SANTA MONICA, Calif. – "Call of Duty: Black Ops 3" is enlisting a few new recruits.
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The third installment in Treyarch's military shooter saga is adding the option to play cooperatively with other gamers in the plot-driven campaign. The developer is also ditching traditional avatar customization in its multiplayer mode, instead opting for players to pick among nine distinct characters, each with their own unique weapon and ability.
"We wanted it to have a little more soul to it," said game director Dan Bunting after a recent demonstration. "We were talking about voices and giving them personalities. It was kind of a leap of faith to say, 'You're going to pick this character who is this guy or girl, and that is the character you're gonna be.' That was the direction we started to explore."
Other additions planned for the futuristic "Black Ops 3," which is scheduled for release Nov. 6 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, include the ability to swim and shoot at opponents underwater in the multiplayer mode, as well as analyze the campaign's more expansive battlefields with high-tech perspectives culled from teammates' intel.
"With co-op players, they can be in multiple places," said campaign director Jason Blundell. "In these larger environments, they can be at different heights and positions in the battlefield, so to ensure those engagements are just as riveting and just as cinematic, we had to create a brand-new, goal-oriented animation system."
Here's a look at five of the biggest changes coming to Activision's blockbuster shooter franchise:
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The campaign mode has been overhauled to encourage re-playability with up to four available co-op players. The levels will be more open than past "Call of Duty" titles, and players will be able to customize their weapon, loadout, gender, outfit and enhancements. That creativity can be shown off between levels inside a new virtual safe house.
The new entry follows the events of "Black Ops II" when drones hijacked by a terrorist in 2025 crippled the world. In the campaign, which begins five years later, soldiers can be upgraded with about 40 cybernetic modifications, which allow players to accomplish such high-tech feats as remotely hacking enemy robots or chaining together melee strikes.
Following the injection of rocket-thrusting soldiers in last year's "Call of Duty: Advance Warfare," the troops in "Black Ops 3" have similarly been granted wings. The game's 360-degree, momentum-based movement system allows multiplayer combatants to quickly grapple environmental surfaces, power slide across landscapes and cling to walls.
Treyarch has dubbed its new multiplayer characters "specialists." That's because each operative comes equipped with their own personal weapon and ability outside the tried-and-true create-a-class system. For example, bow-wielding Brazilian Special Forces agent Outrider is outfitted with explosive bolts and the power to detect nearby enemies.
While the developers have done away with multiplayer character customization, they've greatly expanded weapon personalization, providing players with more tools to trick out munitions. The game's guns can be equipped with an optic and up to 5 attachments, camouflage and user-designed paint jobs with up to 64 different layers on three sides.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.