Call of Duty: Black Ops III is Treyarch’s latest addition to the popular Call of Duty franchise. As soon as you begin playing it you can see that there is a lot of content packed into this game that should keep you busy for a while. You have the standard campaign with a really interesting sci-fi futuristic story. You also have the ability to play with friends now as you can go through the campaign with four-player co op. There is the traditional multiplayer suite. There is the “Shadows of Evil” zombie mode which takes place in the 1940’s with four new characters. Then after you beat the campaign the “Nightmares” mode becomes available to you which is an alternate version of the campaign that has zombies as the main antagonist. This differs a bit from the main campaign so you are going to want to go through both to get the full experience.
The main campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops III features a story about genetic modifications to human soldiers and a massive conspiracy surrounding that whole program. I won’t say anymore about the story as to avoid spoilers but I found it pretty intriguing and there was some nice twists. Before you begin the campaign you can choose whether you want to play as a male or female. During my first playthrough I chose to play as a female soldier and she was a complete badass. Call of Duty games are always exceptionally well made and have some really fun moments and Black Ops III is no different. During the campaign there are instances when you’ll jump behind a turret of a vehicle while the A.I. drives you to your destination and it can be fun obliterating the enemy with this heavy artillery. There is also an instance where you are in a fighter jet and have to accomplish some objectives and I had a lot of fun wiping the enemy out here and flying around the base that I was at. It was a nice change of pace in the gameplay style and helped to keep things fresh.
As you progress through the campaign you will earn fabrication kits by simply completing your mission as well as getting some accolades. You can use these to upgrade your control core. There are three different paths to select from here with the “Control,” “Martial” and “Chaos” cores. Before you start a mission you will be asked to select which loadout you want to use as well as what core. My personal favorite and the one I used the most was the “Chaos” core. My two favorites within this category was definitely “Adaptive Immolation” and “Firefly Swarm”. Using “Adaptive Immolation” saved me on a number of occasions as using this ability will short circuit an enemy robot that is attacking you and cause them to burst into flames. If other enemy robots are near him when he does this then they will catch on fire too. It is really useful if you begin to get overrun with enemies. The “Firefly Swarm” was also very handy as it would release dozens of fireflies which are nano-bots with super-bright LED strobes. They would fly over to where the enemy was and either take them out or distract the enemy long enough for me to eliminate them. I will say though another ability I really enjoyed was “Remote Hijack” from the “Control” core. Using this ability I could hijack a drone that was attacking me and use it to attack the enemy instead. These “cores” were a great idea and added a lot of fun to the campaign for me.
In addition to those “cores” there were other items you could use to give yourself a tactical advantage in the campaign. There was a tactical mode that you could use that would ping combatants on the battlefield making your allies green and the enemies a nice orange color that made it easy for them to stand out. There was another mode that would allow you to see enemy locations as well as some quick info about them that would help you quickly plan out your attack. It would tell you how far away the enemy is, whether a teammate needs help, where the enemy is focusing a lot of their heavy fire and more. If you happen to be standing in an area that is red then you are going to want to move from that area immediately as something is likely to happen whether it is a grenade landing at your feet or whatever. I really enjoyed the tactical awareness that you were given here because, especially on the harder modes, you need to be able to plan out your attack. If you always run in with guns blazing you won’t survive for very long. The Treyarch Call of Duty games have a reputation of being a little bit more difficult than the other games in the franchise and Black Ops III is no different. In fact there is a new “Realistic” difficulty that is even harder than the traditional “Veteran” difficulty. On “Realistic” if you get shot once you done for and with some of the scenarios you are placed in throughout the campaign that is going to be insanely hard to go through successfully. In fact the achievement for beating the game on “Realistic” difficulty is titled, “No One Will Believe You.”
The “Shadows of Evil” zombie mode is Treyarch returning to zombies just like they have done with all of the Black Ops games. It takes place in the fictional setting of “Morg City” in the 1940s and has four new characters: Jack Vincent, Nero Blackstone, Floyd Campbell and Jessica Rose. All four characters have been transported to this realm by a supernatural entity that is punishing them for something. For those people who have played previous Zombie modes in Black Ops games this plays similarly. You will earn some money for killing enemies, repairing barricades and more as you try to survive the wave of enemies coming at you and then spending the money you earn to try and make sure you make it through the next wave. There are perks and a new XP system to use as well so you can customize your character and their abilities before you begin a match. This is a wave based mode so it will basically last as long as you are able to survive. There are rituals to complete as well and some decisions that you will have to make. There are some shrines that you can use to transform into a powerful monster that will quickly dispatch the zombies around you but you only get this power for a limited time and you can’t use it all that often.
I mentioned above that you can get some perks based on how well you are doing and you will definitely want to get good at using these. Some perks include items like “deadwire” where you have random bullets that shock zombies which can result in nearby zombies getting electrocuted as well. There is also “Fireworks” where any zombies that you have killed will have a chance to spawn fireworks which will take out nearby zombies. Stuff like this will help aid you in your quest for survival and effective use of these perks will be one of the determining factors on whether you survive or not, especially as the difficulty begins to ramp up.
In addition to all of that content there is still the multiplayer mode. Treyarch did something a little different this time by introducing “Specialists.” Each specialist will have a unique ability and weapon that you can use to help your team win the match. This is a really cool new idea as it makes everyone on a team useful. Even if you aren’t the best Call of Duty gamer or if you traditionally struggle in an online multiplayer setting, you have a chance here to contribute to your team’s overall success. Much like what I discussed about the campaign, I enjoyed using the power here to see enemies through walls for a short time. By doing this you can warn your teammates about enemy locations so that they can hopefully get the jump on the enemy instead of the other way around. The more you play you will eventually unlock additional Specialists that will allow you to get more perks, equipment, weapons and more.
Treyarch has brought back the “Pick-10” system for loadouts which has worked well in the past so it is nice to see it return. If you aren’t familiar with this system you essentially get to pick 10 things to bring into battle whether it be perks, weapon attachments or something else. As you play more and more multiplayer you will unlock different guns and other perks that will allow you to customize your specialist to match your playstyle. It works out really well and like always the game runs really smoothly and I had a completely lag free experience during my time online.
The multiplayer suite offers a plethora of modes to play in with favorites making their return. Of course you have the standard team deathmatch. There is also classics like “search & destroy,” “domination” and “hardpoint.” One of my favorites is also there with “Kill Confirmed.” For those who might not be aware of this specific game type, after you eliminate an enemy you have to collect their tags. Trying to do that though might get your character killed so you have to decide whether it is worth that potential risk. If you happen to get taken out then one of your teammates can grab your tags before the enemy does and deny them the kill and the points that go along with that. It can be a fantastic game of cat and mouse as one team might leave tags laying around to lure out the enemy and then pick them off as they try to get the tags. There is also “Gun Game” where you take out your enemy with one weapon to advance to the next weapon and that is always fun as well. You also have the “safeguard” mode where you need to escort a non-combative robot into enemy territory and if you are able to successfully deliver the robot then you will win. It is an interesting game mode that is a bit different from the others and can be pretty fun.
Aesthetically speaking Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a pretty game. There are some nice looking environments and the detail on the soldiers is pretty awesome. The game’s audio is on point as well and does a great job of immersing you in the action that is going on and for me the voice acting was also done well. I enjoyed the banter between the soldiers as we transitioned from one battle to the next. It showed off a bit of their personality even though it would have been nice if Treyarch went just a little deeper in that regard.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a really well made game. There is so much content here that it should keep you busy for a while. While some other games and/or franchises have been experimenting with multiplayer only components it is nice to see Treyarch double down on the complete experience. Not only do you have the amazing multiplayer suite that Call of Duty is known for but you essentially have two campaigns to go through as well as a brand new zombies mode that has its own objectives for you to complete and things for you to do. There is also a brand new “Realistic” difficulty mode for those who really want to test their skills and see if they have what it takes to survive that gauntlet. If you are a fan of the Call of Duty series then you definitely need to pick up this game. If you are a first person shooter fan at all you need to pick up this game. There is a lot to do here that makes it well worth the asking price and if you so choose there is also a season pass that will give you even more content over the course of the next year. Treyarch has really upped their game with Black Ops III and it will be really interesting to see what they come up with next.