As a longtime fan of Call of Duty I’ve been pretty vocal about how bad I think the franchise has become. After a decent amount of time in the Black Ops 3 beta, I still stand by my opinion that this game has lost its soul and identity. For those who have been playing since the inception of the franchise there is no getting around it, this game is completely new and worlds different than most of the previous COD titles. They have stripped down the game into a very fast paced, arcade-esque, quick twitch shooter. There is no depth here, nothing vibrant or dynamic. The game still primarily consists of players quickly darting around the map, running around corners or hiding around them, doing their best to find the quickest builds and guns to get the drop in the hundreds of gun fights that await them. Someone in my stream said the environments look like they are designed by IKEA and I had to laugh, because it does all look so pristine and modern that the game feels neutered and bland, like the abundance of overly clean special effects and green screen obsession in Star Wars Episodes 1-3. But, I simply cannot deny it, the game is still incredibly fun, especially with a team that is working together.
Hits finally hit
One of my biggest gripes with Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 2 was the horrendously inconsistent nature of the games. In both of those titles most gun fights felt decided by unseen lag compensation or in-game lag placed in the game to shrink the skill gap in order to give lesser skilled players more kills. While it remains to be seen or announced if Black Ops 3 will have dedicated servers, I have found the connections and hit detection to be incredibly smooth and reliable. Out of roughly 30-40 games I only had 2 or 3 where the connection and certain players seemed to be getting lag compensation kills. This could have been players with really bad internet or it could have just been the nature of online gaming. So, at a ground level, I’m having a surprisingly good experience, at least when I play with a team.
Play with a team
My experience with Call of Duty since World at War has been pretty universal: it always goes better with a team. The first day I tried Black Ops 3, I had a few good games, but even Kill Confirmed quickly devolved into a frustrating endeavor as most players make almost no effort to play the game modes properly. So my advice, after a second day of roughly 20 games with only 2 losses, is to always play with a team, and communicate. And for the sake of everyone’s sanity, don’t cap the third point in Domination! I will say, however, if you try to play with friends be warned, getting into games is the biggest challenge and problem with the beta.
This is why you beta test
Given the choice between the game itself being buggy and getting into the game being buggy, I suppose I would pick the latter. Thankfully this is the area where most people are complaining and finding trouble rather than in-game glitches, bugs, or lag being major issues. Initially the beta code redemptions were having trouble, which is unfortunate given that the PS4 beta coming first should have worked out some of these kinks. Given that the XBOX One is a completely different platform, however, I can understand new problems and bugs emerging with the software. If you run this beta solo you will probably encounter almost none of the issues my friends and I ran into today. After games it would randomly drop people from the lobby, which would require the party leader backing everyone out. This often caused a few members of the party to have their game completely freeze requiring a force quit or sometimes their entire XBOX would freeze. Then rebuilding the party in a lobby becomes problematic because you sometimes simply cannot send a person an invite and must back out to the main screen and re-create the lobby. We had the best luck being in an XBOX party, starting a fresh lobby after anyone disconnected, and sending invites to the game through the XBOX party option, “Invite party to game”. Even when we did this we encountered freezes and people being unable to join.
This had me continually saying, “Thank goodness they are doing a beta”. My theory is that since this is the first legitimately built from the ground up next-gen Call of Duty that they knew there would be problems with the software launching and running smoothly. Thankfully once in the game the engine, connections, and hit detection all seem to be working far smoother than Ghosts, Advanced Warfare or Black Ops 2. I am concerned, however, that lag compensation and in-game lag are features that can be turned on or patched in post-launch, leaving many of us feeling duped and tricked. If this is how the game runs after launch, then I’m very excited to have a game where my friends and I can dominate once again. After the win streak my friends and I were able to put in today, often without a full team and everyone using mics, I’m anticipating a lot of Black Ops 2 fanboys finding their precious in-game lag and lag compensation no longer holding their hand. Look for an influx of week one 1-star reviews from all of the fans who suddenly can’t scrape together the kills they used to get with their throttled connection, lag switches, and connection advantages. So as the title of this post says, I’m enjoying the game and I’m hesitantly excited.
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