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Published on December 2nd, 2015 | by Don Parsons


Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Multiplayer Impressions

Last year, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare drew me in with a loot-driven multiplayer that would allow me to customize my soldiers more than ever. Advanced Warfare also brought jetpacks into play for the first time. Both of those aspects carry over to this year’s multiplayer suite in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, though I feel only the movement has been improved this year.

Managing my loadouts is one of my favorite things about Call of Duty: the sense of progression, where after almost every match I unlock something and have to tweak things. This year there’s an added layer with Specialists. Specialists all have two very specific and powerful skills that charge throughout the match. My favorite was a compound bow, which could fire 8 explosive shots that ended up being a one-shot kill if my aim was on point. Outrider, my favorite Specialist, made me feel like a big-game hunter once her bow was ready to deploy.


Each Specialist also has a passive ability if you would rather not chance your skill, such as Outrider’s Vision Pulse, which highlights enemies nearby allowing you to get the drop of them. A handful of specialists are available from the get-go, and require an unlock token (earned at each level up) to allow them into your stable. More become available as you level up though, starting at level 22, where you gain access to Seraph.

Much like last year, where customizing your operative was kind of a big deal (at least to me), each Specialist has a series of customizable options, such as taunts, head items, and clothing changes. Most of these are unlocked as you play with them and get kills. Some, however, are unlocked via the Black Market.

The Black Market is where I feel Treyarch took a step backwards. Last year, I remember getting “loot drops” rather frequently. Now, after a few hours of play, I had enough coins to lock the 10-coin loot box. Out of the two loot boxes, the 10-coin box has mostly normal stuff, while the 30-coin box has more rare stuff. That’s understandable, I play plenty of games with similar systems.


However, for the casual Call of Duty player, it will take forever to get one of these boxes. And seeing people with some cool, rare gear just made me froth at the mouth for that rare dropbox. I figured maybe at level 10, I would be awarded with a regular dropbox, but that was not the case. I had to rely on seemingly-random coins to be awarded at the end of matches.

I say seemingly-random because I could not figure out the when and why to how they dropped. I know it was not based on level, because I had 10 coins before I reached level 10. I also noticed it was not once per match, either. Either of those would have made sense, or even just saying “Oh hey, you get these coins to spend on sweet looking gear, and here’s how to get them!” I shouldn’t be confused after three hours of playing and trying to find a rhythm or reason though.

After unlocking my first loot crate at 10 coins, I was awarded two skins for specific guns, and a calling card. One of the gun skins was for a sniper rifle, which sucked because I don’t play with sniper rifles. The other was for a gun I would unlock at level 49/55. That was pretty sweet because I was level 9. Sarcasm aside, these boxes also have other customization items, for both your guns and Specialists, and the skins looked pretty awesome as opposed to the generic looking camo, arctic, gold, etc., skins you unlock just by using the guns.


Black Ops 3 retains that natural Call of Duty feeling of being rewarded after almost every match. Even on matches I played and did crummy, I typically still had something I unlocked or I leveled up or I completed some sort of challenge. I think out of the dozen games that I recorded statistics for, the only game I didn’t have anything new waiting for me was a game that I dropped in at the end. So even if the customization and loot feels a little backwards compared to last year, there’s still a rewarding feeling after the games.

Every year a new mode is added, and a slew of new maps are designed. Every map this year is designed around the changes to movement. There are strategically placed walls around the map to run across to flank enemies, which is a common theme from map to map. But while there’s usually always a map I hate, I did not find one of those this year. That might be because almost all of the maps are busier this year, with objects and buildings scattered around a little more frequently. My absolute favorite map though is Hunted, a wooded area with long lanes, but enough cover and small enough to allow me to freely wreck havoc with a shotgun.

Safeguard is the new mode this year, tasking players with protecting or destroying a a slow-moving robot. It’s an interesting mode to say the least, focusing the front line on a single point. The robot travels slowly, and once damaged enough stops to reboot. If the robot makes it to the target point, however, it’s game over, so stalling the robot as much as possible when attacking is key. Every game I played felt drastically different than the previous. Everyone has to be working the objective, otherwise the game ends miserably quick. After a few games to get used to it, me and my small crew started to enjoy it more and more. The moving target was a constant focal point, which made it more fun at times than modes like Domination, where there are three static points the entire game.

Before I wrap this assessment up, I mentioned movement felt better this year around, so let me elaborate. Running around in Call of Duty always feels like I’m playing a shooter on speed. Last year when they implemented the jetpack, it didn’t feel organic to me. It was a neat addition, but compared to other games like Titanfall, it just didn’t blend as well into the game. This year, it feels like Treyarch put more emphasis on movement. It only took one time for me to get used to running on walls, and double jumping around the map felt more fluid. So while I feel the loot portion of the game is sadly garnered more to it’s more hardcore audience, the drastic improvement in moving around the maps gets a huge thumbs up.

Black Ops 3 is the most futuristic Call of Duty entry yet, and with most of the changes implemented this year, it feels like another leg up on the previous year. Most importantly, the addition of Specialists and the more fine-tuned movement are strong additions to the Black Ops 3 multiplayer experience, making for a great multiplayer experience, despite the step backwards in the loot department.


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About the Author

got into podcasting in 2007, and transitioned into writing in late 2008. In late 2011, he went from blogging to writing for a small site called Vagary.tv. Don attended E3 for Vagary.tv in 2012. Now, Don is one-fourth of the foundation of Critically Sane.

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