In case you missed it, the Call of Duty Black Ops 3 “Story Trailer” was released recently. I’m actually a fan of the campaigns of past Call of Duty games; I always start with the single-player before jumping into multiplayer because I feel it gives me a better feel for the game. The developers also tend to make it worth your while by making it short yet enjoyable, with at least a half-decent storyline and reasonably fun action scenes. I’m also a sucker for a decent musical soundtrack in a game. Treyarch and Infinity Ward have hired incredible composers for their games, from Hans Zimmer (of Batman and Inception fame) and Trent Reznor (yes, that Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails), not to mention other incredible artists.
Long story short, I usually get reasonably hyped for the single-player part of the game, and the developers usually do a decent job on it. However, I’ve been less than impressed with what Activision has shown us over the last couple of years. Let me give you an example: I was really excited to play the story on Advanced Warfare, especially since Kevin Spacey was playing the antagonist (I’m a House of Cards fanboy), but it turned out to be garbage. The soundtrack was terrible, the gameplay was boring and irritatingly dull (it was a chore to finish the game), the storyline and dialogue were terribly written, and the “acting” from Kevin Spacey (which was so horrendous that I can’t even really call it acting) was more artificial than silicone breast implants.
I feel like Activision has been making a conscious decision not to put any time or thought into the parts of the game that don’t appeal to the masses. That’s nothing new, though; the secondary game modes (outside of Zombies, of course) have always been given less love than the fan-favorite multiplayer. Activision tries to cater to the general audience, and while that’s understandable when you’re a for-profit company churning out games year after year, it’s starting to show.
I haven’t had fun in the single-player or story mode in a Call of Duty game since Black Ops II. The “developer exclusive game modes” like Survival, Safeguard, Chaos, Special Ops, and whatever the hell that alien survival thing was called that Ghosts had, have all been boring and grindy ever since Modern Warfare 2. Again, this is not including Zombies. The singleplayer in Black Ops III looks to be no different than the bland, boring-as-hell placeholders that have preceded it over the last few years. Just look at the trailer. Every year until Ghosts, we got amazing trailers that built hype for the game, especially for the Story mode. Every year, they were as well-designed and well-written as a movie trailer for a summer blockbuster; every year, the Story mode was a selling point and not something that the developer “just happened” to include in the game.
I’ve seen all of the promotional materials that Treyarch has available about Black Ops III’s campaign, and none of it gives an impression that they cared about or spent any major time trying to make the single-player experience enjoyable, let alone a selling point. In fact, they’re even making it four- player co-op because they don’t think something you can play by yourself has any merit anymore. The storyline looks garbled and complicated (whereas Advanced Warfare’s was silly and simplistic), even after you read and watch all of the supporting material. It made no sense and instead of having a point or introducing the premise of the story (as any trailer for a movie or game should), it literally just took random snippets from the story and haphazardly sewed them into a trailer that made less sense than the short animated trailers that play on those old-school Time Crisis 2 shooter game machines you used to see at the arcade. They wrote an internet-based novella to go along with the game as a prequel of sorts, and it was dry, drab, and a headache to read through. All of it seems like a half-assed attempt to just hurry up and finish a campaign in time for the release of the game.
It’s really sad. I’ve had so many amazing experiences in single-player Call of Duty over the years, and you can’t deny that some of the storylines have been great (my favorite, by far, was the campaign from the original Black Ops). Activision may be a company that’s just trying to get a profit from year to year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t produce a superb all around game, regardless of how many people play each gamemode. I’m not feeling compelled to play this year’s campaign, but I’m still going to play through it regardless and give it a chance. Please, Treyarch, please don’t make it suck. Please let it just be terrible marketing this year and not an overall terrible storyline that is causing your trailer to look like garbage. Please let your soundtrack be decent and the gameplay fun. Most of all, please don’t make it impossible to play through it by myself- I don’t want to have to rage at my teammates until I get into multiplayer, and sometimes I just want to relax and enjoy an interactive and well-written movie-like thriller experience, because that’s what the single-player in Call of Duty is meant to be.