Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 has been officially announced. The game is leaping once again into the future, and while that means we’ll have new movement systems and futuristic tech, Activision says it’s important to note that Treyarch’s Call of Duty doesn’t share a universe with last year’s Advanced Warfare.
“Under our independent studio model, every studio fosters its own unique culture and creative approach,” Rob Kostich, Senior Vice President at Activision Publishing tells me. ”Black Ops 3 reflects Treyarch’s vision for Call of Duty. It stands alone and is a unique experience within Call of Duty with its own distinctive universe, characters, and innovations. Plus, this marks Treyarch’s first three-year development cycle on Call of Duty, of which they are taking full advantage.”
In a lot of ways, this year’s Call of Duty really does sound different. Some big changes have come to Black Ops 3.
First, here’s the gameplay trailer
A few quick thoughts: Mechs and bows! Really cool looking costumes! Great song choice!
Black Ops III is shaping up to be one of the more exciting entries in the Call of Duty franchise.
Let’s go through some of the new changes each piece by piece.
There will be dedicated servers.
Black Ops 3 will use dedicated servers to host not only its competitive multiplayer, but also its Zombie mode and single-player. Wait…dedicated servers for single-player? That’s because…
You can play up to 4-player co-op in the single-player campaign.
This is perhaps the biggest change coming to Black Ops 3, at least for now. Players will be able to join up with three friends to tackle the single-player campaign, something that could potentially increase replay value exponentially.
The campaign boasts “cinematic, “arena” style level design.
This is my favorite piece of news, at least for the single-player campaign. I’ve always wanted to see Call of Duty’s level design improve. Treyarch is describing Black Ops 3′s levels as “arena” style and open-ended, something that should increase replay value and make the game a lot more fun. But not to fear, the “cinematic” experience isn’t going anywhere according to the developer.
Player “Specialists” are customizable and level up.
Now, in all the modes in Black Ops 3—Zombies, Campaign, and MP—players can progress and level up unique characters. In Campaign this means you can even customize loadout. If implemented properly, that’s a huge change. Usually in Call of Duty you’re forced to begin each level with whatever the game developer deemed appropriate for the level. Hopefully this makes the campaign a lot less on-rails.
In the past, you could rank up your character in MP, customize load-outs, and so forth. The new Specialist class system allows you to level up unique characters with their own special abilities on top of this.
There’s a new “momentum-based, chain-based” movement system.
Players will experience “a new momentum-based, chained-movement system that allows players to move fluidly through the maps, all while maintaining complete control over their weapon at all times” says Kostich.
This isn’t altogether different than what we saw in Advanced Warfare, and Treyarch says they’re designing all their MP maps with this new movement system in mind.
But in Black Ops 3 the new powers are part of something called DNI, or Direct Neural Interface, that allows Black Ops Specialists to fight “faster, smarter, and stronger” by connecting to the intelligence grid and one another.
Zombie mode includes full XP based character progression.
Treyarch is billing this as the most immersive and replayable zombie mode to-date, with full character progression included in the co-op mode. It’ll be interesting this year to compare the typically co-op zombie mode with the new co-op option in SP.
There’s going to be a beta.
“We’re incredibly excited about the year ahead as we roll out all the news on the game, including the Multiplayer Beta that we just announced,” Kostich tells me. “We haven’t done a Beta in a while and really look forward to our fans getting their hands on it.”
Players can join the beta and put the servers to the test—if they pre-order the game. You know I always advise against pre-orders, no matter what the studio is, no matter what the game. But if you want to test out the beta, it’s a pretty valid option.
Black Ops 3 is releasing on a Friday, which is new.
In fact, you can read all about why Activision is releasing the game on a Friday (instead of a Tuesday) here.
All told, both the trailer and some of the changes coming to the game look pretty cool. The Black Ops games remain among my favorite in the Call of Duty franchise, and hopefully the third entry exceeds expectations. The game is launching on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.