Uh. Okay. So Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be receiving modding and mapping support come 2016, with the current plan being to have it in closed Alpha testing by March. It will include tools to create new maps, game modes "and more" along with software to set up unranked servers and a server browser. That's right. A server browser in a Call of Duty game. In the year of our dedication 2016. What a time to be alive.
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It's a bit of a turn up for the books, given we're talking about the same series that famously ditched all idea of dedicated servers or a server browser, nevermind custom content or user control of any real kind, back in the mists of 200X. While it inspired the single greatest Reddit comment of all time (2nd reply, by Tallon) it wasn't the most popular move.
That's all changing next year, according to this blog post by Treyarch's Director of Development, Cesar Stastny. He outlines the full list of what will be made available:
- You will be able to create Maps & Game Modes and more!
- We will include Unranked Dedicated Server Files with the tools so you can run servers with modded content anywhere you choose.
- We will provide an Unranked Server Browser so you can easily find and join servers with modded content.
- Closed Alpha target date: March 2016
Whether this will be truly open modding with devtools or something more akin to Doom's upcoming SnapMap remains to be seen. I'd guess the latter, but I'd also have guessed that Activision weren't going anywhere near the word "modding" ever again.
There's some business reasons it's strange too. In general, Call of Duty has a yearly release cycle of pushing as many players as possible to the new version each time. This is unfriendly to modding and e-sports, as scenes for both fail to develop quickly enough before the next iteration is pushed out. Between this promise and the redevelopments made around the Call of Duty World League, I'm inclined to think Black Ops 3 may be supported for longer than its predecessors. Surely Activision aren't planning to skip a year?
Equally, this has me very interested in Black Ops 3, though criminally lacking in the time to play it. You now have a game with a massive single player component, zombies mode, rumoured additional extras unlocked after beating the campaign, the usual endless time-sink that is CoD multiplayer with a legion of new features (that I personally quite enjoyed in beta) plus at least six months of DLC and however many years of modding support. That's a fair chunk of game for the triple-A price tag that comes attached. It's out November 6th, and we should have a review soon.