Black Ops 3 features a multi-layered story for the more discerning Call of Duty player

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Blops 3 narrative

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 has already been released in the wild and if my friends lists are anything to go by, a whole bunch of you are already playing it all the time. With a co-op campaign, the non-linear nature of the storytelling might be a bit odd to some. Of course, we had to ask Jason Blundell, the director for the campaign and zombies, for a bit more clarity.

You can watch him say the words, but what I found most intriguing was his view on balancing out the story telling for those who just want to play through the story, as compared to those who want to dig a bit deeper.

It’s a multilayered narrative, so there’s actually multiple narratives taking place at the same time. In Black Ops 2 we wrote a branching storyline. We thought that would be quite tricky to write that. Writing a multilayered narrative actually is even more complicated. So what that means is that different people will play it and possibly have different perceptions of what took place and they could all possibly be true. There’s actually evidence and stuff in there that you can look at and show that evidence for your theory and your story. There are actually 3 or 4 different stories running at the same time.

It’s a story that really… for the guys who want to play it and just going to go through it’s got these core mechanics, these level agnostic mechanics that allow you to play and sup up your character, customize your character, and maybe you just want to take this surface narrative from that story. And that’s totally fine. But we have certain sections of our community who really kind of enjoy looking deeper, going after those kind of clues. It’s a campaign and a story that will reward them continuously, so the closer they look there’re more and more things for the more discerning narrative guy who will be able to pick them up and possibly find new and interesting stories that are being told.

Considering how many people I’ve talked to who never even play the campaign in Call of Duty, it’s nice to see that so much attention is given to the story elements for those who enjoy them. Some of those clues or memories will take the form of collectibles. Often collectibles seem like filler material to force players to search around the world just for 100% completion. In Black Ops 3, the goal was to use it as a touch point for remembering certain experiences, as well as showing those experiences off to others:

Those collectibles you can place onto the walls and onto shelves. Not only do they serve a narrative function where each of those items there’s actually a backstory associated with each of those collectibles that might give you more evidence and theories on the world. But you can also use them to customize your bunk and your bunk is inside the safe house which is a new concept for the campaign. So you move through the levels, you go into the safe house and you have a bunk with your computer and so forth. But those collectibles you can place onto shelves and onto the walls and personalize the space to show what you found in the world.

I know it’s not quite as deep as something like Bloodborne where the items are the only way to find out about the lore or the story, but it is cool that things like collectibles that are usually just fluff added to games can actually reveal some narrative elements. Considering the multilayered approach of the narrative, these collectibles could reveal each player’s view on the events of the campaign. Much like in real life where soldiers return from war with varying views of what happened out in the field, each bunk could reflect the different layers perceived by the various players. Pretty deep stuff for those who are so inclined to explore it.

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Last Updated: November 12, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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