As the actress said to the bishop, well that was over very quickly. The PS4 beta on Black Ops 3 was over in a heartbeat, but what a heartbeat it was. To those of you lucky enough to still be playing on XB1 I envy you. For me… now… all I can do is reflect on what was a very enjoyable few days playing one of the most hotly anticipated game of 2015. Below are my highlights of what I think the beta showed us.
This Game Feels Ready
Does anybody else remember the crapfest that was the Battlefield 4 beta? One map, two game modes, a handful of weapons. Unpolished, unrefined and glitchy. Yes we were told that it was a beta and we should expect bugs and other issues. We were also told that the version we were testing was older than the final product. This was four weeks before launch and it didn’t exactly fill you with confidence that the final product would be ready (which it wasn’t in the end).
Compare that experience to the Black Ops 3 beta. Three maps (expanded to four), seven game modes (extended to nine) and multiple weapons (originally capped at level 28, later extended to level 40). The maps were finished and, more importantly, completely playable. There were some connectivity issues following the update halfway through but that was the only problem I experienced.
In fact it felt so good it made me question what we were actually testing. My previous experiences have found betas to be a lot more troublesome. Yet Black Ops 3 was, for the most part, problem free. If this was a beta version then the final product version on 6th November should be an absolute bomb. I think there will be some improvements and/or tweaks (depending on your point of view) made to some things but the game itself will be tight. Clearly the three year cycle has worked for Treyarch.
Boost Jumping Can Work
Let me just start this with the following caveat: I like the boost jumping in Advanced Warfare. I think the exo-suits were a genius addition to the franchise, making the game faster and adrenaline fuelled. It meant that camping was a lot harder to do (but not impossible as I later found out) and added a vertical element to gun fight we hadn’t seen before in CoD.
Not everyone was a fan, though. Most of the criticism around AW was around the boost jumping, and so when Treyarch announced there would be boost jumping in Black Ops 3 I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror. Treyarch tried to abate the over reaction by stating it was not like AW; that is was more about traversing than boosting high into the air.
And you know what, Treyarch were right. The boost jumping in BO3 is not as severe as AW at all. It is a lot more controllable and it geared towards helping the player get around the map. I still expect there will be some people who will hate it no matter what, saying CoD should not have boost jumping in any form. However I see it as something that will help Call of Duty to evolve and stay fresh and relevant in an ever competitive market.
The Paint Shop Is A Win
One of the things I really enjoyed in Advanced Warfare was the character customisation. The Supply Drops and Advanced Supply Drops (you could pay for some of those, which I wasn’t too keen on, but that’s another issue) gave players the chance to obtain new weapons and new layout items. They went from the fairly mundane to the completely bonkers. Eco Exo, I am looking at you.
I was therefore disappointed to see this feature completely disappearing. We’re getting Specialists we cannot physically alter at all, which miffed me a bit to begin with. But then I started playing around with the paint shop and that’s where the fun began.
What I basically wanted to create was something that would look cool on the Kill Cam. I’m not sure I entirely succeeded in this regard, or that people would even understand the nod I was giving to the artist Simon Bisley and his work in the ABC Warrior’s graphic novel “The Black Hole”. To be honest I didn’t really care; most of players would be too young to get it anyway.
Two guns have emerged as the front-runners for people’s favourites. First up is the Razorback SMG. It’s a gun you get quite early in the game (if not one of the default starting weapons) and is a good mix of precision and firepower. If you get your attachments right and play to the strengths of the weapon the Razorback should give you the opportunity to score quite highly and level up quickly.
It was at level 28 where I found my new best friend, though. The M8A7 is a four burst fire semi-automatic Assault Rifle that delivers high accuracy and damage. It is an absolute killing machine. My first game after switching from the Razorback was okay once I mastered the fact that I couldn’t just keep my finger on the trigger. My second match delivered a 39/3 K/D ratio. And fr this reason alone I can see this being people’s go to weapon.
The attachments are also critical of course, however added to this are the Specialists and their abilities. They each offer the choice of having an extra weapon (from bows and arrows to miniguns) or an ability (from detecting nearby enemies to increasing your scorestreak to coming back to life). And it’s the Rejack (resurrection) ability I both love and hate the most. It’s great coming back from the dead and continuing your streaks, but at the same time it does seem a little unfair. I think this is one that will get banned from competitive gaming at the very least.
Black Is Definitely Back
My overall impression of the beta was that is felt very much like a Black Ops game, which surprised me a bit. I’ve kept an eye on all of those teasers trailers, reveals and snippets of information and I will admit to judging the game before having even played it. Recently I have been reminiscing by playing a lot of Black Ops 2 multiplayer and thinking to myself how much I enjoyed the game and how they were going to replicate that feeling whilst putting all that new shit in it.
Boy was I wrong. Even with the boost jumping and wall running this feels every inch a member of the Black Ops universe. It’s like BO2 on steroids. The weapons, the balancing, the scorestreaks… it’s all very nostalgic of Black Ops. Yes it’s all new, but it all feels very familiar at the same time. Like an old friend you haven’t seen for a few years suddenly turns up and you talk as though it’s been five minutes. A bit like that.
Most importantly though it felt good, and by that I mean great. Playing Black Ops 2 recently has reminded me just how good the multiplayer was on that game. Following on from that was always going to be a big ask but Treyarch have seemingly stepped up and delivered. Make no mistake my friends, black is back. Black Is Back.