What makes a game, a game-changer?
This question has been in my head for a while as I've started investing more time into playing and researching video games as of late. The dictionary defines the term as follows:
- an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something.
An annual Call Of Duty release has been one of the few absolutes in life along with death and taxes, and this year is no different in the sense that a game was released. Yet, this new iteration is a game-changer. Since the release of Modern Warfare 2 in 2009, Call of Duty has been a game off nostalgia for me. I remember vividly driving over to my best friends house and holding up in his basement for hours at a time playing online multiplayer. We began a tradition of sorts every year after that, the two of us would pre-order the game and attend our local Gamestop for the midnight release then spend the following days (plural) playing through the campaign and online multiplayer. Every year came and went and eventually Call of Duty seemed to have lost its once glorious edge that I, and so many, fell in love with. It seemed as though Activision, Treyarch, Infinity Ward & Sledgehammer Games were out of originality and innovation when it came to each new annual release; simply re-hashing previous elements and plot lines. Yet, Black Ops 3 proves to be a game-changer for a few reasons.
Honestly it was with apprehension that I started into Black Ops 3, first stepping into the campaign mode. After the first couple missions, which were your basic tutorial-esque romps through the story explaining some of the new mechanics of movement and environmental interactions. I played through the introductory missions then made it to the safehouse and thought to myself, "holy crap this is awesome!"
The Safehouse is an incredible shift in the gameplay of the campaign. For as long as I can remember, you've been relegated to using the predefined weapons available through the initial loadout or spawned weapons. Now, after completing the first couple missions, you will have gained access to the Safehouse. In the Safehouse you can customize the loadouts that you have access to through various change stations within each mission; as well as customize the ability tree that grants you various CyberCore abilities (cybernetic enhancements). The Safehouse is a starting point for missions and is a great addition to the overall gameplay, as it really allows you to fine-tune your character and your gameplay.
I took a short break from the campaign to test out the multiplayer, and I can honestly say that I think it's the best online experience in the last 5 years. I transitioned from local play to online play and was offered an initial decision that took more thought than I imagined. It appeared as though I was going to choose an attribute specific to my character, much like the sub-class in Destiny. There are 9 specialists to choose from and each specialist comes with the choice of either a power weapon or a unique ability.
Ruin: Gravity Spikes or Overdrive
Seraph: Annihilator or Combat Focus
Outrider: Sparrow or Vision Pulse
Reaper: Scythe or Glitch
Prophet: Tempest or Glitch
Nomad: H.I.V.E. or Rejack
Battery: War Machine or Kinetic Armor
Spectre: Ripper or Active Camo
- Firebreak: Purifier or Heatwave
Each specialist class gives you the chance to customize your experience and use the weapon or ability to enhance your own unique play style. For example: by choosing the Spectre class, you can use Ripper or Active Camo. Ripper activates a pair of blades that extends and quickens your melee attacks, whereas Active Camo temporarily causes you to be nearly invisible. Each specialist class is equally unique and truly aids to your personal play style coming with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The loadout system isn't, technically, new but in Black Ops 3 we now have the ability to truly customize all aspects of our weaponry. The Pick 10 system returns and is streamlined allowing for a quick navigation through available attachments for each weapon. The Gunsmith System brings customization to an entirely new level. Each weapon levels up as you use it more consistently which unlocks the various attachments that you can then apply as well as unlocking personalization options for each weapon and their optic sights. Each weapons, as was in previous games, allows you to add unique paint jobs and camo effects. The optic sights are also customizable as you level up each weapon through campaign, multiplayer and even zombies.
Maps & Multiplayer Modes
Once again, Call of Duty brings the standard game modes: Team Deathmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed, Free-For-All and many others, but a new mode was also added for Black Ops 3; Safeguard. Safeguard is a unique mode which rotates teams through guiding an unarmed robot across a map. To have the robot move, at least one player must be in close proximity which forces both teams to key in on the robot: one team to protect the other to attack before it's too late. For the mission and strategy-driven player Safeguard brings in a new element to game play.
The overall maps at release are all compact and exciting which take into account for the new movement mechanics like wall-running which at times gives you a seamless interaction with your environment. Most maps take variations on the standard three-lane system, but others such as Evac, Stronghold and Breach bring in new challenges like expansively long sight lines and tight choke points and the ever-present central courtyards with multiple overlooks.
Overall, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is a solid gaming experience for both veteran and newcomers alike - there's something to like about it no matter how many Call of Duty games you've played.