The story of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 began just a couple of weeks ago, when developer Treyarch and publisher Activision released a tantalizing teaser trailer announcing the game, as well as pointing towards April 26th for the official reveal.
Following the teaser trailer, a second teaser was released in the days leading to the world reveal on the 26th. Whereas the first teaser trailer more or less simply confirmed the existence of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, this new trailer offered a glimpse into the story's tone and setting, using live-action footage to paint a bleak, depressing picture of a future gone awry.
Before the official reveal came to pass, details on the game began to leak, as they're apt to do in situations like these in the gaming industry. Information on the game's campaign, multiplayer, and co-op zombie mode were all over the Internet just a day before the planned reveal.
Regardless of the leaks, Activision and Treyarch still released the first official gameplay trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on April 26th. This explosive trailer revealed a Call of Duty game both familiar yet very different, to the point that it seems to be the biggest departure from the franchise's core formula ever.
Now fresh, concrete details on what exactly Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is bringing to the table have been revealed as Activision and Treyarch have offered demos to the press, pulling back the curtain on what is sure to be one of the hottest games of 2015.
The first aspect of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 that should be explained is the campaign. The campaign has often been a point of criticism from gamers in regards to the series, as most Call of Duty campaigns amount to little more than "follow me" simulators, shoving players down long, usually dull, hallways.
Black Ops 3 is ditching this formula entirely, replacing these long, linear segments with open, arena-style levels. This is a significant shift for the series and how the campaign plays, so to compensate, Treyarch has had to create brand new animation and AI systems.
Another major change comes with the game's focus on co-op. Co-op in Call of Duty campaigns aren't unheard of; in fact, Treyarch's own Call of Duty: World at War featured online co-op. However, the option hasn't returned until now, as Black Ops 3 will support 4-player online co-op. Those that appreciate couch co-op will be happy to know that the game will also allow 2-player split-screen through the campaign.
This new focus on co-op results in a number of other changes to the standard Call of Duty campaign formula. One such new addition that is particularly interesting is the Tactical Mode View. When playing co-op, the Tactical Mode View allows players to see the exact view that their co-op partners are witnessing, allowing for unprecedented coordination and strategy.
One of the major reasons that Treyarch has decided to make co-op such an integral part of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 campaign experience is to increase replayability. Replayability is also being achieved through the inclusion of 40 upgradeable special abilities, such as the ability to control nanoswarm robots, or the ability to detonate all nearby explosives at once.
These upgraded abilities can be taken back to previous levels of the campaign, which is yet another way that Treyarch is hopping to add replayability to the experience. Furthermore, those that want to play with their friends, but may not be quite as far along in the campaign, will still be able to jump into the later levels and play. Don't worry about these players being underpowered, as it's possible to share upgraded weapons and gear to friends.
Another way that Treyarch is hoping to inject more replayability into the campaign experience is through customization. For the first time in the history of the series, players will be able to choose whether they want to play through the campaign as male or female.
The customization in the campaign doesn't stop there. A new social space called the Safe House will allow players to further tweak their campaign character and apply upgrades to them as well. The Safe House will be explorable, with a private bunk that can be decorated, and medals earned from playing the campaign that can be viewed. If Destiny is any indication, social areas can turn out to be fairly popular in shooters.
As for the actual plot of the campaign, new details beyond what was shared in the trailer are not readily available, though more on the campaign's story will likely be revealed at E3. In the meantime, the game's time period of 2065 has been confirmed, along with the fact that the branching story paths introduced in Black Ops 2 are not returning for the third game in the trilogy.
Big changes are coming to the Call of Duty multiplayer experience as well. First of all, multiplayer demos of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 were shared with the press using PlayStation 4 systems, which is abnormal for the series, as it is usually associated directly with the Xbox brand.
This is more evidence in favor of the rumor that Call of Duty DLC hitting Xbox platforms first is going to be a thing of the past, in favor of the DLC coming to PlayStation platforms first starting with Black Ops 3. And speaking of platform-exclusive features, PC gamers with powerful rigs will be happy to know that Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 supports 4K resolution.
Anyway, the biggest change coming in the Black Ops 3 multiplayer is with the new playable characters. Unlike previous Call of Duty games, where the players take the role of nameless soldiers, the multiplayer in Black Ops 3 features distinct playable characters, complete with their own personalities, called Specialists.
There are nine Specialists in total, each with their own unique weapon, special ability, and progression system. Before each match, players will have to choose the Specialist they'd like to use, and then whether or not they want access to their Specialist's unique weapon or their special ability.
Unique weapons are simply extra-powerful weapons that can be used constantly throughout a match. Special abilities are governed by a meter that fills based on the amount of time that has passed in a match as well as how well the player is doing. Once this meter is full, players can pull both triggers to unleash their special ability.
So far, four Specialists have been revealed. The first is Outrider, who uses a bow with explosive bolts as her unique weapon. Outrider's special ability is Vision Pulse, which reveals the location of nearby enemies.
The second Specialist character is Reaper. Reaper is a robot that has the added benefit of an arm that can transform into a devastating mini-gun for his unique weapon. Reaper's special ability is called Glitch, which allows him to teleport around the map.
Ruin is the third Specialist. He has gravity spikes that can be stabbed into the ground, killing any enemies that get too close to them for a period of time. Ruin's special ability is Overdrive, which bestows him with a speed boost.
Finally, the last Specialist revealed is Seraph. Seraph uses a large handgun for her unique weapon, and her special ability is called Combat Focus, which quickens scorestreak earning potential.
The Specialists mark what is easily the largest change to the franchise's multiplayer experience. However, movement is also getting a major facelift, with faster mantling along with a slew of new traversal techniques clearly inspired by Titanfall.
Players will be able to use thrust jumps (similar to the jump boosts in the previously mentioned Titanfall, which work like a toned down version of the Exo Suits in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare) to aid them as they move across the map. They will also be able to shoot while mantling, powerslide, wall run, and even swim, and a stamina meter will govern all these new traversal options.
Swimming in multiplayer is a brand new concept for Call of Duty and According to Treyarch, it is something that they've always wanted to implement in the past, but never had the opportunity. Besides just swimming on the maps that contain deep enough water, underwater battles are also possible.
With all of these new features, sadly, some of the more popular traversal techniques that Treyarch popularized with this series in the past are getting the boot. Most notably, the dolphin dive will not be included in the game.
Beyond all of this, customization will also be a factor in the game's multiplayer as well. The Pick 10 system and scorestreaks will both return, with popular scorestreaks such as the UAV and a modified version of RC-XD, now known as HC-XD, coming back as well.
A new feature in multiplayer called the Gunsmith will further bolster the customization process in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Gunsmith will allow players to personalize their weapons, using a 64-layer system to develop all sorts of unique looks for their gear.
Those waiting to get their hands on the multiplayer won't have to wait until the game's November 6th release date to do so. The game's multiplayer will be playable at this year's E3 event, and not only that - a beta is in the works as well. To gain access to the beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, one simply has to pre-order the game for their desired platform.
Page 2: Zombies Mode
Finally, the extremely popular Zombies mode must be mentioned. Almost immediately after Black Ops 3 was announced, Activision confirmed that Zombies would be returning, as it is one of the most important elements to the Black Ops experience.
Details on Zombies remain elusive, but Treyarch has offered a little bit of info for fans to chew on in the meantime. For one, it will introduce an XP progression system for the first time in the history of the game mode, and Treyarch also promises that it will feature a "totally different" setting than any Zombies map or mode that preceded it.
The amount of content and series innovation in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is absolutely staggering. This is perhaps the most ambitious Call of Duty title to date, which just goes to show that the three year development cycle Treyarch had to work with is really paying off.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is confirmed for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a release date set for November 6th of this year. Whether or not the game is coming to PS3 or Xbox 360 remains to be seen, and the beta doesn't have a release date yet either. Expect details on both fronts to be spilled at this year's E3 event.