The Koalition’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III Beta Impressions

Here are some of our thoughts on the Black Ops III beta.

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With the conclusion of the Call of Duty: Black Ops III beta, we at The Koalition have decided to give you our impressions on it.

What did some of the staff members think of the first Call of Duty beta and what were our experiences like? Read on to find out!

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Callum May – Video Editor

Over the past 12 years, the public perception of Call of Duty has changed dramatically. Originally a 2003 “Game of the Year” candidate, the franchise has boomed in popularity, but now many within the core gaming sphere regard it to be a series well past its prime that has suffered after its constant annual releases and lack of innovation.

However, this appears to have changed in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare last year with the addition of new mobility mechanics that changed up the pace of gameplay and added new ways to navigate the map and achieve objectives. The inclusion of jet boosters that allowed players to boost in any direction was a controversial feature amongst the core Call of Duty community. But for some, it provided a level of innovation (even if it did seem to rip-off Titanfall) that the series desperately needed.

Black Ops III takes the same approach as Advanced Warfare, but without the necessary conviction. Whilst it still includes a mobility system that allows for some vertical travel, it does so half-heartedly and provides little motivation for doing so. Unlike Advanced Warfare’s quick boosts, Black Ops III’s mechanics involve a form of energy meter that offers slower alternate navigation with the bonus that it allows you to continue using your weapon. It’s a different interpretation on the same idea that seems to be taking the Call of Duty series in a new direction, but in this case, it feels more like a gimmick than a necessary gameplay feature.

Features like the wall running mechanic just feel like a waste of time and doesn’t change the dynamic of how the game plays at all. Within the beta, there weren’t any maps that seemed to require these mechanics in any way and in most cases you will be far more successful waiting at the other side of these specific walls ready to pick off any players who dare try these death traps out.

In all, Black Ops III feels like a compromise. It has taken what Advanced Warfare has innovated on and puts it into a situation where it rarely feels necessary and strongly recommends that you keep your feet on the ground at all times. It’s still a fun experience but it does disappoint me that it couldn’t become something more than it is right now. At least they have more robots now, I guess.

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Charles Singletary Jr. – Contributing Editor

Advanced Warfare was simultaneously the most forward progress for the franchise in years and my return to playing the Call of Duty series consistently. Black Ops III looks to capitalize off of the re-invigoration provided by AV, but it’s not looking too great. While AW felt fresh and controlled with a realistic weight while also bringing the dynamics of the exo-suit to the fray, Black Ops III feels a bit too twitchy and light, regressing the formula a great deal.

The maps also take advantage of the new movements, having areas that can only be traversed via wall running and the like. While cool in theory, it doesn’t seem to offer much to PvP interaction at all. Maybe there will be a few highlight kills tossed up on YouTube, but otherwise, the Beta maps don’t seem to have very much rhyme or reason when it comes to strategy.

While it’s interesting to see Black Ops take on some elements from MOBA games with their diverse classes with special weapons/abilities, it all feels like a bit too much in the Beta. I have faith that the single player will deliver a deep experience but, with multiplayer being the bread and butter of this franchise, my experience with the Beta is a bit concerning.

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Gary A. Swaby – Co-founder/UK Managing Editor

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Call of Duty for some time now. I tell myself every year not to buy the game, but somehow I still end up giving in and buying the game on the first day of release. When I think back though, the last time I can honestly say I enjoyed a Call of Duty game for longer than a month was Black Ops 2. Treyarch are definitely the better of the Call of Duty developers, and that’s what gives me the most hope for Black Ops III.

The Black Ops III beta was a solid FPS experience, and I found it slightly more exciting than 2014’s Advanced Warfare. However, I can’t shake the feeling that I find the game fun for the wrong reasons. One of my favorite touches from Titanfall was the wall running, and Black Ops III has taken this feature and ran with it quite literally. It’s good that it’s there, especially for the bigger maps, but ultimately it doesn’t really add much to the experience. Also, as a loyal Destiny player, I can’t help but notice the small influences that Bungie has had on Black Ops III, like being able to slide and shoot with the shotgun, and the super-charged moves.

I’m sure Black Ops III will provide one of the most exciting Call of Duty experiences in years. Treyarch can really do no wrong given that they’ve created some of the best Call of Duty games to date. However, it’s starting to feel like Call of Duty is losing its identity, and as a result, it’s beginning to borrow innovations from other titles in the genre. I’m hoping that the game won’t turn out to be a mash-up of great ideas that we’ve already seen.

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Tony Polanco – Executive Editor

To say that I’m the least experienced with the Call of Duty franchise would be an understatement. I wasn’t a fan of first person shooting games for most of my life, and CoD seemed like the worst of the bunch due to the “meatheadedness” of the game and its fanbase. The most experience I had was playing Modern Warfare 2 for 10 minutes and getting killed before I realized what had happened.

Fast forward to the present where I have become somewhat competent in FPS games (thanks to Destiny) and my experience with Black Ops III was the best one I’ve had with the series despite me still getting murdered left and right. Since the game has the verticality of games like Titanfall and Destiny, I was able to enjoy those elements of it… even if doing acrobatics worked against me.

Wall running or using jet boosters is a double edged sword however. By that, I mean that whenever I tried to use the environment to my advantage, I’d be mercilessly cut down. Conversely, most of the kills done on me came from dudes who were wall running or jumping off one of the high walls. I guess this may be a matter of mastering the environments around you, but the vertical environments got me killed more often than not, forcing me to try to stay indoors to mitigate the situation.

Despite being murdered every five seconds and having a kill-death ration of zero-point-ass, the game is kind of fun to play because of how good the controls feel. This isn’t a game I’ll buy, but I have a feeling that it will be a monster hit this holiday season.

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That’s what some of us on the site thought of the Call of Duty: Black Ops III beta, but what did you guys think? Has the series taken things to another level, or has it regressed? Let us know in the comments section!

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