When we found out that the Call of Duty franchise would be cycling developers in a three-year cycle, I can’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit torn. For me, some of the best experiences playing Call of Duty had come when playing Treyarch’s take on the series; Black Ops 1 & 2 were both incredible games, and World at War not only wasn’t a bad game, but also kickstarted the whole “Zombie mode” mania.
It’s not like the other developers were making bad games, but Treyarch really seemed to know what they were doing. However, with the latest (and very good) release of Advanced Warfare, it’s finally Treyarch’s turn at bat once again, and they have not disappointed with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
Much like the previous iterations of games, Black Ops 3 takes us even further into the feature, in both the campaign and the way we play. There’s tons of futuristic stuff happening in the campaign; AI, mind control, robots, and soldiers enhanced with robotic parts are all apart of the story.
In order to connect friends even more, the Black Ops 3 campaign can be played via four player co-op, offline or online, making it more open and less like a boring story that you have to force yourself to play. In order to incorporate the new method of playing (we’ll get into that in a bit), the level design for the campaign has changed, giving players a bit more breathing room and more ways to plan out how you’re going to kill a bunch of enemies.
As stated earlier, the game offers a brand new way to play with the addition of a brand new movement system. It’s similar to Advanced Warfare, but a bit more toned down; in AW, where you’re running and “boosting” everywhere, Black Ops 3 allows you to use a jet pack to glide around, but gives you new ways to do so. Namely, there is the inclusion of a “free run” system, letting you run along walls, slide along the ground, and generally move a lot smoother than you were able to in previous games. It all performs well and makes you feel as if you are in control, and the fact you can do all of this while in firefights make the game that much more exciting.
While the campaign of the game was good and offered some great changes, people buy Call of Duty for the multiplayer. Thankfully, there’s tons to do; 12 maps, 17 modes of play, and a very intricate and smart way to customize all bring Call of Duty’s multiplayer into the future. Taking a page out of Destiny’s book, Black Ops 3 allows players to select one of 9 “Specialists”, each with his/her own set of special power. The Sparrow, for example, comes equipped with a bow and arrow that can kill enemies in one hit. Others offer similar abilities that allow you to kill people more quickly and efficiently, and can be upgraded to have different costumes.
While the inclusion of specialists and a new way to move might turn some players off, if they stick around long enough they might find it to be a lot of fun. Black Ops 3’s multiplayer, surprisingly, manages to cater to tons of preferences and designs for any type of gamer. The “Pick 10” system (the way you determine your class items) is a great way to make sure every player is going to be happy with the loadout they choose.
When Treyarch first jumped into the Call of Duty scene with World at War, they included a game mode that would become a staple for pretty much all games in the franchise. That game is Zombies, and it’s been upgraded yet again.
Lots of stuff has been added to the now iconic Zombie game mode. Excellent voice actors like Jeff Goldblum and Ron Perlman lend their talent to a game mode that has added a bit of complexity to it. Much like the multiplayer, Zombies has its own leveling system, and easter eggs and tons of other fun things to find are littered throughout the games map, Shadows of Evil.
The only downside to Zombies, however, is the lack of the new movement system, and how it wasn’t implemented into one of the games most popular modes. After coming from multiplayer and the campaign, it might be a shock to the system to find out that you can’t wall run everywhere. However, that isn’t a complete detriment to the mode, and once you get to used to playing the “old” way, you’ll be having a lot of fun.
When all is said and done, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a game that’s packed with content, and that’s honestly surprising for a Call of Duty title. The story may not be the greatest campaign experience, but the customization and freedom it allows is a step in the right direction for the franchise. With multiplayer and zombies returning with even more replayability than before, it’s clear that Treyarch knows exactly what to do to make a great Call of Duty.
This review is based on a review copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for the PlayStation 4, provided by Activision.