To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 review – A game of three halves

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 screenshot
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £40
inc VAT (PlayStation 4)

Bigger than ever, with three hefty modes, Black Ops 3 provides plenty of bang for your buck


Available formats: PC, Xbox One, PS4 (multiplayer-only versions on PS3 and Xbox 360)



Having shot innumerable Singaporean cyber terrorists, gone insurgent in Egypt and defeated the big bad in Zurich (not FIFA), it’s time to take all the skills you’ve learnt and apply them popping the heads of the undead.

And you’ll need those skills too, as Zombies is certainly playing to its established audience, being tough from the get go. Initially you’re dropped into a Lovecraftian nightmare, where you play as one of four doomed souls, fighting in what appears to be a 1940s city gone wrong. As well as the usual weapon upgrades, barriers to repair and perks to unlock, there’s also the ability to transform into a horrible beast and smash the zombies to pieces. Once you’ve mastered this map there’s a second map to take on too – it’s a treat for series fans that we won’t spoil here.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 screenshot

All of this takes place over the usual sprawling map that must be unlocked as you go. If you’re a big fan of Zombies then there’s plenty to enjoy here, especially the split-screen support and online play so you can pair up with another pair elsewhere. However, if you’ve tired of the formula, there’s little to bring you back into the level-by-level grind.


By now you should really have got your eye in with this shooting people thing, though your next targets are a tad more mobile than those zombies. Black Ops 3 is all about movement: wall-running is in, along with double jumps, powered slides and the ability to slickly mantle over waist height objects while still laying down fire. You can’t hop over buildings at will, but chained together you can move around the map quickly and attack foes from unexpected directions.

Black Ops 3’s multiplayer looks to have been designed for eSports from the ground up. Taking inspiration from MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm, it introduces a roster of named characters, each with its own selection of unique special abilities.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 screenshot

It’s an odd move, as the campaign encourages you to think of your avatar as being ‘you’ but the multiplayer has moved the other way, with these larger than life characters, each with their own look and feel. I think I preferred the older (more military-feeling) system, but it admittedly adds something to the game. You can now pick a character based on your preferred role in your team, and can make an educated guess of an opponent’s abilities based on their appearance.

From an eSports perspective it’s a great move. It makes it easy for players to identify with their favourite streamers, who will inevitably prefer certain characters. It provides a metagame in serious play of choosing characters that can neutralise your opponents’ choices. It generates debate amongst the community about the most powerful characters and the potential for nerfs and buffs in future patches. Plus, of course, you can expect additional characters to appear as part of DLC.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 screenshot

Beyond that you know the drill: lots of maps, lots of modes and lots of kit to unlock. It’s certainly not beginner-friendly, based on my laughable kill/death ratio to date, and you’ll need to learn the maps and new movement system quickly in order to compete. With Star Wars: Battlefront likely to hoover up the more casual players this year, that will just make Black Ops 3 an even more intimidating place to play. If that sounds like an exciting challenge though, then it’s the game for you.


So should you buy Call of Duty this year? There’s certainly lots and lots of shooting packed into that disc (or download). The campaign is longer, but only really comes to life when you play with friends, and Zombies has always been a co-op experience best enjoyed with mates rather than strangers online. Then there’s multiplayer, which ironically is probably the mode best suited for those who won’t be playing with others, apart from largely anonymous opponents of course.

If you like shooting stuff and you’ve got someone to chat to while you do it, I’d recommend Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. There’s just so much here for two (or more) trigger-happy folk to enjoy together, whether you share a sofa or meet up online.

Pages: 1 2

Available formatsPC, Xbox One, PS4 (complete game) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (multiplayer only)
PC requirements
OS SupportWindows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 64-bit
Minimum CPU2.93GHz dual-core Intel, 2.6GHz quad-core AMD
Minimum GPUAMD Radeon HD 6970, Nvidia GeForce GTX 470
Minimum RAM6GB
Hard disk space60GB

Read more