Over the course of its long history, the Call of Duty franchise has been called many things. Sales juggernaut and re-skin come to mind the most often, but one adjective that most don’t associate with the series is innovator.
With Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, however, developer Treyarch is trying its best to bring the military FPS franchise into a modern context. The studio is adopting many of the signature elements of its competitors, while also focusing on eSports more than ever before. Moreover, Black Ops 3 will be abandoning one of Call of Duty’s signature gameplay elements and arguably its most derided feature: the ‘Follow’ icon.
While at Gamescom 2015, gaming media and attendees were treated to an exclusive demo of a Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 mission. During the mission, Treyarch highlighted the open design elements of the levels, focusing on how players can traverse a wide space and choose the best routes for their play style. At the same time, those in attendance noted that the demo featured no ‘Follow’ icon guiding the player along.
Although no member of the Gamescom press confirmed that the ‘Follow’ icon is completely gone, it makes sense that Treyarch would ditch the feature. This year’s Call of Duty is leaving a lot of the series’ signature elements behind, and honing in on a highly replayable, co-op experience. Whereas past missions were like individual chapters in a book, these new levels will be like scoring arenas for players to seek out a high score.
Obviously abandoning the ‘Follow’ icon isn’t going to drastically change the Call of Duty experience, but a move away from the series’ scripted nature certainly will. While plenty of gamers enjoy the bombastic set pieces that have typified COD in the past, many have criticized the series’ lack of player agency. No doubt, Call of Duty has had some memorable moments, but most of them play out either as in-engine cutscenes or quick time events.
The campaign isn’t the only area that Black Ops 3 is changing the formula, either; the multiplayer is getting its own face-lift as well. In the past, COD multiplayer has been exclusively focused on loadouts, but this year the franchise is trying something different with its ‘Specialist’ feature. Essentially, players pick heroes with unique abilities as their multiplayer avatar, and then equip them with the standard set of weapons. For more on how the Specialists work, make sure to read our hands-on preview.
How do you feel about Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 abandoning the ‘Follow’ icon? Do you think it is indicative of a new direction for the series?
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 releases November 6, 2015 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Source: Game Informer