Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII (PC) Review

By David Lovato 02.12.2018

Review for Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII on PC

With publisher Activision Blizzard giving three different studios the keys to the Call of Duty franchise, fans have had to wait three years for the next outing worthy of the title of Black Ops, one of the most beloved and longest-running arcs of the series. Finally, Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII has arrived. What exactly does this latest entry bring to the ever-increasing Call of Duty table?

It was announced early on that Black Ops IIII would not feature a campaign, unlike every Call of Duty title before it. For a series so often criticised for changing too little between releases, as well as the developer being given an extra year of development time per game, punters might think the team would choose to add to the game, not take away from it. The team's justification is that few people play campaign mode, and while that might be true, if ever there was a Call of Duty arc that relied on its story, it was Black Ops. It's right there in the title; these are supposed to be the secret operations, the untold stories of warfare and heroism throughout history. Removing that just rings hollow, and Treyarch should have gone with a new name and started a new arc. Instead, it has shoehorned story-like missions for various characters in, coupled with beautiful cinematic scenes that only tease at the campaign that people could have gotten.

This puts the classic multiplayer experience at the forefront, and this is more or less what might e expected from any Call of Duty. Possibly the biggest new feature is that player health does not regenerate over time, and is instead tied to an item with a recharge time. This adds a surprising layer of strategy without slowing the pace at all, and it can be argued that matches are now even faster - gone are the days of finding somewhere to hide and wait for the screen to stop flashing red. Unfortunately, server lag tends to lead to some frustrating experiences, and a lot of deaths and even kills that just feel unfair. Players are also tasked with choosing from a series of mostly forgettable characters that feel forced; this isn't Leage of Legends or Overwatch. If there are actual characters with histories that people want to play as in Call of Duty, it's because they have grown with them over the years through their various campaigns. Fortunately, the team did include quite a few characters from past releases, as well. There are quite a few different modes, but the more unique experiences like Gun Game are nowhere to be found.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII on PC

The next new feature is a mode called Blackout, which is a Call of Duty take on the Battle Royale craze. From a technical standpoint, this is everything Player Unknown's Battlegrounds should aspire to be. Treyarch has taken the mould of that and improved upon it in almost every way, like including zombie NPCs that drop items and tighter gameplay and controls, but it seems it may have misjudged its audience. The matches played during review rarely reached above 70 players, and some went as low as the 20s. Textures and items pop into existence, and lag is pervasive; in one match the wait reached roughly six minutes for the game to finally begin, before being airdropped into an area with an enemy player. He landed first and picked up a gun. Cornered, it was possible to melee him - and then the game completely froze, no motion or sound or anything, for about four seconds, then snapped back into real-time, by which point death had arrived, unsurprisingly. A six-minute wait for about 30 seconds of playtime, nearly all of which was spent airdropping. Treyarch and Activision can do better.

Then there is Zombies: this is easily the most fun mode, and feels the most complete and thought-out. The maps are huge, sprawling arenas that each seem to have their own story and mechanics going on. Zombies seems to be where most of Treyarch's focus went, and it seems if it was going to drop the campaign mode, maybe it should just work on a full-blown Zombies title and leave multiplayer and Blackout as side modes. The core gameplay of Zombies is mostly the same, with players earning points, which can be spent on better weapons or unlocking pathways. Character classes can be customised with different abilities, and this mode feels like a whole game unto itself.

At no point does this feel like it should have taken three years to complete, though; even with a new mode and an expanded Zombies experience, the loss of a proper campaign and more unique multiplayer modes just makes it seem like more has been taken away than added, especially with various menus constantly reminding players that much is currently missing from the base game and will have to be purchased and unlocked later. While response times and lag could be better, as a whole, what Treyarch has done in terms of gameplay is fantastic and very fun, but as a package, it feels like an incomplete puzzle, where some pieces must be purchased later, and others are simply gone.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

In the end, Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII is a rock-solid title, but it could have been so much more. Forcing it to fit under the Black Ops moniker was a mistake, and comes across as forced, given its very light relation to the previous three titles. The whole thing smacks of Treyarch wanting to take risks and go in new directions, but stopping just shy and instead tacking older characters or ideas. Longtime fans of the franchise won't want to miss out on this - especially those who love the Zombies experience - but those who checked out of Call of Duty before likely won't find enough here to bring them back.

Also known as

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Developer

Treyarch

Publisher

Activision Blizzard

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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