Call of Duty: Black ops 3 – BETA Impressions

BlOps3

Well the ‘Black Ops 3’ BETA has just recently closed and I; being the man of the people, spent a good amount of time playing it (in fact it was the only game I’ve played on PS4) just so I could relay my thoughts to you.

I’m basically a superhero.

You’re welcome.

Before we get to the meat and potatoes of this little impressions post I will say one thing about BlOps 3 – it is still very much ‘Call of Duty’; the gun-play is tight and has excellent feedback, the movement is fast, frenetic but with weight and a sense of momentum. All this said, if you are a person who dislikes ‘Call of Duty’; this is not the game to change your mind.

There are however a few new additions (as is standard in annual updates) which all combine to create the sense that BlOps is sufficiently new.

Love it or loath it, but ‘Call of Duty’ has some of the best feeling gun-play in video games. The weight and feedback of the weaponry creates a sense of power that is nearly unrivalled by its peers; ‘Black Ops 3’ is no different in this respect. It is a sublime feeling shooter that feels just right.

The big addition this year is the new locomotion system and its impact on the level design. This new jetpack; acts differently from the boost pack in ‘Advanced Warfare’, if anything it controls and feels a lot more like the one found in ‘Titanfall’. It allows you to leap impressive distances and heights, you can also wallrun and knee slide for days – you can also link all of these moves together; with seamless fluidity, which allows you to cross huge distances incredibly quickly and give you a tactical advantage.

The result of this is a profound effect on the map design which is much simpler and more traditional than Advanced Warfare, it utilises a three lane style which means that there are still choke-points with more close quarters combat. What has changed though is there is a lot more verticality! Gone is the moderate-paced single tier combat of previous Call of Duty games and in its place is a much more frantic; ‘Titanfall’ style game. Players can kill you from below, above, in front, behind or to the sides of you, good players can use many of these positions to make your life hell. It feels really good and as a bonus camping is dissuaded by the pace and verticality of the game!

However as good as this all feels there are several issues; the biggest one is invisible walls. Throughout my first hour I pushed the boundaries to see what I could get away with, and while the game was more than happy to allow me to free run on the playing plain, it did not allow me much height! For example there were several buildings on  the Hunted map with one having a good view over the central choke-point (a bridge) I tried to jump on the roof – it was a no go. These were all over the place, and it was a real disappointment, however it doesn’t take away the usefulness of the wall-running and jumping – it’s just a limitation that stifles the players’ imagination.

Hunted

The map ‘Combine’ in parts is amazing as it embraces player imagination; in fact it actively encourages it (there is a handy shortcut to gain tactical height quickly) and in others seems to forget that the new locomotion system is there! It is a map with far too many 90 degree corners to make wall-running a viable tactic.

Combine

Overall though the maps are great, they encourage more skirmishes and dissuade camping which is to be applauded by anyone who has been frustrated by either the lack of action or a guy hiding in a corner.

Another change being brought to the game is the inclusion of character classes (called “specialists”) which have unique abilities and weapons (unlocked by killing others or objective work) and while it adds to the game, it very much feels like a re-imaging of the killstreak system or the perk system more than a genuine new addition to the formula. This was very underwhelming.

Perhaps the biggest issue I had however was the latency, this BETA was incredibly unstable on my end. There were games that played like a slideshow; moments were I was frustrated by players killing me who had yet to appear on my screen and times I was running into a wall because the server had yet to ping me back were far too common! I’ve never experienced these issues before in a ‘Call of Duty’ game and I’m at a loss over what caused it (I’m thinking it was the pace of the game). I am however going to pass it off as a BETA thing and will go out on a limb to say that it will be ironed out for the release.

Will I be buying ‘Black Ops 3’? Probably not, I outgrew this series after ‘Modern Warfare 2’ and will not be diving in any time soon. It is not because of the quality of the game, it is a well crafted shooter with some very inventive level design but there is just no game changing mechanic. There is nothing in this game that hasn’t been done before, either by earlier iterations of COD or by another game.

It’s a shame as I wanted to be blown away, I wanted this game to sweep me off my feet; in the end it was a good, fun game that will undoubtedly sell millions – it just felt like a 8/10 for me. Which is exactly what I game ‘Advanced Warfare’ – there is no real improvement here.

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