Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Where Treyarch's single-player struggles, the deftly tuned multiplayer soars, delivering a Call of Duty that's rich with options.

Spotlight

Key events

Call of Duty Endowment launches in the UK

Call of Duty Endowment launches in the UK

The foundation helps veterans find employment.

The Call of Duty Endowment is expanding its support to the UK.

Originally started in 2009 by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, the Endowment is a US charity which provides grants to help veterans find high-quality employment. Since its formation, the programme has placed more than 37,000 US veterans into full-time civilian jobs with good salaries and long-term employment.

The Endowment is currently working to "identify and forge partnerships with a select group of UK charities", which will be announced in the coming months.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 DLC announced via T-shirt

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 DLC announced via T-shirt

UPDATE: Costs 25. Here's what you get.

UPDATE 9th May 2017: Black Ops 3's Zombies Chronicles DLC costs 24.99, Activision has confirmed to Eurogamer.

Zombies Chronicles, which is not included with the Black Ops 3 season pass, includes eight remastered zombies maps as well as some bonus bits and bobs.

Here are the remastered maps:

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Once upon a time, Halo was the tale of a place. A tale of it, and a tale shaped by it. Installation 04's famous skybox - that pristine curl of oceans and meadows, rearing amid the stars - may be very obviously a flat backdrop, but it does create the impression of an underlying 3D continuity, the vague conviction, as in a Souls game, that you can pick out the site of a previous battle high above the skyline, winking through the atmospheric haze.

CoD: Black Ops 3 multiplayer is free to play this weekend on Steam

Multiplayer Starter Pack will be removed from sale on Monday.

Last week Activision tried something a little new and released a multiplayer-only edition of Call of Duty: Black Op 3 on Steam. Now this Multiplayer Starter Pack is free to try out this weekend from now until Sunday, 28th February at 9pm UK time.

Black Friday even bigger for console sales this year

Black Friday even bigger for console sales this year

Game sales also up over Black Friday week.

Love it or hate it, Black Friday isn't going anywhere. Console and games sales were even bigger this year than in 2014.

Unsurprisingly, Black Friday week saw a spike in sales for both hardware and software. Games sales were up 60 per cent on the week before and despite all the discounts, retailers raked in 32 per cent more money.

Software sales were down a little over the Black Friday weekend specifically when compared to last year, but still up on 2014 when incorporating the week leading up to the day itself.

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Face-Off: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions under the microscope.

Black Ops 3 is perhaps the biggest Call of Duty game yet. Single-player and co-operative campaign modes - online and split-screen - are joined by classic PvP multiplayer and the return of the popular Zombies mode. Based on the lavish effects work present in the new game, Treyarch is clearly keen to push the graphical spectacle on consoles further than ever before and this has clear repercussions on the core experience. Our initial impressions of the campaign showed highly variable levels of performance, while the use of dynamic resolution scaling meant that image quality doesn't always impress - particularly on Xbox One, where sub-900p imagery is commonplace.

Returning to Black Ops 3 for this full Face-Off, a number of matters remained outstanding - could Treyarch match or indeed improve upon the accomplished performance in the multiplayer modes we tested in the beta phase? And on top of that, given the performance issues we encountered in the console campaign, could we power past those limitations with the PC version? Advanced Warfare was highly optimised for PC, and we were very curious to see if Black Ops 3 could follow suit.

Of course, one area where PC gains a guaranteed advantage over console is in terms of resolution. There's no dynamic framebuffer set-up here (not even as a selectable option) and running at a fixed native resolution allows us to achieve a consistent level of image quality throughout. In terms of anti-aliasing, more options are available to PC owners, with standard SMAA T2x offering up a visibly sharper image than the filmic SMAA implementation used on consoles, at the expense of letting through more jaggies, particularly on long edges. If you'd prefer the console look, that's still an option though - the filmic variation is also available. This works well on consoles in providing a clean presentation across near-field and distant details, though some high frequency texture information is smoothed over in the process.

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Performance Analysis: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Does Treyarch's most ambitious campaign yet compromise the core COD experience?

You've got to hand it to Treyarch - the team's Call of Duty titles always push boundaries in terms of scale, scope and spectacle. Blacks Ops 3 delivers yet another bombastic Call of Duty campaign, this time backed by four-player online co-op, along with a two-player local split-screen mode. The team's technological ambitions are also remarkable in terms of the game's visuals: physically-based rendering, simulated global illumination and a battery of impressive post effects work makes this new campaign the most visually arresting yet.

But has the developer perhaps pushed its technology too far? The campaign co-op demo revealed at this year's E3 had us slightly concerned: frame-rates throughout the demo often fell short of the desired 60fps target, even dipping below 30fps. On top of the optimisation effort, it seems that the team's solution to the performance challenge was to implement yet another ambitious piece of technology: dynamic resolution scaling. This involves adjusting pixel-count on the fly, depending on the engine load - it's a way of freeing up valuable GPU time without permanently compromising on image quality, and produced some remarkably smooth results in the recently released Halo 5.

So how does the dynamic scaler work in Black Ops 3? Both Xbox One and PS4 versions render in native 1080p during cut-scenes, and for the most part full HD quality is retained throughout the duration of these sequences. Anti-aliasing is handled via the use of filmic SMAA, successfully providing good coverage across geometry edges, though some texture blurring is apparent. PS4 doesn't appear to drop below 1080p at all in these scenes, whereas the Xbox One version seems to transition down to 1728x1080 just before gameplay kicks off - and that's where the scaler really gets to work.

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Black Ops 3 bucks Call of Duty's recent sales decline with $550m launch

It seems Black Ops 3's great Nuketown farce failed to dent the Call of Duty sales juggernaut: the shooter's once again made millions and millions.

Activision announced today that Black Ops 3 brought in over $550m in worldwide sales during its three-day opening weekend. That makes Treyarch's shooter the biggest entertainment launch of 2015, beating blockbuster movie Jurassic World's three-day haul.

But how does Black Ops 3 compare to other Call of Duty games? Activision said Black Ops 3 enjoyed digital sales nearly double over last year (Advanced Warfare), and retail sales were up "significantly" over the last two years (Ghosts in 2013 and Advanced Warfare in 2014).

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 review

RecommendedCall of Duty: Black Ops 3 review

Another tale of two Duties.

A day will dawn when the muscularity and variety of Call of Duty's multiplayer component aren't enough to compensate for the muddled single-player - when the euphoria of a cross-map Tomahawk kill fails to outweigh the leaden writing, the hand-holding and the tedious inevitability of an on-rails vehicle sequence. That day isn't today, but perhaps it isn't far off.

While ostensibly a question of hardware, Activision's decision to chop the campaign from the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Black Ops 3 sends a fairly unambiguous signal about which parts of the package it considers worth the asking price. The story itself - a fretful piece of fourth-wall performance theatre that riffs on ethical and existential anxieties raised by the advent of military bio-augmentation - suggests a developer casting around for a sense of purpose. It alludes to the franchise's ongoing design hang-ups so frequently and explicitly that this is as much a cry for help as a battlecry. The new cybernetic abilities at least add nuance to larger firefights, and are the basis for some barmy, extremely self-aware level design. But at the end of the day, Black Ops 3's campaign embraces more of Call of Duty's old shortcomings than it casts aside.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 tops UK chart, 91% of physical sales on PS4/Xbox One

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 has unsurprisingly taken the top spot in this week's UK all-formats chart.

91 per cent of physical sales were on PlayStation 4 (48 per cent) and Xbox One (43 per cent). Five per cent were on Xbox 360 and three per cent were on PS3.

But how well did the franchise perform, year-on-year? UK numbers company Chart-Track does not publish sales numbers and it is difficult to draw a direct comparison.

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Activision Blizzard launches film and TV studio

Activision Blizzard launches film and TV studio

Skylanders animated series in development, Call of Duty movies and shows planned.

Activision Blizzard has launched a film and TV studio, entitled Activision Blizzard Studios, to make shows and movies based on its popular video game franchises.

The first of these will be an animated Skylanders show entitled Skylanders Academy. It will star Justin Long (Drag me to Hell) as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale (Phineas and Ferb) as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks (Mike from Breaking Bad) as Eruptor and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) as Glumshanks. Harland Williams and Richard Horvitz will also play supporting roles.

Activision Blizzard Studios is also planning to make Call of Duty films and possibly a TV series. According to its announcement, the studio "envisions a series of Call of Duty feature films as well as the possibility of television adaptations."

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is a world at war with itself

Treyarch's next generation debut is a chronically uneven, cleverly conflicted shooter.

Editor's note: This is an early impressions piece, based upon a review event where we were able to play through Black Op 3's campaign. We'll have our full review, which will take into consideration the multiplayer and a weekend spent playing Black Ops 3 on live servers, early next week.

It turns out Call of Duty: Black Ops 3's Nuketown map is a GAME exclusive

It turns out Call of Duty: Black Ops 3's Nuketown map is a GAME exclusive

UPDATE: Activision changes wording of support website as backlash intensifies.

UPDATE 6th November 2015: Activision has changed the wording of its support website as the backlash over the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer map Nuketown has intensified.

Yesterday we reported that Nuketown is a GAME-exclusive pre-order bonus in the UK - if you buy the physical standard edition.

Many customers were not aware of this fact, thinking instead that all who pre-ordered the game would get Nuketown.

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Activision announces eSports division

Activision announces eSports division

"I believe eSports will rival the biggest traditional sports leagues."

Activision has announced a company division entirely dedicated to eSports.

The new enterprise is headed up by former ESPN boss Steve Bornstein and MLG president Mike Sepso, who you'd hope would know what they were doing.

Details are sketchy on what exactly the division will get up to, but pushing eSports as a popular thing to watch online and/or on telly seems to be on the cards.

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"I don't want you to get a second-rate experience…"

Black Ops 3 dev on Activision's controversial decision to ditch campaign for last-gen consoles.

Activision caused quite the stir when it announced the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 would not include campaign - a first for the series.

Performance Analysis: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta on Xbox One

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta on Xbox One

Faster and more stable than PS4, but what's the catch?

The Black Ops 3 beta handed in a solid presentation on PlayStation 4, with the game delivering a similar, if more refined gameplay experience compared to last year's Advanced Warfare, demonstrating native 1080p visuals along with smooth frame-rates that adhered closely to the desired 60fps target. It was largely business as usual on Sony's console, but how well does the Xbox One beta stack up in comparison?

Kicking off, once again we selected the Prophet class, launching head first into a series of busy Team Deathmatch rounds with some particularly bloodthirsty players. Matchmaking went smoothly with no connection issues - a good indication for overall stability, something that's always welcome to see in a beta. Aside from a one-off glitch where an enemy was left floating in mid-air after being killed, the experience was stable overall, with no other bugs cropping up during gameplay.

On a technical level, first impressions suggest a sub-native presentation is at work - just like Advanced Warfare on Xbox One - though if anything, image quality appears softer and less defined. Pixel counting puts the Xbox One version of Black Ops 3 at 1600x900 in multiplayer (though curiously, this shot seems to manifest at 1360x900). It's an interesting decision bearing in mind that Advanced Warfare opted for 1360x1080 instead, a different utilisation of much the same pixel count. There has been some discussion about the blurring found in Xbox One and PS4 versions of the beta - this is now confirmed as filmic SMAA T2x, explaining how the image quality presented here isn't just a factor of the rendering resolution.

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Performance Analysis: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta on PS4

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta on PS4

Multiplayer's on form at 60fps - but can campaign co-op match it?

Last year's Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was a technical revolution for the series - a generational leap compared to the disappointing Ghosts. Taking a look at Black Ops 3's multiplayer beta on PS4, it's clear that Treyarch is building upon the solid gameplay foundations laid down by Sledgehammer in the last game. With an even more agile move-set and class-specific abilities, the series' action doesn't relent in its pace - but with all these new changes to the gameplay's core, can the new game retain the signature 60fps gameplay and extend that experience into the brand new campaign co-op mode?

The beta concentrates entirely on multiplayer, offering a choice of three maps: Hunted, Combine, and EVAC - playable across seven game modes. From here, Black Ops 3's eight classes each bring unique abilities to the squad, ranging from magnetically charged projectiles to exploding arrows. Also added is a new traversal system: boost jumps, wall runs, and slides can be chained together to parkour across terrain, and in practised hands, a quick kill and fast bail-out are now much easier to execute. It must be said that animations are slightly stiff on other players, but from the first person view, motion unfolds fluidly during play.

From a technical perspective we're in familiar territory here. The game offers up a native 1080p presentation similar to that of Advanced Warfare, in combination with a post-process anti-aliasing solution that looks very much in-line with plain old FXAA. The core presentation is sufficiently smooth, with shimmering mostly restricted to sub-pixel elements of the scene and surfaces featuring intricate texture details, or those with a specular component. The use of post-process AA gives a reasonably clean look to the game, but the technique here blurs the image to a degree, somewhat reducing the pin-sharp fidelity one might expect from a native 1080p title.

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Video: Ian plays the Black Ops 3 beta, is rusty

I used to be really good at Call of Duty. I was ace at Call of Duty 2, no one could beat me on Carentan. In Call of Duty 3 if I got into a tank there was no getting me out again, and Modern Warfare... well Modern Warfare was just amazing. I must have lost days to that game, grinding my character up to prestige level eight before finally getting tired.

After that, it all started going downhill a bit; with each new instalment, my enthusiasm waned. Nowadays all these score streaks, perks, jet packs and wall runs just leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm not sure if I'm just too old and too slow or if the yearly cycle has killed my appetite to such an extent that I can no longer be bothered to aim properly but, for whatever reason, my K/D ratio has gone down the toilet faster than the fish pie that gave me food poisoning on Monday.

Anyway, the point to this little story is the closed beta for Black Ops 3 has just gone live on the PlayStation 4 and I've spent the last couple of hours playing it. So if you don't have access, or if you're patiently waiting for the Xbox One or PC betas and want to see what's in store, have a look at this tour video in which I show off the three available multiplayer maps while trying not to die. It goes about as well as you'd expect.

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Everything in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta

The Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta, which starts on 19th August on PlayStation 4, includes three maps, seven modes and eight Specialists, developer Treyarch has confirmed.

First, the maps: Hunted is a big game hunting lodge set beneath a waterfall in the mountains of Ethiopia.

Combine is set in the Egyptian Sahara, on a vertical farming and sustainability research facility.

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Gamescom is a beautiful, hot, noisy mess of a show and an utter delight to visit. Sadly, not everyone can go - and this year, that includes me. But thankfully, we packed Chris Bratt off to tour the show with a camera in hand to capture just what attending the world's biggest gaming show is like.

CoD: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta dated for Xbox One and PC

CoD: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta dated for Xbox One and PC

Arrives one week after the PS4 version.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3's multiplayer beta will arrive for pre-order customers on Xbox One and PC 26th August, where it will last until 30th August.

Comparatively, the PS4 version's multiplayer beta will go live one week earlier, on 19th August.

These days PlayStation platforms get Call of Duty DLC 30 days before anywhere else, an arrangement publisher Activision used to have with Microsoft regarding the popular FPS series.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta begins in August

The Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer beta begins on 19th August 2015, developer Treyarch has announced.

That's for PlayStation 4 only. As revealed at E3, publisher Activision has switched allegiances from Xbox to PlayStation following years of Microsoft-related timed exclusivity.

It means downloadable add-ons will launch on PlayStation platforms 30 days before other platforms.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 confirmed for PS3 and Xbox 360

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Activision has confirmed.

In a statement on the Activision blog, the publisher said that while Black Ops 3 had been "designed to harness the full potential" of PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it was aware some still haven't moved from last to current gen.

The PS3 and Xbox 360 version of Black Ops 3 is being developed by Beenox, best known for the recent Spider-Man games, and Mercenary Technology, a work for hire studio that's helped to build a raft of Activision games over the years.

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Call of Duty Black Ops 3: side-stepping the inevitable comparisons with Titanfall

Wall-runs, power slides and mini-gun wielding robots.

Last year, there were no shortage of comparisons being made between Titanfall, with its robots and athletic jet-boosting soldiers, and Advanced Warfare, Sledgehammer's Call of Duty that introduced an exoskeleton and double-jumping into Activision's long-running series. This year, those comparisons will come thicker and faster. Black Ops 3, with its augmented soldiers and wall-running, is a departure for the series that on first play feels very, very familiar.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 November release date leaked - report

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 November release date leaked - report

Will coincide with Advanced Warfare's anniversary.

It looks like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will come out on 6th November for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

This comes from a promotional display for the game at GameStop, that was posted on Kotaku.

It looks and sounds accurate though. These games always come out in November and the last Call of Duty, Advanced Warfare, came out on 4th November, so this would be its one-year anniversary to the week.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 PC requirements revealed

Treyarch confirms it's only working on PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions - with no comment on other SKUs.

Activision and Treyarch have revealed the PC requirements for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, the information being disclosed as the publisher and developer wish to underline their commitment to the PC version this year.