Yesterday, Treyarch’s Black Ops 3 beta access opened to PlayStation 4 users worldwide (with an access code) offering players the chance to get their teeth into the bare bones of the game before it releases in full in early November. Upon first impressions, Black Ops 3 destroys the abomination that was Advanced Warfare and offers up a sturdy modern throwback to the ground based warfare we had come to love with the first person shooter series.
My first experience with this beta didn’t go off to a good start however with a corrupt install followed by an extra agonizing 7 hour wait for the 12gig file to download. Thankfully, past that, my issues with the game were relatively minor (paintshop refused to work, matchmaking/server issues) compared to others who have been experiencing full crashes.
As of writing this, I’ve spent just shy of about 5 hours with the game (though currently there are server issues meaning I’m sitting in a lobby unable to play), the three available maps, a handful of the game modes and four of the specialists (the other four are unlockable in the beta). Black Ops 3 honestly feels like a true Call of Duty game, one that has the right amount of modern elements without jumping into the ludicrous (AW anyone?) and exciting new features that makes this new COD game feel fresh.
So…the hits and misses so far:
*THE TOKEN UNLOCK SYSTEM: Treyarch have brought back their token unlock system and combine 10 which I personally have never been a fan of as trying to get a balance across a primary, a secondary, wildcards and perks with only 10 elements is proving to be tough. Advanced Warfare’s level unlock and combine 13 system felt more comfortable and more achievable than waiting for tokens to build up before unlocking items, though I do like and remember enjoying the gun level up system which is also back.
*SPAWNING: Bad spawning usually plagues the COD series early on in releases and BO3 is falling into the same trap with team spawn points reversing sides very very quickly throwing game play off somewhat. Quite a few times I’ve found myself having to turn back because the enemy has quickly begun to spawn behind me.
*SPARROW: Outrider’s ‘sparrow’ compound bow is a very sluggish weapon to use and as a fan of the crossbow from previous series, this compound bow – while powerful – becomes rather pointless when you factor in the slowness of use in fast game play modes. Fingers crossed a crossbow is available in the full release.
*MELEE: What happened to Melee?! I mean, it’s still there, but in a sort-of-drunken-punch kinda way that actually has little to no effect on the opponent. Being able to be quick on the R3 button in that moment of surprise is a skill that requires many attempts to master and now, the little girl punch we have feels lost and is sorely missed.
*SPECIALIST PERSONALIZATION: I know it’s coming in the full game, but I did believe we were going to get a taste of specialist customization in the beta. I’m being picky I know – I just HATE multiplayer games filled with clones of the same character!
*THE CHAIN BASED MOVEMENT SYSTEM: How refreshing is this new movement system?! The unlimited sprint mixed with a boost jump mixed with wall running mixed with a decent knee slide all whilst shooting and reloading is a great new element to the game. While wall running took a few attempts to nail (it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it) it’s a very cool addition to the game play that feels quite effortless and allows for some rather sneaky movement to place you behind the enemy team.
*GAME PLAY: I will say, I originally felt the game to be heavy and slow, but after a few plays, I realized that I had become so used to Advanced Warfare’s flight system and that in fact, BO3 was how it used to be – a brutal ground based war that relies on a mix of precision and stealth rather than speed.
*THE CARNAGE: The damage caused by Outrider’s ‘sparrow’ bow is quite gory and graphic with body parts flying about the place and on more than a few occasions, my characters was left without any legs after getting to close to a cooked frag!
*POST-GAME LOBBY: I love the post-game lobby showcasing the matches three top scorers. It really adds to player determination to do well and basically boast about how awesome they were in that match. Once specialist personaliztion comes in to effect, this new feature will look even more better!
*THE MAPS: In the beta, there are four maps available, and to me, are in the medium sized range. They’re not nuketown short and they’re not Stonehaven large but all four showcase the beautiful graphics and the possible game play involved, taking advantage of the new swimming and wall-running features. Of the four previewed in beta mode, ‘Combine’ was my favorite as it offered a great balance for both snipers and ground runners.
*PAINTSHOP: A fun new element within the series that allows for deeper personalization – of your weapons. I did have a quick play around with it, but when it comes to this type of stuff….i’m not that creative, but being able to blast around with a shotgun covered in pink flames does feel pretty cool!
*POWERFUL SILENCERS: I’m a runner/gunner player who mostly relies on catching the enemy team off guard and it’s proven difficult in past COD games with silences significantly reducing the damage effect of a weapon. In BO3, I found the silencers to have much more effect and damage which makes the way I play that much more effective.
I do have a lot of love for the Call of Duty series and it’s refreshing to see Treyarch taking note of what we hated about AW and offering us a true call-back to the series so many of us love. Black Ops 3 is THAT modern era ground based war that needed to happen to bring back the love to the series that forces players to use stealth and precision over speed and height. This beta has me excited to experience the full release from zombies to campaign to multiplayer.
PS4 Beta experience ends August 23rd and starts up for XBox August 26th.