Call of Duty: Black Ops III Unveiled

Future. Weapons. Technology.

Treyarch seems to be taking the cyberpunk approach to their next entry in their Black Ops franchise. The gameplay trailer certainly has a lot of flash and fancy weapons and The Rolling Stones, but forgive me if my kneejerk reaction was feeling underwhelmed.

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIIt’s probably because a game like Deus Ex exists, and is very good. Call of Duty, while destined to be a fine game as far as a shooter is concerned, does not possess the nuance to artfully dance around the social issues that classic cyberpunk presents. I love the setting, I love the progression of technology, I just think Call of Duty will end up being as subtle as if Michael Bay were to direct Blade Runner.

Aside from that, maybe an adrenaline technology augmented shooter is what’s missing from the Call of Duty franchise. Sledgehammer toyed with the idea using exo-suits and Private Military Contractors in Advanced Warfare, taking the next step in cybernetics by creating true technological super soldiers might be enough to allow Treyarch to separate them from Sledgehammer’s strong debut.

But how will the game play? Treyarch is currently positioned as the alpha in the house of CoD and with their assurance that their famed zombie mode will return, they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves for Black Ops III.

  • Dedicated servers for multiplayer, zombies and single-player
  • Single-player will add online 4-player co-op
  • Campaign level design is more open, in an arena like fashion
  • Players are customizable and level up, across all modes
  • Single player campaign has load-outs
  • Maps are designed around enhanced movement system, ala Advanced Warfare
  • Zombies mode characters earn experience points

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIIt sounds like Treyarch is creating an entirely integrated infrastructure for their players, regardless of what mode they call home. There are certainly merits to a lot of these ideas, which would be solid additions to an already taut shooter. If implemented correctly, things like the customizable load out in single player or progression on the zombie modes will keep players coming back for repeat playthroughs and keep that disc spinning until Infinity Ward is up to bat.

With a multiplayer beta test on the way and a release date of November 6, Treyarch has boldly put their stamp on the shooter space. It will be an interesting holiday to see if DICE can steal some thunder with Star Wars Battlefront, but Activision and Call of Duty seem to be dropping the hammer before they lose any momentum.

Forbes – Watch The First ‘Black Ops 3’ Gameplay Trailer, New Details Revealed

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Treyarch Confirms Call of Duty: Black Ops III in Teaser Trailer

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIToday, Activision and Treyarch unveiled a teaser trailer for 2015’s Call of Duty entry, Call of Duty: Black Ops III. This is following a series of viral marketing stunts, including placing SnapChat ads within 2012’s Black Ops II. A full reveal of Black Ops III was dated at the end of the trailer for April 26, 2015.

There’s just enough information to pick out of the Black Ops III teaser trailer to indicate that we’re going down the rabbit hole of sleeper agents and espionage again, staying in line with the storyline themes of the subfranchise. It will be interesting to see how Treyarch plans to approach their story after Black Ops II featured several branching paths which was a first for the Call of Duty franchise (short of saving Kiefer Sutherland’s Sgt. Roebuck in World at War, another Treyarch entry) at the time.

Also unannounced is whether Treyarch will further flesh out their Strike Force mode, which meshed elements of real time strategy with the frenetic action of Call of Duty’s first person shooting. The mode had potential but very much played better online than in single player.

Treyarch has come a long way from Activision’s perceived “B-team” and has since stepped out of the shadow cast by Infinity Ward. Black Ops was the best thing to happen to the studio and they also created the surprisingly addictive Zombies mode, which originally launched alongside World at War. While Sledgehammer Games has since come along to up the ante, thanks to last year’s stellar Advanced Warfare, there certainly is a fair bit of pressure to see how Treyarch reacts to the internal competition.

Advanced Warfare was a big step forward thanks to the speed and verticality the EXO-suits gave to players, greatly impacting multiplayer matches and strategy. I am curious to see if Treyarch is able to keep players interested in a more grounded Call of Duty experience, or if they choose to add some of Advanced Warfare’s mechanics into their game. It would certainly fit their technological timeline as Black Ops II was set in the near future, giving Black Ops III plenty of options chronologically.

From the Call of Duty Official Website:

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is the first title for next-gen hardware in the critically acclaimed Black Ops series. Developed by Treyarch, the award-winning creator of the two most-played games in Call of Duty history. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 deploys players into a dark, twisted future where a new breed of Black Ops soldier emerges and the lines are blurred between our own humanity and the technology we created to stay ahead, in a world where cutting-edge military robotics define warfare. With three unique game modes: Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies, providing fans with the deepest and most ambitious Call of Duty ever.

Sledgehammer Games is Third Studio Tapped for Call of Duty Development

Call of Duty Ghosts

It was bound to give eventually.

Activision’s seemingly annual trip to the bank, Call of Duty, is getting a little help on its quest to remain the most relevant shooter on a yearly basis. Sledgehammer Games will be releasing their first title in the Call of Duty franchise as lead development studio beginning with this fall’s as-yet-not-announced title to be launched most likely in October or November of 2014.

No stranger to working on a Call of Duty game, Sledgehammer Games had previously co-developed CoD: Modern Warfare 3 alongside Infinity Ward. In fact, Activision has constantly farmed out its in-house studios to assist in Call of Duty development, including the veteran teams at Raven Software and Neversoft. Although Sledgehammer Games has no marquee titles to their credit, the studio’s founders Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey are industry veterans formerly of Electronic Arts’ Visceral Studios where they led development on the first Dead Space.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

By adding a third development studio in Sledgehammer Games to the rotating former duo of Infinity Ward and Treyarch, Activision has increased the production time for Call of Duty titles from two years to three years. Sledgehammer’s upcoming fall release will be the first title made under the three year production cycle.

With the increased time to polish a product and a steady hand at Sledgehammer, I have surprisingly raised expectations for the next Call of Duty. Hopefully they will be able to tap into Schofield and Condrey’s experience with Dead Space in making tone and mood much more prominent in whatever Call of Duty comes to pass. Maybe even recall how much fun those Lord of the Rings and 007 games were back when Visceral was still EA Redwood.

Dead Space

Judging by the tepid response to Call of Duty: Ghosts, the teams at Treyarch and Infinity Ward have to be a bit burned out by now. Infinity Ward clearly has had it rough since the departure of Jason West and Vance Zampella. Modern Warfare 3 was good but not stellar and Ghosts was a regression in the series. Activision is fortunate that the Call of Duty formula is fairly bulletproof and that former second-string developer Treyarch has blossomed into the franchise’s star. Having Sledgehammer take some of the pressure off those two studios will be a good move in the long run, especially if they keep wringing the series for money.

Polygon – Call of Duty moving to 3-year, 3-studio dev cycle, Sledgehammer on 2014 game

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Review – Stepping Out of the Shadows

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Treyarch must often feel like the younger sibling in the Call of Duty family. When your older brother is Infinity Ward, the studio credited with placing Call of Duty on the map, being the underdog just comes with the territory.

Sometimes being the underdog has its perks, it allows you to experiment a bit more. While the game wasn’t as popular as European theater WWII titles and the Modern Warfare series, I found that Treyarch’s World at War to be a different take on the Pacific theater. Japanese ambushes, a different style of combat, and the hordes of enemies in the game’s finale all showed massive potential for a deeper look at the more misunderstood front of WWII. When Treyarch made Black Ops two years later, exploring the Cold War and the concept of sleeper agents, it was a bold move that showed the series still had the stones to try something a little different. In hindsight, Black Ops looks much stronger after the disappointing ending to Modern Warfare 3.

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