Now that we’re halfway through the year, we’re a few months closer to another Call of Duty. Even though Activision’s blockbuster FPS franchise has released a new title every year since the series’ debut in 2003, it’s been almost three years since we’ve gotten an installment in the Black Ops series. With the upcoming release of Black Ops III this November, developer Treyarch’s CoD will be tied with Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare for the most installments in the franchise and now that we’ve played the beta, it might just beat all the MW games for best CoD series ever.
For this mission the “Dangerous Disciple” Danny Witt, “Papa Justified” Spencer Fawcett, and “Brother” Myke Ladiona geared up to shoot, boost, and blast away at Activision’s latest meat grinder. We’re saving our proper review for when the game actually comes out, but we had a lot to say about our first impressions of the game. So, like any good squad would, we attacked the game from different angles.
WE CAME HERE TO SPECIALIZE AND CHEW BUBBLEGUM
The Call of Duty Franchise, for better or worse has been just more of the same shit since the classic Modern Warfare (2007). We’ve seen the occasional tweak here and there, some new perks or kill streaks, death streaks, nukes, or canine companions. None of the aforementioned have really made much of a difference and left many with a ‘been there, done that’ taste in their mouth. Black Ops III has made a valiant effort in making this entry stand out as fresh and different, even if what they added is only fresh and different to this particular franchise.
Call of Duty developer Treyarch (Black Ops I – II) has added a ‘unique’ feature, giving us classes to choose from, each class comes equipped with vastly different special abilities or tactical advantages that the player can equip based on their preference. These Specialists range aesthetically in race and gender, with their specials catering to specific play styles. Every class has an ability geared more for attack, and the other more for defense or tactics. For example: my favorite class, Ruin, either comes with these Gravity Spikes that, when deployed, makes the character jumps high into the air and slams the ground, sending shock waves emanating out, clearing out rooms or capture points… wait, I think I’ve seen this before.
Ruin’s other special ability grants a boost of speed giving the player the tactical advantage of being able to rush to an objective, or quickly flank around the enemy and come up behind them and unleash hell. All other Specialists feature some pretty awesome specials, ranging from self resurrection, over-shield armor, or the ability to send out multiple clones all around the map to confuse the enemy. There’s a hand cannon that will kill you if you get hit in the toe, a bow that will blow you up if you get hit in the toe, and a mini-gun that will kill you if you get hit in the toe.
Suffice to say, the offensive special moves are very powerful, so one must act quick and shoot for the head if you come up against someone using one.
The other major new feature to the Call of Duty franchise is the ability to run on the walls. First added in CoD: Advanced Warfare, players can traverse the map by running up and down the sides of the walls. It wasn’t utilized all that much by most players in the beta, but those who could master it found cool and interesting ways to make their way around behind the enemy in unexpected ways, but most others when attempted found themselves plummeting to a comical death. Wall-running brought a new, death-can-come-from-anywhere feel and I was able to come up with some serious highlight reel kills, and yeah, I was also on the receiving end of some of the same– but it made for a fun and engaging time.
At first I was very cautious about the addition of the special moves, as Call of Duty has a track record of overdoing it, and pushing things a little too far; I was pleasantly surprised to see that none of the specials were really game breakers or over powered. I actually loved the new additions and had a great time playing the game.
It also made me realize how dull and boring a game like Destiny is (this coming from the biggest Destiny apologist there is). I’m sad the beta has concluded, as it made me go from, “meh, I probably won’t be getting it” to an, “I’m absolutely getting this game Day 1.” Bravo, Treyarch – you made a believer out of me again.
YOU GOT US ALL UP IN ARMS…
Call of Duty: Black Ops III has an impressive litany of weaponry, even in the beta. They range from your basic assault rifle to the snipers to the shotguns. Each one feels punchier and more of an impact than the last.
They also come with an abundance of silencers, scopes, grips, etc. Each specialist also gets their own weapons that are particular to their class, “the Sparrbow” is one of my favorites and is ripped straight out of Crysis 3. Each shot landed on an enemy reduces them to giblets.
WELCOME TO THE SUCK
The most hack joke in the anti-CoD community always ends with a punchline along the lines of, “enjoy your $60 dollar map pack” and you know what? In a way they’re kind of right, but in this case the maps actually kind of really do make the game.
Roaming spawn points aside, what we got to play in the beta showcased kind of a throwback to really good Call of Duty map design with some great twists. BO III goes back to a more horizontal level sprawl, shying away from the trend of going vertical like in Advanced Warfare and Titanfall, but they still utilize the new movement mechanics by adding flanking routes that could only be accessed by wall-running, boosting, or even swimming.
There are still strong points in the map, usually some sort of big building, that can be held by a team to take control of any given game, but now in BO III there are secret ways in, or around, those buildings that can get you behind enemy lines. The smaller maps – Evac and Combine – had sections of the map that had no floor, but you could wall run through to get around your enemy. Hunted, the bigger map, also had wall running areas but also had a river that you could use to swim into the biggest building in the map, or to sneak under a waterfall to get to the “A” point in Domination.
Sure, the changes are only subtle enough to be noticeable when you’re 5-6 hours into playing multiplayer, but now the novelty of this new “map pack” will last a little longer for players with all the new strategies this type of level design opens up.
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III hits shelves on November 6th, 2015.