Over the weekend Treyarch turned on the double weapon XP in Black Ops III, as they usually have some kind of double XP on weekends. But this weekend they also had a second treat for us – a brand new game mode called Fracture. I put in a handful of games on Friday and thought I’d put down a few thoughts on the mode.
This is the second new game mode that Treyarch put in to the Call of Duty world – the other being Safeguard. Calling Fracture totally new though is a little disingenuous to me. Fracture is essentially the Black Ops III spin on the classic Headhunter game mode of FPS games past. You kill the enemies, pick up the item they drop, and deliver it to a capture point. The last time I can remember a major FPS having Headhunter in it is Halo: Reach. I can’t remember with certainty if the capture point rotated in that game, but in Black Ops III, the capture point will cycle around the map every couple minutes. It can make for a couple tense moments per game as you try to score with a bunch of points and the zone rotates, as well as make sure you are paying attention to the map rotation and flow. Depending on your play preferences, Fracture is one of those modes where you can do whatever you like – if you like objective play, you can be the scoop-up man; if you’re a pure offense player, run a slayer class; or you can run a more balanced class to handle both sides of the coin with some support built in. Since the games tend to flow based around where the capture point is, the best weapon type might change over the course of the game. Some points help facilitate the slower, more long range weapons like LMGs and Snipers. Others require you have the speed to navigate around small rooms and tight corners and that’s where the fast SMGs and Shotguns thrive. That kind of variety in each game can even vary more depending on the map. I played on Rift, which played right into my style of assault rifle overwatch play with the M8A7. The next game was on Knockout, and using the M8A7 was a lot trickier – that’s one where using a faster weapon would have been the way to go. More than the other slayer-based modes (TDM, FFA and Kill Confirmed) I think the map really can dictate the flow of the game.
Which brings me to the parts of Fracture that I wasn’t crazy about. Overall I would say Fracture works pretty well – most importantly, it’s fun. But it does have some issues that I kept seeing. The biggest being that even with the rotating capture zone, there is still a lot of camping. I didn’t see it from the top level players I kept seeing, but just about every game I played there were a couple dots that always seemed to pop up around the zone, and they usually showed up in corners. Camping is one of those problems that never, ever will go away in competitive games – you see it in Halo, Call of Duty, Destiny, Overwatch, the list goes on all the way back to the old days of Quake, Doom and Unreal. That was the whole idea behind Kill Confirmed originally – push players to play more aggressively to actually score. You can argue the effectiveness across the whole player-base with that, but I know I find myself rushing for those tags and having to stop myself when I switch back to TDM. Fracture/Headhunter takes that idea and adds in the extra layer of needing to score in the zone – again, all to try and keep camping at a minimum. The problem is that instead of traditional camping, you get poaching – they set up at the capture point, and pop you as you move in for the score. It’s not particularly effective if you’re paying attention – a good grenade/rocket/C4 pack will take care of most poachers, as will a lot of scorestreaks. It’s one of those things that you just have to deal with, and know that there will probably be going on when you spawn in to the game. The other big trend I kept seeing was the prevalence of SMGs, regardless of map and capture point. This is one of those things that I’ve seen creep up in the overall Black Ops III game since I’ve been back – the Kuda, VMP and Vesper are all crazy good these days and really can’t be touched time-to-kill-wise in a lot of situations. It’s so late in Black Ops III‘s lifespan that I don’t really see much in the way of a big change coming, but I do think the VMP in particular needs to come back to the pack a little bit. My last minor complaint with Fracture is just that the score feels a little low – the score limit is set to 60 now. Games go fast, maybe a little too quickly; I think a score of 75 might be the better number. It opens up the potential for one or two last capture zone rotations, which are really when I think the most action happens as you try to rotate over and get the score.
Fracture is one of those things that Treyarch does well – they keep supporting their game deep into its lifespan with some unique ways. It wasn’t too long ago they added in the contracts as a way to earn extra cryptokeys as well as access to the new specialist Blackjack. It’s one thing to bring out DLC map packs for shooters, but what we’ve seen from Activision’s FPS developers with Black Ops and Destiny is that they’re willing to add in a little extra. It helps keep the games feel fresh as they enter the dog days – Call of Duty tends to be a one-year game each time around; Destiny is a little different beast of course. We’re starting to get just about to the next wave of games, so while we wait, Fracture is a great way to keep Black Ops III in your rotation.