Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 launched in 2015. We’ve had Infinite Warfare, WWII, a revamp of Modern Warfare, and even an online-only version in Asia launch since then. Despite that, Activision keeps updating Black Ops 3 to the delight of its fans. The bee-themed Operation Swarm adds the popular Prop Hunt mode to Black Ops 3 multiplayer along with two new guns, some new cosmetic bits, and a night version of the Fringe map. If you’re wondering why it’s bee-themed, I guess its because getting content updates for a three year old Call of Duty title is sweeter than honey, or it’s the bees knees. The buzz is positive! It’s bee-utiful? It takes the sting out of the last couple of games? I’ll stop now.
When Treyarch last updated the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, the company hinted that they were working on more content for the game, but declined to share details. There have been rumors for a few days that something was coming soon, and now we have the official confirmation. Zombie Chronicles is an upcoming DLC pack for Black Ops 3 that features eight zombie maps from World at War, Black Ops, and Black Ops 2, but rejiggered to work with the popular (and revenue generating) GobbleGum mechanic. The PlayStation 4 will get the pack first on May 16th, while the PC and Xbox One release will be later thanks to the standing exclusivity deal with Sony.
There’s no denying that the Zombies mode in Treyarch’s Call of Duty games is popular, and the Black Ops 3 player count remains healthy despite the game being almost two years old. More zombie maps for Black Ops 3 is a no-brainer. (Sorry, undead fans.) If you’re confused by the zombie time-traveling, hidden secrets, and celebrity guest star shenanigans, there’s a timeline that can confuse you further.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on PC now offers a way for players to host their own private servers for multiplayer. Update 18 for Black Ops 3 comes with a dedicated server tool for unranked multiplayer. Hosts can manage who plays on the server, match rules, the map rotation, and even use custom assets. Speaking of new assets, the update includes more content from the campaign and zombies maps for use by custom map creators. Instructions for the server tool are here.
In related news, Treyarch revealed that more content would be coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 in 2017 for everyone. Developers Dan Bunting and Jason Blundell hinted that there is something called “Newton’s Crookbook” coming which likely involves Gobblegum crafting.
Although the new hotness of Infinite Warfare and the retro hotness of Modern Warfare Remastered are the primary push for Activision’s Call of Duty studios, it’s always good when the older titles remain supported. On PC, the Black Ops series remains the most popular of the Call of Duty entries, and Black Ops 3 in particular, is still the most played installment on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Activision is offering a stripped-down Call of Duty package on PC that only has multiplayer. The Multiplayer Starter Pack allows gamers to get in on the multiplayer portion of Black Ops 3, the latest Call of Duty, for a bargain price of $15. This version of the game gives you the ability to join the versus ranked multiplayer modes and grind to your heart’s content for 55 levels. You’ll get unlock tokens to access weapons, classes, and abilities, you’ll be able to buy Cyptokeys to gamble on bonus items, and you can purchase the DLC map packs to open up more match arenas. This is a limited-time offer that will only be available until February 29th.
There are a couple of points to consider with this offer. Since you can only max out at level 55 and you aren’t able to start over in Prestige levels with this version of the game, players will have to be judicious about their unlocks. There are 75 items to unlock in Black Ops 3, which means you’ll be missing a few wild cards, specialists, or guns. Owners of this limited package also cannot set up custom games with bots or use mod tools once they are released. The cooperative zombies mode and the story campaign are not available to the Starter Pack players. If a gamer decides to continue the level treadmill, they’ll need to purchase the Multiplayer Starter Pack Upgrade which will give them the rest of the game, including the ability to start over in Prestige levels, for $45.
We didn’t care for the story campaign or zombies mode, but the multiplayer portion of Black Ops 3 is arguably one of the best iterations of this style of gameplay. Activision has not said if the Multiplayer Starter Pack offer will come to PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
It’s microtransaction time for Destiny and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Both games are adding new in-game purchasable items, just in time for Christmas.
In Bungie’s Destiny, players now have the opportunity to buy a consumable that instantly boosts one character to level 25. The Taken King expansion came with one free boost that did the same thing, but now players can apply this level-up to another character for $30 more. Sub-class experience will still need to be earned the old-fashioned way, but with this new offering players can bypass all that pesky low-level stuff and get right to the Taken King content. Who really wants to play through a game anyway?
In Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III, cyber-soldiers can purchase Call of Duty Points a new in-game currency that can be traded for Black Market cosmetics for versus multiplayer and consumable boosts for the cooperative zombie mode. Unfortunately for fans of pay-to-win, it appears that the new system won’t allow you to unlock game-breaking advantages.
In Call of Duty: Black Ops III, you can choose to play either a male character portrayed by Ben Browder, or a female operative voiced and mo-capped by Abby Brammell. Hey, that’s neat, right? For the first time in Activision’s blockbuster shooter franchise, you can choose the gender of your main character in the campaign. If you decide to take a female through the weird and linear Black Ops III story, all the cinematics will show Abby Brammell being tough and badass because in 2065, cyber-enhanced super soldiers are all pretty much equally deadly.
How weak is it then that Call of Duty: Black Ops III goes through the trouble of offering a female main character, and then opts to refer to the player character as “Player” in the game? Throughout the tale of inter-connected consciousness and paranoid fantasy that Treyarch weaves, you are only ever Player. You don’t even get a call-sign like “Soap” or “Noob.” Christopher Meloni chews virtual scenery as John Talyor, and as bland as that name is, at least his character gets a name. They couldn’t even jazz it up by going with the more street-savvy “Playa” giving you some identity. Player please!
At the end of every Call of Duty campaign, there’s that moment of victory that gives players their time in the sun. Jets flying overhead, medals won, fireworks, and a patriotic salute! Hoo-rah, soldier! You just served up a steaming cup of freedom to the enemy and made the world safe until the next globe-spanning threat. Achievement unlocked for slogging through five hours of grenade spam and quick-time event failures. Some people get little ego boost from that, but others just think it’s a chore. Like flipping to the end of a book, why can’t they just zoom to the end of the game and get a taste of the celebration?
Developer Treyarch agrees that in this age of YouTube surfing and streaming services, it just doesn’t make sense to restrict people to linear single player campaigns. According to Jason Blundell, the director of the campaign, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will have all single player levels unlocked from the start. If you want to spoil yourself and play the ending first, go for it.
“When Netflix release House of Cards and do all the episodes, does everyone just jump to the end and go and play the last episode? Sure you can. But it’s about the journey, though, right?”
“Sure, people will jump on and play the last level. Okay. Cool. That’s up to them.”
You’ll get your chance to skip the campaign for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on November 6th when it releases on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. You could also play the game on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 where the campaign won’t be available at all.
The next time you complain about a Call of Duty trailer being a bombastic celebration of excess and pointless big-budget Hollywood star power, just remember that it could be like the video above. In Treyarch’s timeline video, the developer preps gamers for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 by catching everyone up on the convoluted story with about ten minutes of text. That’s right. You think you’re ready for prestige mode? Sit there and watch ten minutes of text and still photos. Now you’re ready for some NUK3TOWN!