Jump, Run, Kill, Die, Repeat – Black Ops 3 Beta Impressions

Jump, Run, Kill, Die, Repeat – Black Ops 3 Beta Impressions

The more things change, the more they stay the same, these are the words that echoed within each hour spent playing the Black Ops 3 Multiplayer Beta. The Call of Duty franchise has became something entirely different from what it started out as. The scrappy underdog, willing to go toe-to-toe with the established Medal of Honor franchise in a attempt to rejuvenate the World War 2 shooter. The little game that could, is now the big game that does what it wants.

Call of Duty is now placed in a position in which it can create two franchises within it’s own brand. The Black Ops side of the brand has been celebrated for deviating from the ways of it’s sister, with creativity and adventure being favored over gritty modern warfare. The Black Ops games have progressed their story in a natural manner, to the point where Black Ops 3 is a futuristic pseudoscience romp, complete with exo-skeletons and robots. This new setting has of course allowed Tryarch more creative freedom in the multiplayer.

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The Black Ops 3 Multiplayer Beta was open to all PSN Plus members this weekend, a brief glimpse into the next step in the progression of Call of Duty  Black Ops. From the moment the Beta loads up, it’s clear to see that there’s already been a big change to the core game. The addition of Specializations gives a structure to the game, a much welcomed addition as opposed to mix-and-match system that has featured in padded forms for the last few years. Each specialization has it’s own special (as you’d guess) weapon and equipment, both of which can turn the tide of any given the game. The holy trinity of play styles is catered for with weapons ranging from a bow and arrow, to a multi-grenade launcher.

The motivation that comes with handling these special weapons is what gives Black ops 3 a genuinely satisfying edge. There’s a certain tinge of glee when using the immensely powerful power and arrow to pull off multiple direct arrow kills. Specializations open up a layer of depth, even within the Beta. Experimenting with each spec, and building a class around it, presents so many play styles and unique builds that give each match has it’s own unique flair.It’s expect that, like most games of it’s nature, a few builds will become the norm, but kudos should be paid towards the systems attempts to freshen things up.

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The weapons, attachments and perk system mostly remains the same. The unlocking system does a decent job of supplying the player with various new items at a fair pace, even if some of them feel rather trivial compared to others. This issue of a lot of ‘fluff’ (items, or score streaks that don’t feel very useful) has always been present in Call of Duty titles, and Black Ops 3 seems to be no different. At times, some weapons feel like they’re there just to make up the numbers, this thought is reinforced by the sheer lack of people using them. It is of course a Beta, and this is the exact issue that can be solved by Beta, but only if the player base bothers to make their thoughts heard.

Movement is by far the best thing Black Ops 3 has going for it. Wall running and parkour movement systems are becoming more and more common place, even more so in first person shooters. With the likes of Mirrors Edge, Brink, Titanfall and Advanced Warfare all having a crack, Black Ops3 has it’s own accumulation of all past efforts. Movement if fast, tight and fluid. It all flows and syncs with the general action, feeling like a natural system rather than a gimmick.

Regardless of the game, stringing together a number of slick movements and jumps always produces a giddy sense of ‘yeah, that was bad ass’. Black Ops 3 finds a middle ground between fast and fluid movement, while maintaining a sense of control. It’s rare you’ll find yourself scaling a wall by mistake, or grabbing onto a ledge, resulting in a cheap death. The only element holding back Black Ops 3′s free-flowing movement is it’s map design.

The basic rules of Call of Duty map design are still very much present. Cover is always 5 seconds within reach, multiple exits and entries fill each section of the map and multiple levels can be reached to gain a height advantage. Surprisingly, there’s a number of ‘hidden’ paths neatly sowed into each map, catering for the more crafty players. The real issue with maps is they can feel too contained, stifling  the  free-flowing movement. Some maps feature areas that look like they can, and should, be accessible but are anything put. These areas put a slight downer on the experience, as well as coming off as refusing player’s creativity in their navigation of the map.

On the whole, Black Ops 3 multiplayer Beta was a enjoyable romp that suggest the mulitplayer is making steady progress, even if it’s restrained by it’s established ways. There’s so much going on at any given time, so many grenades, bullets and scorestreaks just popping off all over. It’s hard to look passed how hyper active the multiplayer is. The way in which players can spawn, kill and die within the space of 30 seconds can become a little overwhelming, much like a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Call of Duty is known for this pace, it’s known for it’s general accessibility and instant gratification through quick kills and almost instant respawns (in the relevant game modes), but this is starting to hold the experience back.  It’s hard to soak things in when everything is exploding around you, or killing you every four seconds on loop.

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The Beta does enough to maintain interest in the final product, mostly thanks to curiosity rather than being straight up impressive . The market is undoubtedly there, and the new additions could  go far in changing Call of Duty’s image of ‘same shit, different year’ but at it’s core, it’s still the twitchy, hyper active multiplayer shooter it has been since Modern Warfare 2. The future’s bright but it’s also high on sugar and booming sound affects.

Sean Halliday


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