I spent much of the past weekend playing the Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer Beta on the PlayStation 4. While the Beta is launching on the Xbox One and PC at the moment, I just want to share some of my early thoughts of the game. Hit the break, and let’s begin.
I will come out straight away and say that I am impressed. This has been a very fun playtest of what will be one of the big launches of the winter, and as ever, the multiplayer will be the main driving force behind all those sales. I think that is going to be just deserved, as the online action was feeling better than ever.
I enjoyed online play in last year’s Advanced Warfare, but I know that a lot of people bounced off it because of the movement and focus on the exo-suits. Movement in Black Ops III is fluid again, but comes across as being a lot more refined. It feels like Treyarch have observed how last year’s game came across and taken further notes from freedom loving Titanfall and the floaty Destiny.
Jumping up and over walls feels right, if you don’t clear it in one fell swoop, you will automatically pull yourself the rest of the way up. If you see a wall you fancy running along, you more than likely will be able to. On one of the maps that came up in the rotation quite regularly, there was a neat third channel between starting spawn areas that required some skill and finesse with wall running to navigate between. If you got your timing on the jumps wrong, a long fall to the floor was your reward.
That isn’t to say everything worked out well, on a map that seemed to take place at the top of a tower block, I found myself running off the edge and expecting to land on a different level of the map, only to be told that I had made an unfortunate mistake as I drew first blood in the match…through suicide. Lesson learned, but it might take players a couple of rounds on the different maps to really get a feel for where the boundaries lie.
Last year, I thought that great strides forward had been made in multiplayer with the addition of modes like Uplink and, of course, the movement. However, class development and customisation in multiplayer was a confusing spectacle. You were juggling exo-suits, abilities, score-streak perks and you day-to-day weapons. Overwhelming was an understatement.
Black Ops III clears things up immediately. You can customise your loadouts from the off, while different weapons and attachments need to be unlocked, you can mix-and-match things as you need. The real difference maker comes with specialisms. These are high level classes with associated unlocks, of which you can apply one at a time. You can only change your equipped specialism from the main menu, so it helps to have an idea of what you want use before entering a lobby.
This limitation just adds to the strategic decisions you have to make. When you start the game for the first time, you choose your first specialism from the first batch of classes available. A few of the classes are hidden away until you hit the higher levels in multiplayer, but there are some good choices to start with. Each class has a weapon or ability you can choose and they vary from speed and movement boosts, to a bow and arrow set which will cause your enemies to explode on impact. Safe to say, I quite enjoyed the bow and arrow.
You will probably have some pre-conceived notions of what you will be getting with the multiplayer in Black Ops III, but I urge you to put those thoughts aside and check out the Beta this weekend on Xbox One or PC. There might be some limitations at the moment that you can only access it if you have pre-ordered the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes wide open over the weekend.
I think Advanced Warfare took some good steps towards revitalising the Call of Duty multiplayer scene, and I think Black Ops III is doing a good job of completing the refresh. Check it out if you can, and let me know what you think.