Black Ops 3 Returns with Some Surprising Additions
It wouldn't be a year without another instalment of Call of Duty, and this year is no different, with a teaser already giving away the next edition of the game series: Black Ops 3. With the 26th having come and gone, there's plenty of information to sift through, including some surprising innovations that Treyarch has seen fit to add.
First up: the singleplayer. While it hasn't been the focus of Call of Duty for some time now, I still enjoyed the innovations that Sledgehammer brought to Advanced Warfare, and what carried over to multiplayer. Much of what has been revealed I have retrieved from this article. The most substantive change is the addition of four-player co-op, which in turn leads to larger and more creative environment design. Reportedly, gone is the long twisting hallways and level design oriented around guiding you from one setpiece to the next. Naturally, as this is Call of Duty, that doesn't mean that the setpieces are gone entirely, but it's a welcome start.
Another major change to the campaign is that the player character will be one of the player's own design, being either male or female, and cutscenes will involve seeing said character in both first and third person. Player characters can be enhanced with up to 40 different cybernetic enhancements, divided into two categories: Cyber Rigs and Cyber Cores. Rigs give the player skills to use, such as using drones to chain melee attacks, or the ability to remotely hack something. Cores bestow the player with a variety of passive abilities, such as allowing for more advanced movement capabilities or defensive upgrades.
In between missions, the player is sent to a "safe house," where they can change and further upgrade Cores and Rigs, view accomplishments and achievements, and invite players to their game sessions. Much like in Black Ops, there will be a PC in the player's safe house as well, where you can view intel, and likely some of the game's secrets as well.
As far as the plot is concerned, it builds upon the events set in motion by Black Ops 2. For those who haven't played the game, after the drone strikes that plagued the world in 2025, governments implement an umbrella air defense system that brings back the need for physical armies, as opposed to air superiority. Resource scarcity due to climate change has forced co-operation, leading to two major factions: the Common Defence Pact (CDP) and the Winslow Accord. Even with all this, the need for bio-augmented soldiers and bipedal robots has transformed the battlefield, with inclusion of the Direct Neural Interface. This interface gives a soldier command over their own physiology, in addition to allowing direct communication with other members of their squad and any nearby machines. Shortly after the game begins, a massive information leak of military secrets throws the world into turmoil.
Even though the rest is under wraps, the Treyarch's campaign director, Jason Blundell, promises "a gritty story that will have players debating what really went down...whether they were a hero or an anti-hero." He does confirm that while there won't be any branching narratives, as there was in Black Ops 2, "if certain things were realised by a viewer, multiple playings might reveal multiple options of that narrative as well," which we can take to mean whatever we please.
With the advent of last year's Titanfall, Destiny, and Advanced Warfare, it might almost seem as though Treyarch was just iterating on their designs. Indeed, an article on Mashable discusses this somewhat, and also how it plays the genre differently. While players have the freedom to jetpack around levels, execute extended wall-runs, or powerslide ridiculous differences, there's never a need to put their own weapon down, as was the case with Advanced Warfare or Titanfall.
In multiplayer, players are treated to the option of nine different "specialists," Black Ops borrowing from Destiny. Specialists are a form of structured classes, in that each different specialist has their own special weapon (a robot who can transform its arm into a gatling gun, or a hunter who can see through walls, for example) and their own perk or otherwise special move. Players choose specialists and their unique move before every match, akin to selecting classes before a match in previous instalments.
It is, however, important to note that you can only choose either the special move or the unique weapon, not both. As Destructoid so elaborates on, certain maps lend themselves to certain forms of movement (underwater, wall-running, etc.), so if the player wants to make full use of their movement abilities, they may well have to find themselves trading off certain abilities for the freedom to zip under surfaces and across rooftops.
Not much else has been revealed about the multiplayer, as it seems as press was only limited to about an hour of playtime, nowhere near enough for an extended session. Of course, if you're the pre-ordering type, you can always guarantee yourself access to the multiplayer beta when it becomes available. Split-screen will return to multiplayer, though it's my guess that it's going to be for consoles only, and the game is being developed solely for current gen systems (PS4, XB1 and PC), so we might well see the most gorgeous Call of Duty yet.
While it may not entirely have been what I wanted out of the next Call of Duty title, all these teases and articles have me at least a little bit interested. It's hard to tell just how well the fusion of Deus Ex and Call of Duty, at least in the story front, is going to fare, but Treyarch has experimented well enough with the campaign in the past, and it looks like enough changes are going to come to distance it from last year's Advanced Warfare. With E3 a little over a month away, we'll know more as the information trickles in.