THE NUMBERS, MASON! Let’s get this out of the way up front, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is NOT Black Ops 1. The story isn’t anywhere as good, and the gameplay differs greatly. That’s not to say Black Ops 3 as a whole is a bad game, just that it’s an odd jump for a game with Black Ops still in the title to be this far removed from the game that started the trilogy arc.
Call of Duty Black Ops 3’s story is much more of a future tech adventure, following in the footsteps (tech-wise) of Advanced Warfare. You have more parkour abilities, jetpacks, boosts, and more. Overall I think these gameplay changes add a lot of fun to the Call of Duty series. Black Ops 3 in particular plays a bit like Advanced Warfare, but faster. Where in AW you felt a bit heavy, here you feel light and agile. Not to the TitanFall degree, but still more so than any Call of Duty prior to this.
The single player campaign (or co-op, if you decide to play it that way) makes good use of your new movement skills. The first handful of missions are actually a really interesting VR-style tutorial on how to utilize all you can do. This was my favorite part of an overall disappointing campaign. The story follows you as you get injured in battle and rebuilt into a super soldier in the Ghost program. As usual there is a terrorist organization threatening to blow up a lot of stuff, and it’s your team’s duty to stop it. I don’t want to ruin the story for those who want to play it, but after Black Ops 1’s awesome twists and turns, 3 feels like a letdown overall. There are a lot of fun missions, though, so that may be reason enough for some players to play the campaign.
Multiplayer is typically where Call of Duty shines, and once again the multiplayer is quite a lot of fun to play. I am slightly starting to feel burnt out by a new Call of Duty every year, but I still had fun utilizing the new movement systems in multiplayer. The game plays basically identical to the beta earlier this year, but features many more maps and modes. The biggest change this year are the classes to pick, or what amount to basically heroes from a MOBA game. You pick your hero, can customize him or her slightly with unlocks, and then create your loadout (as any CoD game). I wasn’t as impressed with the heroes, because you end up losing a lot of the customization and personality of your own character overall. Other than that, the multiplayer feels great. Sliding around and boosting through maps while getting kills and streaks is a lot of fun, and makes you really feel like a super soldier at times. If you enjoyed what Advanced Warfare did, but thought it was still a bit too slow and heavy, Black Ops 3 will be perfect for you.
Treyarch also added back in zombie mode, with more celebrity characters. On top of that, there’s a mode that unlocks once you finish the main campaign that adds zombies and rearranges the campaign levels into a new, basic, zombie story. It’s a neat idea that adds a lot of replay value to the title. It’s also great with friends (as zombies always is). The overall package value of Black Ops 3 is quite high, as there are numerous modes to play and things to unlock, so you don’t have to worry about wasting $60 here.
Overall Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is a game that left me with a bunch of mixed feelings. I felt bad that the story wasn’t as good as the previous titles, I felt good that the multiplayer felt fresh and quick, and I felt uneasy about having another Call of Duty hit next year. I like Call of Duty overall, but playing through 6-8 hour campaigns for a new game every year, when the campaigns are just average most of the time is daunting. With that said, I’ll be playing more Black Ops 3, and I’ll be back next year to at least take a peek at what the next game is.