E3 2015: Fighting with Friends in Call of Duty: Black Ops III
The high-octane single-player campaigns of the Call of Duty franchise have always delivered action-packed experiences with plenty of explosions and firepower, but Call of Duty: Black Ops III is looking to take it to a whole new level. The return of four-player co-op to the series will allows players to tackle the story missions together, while new gameplay mechanics will make the four players feel more powerful than ever. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is trying to bring the campaign mode onto the level of the franchise's storied multiplayer experience, and so far the results are pretty impressive.
I saw two missions from the campaign during a closed-door, eyes-on demo; both the mission shown during the Sony E3 press conference and another mission taking place earlier in the game. Each of the two missions showed all four players' perspectives at once, switching between them on the fly and giving me a taste of how players can work together to claim victory. One scene in particular showed one player pinned down by a giant war machine, so another player took control of the mech via the campaign's new Cyber Core mechanics and turned the tables on the enemy forces. That outside-the-box thinking shows me that the Black Ops III co-op campaign will be more than just blasting through stages, it'll require quick thinking and on-the-fly adjustments to secure victory.
You might be wondering what that "Cyber Core" technology I just mentioned is all about. Essentially it's a series of perks unlocked throughout the campaign allowing for some pretty impressive attacks in the midst of combat. Accessing these perks is as easy as opening a radial menu with one button press, selecting the ability you wish to use, and then unleashing it on the enemy. I saw over a dozen slots available for the Cyber Core, but the demo only showed me four of them in action.
Immolation is the most brutal of the known Cyber Core attacks, turning a single enemy into a smoking crater on the battlefield via instant combustion. The blast also damages nearby enemies, which makes the ability perfect for dealing with close groups of enemies. Remote Hijack lets a player take over an enemy drone or mech, a perfect example being the walking mech I described earlier. Using enemy tech against them is a perfect way to get the jump on a large wave of enemies, as they'll never suspect the mech behind them to start shooting at their backs.
Concussive Wave turns the players into a one-man kinetic bombardment, leaping high into the air and coming down with a massive shockwave blast that will take out any enemy within its radius. This is perfect for clearing out multiple enemies at once while also gaining ground on the battlefield at the same time. Finally we saw Firefly Swarm, perhaps the strangest of all of the Cyber Core abilities, which summoned a swarm of tiny firefly drones to attack and incapacitate enemies instantly. What's cool about this ability is while a swarm is focused on one enemy soldier, should another get too close the swarm will move to the next one and take him out as well. The demo showed the swarm take out the initial target then move on to two other poor saps who got too close, showing just how powerful that swarm can be in the right hands.
The Cyber Core technology already enhances a player's abilities in the campaign mode, but giving one squad of four co-op players each a Cyber Core will turn them into a near-unstoppable unit. Of course we don't yet know if the enemy will have this kind of technology as well, and if they do then the campaign will really get interesting. It's one thing if I can turn an enemy drone against them, it's another entirely if that enemy could do the same to me.
Fans have come to expect high-adrenaline action and explosive gameplay from the Call of Duty campaign, but Black Ops III is quadrupling the action with four player co-op capabilities and amplifying each of the players with the new Cyber Core technology. This is looking to be the craziest campaign in CoD history, and I'm looking forward to playing the full experience this fall.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III launches Nov. 6 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.