Call of Duty Black Ops 3 aims to bring the franchise shooter fans love forward, by offering a mix of old and new but in a way that entices replay. With the Black Ops 3 handle, so too comes the expectation of some great multiplayer, and perhaps most importantly for some players, and incredible zombie shooting experience. Jason Blundell, Director of Campaign and Zombies (and possibly best job title ever) alongside Multiplayer Director Dan Bunting, spoke exclusively with Examiner about big changes, and subtle tweaks players can expect in this year’s outing, all the way down to bubblegum.
Blundell led off chatting about how players can expect to progress in the upcoming zombie portion of Call of Duty Black Ops 3, now called Shadows of Evil, and how that compares to the competitive multiplayer progression.
“It’s based on the same principle. In Zombies, we give you a bit more up front earlier and then we have the nice and slow pacing as it goes out,” Blundell said, “. It basically distributes two main things. One is the Bubble Gum, which is the Bumble Gum machine and the second thing is weapons for these sort of build kits. The more you use those weapons, the more you get attachments.”
Blundell commented that the progression is worked into the machines in a way that is “based around the same fundamental technology.”
Blundell also explained that while feedback is an integral part of the development process but didn’t necessarily include direct community input, as they still want to hold some things close to the chest.
“What we did was we based it on the fact that our Zombie fans play for a very long time, so what we wanted to have this distribution and setup, which takes them into the DLC season,” said Blundell, “It’s not only something they can rattle through very quickly on the main game, Shadows of Evil, but it also supports the DLC season.”
Blundell indicated that players can expect some more of the size and intricate design the team has worked into Shadows of Evil in some DLC, but can expect the base map to keep them busy for some time.
“Shadows of Evil is based on part gecko with part Nuevo architectural styles,” Blundell explained, “I did that because I put males and females in the campaign for the first time. Then when you combine that with the afterlife experience of Zombies, and it allows you to traverse the world when you’re in a certain mode. This city has real verticality and meaningful verticality as well.”
Blundell went on to explain that he wanted to truly get a complex feel across, on that felt, as he says, “like an urban jungle”.
One of the things we want to do in Zombies is make people feel claustrophobic.
Blundell went on to reveal that the team had to work on making a city so large, feel so small.
“One of the biggest challenges you have with a city is that it’s big, and so we had to make the city feel like it was choking you a bit, while also feeling spacious,” said Blundell, adding “That’s quite a challenge.”
Players might also miss a few things says Blundell, but that’s kind of the point of rehashing things like lighting and reflections; to make them appear as though they belong and don’t feel out of place at all.
“They’ll miss the way we changed our renderer, the lighting improvements we’ve made,” Blundell described, “Especially for a horror experience, lighting is a lot of your work. [Shadows of Evil] allowed us to play with light and dark, and mix light in different ways that we couldn’t before… In true Noire style, it’s a little bit rainy, there’s a little bit of water in the environment.”
This leads Blundell to warning that the team put their hearts and souls into making the game as atmospheric and spooky as possible,
The average zombie DLC map is made in four or five months’ worth of work, [Shadows of Evil] is two and a half years of work. In terms of detail and complexity, it’s really on a different level.
Blundell also added, “I would recommend not playing with curtains closed, it might be a bit too scary.”
Bosses will be in Shadows of Evil. Blundell noted that the AI will be a challenge enough, with variations in every zombie, not just the special types or mini-bosses.
“The fundamentals of the AI stays the same throughout the experience. We’ll introduce a mini-boss character or a significant character who is this three headed, tentacle thing,” Blundell explained, “Then we have flying parasites that are flying through the air. We have rolling meatballs, which are these fleshy things that roll around and spit blood out you know the usual stuff.”
More important than just the types you’ll see, is how the average zombie will pursue the players, which Blundell thinks will alter your playstyle from past iterations,
“It’s an updated AI system that drives zombies and we have done some spreading technology, which means a lot of core zombie players will do a thing called kiting, where the run around in small distances, and this spread technology means some zombies don’t travel as fast as others,” Blundell said, “This means that running around in a circle won’t work as well because some zombies will lag and slap you in the face or bit your arm. That’s a product of the more expansive spaces that we’re doing.”
Shadows of Evil will come with what Blundell calls the “Main Experience”, being the titular level. If you’ve invested in the Collector’s Edition however, you can count on a bonus in the form of “The Giant”. While Blundell didn’t divulge any spoilers or tidbits on the latter, he does reiterate “Those are the two main maps that we are talking about.”
Blundell isn’t finished however, as with a new iteration and new era of Black Ops so too Zombies should evolve, because they’re people too…or they were. For those coming from their precious zombie style of Black Ops 2 there may be more surprises than anticipated.
“Aside from the progression system, I think the Bubble Gum system will surprise them most,” said Blundell, “We have these Gobble Gum, which is actually a pre-defined pack that you setup before you go into a game session and then there is a Bubble Gum Machine that can hand out those abilities.”
The bubble gum machine serves as a cousin to the perk machine from Black Ops 2, but with a bit of customization to it. Blundell stated, “With that customized element that allows you to setup based on how you play and the kind of strategy you have.”
Blundell went on to explain how the team went about map design in what they think will be appreciated as an intelligent manner.
“I think the other difference is if you were playing Shadows of Evil, you’ll notice a more spatially aware map,” Blundell said, “In other words, it’s a map that exists on multiple plans. Some of our maps would make you constrained, but in this game there are multiple levels of depth. It’s also one of the biggest maps we’ve ever done. Scale alone is not good enough, so what we’ve done is made everything traversable, so you can find your bearings around the large map.”
Blundell went right into how loadouts look in Shadows of Evil and Black Ops 3 explaining that players familiar with the “run up to the outline on the wall and buy it” system will be at home, but this time around can change the weapon on the wall, as well as the attachments and power of those weapons.
“You can also change the weapons that come out of the Magic Box,” said Blundell, “That changes based on how many hours you’ve been playing and then with the Bubble Gum, the more you unlock, the more you can set your pack up. Then when you’re in there, you can go to the Bubble Gum Machine like you would a Perks Machine, pay your money and then one of the Bubble Gums from your pack comes out, even though you don’t know which one will come out.”
Blundell went on to explain that these changes affect team dynamics and tactics not only in their headshots and placement, but down to abilities and weapons,
People will work as a team to work out how to get the greatest distribution or abilities based on their strategies to get the high rounds. It’s all another layer of strategy for teams.
Blundell was joined by Multiplayer Director Dan Bunting for a quick chat about their favorite lines in the game as well. With Bunting going for a good old fashioned taunt, while Blundell goes full Goldblum.
“Well I’ll go for multiplayer,” said Bunting, “Ruin has a line where after he slams down his Gravity Spike he says ‘You have a nice f*cking day now.’ (laughs)”
“I think I’m going to go with Niero The Magician, who is played by Jeff Goldblum, and he’s talking with the femme fatale, who is Heather Graham,” Blundell said, “he says, ‘my name is Niero, you might’ve known me, I’m a famous magician.’ She says, ‘keep away from me creep or I’ll f*cking kill you.’ (laughs)”
Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and the included Zombies mode, Shadow of Evil gets rises on November 6, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.