Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Impressions: Big Maps, Mobility

There are people out there who believe that all first person shooters are the same. Someone at gaming’s biggest event in the United States, E3 2015, told me that “every shooter is the same.” Respectfully I told them that they were wrong and that I’d just seen how different first-person shooters can be for myself at Activision’s Call of Duty Black Ops 3 booth.

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is this year’s entry in the Call of Duty franchise. Developed by Treyarch, there are some overarching similarities from past games. You’re still a solider fighting in another major war for the future of humanity. Like Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, technology enhancements give you super human abilities that players in older Call of Duty games could only dream of.

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Advanced Warfare had you rely on exoskeletons armed with different abilities. For a specific mission you’d suit up and the campaign would only grant you the exoskeleton abilities for that particular mission. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is different. Players aren’t reliant on exoskeletons, they’re abilities come from within due to advancements in biotechnology. You could climb walls in Call of Duty Advanced Warfare. In Call of Duty Black Ops 3 you can use your implants to run along them instead. Double jumping is back, buts it’s much smoother and more of a tactical ability. Huge changes in co-operative multiplayer and a new story-line complete the experience.

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Impressions – Be Your Own Soldier

It was in a dedicated video streaming session that I got my first look at the Call of Duty Black Ops 3 experience up close. The entire room full of gaming reporters watch intently as a video screen at the front of the room showed us what players can expect from the Call of Duty Black Ops 3 single player campaign.

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Set in a desert, there were four players all teaming up to do battle with an insurgent army that seemed to have the upper hand. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 lets four people play the entire campaign together at the same time seamlessly. Again, biotechnology plays an important part in Call of Duty Black Ops 3. Cyber Core technologies are what enable players to do those super-human things we’ve seen in the trailer. Treyarch wanted players to feel like they could customize their players in ways they couldn’t before. Cyber Cores and Tactical rigs allow Call of Duty Black Ops 3 players to do that without a problem. Hacking is a Cyber Core ability, for example. The Tactical Rigs allow for specific physical abilities. Treyarch hopes to see players use Tactical Rigs and Cyber Core technologies to put together the best player for a specific mission. Weapons are fully customizable and so are outfits. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 has a progression system too.

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All of this stuff can be modified and edited from the Safe House, a dedicated area similar to the divisions in chapters from Advanced Warfare. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 even has a dedicated system for upgrading the smaller parts on individual weapons and painting them. At E3 2015 there was a dedicated booth downstairs to give players a feel for what their own customized weapons would look like in the game.

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Impressions – Better, More Advanced Warfare

One of the quickest ways to end up with a sub-par campaign co-operative play experience is stuffing multiple players into a single area that doesn’t have enough space. As the player we watched enter the battle it wasn’t difficult to tell that Treyarch has dome some work with environments. Call of Duty Advanced Warfare maps were large, but they never felt as big as the maps in this game. The battle zone we saw was expansive and the only thing that truly limited it was a command wall that in-game forces placed on one end to hold back rebels and enemies. There was so much space, it was hard to figure out why someone wouldn’t simply dart from one object to the next to take down enemies. Treyarch says that its done some work to make foes smarter in the game. Judging that claim now seems a bit premature, but I saw no obvious issues where enemies weren’t taking advantage of a great tactical situation or not making members of the co-op team pay for tactical missteps.

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As the Call of Duty Black Ops 3 campaign video continued, we switched from player to player giving us the opportunity to analyze the situation from all angles. Besides the larger environments, customizations and tools, this game allows players to move in the same ways that a real world solider would. Power sliding didn’t seem all that heavily used in the demo, but jumps did. I can imagine all the cool videos of players chaining these abilities together for impressive kills and internet fame already.

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Impressions – Multiplayer and Specialists

Activision shared details concerning multiplayer for Call of Duty Black Ops 3 earlier this year. It’s already confirmed a new Specialist system that has nine individual characters that players can customize, upgrade and use to kill everything in sight on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. Each has his own call sign, and dedicated ability. Their call signs are Ruin, Seraph, Outride, Reaper Prophet and Nomad. Their abilities range from healing themselves quickly to earning more points for the more people you kill in multiplayer.

Read: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Pre-Orders Arrive with Beta Access

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Impressions – Should You Buy?

I’d say it’s too early to determine outright whether you should buy Call of Duty Black Ops 3. With months to go before release, there’s still plenty to find out about Black Ops 3.

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Pessimism about online servers and pre-ordering aside, I liked what I saw in that Call of Duty Black Ops 3 briefing room. The bigger campaign areas make for more variety in firefights that’ll far exceed what we saw in Advanced Warfare’s story. Better, I think the Cyber Core abilities are far more interesting than the limited abilities players had I chapters in the Advanced Warfare timeframe.

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Read: New Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Details Answer Big Questions

If you’re not into fast-paced shooters, I think you could still enjoy the co-operative campaign with friends and other gamers. Whether these things add up to a must-buy for you completely depends on your likes and dislike. All of the tiny changes and bigger maps makes for what could be a more interesting Call of Duty experience, though admittedly, none of them feel more substantial than the changes made in Advanced Warfare.  Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is coming to the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows PCs on November 6th.