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Call Of Duty: Black Ops III

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Release Date: Nov. 6, 2015

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PS4 Multiplayer Preview - 'Call of Duty: Black Ops III'

by Brian Dumlao on Aug. 20, 2015 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a dark, gritty future where a new breed of Black Ops soldier emerges and the lines are blurred between our own humanity and the cutting-edge military robotics that define the future of combat.

The last time the Call of Duty series ran a beta, it was Treyarch's second entry, World at War. At the time, the development house that series fans considered to be the B-team was still getting used to the multiplayer system that turned the series from a humble WWII shooter to a modern warfare multiplayer juggernaut. Since then, the developer has had solid run, as its Black Ops titles became fan favorites and turned it into the A-team, especially with the departure of some of the original programmers from Infinity Ward. Since this is Treyarch's first crack at the latest generation of consoles, the team decided to release a beta version of Black Ops III, this time hitting first on PS4 before coming a week later to Xbox One and PC.

Black Ops III immediately introduces you to the idea of Specialists, which is new to the series. Unlike past entries, where the different classes were blank slates, you're controlling actual characters that have distinct looks and voices. They also have different starting weapons and special abilities that are like the perks you get when reaching certain milestones in a match. Outrider, for example, can either use an explosive bow or special vision to locate enemies nearby while Ruin can go at a faster speed or pound the ground with gravity spikes to get everyone around him. The abilities last beyond death as long as you don't activate them but are lost if you die after they're active.

The unfortunate part about that part of the beta version thus far is that you don't have a chance to freely try these characters and perks. You're given one unlock token that's good for one character and one perk. You can unlock more after leveling up and earning another unlock token. Those who want to find their footing to see which characters suit them best will have to pick one and, if they picked poorly, slug it out until another opportunity arises. For the purpose of this preview, I chose Battery, whose armor ability protects her from body shots for a very brief amount of time. By brief, either the armor's ability wore out very quickly or opponents were very good at getting headshots, since that's the only part of the body that's vulnerable when armor is active. While there are several modes in the beta that are open, we went with Team Deathmatch at all times since that was the easiest way to get a match going.

Cosmetic customization is another thing that is pushed on you, albeit not as hard. As evidenced by the various DLC packs in the past few games, there is an audience that wants to add paint to their guns, and now you have the chance to do that painting yourself. The game lets you use up to 64 different layers to paint your gun, and people online already have some pretty good-looking firearms. In the heat of battle, you're not going to notice these changes, but they are more pronounced when you see a killcam.

Movement is the emphasis in this beta, and it might give some people pause if they remember the use of the jetpack in Advanced Warfighter. The jetpack is still here, but it seems that you're currently restricted to double-jumps. Black Ops III takes a page from titles like Brink and Titanfall in that you're a little more kinetic than before. You can clamber over objects and reach higher floors almost effortlessly. Jumping through windows is very easy, and you can slide under objects and people. Wall-running is also a thing; there are several levels that feature floors and rooms that are otherwise impossible to reach.

The freedom of movement is nice, but what makes it more useful is the fact that you can shoot from any position. Clambering gives you an opportunity to fire your gun, wall-running lets you shoot in any direction, and you'll see sliding shots a few times in a match. It makes firefights more hectic since you don't have to worry about sacrificing mobility.

For the most part, this is still Call of Duty. The gunplay remains quick, and it only takes a few shots to take you down. Perks for killstreaks are still present, and loadout customization is still a big part of the strategy. You can still grind away, win or lose, to level up yourself and your gun with more perks and accessories and abilities. The new things do a fine job of enhancing what's already here, but veterans won't feel alienated by these new tricks since their old tactics will still allow them to get the drop on people.

At the moment, the one big downer is the lag. Just about every match played on the first beta day had serious bouts of lag, the likes of which are only seen on very bad connections. Despite all indications that everyone had green ratings, the game would often stall and even warp you back a few steps. This almost always resulted in missed kills, bad movement leading to deaths, and general confusion about one's location. This is a beta and stuff like this is expected, especially since lots of people were trying to jump in. It'll be interesting to see if the Xbox One and PC betas experience the same thing or if the data gathered here will quickly improve those versions.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III hits almost every platform on Nov. 6, and so far, the changes to multiplayer are interesting. The idea behind Specialists is good, but we'd like the opportunity to test them all before we can say how good they really are. Movement is the more exciting change, and even though it feels like it's simply cribbing from other games in this regard, the gunplay while in motion still feels distinct to the series. Look out for more coverage on the game as we get closer to its release.

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