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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3: Release date, gameplay and everything else you need to know

The latest entry in the Call of Duty series is all about cybernetic soldiers, increased mobility, and zombies.

The latest entry in the extremely popular Call of Duty series is almost upon us, and is poised to be one of the biggest releases of the year. If you've got questions, we've got some answers.

What exactly is Call of Duty: Black Ops 3?

It's the latest entry in the Call of Duty first-person shooter franchise. The series has evolved over the years, starting during World War II moving into the far future, but the general gist remains the same: you're a soldier fighting in a war, and a partaking in a bit competitive multiplayer on the side.

The franchise's Black Ops storyline generally involves special operatives undertaking clandestine missions in an alternate timeline where the Cold War never quite ended. Black Ops 3 takes place in 2065.

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Activision

Sounds like my thing; when is the release date?

The game launches on November 6, and you can pick it up on the PC, the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox One and the Xbox 360.

That's quite a few options; are there any differences among the versions?

I'm going to stay out of the PlayStation 4 versus Xbox One debate. If you grab the game on PC, you'll get access to mods and modding tools sometime in 2016.

But if you're planning on picking up the game on an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, you're only getting the multiplayer and Zombies modes, and not full campaign. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game are also missing out on new features like the Weapon Paint Shop customization tool, Black Ops' Theater mode that'll let you record gameplay clips, and the CODCast tool, that lets players spectate and comment on other players' matches. The Season Pass, which grants you access to four extra downloadable content packs, is also restricted to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC versions of the game.

As a sort of consolation prize, if you're picking the game up on an older console you'll also get a copy of the original Call of Duty: Black Ops.

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Activision

Wait...what? Zombies?

Yup. Shadows of Evil is the latest version of the Zombies mode that's made an appearance in a few Call of Duty games. It's a sort of side game set in the 1940s, and it tasks four players with fighting off waves of zombies.

That's...something. I'm actually a big fan of co-op; is there more of that sort of thing?

The entire Black Ops 3 campaign is designed with four players in mind, with big, wide open levels that encourage you and your teammates (if you have any) to try multiple approaches to taking on the enemy. And the entire campaign is open from the start: if your friends are on the fifth mission and you've only played the first two, you can jump in alongside them, skip right to the end of the game, or just play the missions out of order. Things probably won't make much sense if you don't follow the campaign in order, but it's a nice option if you want to keep pace with your friends.

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Activision

And what if I want to, say, shoot at those friends?

You've come to the right place. The Call of Duty series has always championed frenetic multiplayer action, and Black Ops 3 will likely fit right in. The game features a new movement system that's all about scampering about like a cybernetic squirrel: you'll scramble over debris, run along walls and slide past obstacles while maintaining full control over your weapon. You'll also be able to tweak your weapon's performance with a variety of attachments, and (if you're playing on the PS4, the Xbox One, or PC) use the weapon paint shop to create something unique.

So multiplayer gameplay is just a regular old manshoot? That doesn't sound so fancy.

There's more! Black Ops 3 is trying out a new character system centered around Specialists. Think of them as archetypes: instead of playing a generic solider, you'll choose one of nine Specialists, each armed with a special ability or weapon they can call upon at will. There's a revolver-armed desperado, a sneaky, blade-wielding assassin, and a beefy fighter toting a grenade launcher, to name a few. If you've played MOBAs like League of Legends or DOTA 2, you'll be right at home here.

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