5 Things We Learned from the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Beta

While we’ve only had a a bit shy of a week to suck the marrow out of the recent Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta, heaven knows we put in as many hours as we could to glean as much info as we could. So if you didn’t have a chance to join the fun, here are some of the key takeaways that we were left with after our time with the game shootin’, glitchin’, and killstreakin’.

1) Black Ops 3’s Pace Is Slower Than Previous Call of Duty Titles
For most of us, this is a good thing. There’s more of a Gears of War feel to the traversal in Black Ops 3 than ever before – cover, movement, and change of speed (i.e. going from moving relatively fast to really fast for a brief moment) all play bigger roles here than they have in previous titles. There’s more of a sense of being able to catch your breath and plan in Black Ops 3 multiplayer than there has been in earlier titles in the series; that doesn’t necessarily mean there actually is more time to sit around doing nothing, but it feels like the pace is slower.

2) Verticality Is Significantly Increased
The “thrust jump” (back from Advanced Warfare) and new wall-running move mean that you can really go up in the air and stay there in Black Ops 3. It provides a lot more angles on the battlefield – half the time, we ended up raining lead on people’s heads from above – than earlier Call of Duty titles, and almost gives the game an Unreal Tournament-esque feel, with more sci-fi realism.

3) You’re Playing a Superman, Not Just a Super-soldier

Black Ops 3’s Specialist classes literally have superhuman abilities, like the ability to teleport instantaneously backwards from a dangerous situation (“glitching”), which is very different from what most folks probably expect from this series. This is a Call of Duty game that doesn’t spend a lot of time going for realism – but, instead, embraces the bells-and-whistles that come with futuristic concepts like cybernetics, virtual reality, and bio-engineered tissues. This affects not just the game’s look and ethos, but also the way that players will build their character classes, and how they’ll expect enemies to behave.

4) The Maps Are Up-close and Personal
While Black Ops 3’s maps feature a lot of vertical space (and the designers have provided plenty of surfaces, pitfalls, and traps to take advantage of it), most of the rest of the space is pretty cramped. Even in light of the aforementioned slower pacing, these tighter quarters mean you’ll still need great reflexes, accuracy, and the right equipment at the right time to turn matches in your favor. So, in that sense, things are very much the same as ever in Black Ops 3.

5) Classes and Special Abilities Really Matter
In some previous Call of Duty games, special abilities were – at best – supplemental to your play style. In Black Ops 3, they’re largely determinative of it. If you’re a hunter-killer, you’ll need the Vision Pulse ability to seek out hidden enemies… but if you’re a quick scout who wants to get behind enemy lines, you’ll need the Glitch ability. These are tied to classes, and will eventually be subject to an ability “draft” before competitive matches, so that each ability will only be selectable by one player per match. These make for some real game-changers this time around, so it definitely pays to learn the ins and outs of the classes and abilities in Black Ops 3.

Of course, at the end of the day, the core gameplay that makes all Call of Duty titles fun and competitive is still at the heart of Black Ops 3. The developers at Treyarch haven’t reinvented the wheel here, but they don’t really need to and their changes have made a significant difference in the way that players will experience competitive matches when Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 hits Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows PC on November 6.