Trying to get people to care about Call of Duty’s campaign is hard. The continued success of the multiplayer — along with the obvious appeal of Zombies – means the single-player has taken a backseat over the last few years. While never overtly said, it seems those behind one of gaming’s biggest franchises are well aware of this and have decided with Black Ops 3, it’s time to try and tip the balance. How? With these 8 things:
1 – You can play the last level first
Treyarch sees Black Ops 3 as your content, or so it says during a presentation I recently sat through. As such, it wants you to approach it the way you see fit, including unlocking every single-player campaign level from the off. That means if you want to start the game and play the last level first you can, or you can pick a random stage from halfway through should that take your fancy.
While this may seem somewhat bizarre for a game that’s putting a tremendous focus on story, it’s the developer’s way of making the non-multiplayer portion of Black Ops 3 feel like it’s an experience unique to you. There’s no rules. No heavy-handed setup meaning there’s only one way to go through it. You can even play with friends regardless what rank they are too. Hell, you can even trade weapons if you want…
The point is, much like you can jump into an online match without much barrier to entry, you can now do the same offline. It’s a smart move.
2 – Campaign is aiming for as much customisation as multiplayer
The open-ended campaign is helped by what Treyarch is calling a ‘system agnostic’ setup. While there are countless abilities and perks in place which you can choose to use during the single-player, the developer is attempting to balance them so none outshines the others. Some may benefit a certain individual’s play style more, but this is exactly the point Black Ops 3 is trying to make: Finding the right balance isn’t necessarily the same for everyone. Like its levels, you can approach the campaign – load-outs, weapons, guns, teabagging – how you want.
3 – There’s an offline lobby, kind of…
A lot of this comes through what is known as ‘The Safe House’. Essentially a lobby for the campaign, it’s here where you choose what Call of Duty mode you want to partake in.
You can visit a computer to learn more about Black Ops 3’s narrative, change your emblems, discover hidden game modes, customise your character, see what collectibles you’ve found, read up on in-game challenges to attempt, muck around with your loadout, build a weapon, choose your wildcards… If it sounds familiar it should, because while dressed up a little differently, it’s as ‘multiplayer’ as the campaign has ever felt.
4 – There’s numerous abilities and all can be upgraded
As you’d expect from anything with Call Of Duty stamped on the front, abilities and perks play a huge role throughout. With Black Ops 3, though, Treyarch wants to offer so many, you’ll have to really think about what works for you. All allegedly based on technology that the military is working with right now, most will be familiar to anyone who has toyed with the series in the past.
Known here as ‘Cybercores’, there’s different pros and cons to each. ‘Martial’, for example, grants the power of ‘Takedown’ – a huge punch which results in a one hit kill – along with perks such as Active Camo, Concussive Wave, and Overdrive (aka speed).
Next is ‘Chaos’, which enables you to fire electricity, tap in to enemy explosives, call in a defence drone and, most interestingly of all, use something called Sonic Anti-Air. Which makes your rival vomit to death.
On the flip side to this is ‘Control’. More focused on taking on the robotic threat in Black Ops 3, you’ll be able to activate ‘Protocol Override’ — which turns robots in your favour — ‘Surge’ — that specially targets a robot and blows them up — ‘Remote Hijack’ — where you can pilot an enemy robot — and ‘Ravage Core’ — which turns a robot into an explosive. If you want to wage war against the machines, this gives you the advantage.
There are more of these to toy around with as well, the idea being that because Black Ops 3 is focused on co-op, there’s enough options to mix and match between all four players.
5 – Future technology is key
It doesn’t end there in terms of how technology influences Call Of Duty’s battlefield. Tactical Mode and Enhanced Vision take the role of old concepts but jazz them up in a way that not only attempts to make them feel fresh, but also works within Black Ops 3’s story.
All assigned to the D-Pad, you’ll be able to wall-run, steal enemy fingerprints (in order to use their weapons), revive teammates, trigger night-vision and deflect projectiles. Most have been implemented in some form previously, the change here coming via which ones you decide to bring to your game, especially if you and three friends are going through the campaign in co-op. There’s no point all using the same skillsets.
6 – You now know who can kill you
What’s brand new are colour-coded areas which will be mapped out across a point of conflict. These let you know how many eyes are on you should you enter a certain zone — it brings a different side to Call Of Duty not often seen.
Yes, it’s still very much a traditional shooting gallery experience, but the slightly more open maps and aforementioned mechanics means there’s a twist to proceedings.
7 – Zombies is bigger than ever
It should come as no surprise that Zombies has taken a huge step forward this year. What started as an afterthought in the original Black Ops is now, arguably, as popular as multiplayer and has taken strides to match that mode’s depth.
Featuring Jeff Goldblum, Ron Perlman, Heather Graham and Neal McDonough, it all takes place on a map known as ‘Shadows Of Evil’ and the 1930s noir-inspired setting of Morg City.
With a full progression system, upgrades and unlocks, Zombies now sits alongside its counterparts as a fully-fleshed out mode. The level itself, for example, is huge, consisting of multiple layers and areas to kill waves of the undead.
8 – Complete Black Ops 3’s campaign for an unlock
We don’t know what it is, but Treyarch was very insistent that Call Of Duty fans will want to finish Black Ops 3’s single-player for some desirable content. So keep that in mind. Unless it’s just a character skin. In which case, it better be Robert McNamara. Or Castro.
Overall Treyarch has been very smart in how it structures its campaign, evolving it to the point where it doesn’t feel like an afterthought or struggling to keep up with the ever-successful multiplayer.
This, of course, isn’t a guarantee that folk won’t just jump online straight away without a second’s thought. But it’s a damned good way to make them think twice.