Call of Duty is a video game franchise that has long been straining for new ideas and refreshing game play. They came in roaring when breaking into the FPS genre with their historical based shooters, but since then have seemed to be squeezing the last bits of originality out of the wet towel that is their label. Fan boys have followed along mindlessly to the repetitiveness in the games like sheep to the slaughterhouse, up until now. The fans have asked for change and Treyarch have listened, without completely removing what makes it Call of Duty, they have switched it up in a much needed way.
Let’s begin with the reason each and every one of you buy Call of Duty Black Ops 3; the campaign. Now that would be a funny joke for the previous Black Ops games and every other Call of Duty game, but this year Treyarch knocked my socks off. Set in a future where warfare is done through drones and robot soldiers, you would think there isn’t much to base a story on. If you thought that, you would have been dead wrong. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 throws you straight into the action as a basic soldier fighting robots and kicking ass up until those same robots turn around and kick your ass, leaving you a limbless paraplegic all in the first mission. What sets this campaign apart are the two new changes, the addition of ‘power core abilities’ which is fancy talk for robo-superpowers, and the large, open map campaigns built for co-op play making every attempt feel different.
As your soldier is left mangled and near dead, your squadron chooses to put you through surgery that will make you a cyborg soldier with enhanced abilities, something like Robocop. These new abilities can be as simple as running along walls or climbing up building faces, to being able to see where every enemy is on the map, and even more fun stuff in the form of power core abilities. Power core abilities provide you with unique bonuses and abilities, such as the power to blow robots up using your mind, and sending out killer Nano bees that attack humans and then combust (metal as fuck right?).
These abilities come in three different categories that you can choose to use at the start of the mission, changing how each mission plays out. Control allows you to wreak havoc as you take control of enemy tech. Martial allows you to perform bad ass physical actions like a hulk smash (without calling it hulk smash for obvious copyright reasons). Chaos is my go to however, and like its name says, it is all about causing chaos and destruction through the power of your mind. These abilities are a must as you move through the levels, being swarmed by a mixture of humans and robots, forcing you to switch up which power you are using. The way they affect the play is an interesting and refreshing angle for Call Of Duty and adds to the replay value as you can go back and try the mission with different powers. When these powers are combined with co-op play, it is pure chaos (pun unintended) and can create some epic moments as different people take different categories.
On the note of Co-op, Treyarch decide it was time to move away from linear campaign maps and start to focus on larger co-op based maps that create a different feel each time you try them. These large maps were created to make more replayability as you can tackle the maps differently each time you try. The only downside to these large maps is that you find the same thing each time you hit a large area. You walk into a huge open area and you know immediately that you are going to be faced with waves of troops and robots with the addition of a couple cyborgs or robot vehicles. This causes it to get a bit repetitive as every fight is essentially the same with the exception of more enemies.
The campaign this year is all about replayabilty, as they now give you the ability to choose which loadout you want to use and the ability to change loadouts during the mission, so you can use your favourite guns and not get forced to use that LMG you hate. This, with the addition of the ability customize the gender, looks and costume of your character, really makes you connect with the story and your character in a way Call of Duty hasn’t done before.
The previous zombies mode was dying in popularity but it has come back from the dead. “Shadow of Evil” is an exhilarating new story that puts you in the shoes of one of four criminals in the 40’s, each with their own dirty back stories and quirky personalities. It switches it up with new boss like monsters and the ability to transform into “The Beast,” a tentacle monster that can see and do things a normal human cannot. Zombies has never been stale with their ideas, but this is still one of their best maps yet and I still haven’t talked about how the beauty of it caused me to die countless times due to the fact that I was looking at the map or exploring.
The game mode sticks to its roots of endless zombie horde killing and it just feels so right, old guns make a cameo and new ones make debuts. There is now the addition of new powerups you can purchase from a bubble gum machine (yes, tasty and powerful). It may take a while to get used to the map, but the best part of zombies is walking into the unknown and trying to survive while exploring at the same time, because if you give it a couple weeks there will be somebody who has completed the story and found all easter eggs, ruining the fun for
The one place I feel like Treyarch dropped the ball was in their multiplayer, which is usually their most solid aspect of their games and one of the main reasons you buy Call of Duty. For obvious reasons they didn’t implement the ‘Power core abilities’ because exploding bumble bees that instakill may be a little overpowered, but they didn’t completely forget their new angle. They added “Specialists” which are 9 different classes, each with their own power or special weapon they can access given enough time or points. These powers and weapons range from holograms to miniguns you can use to mow down enemies. These 9 classes each have individual character models and voice acting, but it can get a little awkward when you get killed by yourself because the enemy is using the same Specialist.
They upped the pace of the game play with the addition of thrusters and wall running, which is a completely new idea and has totally not been stolen from some kind of Mech shooter. This new pace is interesting, but it just seems to be slowly moving away from what initially made Call of Duty “Call of Duty”.
They have always given you the option to customize your gun but it seems this year they have injected it with steroids, with a whole new level of customization. The new system reminds me slightly of Ghost Recon, except people actually appreciate it. The guns can be customized to extreme detail with the addition of skins for each bit of your gun. You want a blue gun and a red scope? Fuck it, have a blue gun and a red scope. This is a good upgrade to a dying customization system and really allows you to show off your creative side.
When I got told I was reviewing Call of Duty I thought I was going to have to talk about the same old shit just with newer 12 year old players, but I was pleasantly surprised. Though it may not be “game of the year” it hasn’t gone down without a fight. This is a game that shows the potential of a company that once got too complacent, and it also shows the need for fans to complain when we get sick of the same old shit. In my eyes Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a game any Fps lover should have, and though it may not be the next big Esports Title I have a feeling we are going to hear a lot more about this gem of a game.