Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 was officially unveiled. If you hadn’t played, oh, every single first person shooter of the past three years, you’d assume that Treyarch lost its mind with the number of influences.
Let’s take a head-count: Titanfall was present and accounted for with the wall-running. Deus Ex: Human Revolution wasn’t a direct influence but seeing enhanced super-soldiers controlling drones with their neural implants or converting their hands into machine guns didn’t make us think of anything else. The movement speed was straight out of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, itself taking cues from Titanfall. We’re sure there are other titles we missed but there you go.
And really, it’s not about the number of games that a major blockbuster draws on. I was initially skeptical of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor for drawing upon Assassin’s Creed and Batman: Arkham City but then the game came out and it was friggin’ awesome. It’s not about the time-worn mechanics that a game draws upon – it’s about whether the game can provide a fun, new experience in the process.
Do I think Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 looks fun? That’s where things get a little dicey.
"What is it that makes Call of Duty so different from other games that do the same thing? For starters, it's the signature gunplay and survivability. Despite all the new movement options, I doubt Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will let you take too many hits like Titanfall."
I’d be lying if I didn’t say Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 looked intriguing. Through all the different mechanics implemented, one could still see the trademark Call of Duty experience shining through. Black Ops 3 will be featuring a number of different features including more arena-like levels, gun customization and the ability to customize your main character right down to the gender.
What is it that makes Call of Duty so different from other games that do the same thing? For starters, it’s the signature gunplay and survivability. Despite all the new movement options, I doubt Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will let you take too many hits like Titanfall. It’s doubtful whether you’ll be able to ghost the game like Deus Ex, despite the many cybernetic upgrades on display. Heck, all of these new features and story details are simply window-dressing when compared to the game’s multiplayer anyway.
And that’s what ultimately makes me wonder how many people should care about Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. For all the new additions and changes that Advanced Warfare made to the formula, it was still a game that tried to cater to Call of Duty veterans with its multiplayer.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t a favourite. While new players struggled with the horrendous net code and skill-based matchmaking, veterans took issue with the overpowered System Hack, weapon balances, exploits and twitchier Exo suit movement. The game still has its followers but good luck finding anyone who thinks Advanced Warfare is their go-to Call of Duty game.
"This doesn't make me more cautious of Black Ops 3 - in fact, if anything, I feel more apathetic towards the whole franchise. How many other people felt the same way before Advanced Warfare released? And how many more people feel that way now that they've had their taste of Exo-based warfare?"
When looking at Black Ops 3, one can see many components that would make for a compelling single-player experience. Placed in the context of multiplayer, I don’t see Treyarch trying to stray too far from the trademark formula. That creates a bit of a paradox since it needs to somehow wedge all of these new mechanics into said formula. It will have to change the overall map philosophy, balance out different weapon customizations and account for abilities rather than perks. Will the game still retain the Call of Duty allure afterwards? Will it still attract fans to what made Black Ops popular in the first place? That’s unfortunately not an easy question to answer.
Then again, I’ve been burned by Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I’ve been disappointed by a game that I expected to be more along the lines of something I loved (Titanfall) but ultimately turned out to be something different (and the various glitches, connection issues and exploits didn’t help one bit).
This doesn’t make me more cautious of Black Ops 3 – in fact, if anything, I feel more apathetic towards the whole franchise. How many other people felt the same way before Advanced Warfare released? And how many more people feel that way now that they’ve had their taste of Exo-based warfare?
It’s a rather interesting twist on the Call of Duty hype formula. The franchise as a whole has always intrigued the most number of players with its multiplayer with the single-player simply seen as a distraction. With Black Ops 3, the single-player feels like a singularly stronger component that encourages replay value and presents a halfway compelling story (something which Titanfall failed at interestingly) while the multiplayer possibilities feel less than stellar. “Wait and watch” is the tried and true method here and while I don’t necessarily care as much as I should, one can’t say the franchise isn’t taking some intriguing directions with Black Ops 3.