Call of Duty: Black Ops 3’s Final DLC Pack has been Revealed

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3's Final DLC Pack has been Revealed

The last DLC pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops III has finally been revealed by Activision, along with the first trailer for the latest Zombie slaughter.

Salvation will be released first on Playstation 4 on September 6th, and will appear on Xbox One and PC at a later date.

The fourth and final pack, entitled Salvations is loaded with four new maps and a brand new zombie mission, entitled Revelations, which is set to conclude the ongoing zombie story line.

Mark Lamia, the studio head at Treyarch, said:

“Without a doubt, this is the most epic season of DLC that we’ve ever created for fans of Multiplayer and Zombies”

He continued:

“At this point it goes without saying, that Zombies has been a true labor of love for the studio, and I’m proud to say that this will be a defining and epic experience for the fans who have joined us over the last 8 years.”

The new trailer, which doubles as a prologue, suggests that Revelations will be just as fun and whacky as previous zombie missions, but don’t just take our word for it, check it out yourself below:

A press release from Activision says:

“In Revelations, we meet up with the Origins characters after they’ve taken an epic journey through space and time–all of their struggles lead to this very moment”

In this, the final chapter of the Zombies experience, Richtofen, Dempsey, Takeo, and Nikolai finally come face to face with the mysterious Doctor Monty in The House. Confronted by an ancient evil, our heroes must fight the zombie horde once more in the final battle to save their immortal souls.”

Two of the four new maps are original creations, those being Citadel and Micro. While the remaining two are reimagined versions of classic maps from previous Treyarch Call of Duty titles. These are: Outlaw, from Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Rupture, from Call of Duty: World at War.

The official descriptions are listed below:

  • Citadel: Once home to a powerful medieval army, this ancient castle now sits broken and abandoned. Tight corners force close-quarters engagements, while the moat and drawbridge allows for unique player movement opportunities in this mid-sized map. The last trespassers didn’t make it out alive–maybe you’ll have a better shot.
  • Micro: What’s better than a BBQ on a hot summer day? A miniaturized war zone that takes place on a well-stocked family picnic table, that’s what! Navigate this bite-size battlefield for a larger-than-life experience.
  • Outlaw: Gear up for a showdown in Outlaw; a western-style reimagining of the fan favorite map Standoff from Call of Duty: Black Ops II. This rough-and-tough medium-sized map brings classic engagements, flanking routes and strategic positions for long and medium ranged combat.
  • Rupture: The Call of Duty: World at War classic Outskirts is reimagined as a high-tech facility, designed by a futuristic society desperate to repair the Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Call of Duty: Zombies Comic Hitting Shelves This October

Call of Duty: Zombies Comic Hitting Shelves This October

Love it or hate it, Activision’s Call of Duty franchise continues to be a sales juggernaut. But even series skeptics have historically been drawn to the Zombies mode, which often feature surprising narratives and compelling horde-based co-op. Now, this October, fans will have even more to sink their teeth into when Dark Horse releases a six-issue comic series adapting the hit series.

Read moreCall of Duty: Zombies Comic Hitting Shelves This October

Black Ops III Announces Eclipse DLC

Black Ops III Announces Eclipse DLC

Call of Duty: Black Ops III has its newest batch of DLC. Titled Eclipse, Treyarch Studios livestreamed the reveal on their official YouTube channel, as well as on the PS4 Live Event Viewer. The DLC launches April 19 on PS4.

Eclipse includes four new multiplayer maps and a new Zombies experience. The maps are named Spire, Rift, Knockout and Verge and they differ greatly.

Spire takes place in a futuristic sub-orbital airport terminal set far above the clouds. The map features a clean, high-tech environment. One wrong move and players could be sent plummeting back to Earth. While, Rift is a futuristic military complex suspended rail system for players to navigate. The map takes place over an active caldera that poses a constant threat to players.

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Knockout sets the stage for a brutal kung fu tournament in a traditional Shaolin Temple. It is a mid-sized map that features mid-range engagements in the temple’s exterior and close-quarters combat in the 1970’s styled interior. And Verge is a re-imagination of the classic Call of Duty: World at War map, Banzai. Verge is set in a distant post-apocalyptic future, with two warring factions constantly at the other’s throat. The map features a central bridge, fortresses, tunnel systems and waterfalls open for players to explore.

The Zombies experience is called Zetsubou No Shima, which sees the heroes of Black Ops III Zombies travel to a remote Pacific island. The island features a secret laboratory that was used for some very shady experiments. The lab is a Division 9 facility that used element 115 to experiment on humans, animals and plants.

Eclipse launches first for PS4 on April 19, and roughly one month later for Xbox One and PC. It is unknown whether the DLC will be available on PS3 or Xbox 360.

The pack costs $14.99 to buy individually, and is part of the $50 season pass.

Eclipse is the second of four DLC packs promised for the Black Ops III season. The first pack, Awakening, released on PS4 in February.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (PS4) Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (PS4) Review

Okay, so I’m going to level with everyone here for a minute. There was a time, not so long ago, when I was a huge Call of Duty fan. I was first introduced to the series with Call of Duty 2 and began sinking countless hours into the game with friends and by myself. I would eagerly buy each new installment, and just plough through the campaign, and play online when my parents graced me with some Xbox Live money. But then something happened. The series changed to a yearly installment model. It wasn’t bad at first, but as each passing entry released, something was missing. The once exciting, invigorating, and innovative series grew stale in my eyes. It began to feel like more of a reskin of older games I loved, just without the excitement and newness that came along with it. I began to fall out of love with Call of Duty. Despite its immense success, I just couldn’t enjoy what it offered. Each new title surrounded with the hype, and huge sales numbers turned me bitter. It felt like there wasn’t anything left for the series to offer except a supremely polished gameplay lacking any soul. That was before I played Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. This is the shot in the arm the franchise needed. It keeps the Call of Duty formula we’ve all come to know, but adds so much more, that it feels like the first big step forward for the series in a long time.

codblops3insert1Players are dropped in the kind-of distant future of 2065, 40 years after the events of Black Ops 2. The world is a mess of overpopulation, extreme climate change, and mass displacement around the globe. Countries develop more sophisticated ways to fight, and the use of robotics is more commonplace in the military. While on a mission to rescue a kidnapped politician from the evil NCR, you’re critically injured by a battle bot. You’re beaten so bad that once you’re rescued they essentially have to turn you into Darth Vader. You’re part man, part machine, and, you get your own robo-version of the force with something called Direct Neural Interface (called DNI for short), so you manipulate machines around you. This is the beginning of your life as a new and improved Black Ops soldier and gives you a reason to use all the new game mechanics. The one you’ll use the most is the wall run ability. It’s a really fun addition that changes up the way maps are laid out and can allow for different ways to get to any destination. Normally I have issues with parkour in games, usually because you never quite get the angle you hope for, but in this instance, it worked almost perfectly every time I used it. The DNI is such a game changer in other ways, too. The very nature of your abilities and upgrades alter your strategy as you go into any battle. You can take control of enemy machines, or send out a swarm of killer nano-bots if you have the skill. It gives you an alternative to any situation. You get an opportunity to really think out your next move, which is something pretty rare in twitch shooters.

After your training to get used to these new mechanics, five years pass and you’re tasked with the investigation of a blacked out CIA outpost in Singapore. Without getting into spoiler territory, this is the first big event that gets the ball rolling in a plot that feels like it has something to say about the progression of technology and how much control it has over us, with the DNI tech literally controlling the thoughts of some characters. But if feels like they stopped just short of fully committing to a social commentary. That’s okay though, because this isn’t really the place to have these types of discussions, even if it is an interesting take. The plot isn’t without its issues, though. To start, the characters are very one-dimensional. I never fully got behind anyone, or their motivations. Some of that has to do with some truly cringe-worthy scriptwriting and even worse delivery. Some of the dialogue only exists to show players the limitless technology the people in this universe have at their disposal, but it just comes across as awkward and forced. There is no need for a soldier to ever tell me the chocolate bar he’s eating is indescribably good; that’s a weird thing to say before you’re deployed to a battlefield. There is also something really strange about the voice of the main character. It doesn’t suit him at all and feels more comedic than serious. I couldn’t take him seriously a lot of the time, and that’s never a good sign.

codblops3insert2That’s okay, though because we have Jeff freaking Goldblum in the game! Well, not in the main story; he’s one of the characters in the all-new Zombies story, Shadows of Evil.  This tale is set in the fictional Morg City in 1942 and follows four characters, each with their own dark, messed-up pasts. They’re offered a chance at redemption by ritualistically sacrificing people to the Shadowman. This is the standout version of Zombies. Its intense Noir setting and over-the-top, bonkers plot twist made this one of the most enjoyable parts of the game. The second storyline, The Giant, is an alternative take on the original characters of the series. It’s nowhere near as captivating as the other plot, but it’s Zombies and still fun. The gameplay is similar to the versions of the past. Players take out waves of undead and demonic creatures while slowly upgrading their weapons and unlocking new parts of the map. It’s fun to play alone, but with people online is the best way to go.

That goes for almost every part of the game. We all know by now that this series’ bread and butter is the online play. The community is always strong, and sometimes vocal, but they’re loyal and Black Ops 3 spoils them. It’s all about mixing the old with the new, similar to how DNI added something fresh to the normal COD gameplay, changes to the online mode make this game feel fresh as well. To start, all maps are built to accommodate the boost jump and the all-new wall running mechanic. This means there are many alternate paths that wouldn’t be imaginable in past games. Players will be familiar with the Pick 10 System that’s back where players choose 10 items for their own customizable loadout, with up to six attachments on any gun, but they’ll be pleasantly surprised with the all-new “specialists” characters that replace your generic soldier from past entries. There are 10 different characters to choose from, and they all have little backstories that make each one unique. They also give players the choice of a special ability or weapon to bring to the battlefield. I really liked this addition, as it adds a level of individuality to the game; their personalities are all different and they have their own taunts and things to yell, too. This is one of the most fresh and fleshed-out online experiences to hit the series in some time.

codblops3insert5I was legitimately surprised with how much I enjoyed Black Ops 3 as a whole. For a series that has felt so stagnant for so long, it’s nice to see a big step forward in the franchise. It reminded me why Call of Duty is one of the most influential series’ on the planet, even if it didn’t reflect that for a while. But by adding something fresh to a tried and true formula, Treyarch set a benchmark for the series, and I feel bad for the talented men and women at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games who have to follow this title up. Not only did this title remind me why I love videogames, it reminded me why I loved Call of Duty all those years ago.

Is An Easy Game Always Bad?

Is An Easy Game Always Bad?

Balancing difficulty in games is difficult, or at least it seems that way. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor has received some flak from players who say the game is too easy, but there is a difference between poor game design and subjectively disliking a choice. If a bass player is hitting a lot of wrong notes then they aren’t playing bass very well, but you can’t say they suck at playing bass because they’re playing reggae, and you don’t like reggae.

It’s easy to make a game challenging by stacking the odds against the player. Call of Duty: World at War on veteran difficulty was particularly good at this. I remember struggling through it by yelling at my television and throwing my controller (yes I was one of those kids). I reached the second to last level titled “Heart of the Reich” where players are tasked with storming the final bastion of Nazi defense, and to this day that was the stupidest form of difficulty I’ve ever encountered in a video game. Players must reach the Reichstag building through an infinite amount of Nazi’s. These goose stepping jerks would pour out from behind a wall, and if or when you finally found yourself behind said wall- expecting to find a portal from hell that perpetually regurgitates the same 10 guys you’ve been killing over and over again – you find nothing but another Nazi-vomiting wall 20 feet ahead of you. So you can try to clear them out but they’ll spawn just as fast as you can kill them and if you move out from cover to move up you just run into a surprise party with the grenade family who have brought a few hundred of their bullet friends. That’s as far as I got because at that point it was either stop playing or be prepared to buy a lot more controllers.

I don’t consider this bad design because it frustrated me though. It’s bad because it makes success reliant on chance and exploitation rather than a proficiency in the game’s mechanics. It opposes what the game is trying to accomplish. I don’t know what Treyarch’s intentions were with World at War. Maybe their goal with the veteran difficulty was to simulate the often futile nature of combat in the Second World War, but that would be very inconsistent with the tone throughout the rest of the game so I’m going to chalk that particular part of an otherwise great game to lazy design.

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There are almost as many ways to approach this problem as there are games. A lot of RPG’s, for example, scale the difficulty of enemies with the level of the player, but this too is done in different ways and to varying degrees of success. It was particularly frustrating when that scaling was done in chunks as opposed to gradually. The dungeon rats you’d fight at level one, for example, would be a pain, then by level four you’d feel stronger as they became easier to kill and at level five everything would scale up and they’d get harder again. Systems like that make you aware that you’re playing a game and cause players to exploit the system in their favour.

The biggest problem with this approach is it almost removes any sense of player progression. Players feel their strength increase as they level up and then all of that becomes quickly undone as enemies become instantly and, what seems like, arbitrarily, harder. The ability to power up or level up your character throughout a game is mechanic found throughout a number of genres, but more often than not, in my experience, it doesn’t transpire into a real sense might by the end of the game.

A goal of the team at Monolith with Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor, was to create a player progression that ended with that player feeling very powerful, like the kind of person who could destroy an entire army single-handed. The evidence for this is in the late game abilities you get, the story the game tells, and the words at least one designer. In an interview with Game Informer, the Director of Design, Michael de Plater, mentions the types of player motivation the team focused on. He talks about one of these being “making you feel extremely powerful in terms of how much you can actually dominate and manipulate your enemies, and the world.” That was one of their objectives when designing the game and unless you are in the camp that was seriously frustrated with the combat I think they succeeded.

 

I think where Monolith may have failed its players is in the lack of difficulty choice. At least with World at War there were difficulty options. In Shadow of Mordor there are ways to remove the icons that warn you of an incoming attack, but that doesn’t require you to become better at the combat, just better at identifying the enemies who are telegraphing their incoming attack. It is possible that difficulty options were in the game and then later taken out. In a Reddit AMA de Plater mentions that during demos the team would lock the difficulty to easy, but there has been no confirmation of this.

The difficulty with difficulty is that games are subjective and everyone is going to approach them with their own experiences and opinions. Some people seem to want everything to be Dark Souls, and although they handled this issue really well I’m sure there are plenty of people who have no interest in that style of game. I find it refreshing that Shadow of Mordor embraces the idea of making the player feel powerful, and maybe that’s not the game you are interested in but it doesn’t make it a bad game.

Call of Duty is Still Pretty Great

Call of Duty is Still Pretty Great

Every year I think I’m done with Call of Duty, but, without fail, my resolve ends up falling apart and I find myself picking up the latest entry to the franchise a couple of months after its release. The same thing has, of course, happened in the last few weeks. Despite very little interest leading up to its release I’ve been playing a decent amount of Call of Duty: Black Ops II and have been, contrary to what I would have expected last summer, really enjoying the experience.

Read moreCall of Duty is Still Pretty Great