The most recent installment in the Call of Duty videogame franchise, Advanced Warfare, raised questions as to whether the development team was finally going to diverge from the recycled aspects in the game. The same old killstreak rewards and movement animations that we all loved to hate were finally transformed. The addition of the exo-suit to Advanced Warfare added a completely new feel to the game; the fear that a player could leap over a building and come down at you out of nowhere was enough to change almost everyone’s playstyle — this time, for the better. There’s no doubt that the increased movement speed and additional ways to move decreased the amount of camping that many players have been complaining about for years, and this has revolutionized the way people think about Call of Duty. Now, with the Black Ops 3 beta having recently ended, we can get a taste of what Treyarch has in store for the gaming community. Will the creators be able to implement new ideas into the series as they move toward the future of Call of Duty, or will they recede to their simple roots?
The beta certainly did not show off the application of new ideas in terms of the game modes offered to the public. Classic modes, including Team Deathmatch, Domination, Capture the Flag and Search and Destroy were included in the beta, and newer ones, such as Kill Confirmed and Hardpoint, which originated in 2011 and 2012 respectively, were also incorporated. However, the maps that these games are played on are, thankfully, brand new. A hunting lodge in Ethiopia, an agricultural research center in the Sahara Desert and a departure zone in Singapore offer only a taste of what players will experience in the full release, and just those three maps contain a diverse combination of long sight lines, constricted hallways, flanking routes and walls that allow for wall-jumping. Of course, many people don’t enjoy the layout of certain maps due to their tendency to favor one type of player, but sometimes you have to be unfairly blasted by a sniper from across a long sight line (or three feet away) when you’re on a twenty-four kill streak to realize that it is, in fact, just a videogame.
But look on the bright side! Since it is a video game, the possibilities of what can be done are endless, especially in this case, since Black Ops 3 takes place in the future. The beta included Create-a-Class, which has been around since Call of Duty 4, but this time, new ideas were implemented to make an experience that is completely unique to each player. Each player will have a chance to choose a Specialist at first. There are nine types of Specialists, and eight were open to the public in the beta. Each Specialist has different weapon and armor abilities, ranging from a bow with explosive bolts and x-ray vision to a “H.I.V.E.” weapon, which releases killer nano-drones. These Specialists give players the opportunity to choose abilities and weapons that perfectly match to their individual play styles. According to College freshman Zibo Gong, “[Specialists] allow players to get creative with the weapons and abilities dealt to them, giving them the opportunity to experience what they couldn’t experience in any other Call of Duty.,” he said. On top of these new characters, players will be able to customize their weapons with the “Weapon Paintshop,” which gives a staggering 64 layers of shapes and colors to work with on each side of a weapon individually. This is a huge change from any other installment of the game, in which there were numerous set camouflage patterns for each weapon. So we know that the weapons will look to our pleasing, but the way in which they will be balanced is still up to debate.
A game can have all the cool gadgets and customization that the developers want, but when it comes down to the multiplayer experience, weapon balance and movement is king in determining whether the game is truly enjoyable. Professional Call of Duty player Will Johnson “[is] most impressed with…how they morphed old school Call of Duty with Advanced Warfare.”
Black Ops 3, unlike Advanced Warfare, is virtually played on the ground in its entirety, with thrust jumps, power slides and wall jumps only being used to escape mismatched battles and maneuver the map more easily. This ground play makes for the perfect balance between keeping the roots of Call of Duty while still implementing new ideas into the game without losing the Call of Duty feel.
It is, though, quite difficult to balance the effectiveness of weapons, and make each one just as good as the other in its own way. The game that came closest to achieving perfection in this aspect was Black Ops 2, which has made gamers hopeful for this one. The very fact that there was a public beta for this game gives hope that there will be tweaks to different guns and killstreaks before the game is finally released. In the beta, the HVK-30 seemed to be the most popular among players, but it was not so strong so as to be the only weapon seen in every game. That’s a good sign; Treyarch should be able to make it a bit less powerful and on par with other assault rifles. On the other hand, Treyarch has managed to maintain an equity between all the killstreaks and scorestreaks. Old killstreaks, such as the UAV and Lightning Strike, will be returning. The H.A.T.R. is a new version of an old favorite, the Orbital VSAT (from Black Ops 2), and the difference between the two is that the H.A.T.R. can be shot down. However, one brand new killstreak, named the Mothership, has been considered too powerful by many players. It is an armored air-vehicle that can seat four players while raining down terror upon every inch of the map. However, it could be considered balanced by pointing to the fact that it takes a very high score to unlock and use in-game.
It looks like Treyarch is going to treat gamers to a good year. The developers’ focus, whether it’s aimed at weapons, streaks or movement, is set on creating a balanced game that people can enjoy and play for more than just a couple of months online. Not to mention that the campaign and zombies mode will be in the finalized game in case we get bored of multiplayer. If it serves as any persuasion, Jeff Goldblum and Ron Perlman will be voice actors in the campaign, so that could add to the single-player experience for many players. The beta has left people with high hopes, so let’s hope that Treyarch can continue to support their game and interact with the Call of Duty community to make a revolution in the franchise.