For the first time in franchise history, the annual Call of Duty multiplayer experience was on full display at this year's E3. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is taking the franchise to a whole new level of action and customization, focusing on three main tenets to make the entire experience feel unique: new movement abilities, new soldiers called Specialists, and an all new gun customization tool called the Gunsmith. Black Ops III is trying to be the most ambitious CoD yet, and that ambition starts with multiplayer.

Treyarch has completely redesigned how players will move through a skirmish, giving them plenty of options on how to approach an enemy. It starts with a "guns up" approach, or the idea that players should be able to move freely without losing the ability to shoot instantly, keeping their guns up and at the ready at all times. Walking forward, sideways, or backward will always show the barrel of a gun ready to fire, even during sprints or other fast movement.

Black Ops III also has new techniques allowing for easy and quick traversal of obstacles. The Thrust Jump is a double jump that lets players change direction in mid-air with a simple button press. giving more vertical versatility during jumps. Power Slides let players slide under low-hanging pipes or platforms by pressing the crouch button during a sprint, making sure that nothing can stop forward motion. Wall-running and even swimming are now no problem during a fight, so players need not worry about any environmental obstacles.


Movement has some brand new merits, but choosing a character in Black Ops III is even more of a new experience. The game will offer nine "specialists," or nuanced characters with certain attributes, abilities, and special weapons, and Treyarch introduced six of them at E3. Ruin is a powerhouse that can slow time with his Overdrive ability and use his gravity spikes for massive ground pound shockwaves. Outrider wields a high-powered bow with explosive arrows and the Vision Pulse ability that allows her to see enemies through walls. Reaper is a prototype battle robot with a massive mini-gun for an arm and the ability to create decoys to distract enemies. Seraph is an assassin with a powerful hand cannon called "The Annihilator" and the Combat Focus ability that adds multipliers to killstreaks for quick rewards. Finally there's Prophet with a powerful lightning gun and equipment that lets him warp to a place he had already run through, and Nomad who can revive himself with his Rejack ability and plant mines filled with miniature insect-like creatures. If these are the six Treyarch has already mentioned, there's no telling what the last three can do.

The final cog in the massive overhaul that Black Ops III brings to multiplayer lies in the Gunsmith area, letting players tinker with every gun in the game exactly to their liking. Optics, attachments, camo, special paint, and more can all be tweaked with no restrictions. There are five available slots for attachments, including extra equipment for guns or in-game perks a la previous Call of Duty games. My personal assault rifle came fitted with a red dot sight and a grip, and I was even able to replace one of my perks with another equipment slot for extended magazines. I could have spent a lot of time just tinkering with my gun, as it's a really deep and involved customization tool that I can already see longtime CoD fans gushing about for weeks.

The Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer experience is a deep, highly competitive arena with plenty of new ways for players to take the lead. New movement options, new gun customization options, and new soldier specialists give everyone who jumps into the game plenty of ways to make the experience their own. There's a lot to like about the direction that Black Ops III is taking, and I'm looking forward to seeing more later this year.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III launches Nov. 6 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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