Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s second DLC map pack is out now, giving players four new multiplayer maps and a brand new zombies campaign to play. I’ve spent the last five days playing each level extensively in a variety of multiplayer modes to find the highs and lows of Eclipse.
Compared to the first DLC pack Awakening, which had some very obvious misses and low points for me, Eclipse fares much better under first impressions. Not only does it come with a variety of aesthetic stylings, but play style and strategy must change for each new map as well as you learn the nuances of the corridors and how to best navigate with the movement system. Though I certainly did find some lows, it was more to do with my own individual play style than a factor of bad map design.
Rift reminds me a lot of Rise from the first map pack, though it’s Rise done right both in layout and overall look. Though Rift isn’t anything too special to look at overall, it’s less cluttered, with more clean lines than Rise had. Where Rise had a series of befuddling side paths that allowed enemies to easily get behind you, Rift cleans up the layout to promote more forward movement and face to face encounters throughout the level.
Clever players can still find great ways to move around behind the enemy though, which makes Rift a great map for teams with good strategy, rather than a map that feels exploitable. Rift primarily advocates a lot of wall running over open pits that will drop players into the boiling caldera below if they fail. Along the side paths, the long sight lines are disrupted by small barriers that lead to close encounters, so it’s best to check your corners before you go barreling around them. A lot of the action is funneled towards the middle which I would recommend approaching cautiously if you want to avoid another death on your record.
Spire has a clean modern look, taking place in a futuristic sub-orbital airport. It’s lanes are far more open than any of the other maps, and as a player who lacks the patience to check that I am clear before running out into the line of fire, it does not fit well to my play style. Most of the kill cams that I have seen on Spire show that this is a map where snipers can really shine. Even the broad side lanes lack much more than some waist high cover meaning that players who like to hang back can get a good view from almost anywhere.
One outside edge of the map is a lane featuring wall runs over open air that funnel into the middle, similar to Combine from the base game. Most players have learned to avoid the middle however, unless it is required for an objective based mode like Domination, so these outer paths are rarely utilized unless absolutely necessary. This lack of players on the outside does have it’s advantages though, as they can be used to get behind the enemy spawn point if utilized unnoticed.
Verge is apparently a remake of a map from Call of Duty: World at War, which I didn’t play, so I can’t say how it compares to the original. What I do notice is that the map has the same kind of character that one might expect from Borderlands, albeit a little more realistic in its theme. Neon signs and ramshackle huts hobbled together from old wreckage in a post-apocalyptic wasteland underscore a stalemate between two factions battling over a water source that is the centerpiece for Verge.
Each of its three lanes cater to a distinct and different play style. The mines along one side are long and narrow, with few side paths and only the curvature of the cavern providing a defense against snipers. Encounters in here are pretty much do or die as you can only move forward or back in these tight areas. The center bridge area is a little more open, though it’s obstructed by a lot of debris. This is my playing field. Plenty of opportunities for escapes, sneak attacks, and frenetic encounters make it a zone that is very hard to hold down but fun to play in. The side opposite the mines is far more open above the water source. If you want to get tricky you can try using the water to sneak up, but sniper overwatch here can make it difficult.
Visually bright and appealing, Knockout takes places in a Shaolin temple. It’s primary lanes are much less obvious, the map being peppered with both indoor and outdoor areas that snake throughout the landscape. It’s perhaps one of the hardest maps to get used to, due to the need to constantly change play style dependent on where you are. One moment you could be running along a wall over a pit of bamboo spikes, in clear and open view of snipers, while the next you’ll be inside a small room that will funnel you to the middle area if you cant make it through alive.
This juxtaposition of open areas and tight corridors is what makes the map fun to play once you get used to them. It’s really the map that lends itself the best to all game modes, making anything played here fun and interesting whether it’s an objective based mode or a kill based mode. It’s hard to pick a favorite map, but I would think that it would either be this one or Verge given the sheer variety within each of them.
Zetsubou No Shima
Finally there’s Eclipse’s addition to the Zombies campaign, Zetsubou No Shima. This campaign continues to follow the characters from The Giant and Der Eisendrache as they end up shipwrecked on a pacific island filled with overgrowth, lab facilities, dangerous plants, and of course, even more zombies. While I do miss the characters from Shadows of Evil and find this particular cast to be a bit less interesting, the gameplay for Zetsubou No Shima is a lot of fun, mostly due to the compelling design of the area and the secrets that can be unlocked throughout.
Eclipse didn’t do the two things that I was hoping for the most after I played Awakening (more focus on water in multiplayer and a return to the Shadows of Evil cast in Zombies), but Treyarch still managed to put together on awesome package with the maps that they included. While I’m still crossing my fingers that my wishlist will be fulfilled in one of the two upcoming packs, Eclipse is an excellent content offering that doesn’t harbor any significant negatives. If you’ve been holding out on the Season Pass waiting for Treyarch to prove themselves, I think we can be pretty certain that they’ll deliver.
Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Eclipse review code provided by publisher (via Season pass). For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.