After being dangled in front of us for over two weeks, the world reveal of Call of Duty: Black Ops III–which is set for a November 6, 2015 release– has finally arrived and we’re here to give you the lowdown on Treyarch’s newest project. With Black Ops II releasing back in 2012, it’s been about three years since we’ve seen a Call of Duty game set in the Black Ops universe. With the extra year granted by the franchise’s new three-year development cycle–which started with Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Ghosts in 2013 and continued with Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare last year–the the BlOPS 3 devs were able to change things up quite a bit. Luckily for us, our friends over at Treyarch gave us an in-depth presentation of the game and we’re here to tell you what we’ve learned.
First things first. As you’ve already gathered from the last teaser, the game takes place in a dark, gritty future in which the lines between humanity and cutting edge military robotics are blurred. In this world, Black Ops soldiers have access to Direct Neural Interface (DNI) which in short is sub-dermal tech that connects directly into a solider’s brain and spinal column, essentially allowing a person’s physiology to be completely controlled while at the same time help the soldier “reach unparalleled levels of coordination and information analysis in the battlefield in real time”.
The special forces community, reveals Campaign Director & Sr. Executive Producer Jason Blundell, “has always known that power without control is nothing”. He continued, “Combined with bio-augmentation, this elite squad of cyber-soldiers consists of men and women who have enhanced their combat capabilities to fight faster, stronger and smarter.” This special combo has placed the Black Ops soldier back at the top of the military’s most effective weapons.
“Power without control, is nothing.”
With the backdrop successfully painted, Blundell went on to give a couple of details on the game’s story. In Black Ops III, you’re a member of a prototype cybernetically enhanced Black Ops unit. Several members of your group are sent to investigate a C.I.A. black site in Singapore that’s gone off the grid–which is out of character for the usually tightly connected group. But, that’s not all; there has also been a colossal leak of military information which eventually builds up to a collapse of covert operations across the globe, plunging the world into complete chaos. Your mission is to find your missing brothers and uncover the disturbing truth about what really happened. This eventually leads our crew to Ramses Station in Cairo, Egypt.
So now that we know a bit about what’s going on in this world, I’m sure you’re curious about the actual campaign gameplay. According to the developers, the game has been built from the ground up with four player co-op and re-playability in mind. Did I just say four player co-op? Yep, I definitely did. You’ll be able to engage in online co-op with up to three other players. The developers also pointed out that you’ll be able to jump into the host’s game regardless of whether or not you’ve progressed as far as they have in the campaign.
Taking the fact that up to four players will be able to navigate a location into consideration, Blundell elaborated on how the team created larger spaces where players will be provided with the ability to essentially “go off the rails” and engage enemies in the open area. This alone will add to the game’s replay factor by ensuring that no two engagements will be the same. They’ve created a brand new goal-oriented animation system which supports more than 20 different emergent AI systems. Humans, Robots, and even equipment will be among the things your player will come into contact with.
Speaking of your player, characters will be completely customizable thanks to the addition of Cyber Cores and Cyber Rigs, which are cybernetic modifications. While Cyber Cores offer players skills like remote hacking and the ability to control drones, Cyber Rigs act as passive upgrades that grant access to things like advanced movement and defensive abilities. With the aforementioned mods in your crew’s arsenal, you’ll be able to tackle the environment in a variety of different ways. For example, in the video we were shown, one of the soldiers hacked into a drone to provide cover for his teammates. This is just one of the many ways you’ll be able to use these mods.
There is also a new thing called T-Mode, which provides co-op players with a visualized threat analysis of the battlefield. This new mode comes courtesy of the fact that the co-op mode will offer up to four different perspectives of the battlefield. It will help players quickly process threats in the area, allowing them to come up with a tactical plan to tackle the threats. Safe Houses will also be included and will serve as locations where players can customize their bunks, show off medals or access the game’s Wiki to dive even deeper into what is going on.
“The new moves make it easier than ever to get from one end of the map to the other.”
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It’s time to talk about multiplayer. Black Ops III features a new movement system that focuses on momentum, precision and moves that can be chained together to fluidly traverse the map. If the cybernetic enhancements were any indication that we’d be seeing a different move set, it is now confirmed. Players will be able to thrust-jump (which the developers reiterate is not the same thing as exo-jumps), power slide, wall run/jump and even swim.
With the ability to run for an unlimited amount of time, and the fast mantling capabilities, the new moves make it easier than ever to get from one end of the map to the other. Bear in mind however, each of these moves is accompanied with a meter that not only determines how long you can engage in a particular activity but gives you the power to control the moves, resulting in advanced movement combinations. Keeping the company’s “Guns Up” mantra, players will have complete control of their weapon at all times and 360-degrees of motion through each maneuver.
Another interesting thing they’ve added to the game is the Specialist system, which basically allows players to choose from one of nine elite Black Ops soldiers before each match. That’s right; instead of merely choosing your load out at the beginning of an mp game, you’ll be able to select a unique character complete with their own backstory, personality, voice, and special weapons and abilities. While the characters are cool, it is the special abilities that are the highlight here. After choosing your specialist at the beginning of a match, you’re given the option to either use the character’s special weapon or special ability. The ability to use whichever feature you chose will charge up over the course of the game. Once initiated, you only have a limited amount of time to use the ability or weapon. The developers also revealed that ranking up these characters will open up new level-progression pathways. Of the nine specialists, Treyarch revealed four characters which we’ll discuss below.
First up is Ruin AKA Donnie Walsh. This guy, who is actually pictured above, is a fearless, headstrong infantry soldier who was raised in a rough neighborhood. His special weapon is the shockwave-producing gravity spikes that do area damage. If you like to race around the map, his ability “Overdrive” which allows him to rush through the area for a short period of time is a good choice for you.
Seraph a/k/a Zhen Zhen is a badass Asian female militant enforcer known for her unflinching combat discipline. Her weapon, the Annihilator, is a high caliber enemy evaporating revolver. If you’re looking for an extra boost, her ability “Combat Focus” triggers a bonus multiplier to her scorestreak score. This is great for the scorestreak junkies.
Outrider AKA Allessandra Castillo (another female!) is a member of the Brazillian Special Forces known for her ability to outsmart and track enemies. She sports a compound bow called Sparrow as her special weapon and uses her ability Vision Pulse to mark the location of all of her enemies.
Last but not least is Reaper AKA Experimental War Robot (EWR) who is, you guessed it, a prototype combat robot. His weapon Scythe transforms his arm into a high powered Mini-Gun while his ability Glitch allows players to hack into other players DNI to flashback to a previous position.
“The gameplay was fast and frantic, but most importantly, fun.”
As you can already tell by their short character descriptions, the group of specialists we were shown are diverse both in terms of gender and race, which is definitely great to see. Also, there was enough variation in how they actually played to keep us on our toes–and that was just four of the nine. Of the weapons, Zhen Zhen’s Annihilator was the most fun to use while EWR’s mini gun Scythe took a bit too long to load up. The gameplay was fast, and frantic but most importantly fun.
Also, as many have guessed, Zombies–which originated as an easter egg in Treyarch’s Call of Duty: World at War–is indeed making a return and will boast a unique storyline and an XP progression system. Not much else was revealed about this but it sounds like they’ve added another layer of re-playability to the mode.
As for locations, we were shown three: “Combine” is set in the Egyptian Sahara and features tight interiors, an open middle and dangerous flank path. “Hunted” is located beneath a waterfall in the mountains of Ethiopia and features several underwater passages. “Stronghold” takes place in a Swiss chateau nestled in the frozen Alps and features tight closed quarters and exposed sight lines. If it wasn’t already readily apparent, the locations are geared towards switching up your mode of traversal.
All in all, from what we were shown, Call of Duty: Black Ops III is shaping up to be an ambitious entry in the popular franchise. The three year development cycle has allowed the developers to take risks and try new things, thus creating a Call of Duty game that drastically stands out from its predecessors. The addition of four player co-op, all new Specialist Class System, and new modes of traversal, ushers in a new way of tactically attacking your objective. While the futuristic setting may not be for everyone, there are some who are definitely excited.
So what did you think of the new features? Are you excited for the dark and gritty futuristic setting of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, or are you planning on passing on this one? Let us know in the comments below.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III is set to release November 6, 2015.