Every year, the cycle begins again as an all new Call of Duty title is released and people flock to stores in droves for its midnight release. They run home, play online and maybe toy around with the campaign to get a feel of every weapon the game has to offer. However, this year the folks at Activision decided to change up the formula of the traditional Call of Duty experience, and bring gamers an early glimpse at the gameplay on a select few of the maps and modes in order to get them even more exciting for the new experience. Thus we are introduced to the first open multiplayer beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.

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As blasphemous as changing the Call of Duty formula may sound, the open beta of Black Ops 3 actually had a lot more to offer than meets the eye. The experience in general wasn’t all that different from what we know from playing CoD year after year, so you could say BO3 is the same as every other Call of Duty title in recent history. Except when it’s not.

Gameplay in a Call of Duty game may not historically be the most innovative, but this title actually seeks to freshen up the somewhat worn out combat of simple running and gunning with the introduction of new weapons I never knew I wanted. These weapons come with the new specialist classes, that are a wonderful new addition to the series all by themselves. Players now unlock and upgrade their weapons based on their character specialty, with each kill charging up a exclusive secondary weapon. Although players may already be familiar with classes like Snipers and Assault, the Outrider and Prophet classes respectively offer much more than the usual change in loadout. Players may have never realized how much they wanted a bow and with explosive arrows in a first person shooter, but after they blow up an enemy who is wall running to a hidden sniper position, they may never go back.

Each ability is unique to the characters play style, with each having its own duration or limited use restrictions. For example, characters who unlocked a super charged weapon, such as the Prophet or Outrider, will only get to use this weapon for a two minute period of time. The Ruin class on the other hand, which is all about strength and speed, carries explosive Gravity Spikes which create a shockwave whenever they are slammed into the ground. Although this a very effective tool to take out multiple enemies in one hit, you only have the one time use of it. The unfortunate aspect of these perks are that players can only choose one ability when creating a subclass, meaning that although you can earn each specialty’s weapon and ability, you have to figure out which one works for you.

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The Call of Duty franchise has never really punished you for running and gunning your way through a map, but it has always rewarded you for thinking things through. Such is the case when choosing weapons and abilities. The Outrider for instance, has an amazing bow that blows targets up, and as fun as that is to use, the tactical ability Vision Pulse, which generates a real time radar that shows nearby enemy locations, is of much more use to a player with a steady hand. When playing the Battery character, the War Machine grenade launcher just adds to the fun of aggravating other players, whereas her secondary ability, Kinetic Armor, makes you virtually invincible. With a special shield that turns enemy bullets into dust when they hit you, players have the chance to stand back, earn kills, rush in to grab the flag and at the very least make it out of the enemy base without getting even a single scratch.

The greatest improvement to the core Call of Duty multiplayer experience is maneuvering around the battlefield with the jetpack. Realizing the subtle differences that actually do make Call of Duty an fast-pace and effective shooter, the developers at Treyarch have tailored the new jetpacks to the weighted combat of the series. In traditional CoD gameplay, your characters are always weighed down by the world around them. Your footsteps are much louder, your jumps just barely get you off the ground, you run in short bursts and the weapons are usually bigger and heavier than other games. In this respect, Call of Duty’s jetpack had to feel equally as heavy in order for it to make sense in the gameplay. Although the jetpack has an incredibly short duration and keeps you airborne for a short amount of time, the actual lift is much more powerful, resulting in a higher jump to longer distances.

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In comparison to the previous installation, Advanced Warfare, the visuals are slightly improved. The characters’ facial expressions are slightly more detailed and the lighting of the environments is one of the best work I’ve seen this generation. The death animations, however, are still a little stunted. Sure the bodies fall with the momentum of the bullets, but the blood that spews still looks like a two dimensional sprite, and more often than not, continues to defy gravity after a hailstorm of bullets. That can be really distracting at first, and usually shakes you out of your zone. Lets hope this will be fixed in the full release.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3’s online multiplayer is an immensely fun experience assuming you and your team don’t suck, but at this point in time, players who complain about Call of Duty franchise are ultimately the ones at fault. People know by now what CoD is and if it’s not your type of game then this entry isn’t going to sway you. However, for gamers who were waiting for the next step in their Call of Duty experience, or are simply looking to keep up with competitive players, this entry has a good chance of keeping your attention until long after the last DLC is released.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be available on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC on November 6.

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