The highly anticipated sequel to Call of Duty: Black ops 2 is finally upon us. Does it live up to the hype or should you leave this one on the battlefield?
Call of Duty: Black Ops III takes place forty years after the events of Black Ops II, in the year 2065. Several countries around the world have developed high-tech air defenses that render air assaults useless. As such, most of the warfare between countries is done by covert operatives fighting behind enemy lines. Science and technology have radically changed both the landscape as well as the future of the human race, with society violently protesting and attempting to halt further advancements touted by scientists as progress. Military technology has progressed to the point where robotics play a main role in combat, and supersoldiers have been developed to fight in the battlefield. Humans have reached the point where they are considered to be more machine than flesh and blood. As a result, there is speculation and fear about an eventual robotic takeover. Call of Duty: Black Ops III follows a team of black ops soldiers, like previous installments in the Black Ops series, with supersoldier capabilities.
The story for the game is well written, with all the twists and turns we have come to expect from the series, but the story length leaves a lot to be desired. The campaign is pretty short, but with each of the eleven chapters having a long list of accolades to achieve, one can easily stretch it out as the replayability of the game is huge. New to the series is separated leveling systems, one for the campaign, one for multiplayer and one for Zombie mode. Moving up the campaign leveling system is key to unlocking your character’s full potential and their full arsenal. As you play through the story, you’ll earn XP based upon the difficulty you choose and how well you fare in battle. The more XP you earn, the quicker you’ll rank up and the more fabrication points you’ll earn.
As a newly augmented super soldier, you are outfitted with a Control Core that will allow you to have special perks on the battlefield. Your control core is divided into three categories, each with their own set of abilities. Until you reach level twenty, you’ll have to choose one of these schemes with your loadout and you’ll be locked into that core until you change loadouts at a later time. Mobile armories are available in-game from time to time so you may not always be locked into any one core throughout a given level. Knowing which core to use when selecting a level is key to maximizing your overall score. as well as your survival, so pay close attention to the information available to you in your Mission Detail area.
Your loadout also includes a selection for your tactical rig set-up. This is a secondary type of rig for your suit that gives you two more perks. These perks vary from the ability to wall run (parkour anyone?) to being able to repel grenades and rockets automatically. Our favorite has to be the copy-cat perk, though, as the idea of being able to pick up any weapon on the battlefield went away when weapons were locked into the user’s biometrics. The days of picking up a guys LMG after blasting him are long gone without this perk, so keep that in mind. The upgrade, perks, and core systems are spread out into different areas and not exactly pointed out to you as well as they could have been. We were able to find all of them, but only after a little digging. Once you reach level twenty, earning fabrication points for unlocking things gets harder as well, so try not to spend too many of them on weapons at first and focus more on perks and cores until they are all unlocked.
The Call of Duty series has always had a varying selection of difficulties and Call of Duty: Black Ops III brings an even harder one with it. Veteran difficulty has always been the top of the list, and is usually not a cake walk by no means, but it pales in comparison to the new Realistic difficulty. Where as Veteran will allow you to eat a few bullets before succumbing on the battlefield, Realistic is set so that one bullet, regardless of where it hits you, means death. Doesn’t matter if it hits you in the toe or the head, one shot and you’re dead. This takes playing tactically to a whole new level.
Also new to the series, and quite possibly the key to finishing the game on Realistic, is being able to play the campaign with friends, offline or online. Co-op campaign is something we wanted personally for some time, so to be able to play with friends online and/or offline is a definite plus. Having several players gives you the ability to have all three cores available at any given time if so desired, but most importantly, allows you to play more strategically and can help you move through a level without getting shot. Remotely hijacking attack bots, and having several players using them in a level, can lead to clearing a level not only without anyone being shot, but without anyone even being seen.
Zombie mode returns and with its own leveling system, takes on a life of its own. The game also has another mode that only becomes available once you beat the campaign where you’ll have the option to play the campaign again, but this time with zombies. This new mode is called Nightmares and adds an entirely new dimension to the series by mixing zombies, robots and regular guys, all wanting to take you out. All of these modes can be played with friends so all you co-op folks out there looking for a new challenge, maybe away from the world of Destiny, just might have a new game to play.
The multiplayer introduces a new momentum-based movement system, which utilizes thruster packs to allow players to perform slow boosts into the air, as well as perform wall running and sliding, all the while giving players complete gun control. In addition to the Pick 10 class system from Black Ops II, Treyarch implemented a character system called “Specialists”, where players can pick from 9 different soldiers, each with either a special weapon or ability unique to them. A new “Gunsmith” feature offers aesthetic variations in weapon attachments, allowing various weapon customization combinations. The Paintshop feature allows players to create their own custom prints onto specific portions of a gun, further emphasizing the depth of customization in the game.
At first glance, Call of Duty: Black Ops III looks a little thin on the campaign front, with a seemingly short story that can be ran through fairly quick. Upon further inspection, you’ll find more than enough game play to keep you and your friends busy for quite some time. Toss in the zombies and the Nightmare modes, and you have not only one of the deepest and best looking games in the series, but quite possibly the best Call of Duty: Black Ops games to hit the battlefield.
Well done Treyarch.