Massively jetlagged as I am, I decided to ease back into the post-International real world by catching up with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 [official site] announcements from Gamescom. Either I am stuck in a MOBA fever dream or Blops 3 really is introducing a protect and ban phase to competitive play. Tell you what. I’m going to cover it as if it’s real and then you can just let me know (gently) whether it’s all just a big hallucination. I’m also going to put a wodge of new screenshots in.
So, possibly-hallucination-David-Vonderhaar was talking about the protects and bans system during the eSports reveal live stream and said “There’s no doubt that this is the most significant change to how Call of Duty esports will be played over the coming years.” The stream involved a lot of hyperbole and cliché but I am inclined to agree on this point. The idea is that you get to choose which pieces of content to ban from play and which to protect from being banned.
In a shooter or in Starcraft I’m used to seeing veto systems for maps, but the Black Ops 3 approach looks a lot more granular and is more reminiscent of MOBA picks and bans which are used to kick certain characters from the selection pool while taking others for your own team. Protecting is slightly different from picking from what I’ve seen – I think it means the protected item is still available to all players rather than reserved for one side. Scorestreaks, weapons, specialist abilities and weapon attachments are all up for banning or protecting. In the showmatch we saw teams led by pro players Kivi and TeePee compete in a Hardpoint match on the Combine map make the following bans and protects, some clearly for the good of the team, others with specific players in mind:
Shock Charge (tactical equipment)
Sixth Sense (perk)
M8A7 (assault rifle)
Man-O-War (assault rifle – this one was flagged up as a protect by Kivi for teammate Buzzo – apparently he’s been wrecking house on it so there’s the danger of a ban. I’m expecting that players who excel in one or two aspects might find themselves effectively banned out of games)
Then the setup moved on to the specialist draft section. Teams get to pick from the specialist characters’ weapons and abilities but with a one-per-team limit so no multiples. Both of the first players on either team went for Seraph’s Annihilator weapon (a revolver with high-penetration rounds – a one shot kill which reminds me of Destiny’s Golden Gun). Also picked were Ruin’s Overdrive (a movement speed boost), Outrider’s Sparrow (a bow which fires explosive bolts), Nomad’s Rejack (self-revive which happens inside a smokescreen), Prophet’s Tempest (an electricity bolt which can arc between players) and Reaper’s Psychosis (an ability which generates three decoy versions of Reaper).
The sustain power offered by Rejack for holding the point or mopping up kills and the deadly force of Annihilator seemed to be the most appealing to the pros for Hardpoint given they were picked up by both teams. I was interested in Tempest but from the stream it seemed pretty hard to see how the lightning was actually bouncing between players from the viewpoints you get in spectator mode. CoDCast (the broadcasting/spectator feature) has had some tweaking but I’m wondering whether they might be able to add some way of making usage of weapons like Tempest more legible still. Maybe just seeing how the bolt has bounced using the same white outline style as you get to show other players on the map who are technically out of sight for the point of view you’re currently spectating?
Here’s the full video from the stream which has more detail from Vonderhaar about things like Arena as well. There is about half an hour of a countdown screen too which you might like if you’re a fan of countdown screens.
Aaaaaand a wodge of screenshots: