ability is Kinetic Armour which covers all of her body, except the head, and protects her from bullet damage for a short time.
The classes and levelling system is still largely what you would expect it to be: you level up and you unlock weapons and items. Treyarch have also stuck with the ‘tokens’ for classes, where each piece uses up one your ten allocated slots. This means you could either have two grenades or one grenade and a reflex scope, for example.
Talking of scopes, they now have their own slot. So you can choose one scope and then two attachments like the silencer or foregrip, whereas in previous games you could only choose two or three attachments which were then all rolled into one weapon.
What to Take Away
Call of Duty has been getting a bad rep over recent years, with Activision accused of essentially churning out the same game year after year. Black Ops 3, however, does introduce several new and exciting features to the franchise. On top of these welcome additions, the final game will also include the beloved Zombies mode, allowing full customisation of both your character and weapon, as well as a completely co-operative campaign.
It does still feels like a Call of Duty game, though, so whether or not that means it will quickly feel repetitive and stale, we’ll have to wait until November 6 to find out.