As I noted this morning, Call of Duty is one of those rare things I like. I like the campaigns because the stories are usually decently told and efficiently delivered — I can play through each new one in a couple sessions, and playing them again never feels like a daunting proposition. And I like the multiplayer because it's still fun even if I'm getting my arse kicked, which is not usually how multiplayer feels to me.
So anyway! I've played a few dozen Black Ops 3 matches, and it turns out that, yep, this is definitely the Call of Duty we know so well, and it's still fun. Though I do play COD every year I'm more of a casual player just because I'm constantly hopping from new game to new game, especially in the fall blockbuster season. With that in mind, I do have some observations.
-Specialists are a super good idea. Each of them has a special ability or special weapon that unlocks on a timer during matches (can be accelerated by racking up points). It's basically exactly like the Supers in Destiny. I usually play as Battery (who I affectionately refer to as Duchess Nukem) with the War Machine grenade launcher specialist weapon, for which you get eight shots and a short amount of time in which to fire 'em off. I lick my lips whenever the prompt for War Machine pops up. It makes me happy.
-On the other hand, one specialist ability has a whole bunch of players pretty steamed. Rejack, which allows Nomad to essentially revive himself after he's been killed. It goes like this:
The issue is the player has several seconds after being killed to trigger the ability, and in the meantime will be cloaked in a smoke cloud which complicates attempts to counter it. Folks tell horror stories of teams of Nomads dominating with Rejack, but I haven't run into that sort of thing. And when I do see a cloud, I just toss in a grenade and hope for the best. But, again, I'm not super competitive. By the way, here's what Treyarch's David Vanderhaar has to say to the Rejack-haters:
@DaFightingRobot Stop crying and shoot him.
— David Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) August 21, 2015
-In Advanced Warfare last year you could choose which of the pretty diverse array of character models you wanted to use in multiplayer but it was just a cosmetic thing. The Specialists, being named characters with unique abilities, is more involved as you now have more tangible incentives to choose one or the other. And in the first few days of the beta I noticed a pretty consistent trend about which specialists people were going with:
— Phil Owen???? (@philrowen) August 19, 2015
Seriously, it was like 80 per cent Battery and Outrider, the two women specialists you could choose from level 1 when the beta began on Wednesday and Thursday. While probably some of these are men who wouldn't ordinarily seek out the opportunity to play with a woman avatar, it seems like pretty much nobody really minds it. So yeah.
-Some spawns are pretty rough. Two of the beta maps, Evac and Combine, are fairly compact — the sort of maps you'd consider using shotguns on — and have had an issue with spawning players right next to opposing players. I've been the beneficiary of this more often than I've been a victim, but it's still awkward and cheap. There's still time to clean that up, though. Determining what needs to be fixed is the point of this thing, so I'd expect that to be addressed prior to launch given how bad spawns would not be good for the eSports scene.
TLDR: looks and feels right, specialists good, still some stuff to iron out, long live Duchess Nukem.