Well, it’s that time again. It’s that wonderful time of year where the leaves change color, the air gets crisper, the nights get longer AND we are treated to the next installment of Activision’s Call of Duty. Like Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving or any other major holiday, it can either be a time of great celebration and excitement or just another reason to hate this time of year. Regardless of how we might feel towards the franchise or the season, it is all happening once again, so let’s talk about it.
Like millions of other players out there, I am very excited for Black Ops 3. I have been playing the game, everyday since it’s release and I can honestly say that I am enjoying the hell out of it. I have explored both the Zombies mode and the co-op story mode and they are each a blast. To be fair, I have not yet tried the multiplayer and I am a little skeptical about the whole idea. I know it is a highly sought-after feature of this game and a real selling point for many gamers, but anyone who knows me, knows that I am NOT a big fan of competitive player versus player modes. Unfortunately, since a large part of Call of Duty is basically built around that one idea, I just have to grin and bear it. However, despite my feelings on this topic, you can be sure that I will be playing the multiplayer mode and ranking up to at least level 55. Why? So, I can get the associated trophies and eventually platinum this game. That is really the ONLY reason, otherwise, I wouldn’t even touch the competitive multiplayer.
Going into Blops3, this last opening weekend, I was initially skeptical. I’ve been a big fan of Call of Duty since COD1, but lately, I’ve been a little apathetic regarding their most recent releases, Ghosts and Advanced Warfare. I was burned by Call of Duty: Ghosts and I didn’t even bother playing Advanced Warfare. I was concerned that Blops3 might just be another nail in the coffin for the bland, uninteresting, repetitive, first person shooter genre. I can safely say that it is not. It is a very enjoyable game with a lot of unlockable extras, tons of replay value, co-op modes and a robust online component. Not only do you have a story mode that is 100% co-op , but you also have an updated, ever-exciting Zombies mode and a new mode called Nightmares that lets you play the story mode with zombies in it, or so I have been told. I haven’t unlocked it yet, but I am itching to give it a try. Combine all of that with the popular multiplayer modes (if that’s your cup of tea) and you have the makings of one of the better Treyarch COD games to hit shelves in recent history. Truth be told, being three years in the making, I would have been surprised if this game wasn’t topnotch.
Like I had mentioned in my initial Black Ops 3 post, I am very interested in the co-op aspects of this game. Not since World at War, have we had a story mode where we could play online… with friends… and I’m very pleased at the return of that feature. After getting through about half of the story mode with my co-op buddy WTFSendit, I can safely say that it is super fun. Although we’ve elected to go through the game on the hardest “Realistic” difficulty setting, it is still worth the time and effort. More on that mode, a bit later.
If you are a solo COD player, this is still an entertaining game with an interesting, although rather convoluted storyline, but I think that you might be slightly disappointed. I strongly believe that this game is made more fun by the inclusion of co-op play. That is where this game really shines, especially if you plan on playing on the higher difficulties. In “Veteran” or “Realistic,” a real-life player is almost indispensable. You need someone or a few friends watching your back, otherwise you won’t survive very long. Plus, it is so much fun and pleasantly stressful to try and revive your buddy, while being aggressively attacked by the A.I. enemy. Try it with some of your FPS friends, you won’t be disappointed.
Now, unfortunately my co-op experiences haven’t been exactly perfect. I have noticed a number of glitches, some pretty sever that have troubled my play through. For example, l have unlocked various level checkpoints only to have a few of them revert back to earlier checkpoints in the same level, I have had selected weapon load-outs randomly change from death to death and my co-op buddy can never seem to transition from one mission to another, without being kicked from the session. Other than those, the game runs well enough and most of these issues are not game breaking. You can be sure that Treyarch will probably patch these in a future update, but until that happens, it will still be a bit annoying.
As a fan of the Call of Duty franchise, the term “Veteran Mode” is nothing new or strange to us old-timers. It is a notoriously hard level of difficulty that challenges a player with the most brutal and unforgiving criteria. It can make your blood boil and your brain go into rage mode very quickly.
My first taste of this difficulty setting was in Call of Duty: World at War. To this day, most of my gaming buddies still cringe at the mention of World at War‘s “Veteran Mode.” It was brutally hard. Grenades rained from the sky, enemy troops never stopped spawning and your character was so fragile, a gust of wind would kill him. I never thought that anything could be as difficult as World at War‘s “Veteran Mode,” until I was introduced to Black Ops 3‘s “Realistic Mode.” My god this game is unfairly evil.
I will warn you, “Realistic Mode” is not for the faint of heart. We had initially figured that it was best to get this mode out of the way early and then go back to do cleanup on the easier difficulties. It took us almost 45 mins to make it out of the first area of the game. Bullets can kill you in one hit, enemies are relentlessly aggressive, the game throws a ton of things at you, all of which can kill you instantly and your A.I. partner is regrettably useless. Your enemies somehow manage to shoot you through walls, through cover or right as you spawn. Even after a co-op buddy revives you, your character can be put down, immediately upon standing. I have had that cycle repeated over and over again, which is VERY frustrating and generally unfair.
However, this mode really shines when it comes to co-op. Yes, some sections and deaths are still shockingly cheep and very frustrating, but a real-life player can make all the difference in the world. You can strategize, cover different areas and watch each others backs. It really tests your resolve, but the payoff is that beautiful platinum trophy. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I can’t wait to gather the full team and test out our skills in “Realistic Mode.”
So far Black Ops 3 is a very solid game. The levels are larger and far less linear, the graphics are very nice to look at and I love the setting for the new Zombies map called Shadows of Evil. The singleplayer mode has a ton of customizations, lots of unlockables and a plethora of upgrades that will keep you testing new combinations and load-outs, for the foreseeable future. Even the Zombies mode is hugely expanded with its own load-outs, leveling system and upgrades. The addition of the Gobblegum micro perk abilities really gives Blops3: Zombies an entirely new layer of customization, adding some cool and handy features on top of an already addicting game mode. Aside from a few glitches, the game runs smoothly and I haven’t run into any noticeable lag in either the PS4 or the frame rate. Of course, I haven’t tried PvP multiplayer yet, but all in good time.
Yes, Black Ops 3 is a really fun game, but there is the larger question here, one of innovation: Does Black Ops 3 really standout as anything new? Will this game add new life to the tired, old FPS genre? Well, that depends on who you ask. Some critics have said that this game is nothing more than last years Advanced Warfare, seen through Treyarch’s eyes and with Black Ops 2‘s customization. That may be true, BUT since I have not played Advanced Warfare this is all new to me.
So, as a gamer relatively new to the whole wall-running and cyber enhancements idea, is this game an innovator? Does this change the FPS paradigm? I would have to say no, I don’t believe it does. Really, the core of this game is nothing that we haven’t seen before. The same underlying foundation that existed in other COD games, still exists here. It is the same game, just with some cool additions and a pretty coat of paint.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t play Black Ops 3? Absolutely not. Like I have said before, this game really stands out in its co-op modes and THAT is the reason I am playing it. I could care less about the cyber enhancements or the futuristic abilities. None of that changes the fact that I can now play the entire game….. with my friends. We can fight together or go down in a blaze of glory. That is why I am playing Black Ops 3. If this game is going to innovate anything, let it be in the expansion of its co-op modes. That is the real game changer for me and that is what I am excited about.
Overall, Black Ops 3 is very enjoyable and I have liked what I have seen so far. I’ll reserved my final judgements until after the game’s been out for awhile and Treyarch has patched some of these bugs, but after that, I think this one is keeper. I have high hopes for the longevity of this game and I can see the crew and I playing this one for quite some time. Pick it up and check it out. Good luck soldiers and I’ll see you on the co-op battlefield.