Call of Duty: Black Ops III Eclipse Map Impressions

Black Ops 3

The second DLC for Call ofDuty: Black Ops III, Eclipse, came out on Xbox One and PC last week, and I wanted to quickly go over my thoughts on the four new multiplayer maps added in. I’ve played each map a couple times, both in Hardcore and Core modes, and in a couple different game types as well.

Let’s start with what is I think the weakest of the new maps: Knockout. It’s got a really unique visual look, with the traditional Asian architecture, but I think that’s the high point with the map. There are a lot of tight, short hallways, which play into the new weapon meta I’ve been seeing lately of the powerful one-hit weapons like the Marshal and KRM. I did really enjoy it on Domination, mainly because the three points are put in perfect spots – they’re open enough to be attacked from a few directions, making posting up camps to defend trickier. There are a couple longer sightlines, mainly around the center area where weapons like the Sheiva and snipers can work well, and the outer paths also provide some alternate routes to avoid the corner shotgun/SMG party. I think it’s a map that, with some spawn tweaking and playing in an Objective mode can be fun, but isn’t as flexible as some others.

Moving up one spot, we get Spire. Spire is the one I’ve played the least I would say, but I think it’s got a couple really high points. It’s got good mid-range sightlines for longer range engagements, while still having plenty of close range spots for intense action. I know that I complained a lot about that with Knockout, but I think Spire does a better job of balancing the ranges. It’s got great outside lanes for flanking around, there are lots of crossing paths as well for crossfires. I also really like how much cover is on this map – it feels a bit like this map is better played boots-on-ground, not thrust jumping around. You have pillars that you can use for cover, there are plenty of waist-high walls as well. Some of the pathways are a little confusing, especially the ones that lead outside from A and C Dom – it just feels like they should lead to the overlook window to me. It’s another really good Domination map, but one that I think works well on slayer modes as well.

The last two maps definitely impressed me, especially compared with the first set of DLC. First, Rift is a really good stretch map. Yes, it’s got lots of interior rooms where those one-hit power weapons can do well, but it’s also balanced with the pretty long exterior lanes. Each exterior lane also has a long wall-run that can put you right behind the enemy almost immediately off the spawn if they aren’t paying attention. As a run-and-gun flanking kind of player, I love when maps have those kinda sneaky, quick routes on them.I played this one on Safeguard, and while I don’t really love Safeguard in general, I think it worked pretty well. The defense actually can set up and stand a chance should the robot get near the objective. Compared with the first two maps, I think this is one that pretty much every gun in the game works on. Knockout might be too rushed for the slower LMGs and snipers, while Spire just plays too fast for some of the slower killing weapons. This one has spots where any weapon works, and can work really well. I did just damn fine with the Shieva on it working on headshots.

Black Ops 3 Verge

That said, my favorite map though is Verge. Verge is the remake map in this DLC set, this time of a World at War map, which is nice since that’s the only Call of Duty I never played. This is also where everything I said about Knockout feels a little dirty, because those same tight corners and lanes I complained about there are what make Verge my favorite. It’s got two lanes that are right on top of each other it feels like – with the middle lane defined by a really narrow bridge, littered with cover. There are plenty of small, tight corners where those who feel compelled can camp with one-hit kill weapons. But the map honestly just plays too fast to get away with that. The lanes, while they are narrow, are also stretched out – they feel a lot longer than you might initially think; and as such, snipers and LMGs and the Shieva all can do some serious work here. A good shot can really control a whole lane without too much effort – there’s enough cover to move from point to point while avoiding counter sniping. But there are enough side routes around too where flanking is easy enough, and the caves in particular are great for running melee weapons in.

Overall, I really like this set of maps better than the first DLC pack, Awakening. Awakening’s maps I think are overall visually more stimulating, but they all felt like they had one little thing that kept them from standing out, minus Skyjacked. Guardian has some real bad camping issues, facilitated by the map layout; Rise could be great if it was ever came up in the map rotation, and Splash just feels like it’s got too much going on. I actually think even Knockout is better than that first set of maps. Sure, this could just be positive thoughts because this new set literally just came out, but we’ll see. We’re starting to get to the point with Black Ops III where needs to keep up this trend of adding great things to the game to keep the player count high through the summer. This is usually the time where people hit the games they missed from last year, but this year we’ve already got three huge launches this month alone, two of which definitely are competitive FPS games. We’ll see what’s next as we get closer to Infinite Warfare this fall.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Awakening MP Map Impressions

Black Ops 3The first DLC pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Awakening, landed on Xbox One and PC today, bringing four new multiplayer maps and a new Zombies map. While I know that the maps have been available on PS4 for about a month now, I haven’t had the chance to play them until today. So with that in mind, I thought I’d talk a little bit about each of the four new maps and how I think they work in Black Ops III‘s current meta-game.

Rise is, to me, the most standard “Call of Duty” style map in the pack in terms of visuals. It’s set in an under construction research facility in the mountains around Zurich. It’s got a neat way of using Treyarch’s three lane approach to map design – one lane is full of cover to move around and feels really clustered and claustrophobic almost, the middle lane is pretty typical in three lane ideas featuring a large central courtyard that acts as a huge chokepoint, and the other outside lane is definitely the cleanest and most open, with a good chunk of water available for moving in. It’s a map where I think longer range engagements are going to be a little scarce – moving around it seems really easy, with lots of small crossing routes to take between the lanes. I don’t know if Treyarch did this on purpose, but Rise feels like it draws heavily on a couple different Black Ops II maps – Meltdown and Hydro. The water side has a sightline and window setup that looks a lot like the dam side on Hydro, and the interior industrial side felt a lot to me like Meltdown. They aren’t direct, but I couldn’t help feel the echoes.

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The brightest map in the pack for sure, Splash takes place in an abandoned water park. In most Call of Duty maps, the color palate is generally pretty muted – lots of grays and browns. Splash throws that out the window – bright reds, yellows, purples and blues are all over this map – it’s honestly a pretty refreshing look for a Call of Duty map. The map itself has a similar setup to most Black Ops III maps – three lanes, with a big central courtyard. In this case though, those outside lanes really are more designed to draw players to that center courtyard than as actual combat lanes. There aren’t a ton of super long sightlines – think combat that’s similar to Nuketown, so mid-range combat is going to be the main action here. When Awakening came out on PS4, this map had some pretty nasty collision issues that made it real easy to get out of the map an into really unfair positions. They were patched pretty quickly though, so hopefully playing on the Xbox won’t have any of those growing pains. Of the new maps, this is the one that I’m hoping ends up having a strong meta-game around it.

This is the map that visually I’m the most in love with. As much as I like Splash’s colors, Gauntlet has a really unique look that no map has had in Call of Duty. The three lanes each have distinct environments, designed to be training settings for Winslow Accord operatives. That helps give each lane a really unique feel from each other, and each one is going to demand different skills from players. The jungle lane is super dense visually – I think certain Specialist camos are going to make picking out targets difficult. Thermal scopes could be pretty handy on this one. The rainy, urban setting is symmetrical, and definitely built around long-range lane control. Each side has a little room that only has two entrances – perfect for sniping from to control that long hall. The middle lane though is where I think this map shines – the arctic section features just about every kind of combat and ability that Black Ops III has. Longer ranges, winding paths for flanking and close range weapons, wall running, ledge jumping, thrust jumps – all feature in in this arctic section.

The map going in that I knew the most about, Skyjacked is a updated remake of Hijacked from Black Ops II. Hijacked was a great map, and worked in any game mode – mainly because it was symmetrical but had enough routes to get from base to base to keep it from turning super campy. Skyjacked keeps that basic idea – symmetrical design with two main bases, but with the new movement options, getting around the map is so much faster and easier. The changes to the map mainly involve adjusting sightlines – there aren’t quite as many ones that cross the whole center of the map anymore, and the cabana and middle hut offer a lot more cover than before. The bottom deck also feels a lot more packed in, even with the addition of the outside route into and out of it. Where the biggest change though is in the utility of the towers. In Black Ops II, those towers could be used to really lock down the map, at least above deck, because you could easily defend them with their limited points of entry. Now though with thruster jumping, the second floor is easily reached from the main deck, so holding down a tower is going to be a lot more complex. It still feels really good to play – there’s a reason they picked Hijacked to bring forward. It still can be played with pretty much any weapon class, though I do think SMGs and fast firing assault rifles are better off here.

Overall, Awakening adds in four really strong maps to an already pretty good mix to Black Ops III. Now that we’re starting to get into some new games – Division comes next week, Quantum Break is next month – bringing new content to all consoles is just what Call of Duty needed. Halo 5 has been killing it with the free content updates so far, so I’m going to be curious how this performs on Xbox One. If you’re playing Black Ops III, I definitely recommend picking it up – it adds a good bit of life to the game.