Call of Duty: Black Ops PS4 Multiplayer Beta Impressions

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This was originally posted in a Call of Duty: Black Ops III beta impressions thread on NeoGAF but I decided to massage it into a post here:

I came away from the Call of Duty: Black Ops III PlayStation 4 multiplayer beta feeling positive and optimistic. The most glaring issue was the networking and matchmaking performance. It would be a damn shame if both of those areas do not improve in the final release. Dedicated servers would be greatly appreciated.

I thought the PS4 beta felt great. I liked the size of the maps and the pace of the game. I enjoyed the mobility options in Advanced Warfare but I felt the games were too frenetic at times and the “time to kill” felt too low for a game that’s trying to promote mobility.

I felt BLOPS3 nailed the blend of TTK and mobility. It reminded me a lot of BLOPS2 with a touch of mobility options. There were numerous occasions where I saw an enemy late, they shot at me, and I was still able to get into cover and retaliate. I didn’t feel like that was the case with AW or in any COD title since BLOPS2. Guns still felt lethal when targets were within the gun’s optimal range but the bullet damage drop off seems to be more drastic outside that range which could explain how I’m surviving more firefights.

The idea behind the AW suit powers was sound but the implementation was flawed because I felt it wasn’t worth the sacrifice of an attachment or a perk. Giving everyone an added ability via the Specialist class without occupying a crucial class slot was the right choice. They served like mini-scorestreak rewards which had the potential to turn around a player’s performance in a round.

For the first time in a long time since I felt the SMG class was a viable option for me in certain maps. I can’t recall a game after COD4 where I actually made an SMG class and used it regularly. I also noticed that silenced weapons were no longer a prevailing option for people. In the last few games, I felt like I was a huge disadvantage if I wasn’t using a silencer.

As for deaths by scorestreaks? I felt it was manageable. The root of much of Call of Duty’s scorestreak related issues stemmed from the ease in which players can obtain the UAV. I was pleased to see that UAV spam was surprisingly low. Even then the high end scorestreaks weren’t wreaking a ridiculous amount of havoc in the games that I participated in.

I liked the fact that maps actually had character and wasn’t just a maze of corridors. It reminded of COD4 and BLOPS2 where maps and battles flowed through a few select distinct alleys.

I know it’s a beta but I hope the final release addresses the texture draw in issues; especially around shrubbery. Finally, it may be too late to address this but I wish it was easier distinguish friend or foe outside of the obvious name tag. Everyone appeared too similarly.

The multiplayer beta showed great promise but there’s still a great deal that’s a mystery to the player base. Will there be a deadly/cheap combination lurking somewhere that will ruin the game for everyone else? We shall see.

Checkpoint: Host Migration Edition

The Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer beta started up earlier this week and, to my surprise, I am enjoying it. I enjoy the slower pace compared to Advanced Warfare which was a bit too frenetic for my liking. I enjoyed using the suit powers in Advanced Warfare but in the end, people were too quick and mobile for my liking. Black Ops III retained the pace of Black Ops II but added a tiny bit of vertical jump boosts, power sliding and wall running. When it all clicks, it feels great.

Unfortunately it doesn’t always click from a networking standpoint. I couldn’t find a single solid match last night; every single one was a lag filled stuttering mess. It’s been happening for a couple of days and for a while, I thought it was my problem. I rigged my connection to “NAT Open” but that didn’t help whatsoever. Then I gave up and played Rocket League which didn’t have a single connection problem.

Peer to peer connections are inconsistent and it’s disappointing that a major franchise like Call of Duty continues to rely on it. I understand why Activision would opt not to use it but come on, spend a little money and provide a consistent experience for your players. Especially when your competition is doing just that.

It is a beta and it’s very possible that the final build will operate smooth as silk but there’s always a hint of host advantage in a peer to peer setup. It’s also not ideal to have to wait for a game to migrate to another player because the host dropped out.

I feel like I’ve been harping on this point for years now.

Other than the above, I’ve been chipping away at The Witcher 3. Good times. I don’t know if I’ll wrap it up before The Phantom Pain arrives though. I don’t see an end it sight.

 

 

Announcements Ahoy, Mon Capitan

OS X El Capitan

This year’s OS X release isn’t going to be the overhaul like Yosemite was. El Capitan will offer fixes, refinements and other nice but not so sexy changes.

I welcome it. I welcome features like Expose side-by-side so I can stop using BetterTouchTool for the sole purpose of including Windows Snap.

I look forward to Metal, Apple’s low-level API, improving rendering performance across the board. I don’t play graphically intensive games on my MacBook Air but hopefully this gives the user base fewer reasons to switch over to Windows just to play games.

I’m hoping OS X El Capitan breathes new life into my MacBook Air like Mavericks did with its power optimizations.

iOS 9

Unsurprisingly, iOS 9 looks to follow El Capitan’s lead and focus on refinements and improvements to performance, battery life, security and usability.

I use Siri regularly for sports and weather updates. On occasion, I ask her to figure out the name of a song or some trivia but her accuracy remains so suspect that I tend to stick to the basic inquiries. Apple promises to address accuracy and capabilties but I’ll believe it when I see it. The day, I don’t feel the need to launch Google Search for reliable voice inquiries is the day I’ll consider Siri a dependable digital assistant.

Apple continues its trend of adopting popular ideas into its own apps and gently pushing out competition. Notes and News apps were their latest efforts. They gave Notes additional word processing capabilities for simple note taking and News (rebranded Newsstand) is now a Flipboard clone.

My favorite iOS device isn’t the iPhone. It’s the iPad and Apple finally gave it some love with the addition of multi-tasking and a new shortcut bar that sits on-top of the keyboard. Fortunately, I have an iPad Air 2 which supports the new multi-tasking functionality. But if I was an iPad Air user, I’d feel a little miffed knowing that a key feature like multi-tasking won’t be making back to mine. I understand the limitations (the Air 2 has 2GB of RAM) but not everyone will.

And the Rest

WatchOS 2 is coming as well and I know exactly one person who’s excited by that announcement. The native app support is a step in the right direction. I’m curious what developers will come up with in that space. I doubt they can make the thing appealing to me though.

Apple Music is now a thing. If the likes of Spotify, Rdio and other music streaming services aren’t to your liking, maybe give Apple Music a try? They’ve hired humans to make a 24/7 radio station a reality. No idea how that radio station will fare Apple promises it’ll be better than having algorithms select the music.

I didn’t know what to expect from Apple Music but it wasn’t whatever they announced. Jimmy Iovine started by pointing out all the streaming services available and how it’s fragmented. I thought that was going to a segue into a Wallet (they renamed Passbook) or News app amalgamation app but for music. That would have been a logistical nightmare but that would have been nice.

Pre-E3 Announcements Continues

  • 1TB Xbox One Console will take over at $399.99 USD
  • New Xbox One controller revision features wireless updates, 3.5mm audio jack & minor refinements. Costs $64.99 USD
  • Xbox One wireless adapter for Windows will be available in autumn. Will cost $24.99 USD
  • Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst will see the light of day in Q1 2016
  • Halo 5: Guardians will have 20 maps at launch & 15 free maps by June 2016
  • Dark Souls 3 will be available in early 2016
  • Marshawn Lynch will be in Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  • Call of Duty lives for another year on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360

Thought of the Day

As soon as I saw what 2015’s OS X release was called El Capitan, I thought of Q and Captain Picard.

Checkpoint: Betting on Black Edition

I guess those early leaks forced Activision’s hand because Call of Duty: Black Ops III was announced earlier today. I liked Treyarch’s Black Ops’ series quite a bit. Treyarch always seemed to be willing to go the extra mile to create something different in both the campaign and multiplayer halves of the game.

IGN have the exclusive preview but here are some high level notables:

  • Exclusive to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
  • 4-player co-op (2 player offline) for the campaign
  • There are 9 fixed classes called Specialists with specific powers and weapons.
  • Zombies mode will have XP progression
  • Multiplayer movement is more refined with wall running and power slides
  • There will be a beta

A beta? That’s the first beta since Modern Warfare. Pre-ordering will be the key to access.

I’m looking forward to this. I enjoyed what I played of Advanced Warfare but it never stuck with me. I’m hoping Black Ops III will be different. At the very least, the co-op and campaign modes should keep me satisfied.

Speaking of movement, there have been a lot of wall running and rail grinding as I make my way through Sunset Overdrive. inFamous: Second Son may be superior on a technical level but I love the aesthetic that Insomniac Games employed. It’s such a fun style that compliments the gameplay mechanics so well.

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