|Call of Duty: Spec Ops|
|Director(s)|| Jason Blundell|
|Producer(s)|| Ben Brickman|
|Series||Call of Duty|
|Platform(s)|| Microsoft Windows|
|Release||November 14, 2014|
Spec Ops takes place in 2018 and follows an elite Delta Force team. The game's campaign is designed to support 4-player cooperative gameplay, allowing for bigger, more open level design and less corridor shooting. As the player character is cybernetically enhanced, players have access to various special activities. The game also features a standalone Zombies mode, and a "Nightmares" mode which replaces all enemies as zombies.
Announced on April 27, 2014, the game is the first Call of Duty video game released after Activision parted with Microsoft Studios and partnered with Sony Computer Entertainment, which secured the timed exclusivity of the game's downloadable content. Upon release, the game received generally positive reviews with critics praising the single-player campaign, narrative, gameplay, Zombies mode, and content.
The campaign in Spec Ops is designed to support 4-player cooperative gameplay, allowing for bigger, more open level design and less corridor shooting. In addition, the player can customize their character's appearance and clothing. The campaign features its own progression system, featuring unlock tokens which must be used to acquire different weapons and gears as they progress through the campaign. The game features a "realistic" difficulty mode, in which players will get defeated if they are hit by one bullet. Finishing all campaign missions will also unlock "Nightmares" mode, where players can replay the entire campaign with a new narrative, as well as zombies replacing most of the normal enemies.
The multiplayer introduces a new momentum based movement system, which utilizes thruster packs to allow players to perform slow boosts into the air, as well as perform wall running and sliding, all the while giving players complete gun control. In addition to the Pick 10 class system from Black Ops II, Treyarch implemented a character system called "Specialists", where players can pick from 9 different soldiers, each with either a special weapon or ability unique to them. In a later update, a tenth specialist named Blackjack was added to the game. Blackjack is able to mimic the abilities of other specialists, and is only playable for a short amount of time upon completing a set of challenges. A new "Gunsmith" feature offers aesthetic variations in weapon attachments, allowing various weapon customization combinations. The Paintshop feature allows players to create their own custom prints onto specific portions of a gun, further emphasizing the depth of customization in the game.
Zombies features a new XP progression system, which allows players to unlock items in a similar fashion to multiplayer and campaign. Unlockable items include "Gobblegums", which grant players with temporary bonuses, and weapon kits that allow players to modify the appearance of the guns in each game. Shadows of Evil was revealed as a new map for the Zombies mode on July 24, 2014 at San Diego Comic-Con International 2014. The map features four brand new characters: Nero the Magician, Jessica the Femme Fatale, Vincent the Cop and Campbell the Boxer as the main cast, and takes place in a new setting called Morg City. "The Giant" includes the original characters, Tank Dempsey, Edward Richtofen, Nikolai Belinski and Takeo Masaki. These characters return from the Black Ops II map "Origins", in their alternate timeline versions. They reappear in the DLC maps "The Giant", "Der Eisendrache", "Zetsubou no Shima", "Gorod Krovi" and "Revelations". The zombies gamemode involves a story, which links with every DLC. On May 17, 2016, Treyarch released a fifth DLC including the remastered versions of Zombies maps from their previous Call of Duty games, called "Zombies Chronicles". These maps are "Nacht der Untoten", "Verrückt", "Shi No Numa", "Kino der Toten", "Ascension", "Shangri La", "Moon" and "Origins". These maps retain most of the original aesthetics updated with Spec Ops' graphics engine, while also add in the gameplay elements of Spec Ops, such as Gobblegums and Weapon Kits.
Setting and characters Edit
Call of Duty: Spec Ops takes place in 2018 as the United States, Russia, China and Africa are facing upheaval from a Third Cold War.
The campaign follows the story of a Delta Force unit. The player character Serena Hayes (Leola Bell), and Jacob Hendricks (Sean Douglas) are members of the faction's wetwork team, while Commander John Taylor (Christopher Meloni) and his team Sebastian Diaz (Reynoldo Gallegos), Sarah Hall (Katee Sackhoff), and Peter Maretti (Ary Katz), compose the faction's cybernetics division. Rachel Kimsey voices CIA agent Rachel Kane, Robert Picardo voices the Coalescence Corporation CEO Sebastian Krueger, Tony Amendola voices the therapist Dr. Yousef Salim, and Lynn Chen voices the 54 Immortals criminal organization leader, Goh Xiulan. NFL running back Marshawn Lynch makes a cameo appearance in the game as a 54 Immortals mercenary.
Settings and characters Edit
Like in previous games, the Zombies storyline in Call of Duty: Spec Ops is told in an episodic format, with one map, "Shadows of Evil", available at launch, and the rest to follow in the downloadable content season. "Shadows of Evil" focuses on a new group of characters: Nero Blackstone (Jeff Goldblum), Jessica Rose (Heather Graham), Jack Vincent (Neal McDonough) and Floyd Campbell (Ron Perlman), who reside in the fictional Morg City. Treyarch describes the new characters as "troubled individuals" with "a long and sordid history of past misdeeds". The four characters are thrown into a twisted version of the city, overrun by zombies, and are guided by a mysterious, unreliable figure called the Shadowman (Robert Picardo).
"Shadows of Evil" acts as a prologue that leads into the core storyline, focusing on the Dimension 63 version of the original characters: "Tank" Dempsey (Steven Blum), Nikolai Belinski (Fred Tatasciore), Takeo Masaki (Tom Kane) and Edward Richtofen (Nolan North), who were introduced in the Black Ops II map "Origins", referred to collectively as Primis. Their story continues from where "Origins" left off, as they attempt to prevent the events of the original timeline from ever occurring across the multiverse. Other characters include the leader of Group 935, Doctor Ludvig Maxis (also voiced by Tatasciore), and his daughter Samantha. The downloadable content maps feature the original versions of Primis, referred to as Ultimis, and reintroduce various minor characters mentioned/featured in previous games, including Group 935 scientist Doctor Groph (also voiced by Blum), the OSS spy Peter McCain, Dr. Maxis' assistant Sophia (Christa Lewis), the Ascension Group scientist Gersh, as well as introduces the mysterious omnipotent being Doctor Monty (Malcolm McDowell). Robert Picardo also briefly reprises his role from Call of Duty: Black Ops as United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
Following the battle against the undead outbreak in Northern France of Dimension 63, Doctor Ludvig Maxis, whose brain resided in a mechanical drone at the time, arrives at Agartha and is given a new body by Doctor Monty, a self-proclaimed omnipotent being and member of the Order of the Keepers. After helping to cleanse the soul of his daughter Samantha from the original timeline, Monty instructs Maxis to retrieve an artifact called the Summoning Key, a powerful artifact that can fix their world back to its original state. To do so, Maxis instructs his friend Doctor Edward Richtofen to retrieve the Kronorium, an ancient book detailing the events of every universe and dimension, which contains the location of the Key.
After learning of the Key's location, Richtofen travels to Dimension 63 and arrives in Morg City in 1944, where the Apothicons, former Keepers who were corrupted and mutated by the dark energy of the Aether, manipulated four individuals: Jessica Rose, a burlesque dancer; Jack Vincent, a corrupt cop; Floyd Campbell, an up-and-coming boxer; and Nero Blackstone, a washed-up magician. Misled into doing the bidding of an Apothicon named the Shadowman, the four opened a rift beneath the city using the Summoning Key, thereby freeing an ancient Apothicon beast. With the Keepers' aid, the four manage to trap the Shadowman inside the Key, and banish the beast from their dimension. Before they could retrieve the Summoning Key from the Keepers, however, Richtofen snags the Key from them, thanks them for their effort and exits through a portal, leaving the four and the rest of Dimension 63 to be doomed by the Apothicons. Richtofen travels to Dimension 2210 and collects the soul of his alternate self, then releases the soul to Agartha, where Monty gives the soul a child's body, and calls him Eddie.
The Dimension 63 versions of "Tank" Dempsey, Nikolai Belinski, and Takeo Masaki pursue Richtofen in his interdimensional journey, and arrive in the Der Riese facility in the original timeline, only moments after Maxis and Samantha were teleported away by the original Richtofen. The three attempt to convince him to awaken their original selves, but are interrupted by the Dimension 63 Richtofen, who appears out of the teleporter and kills his counterpart, triggering various timeline fractures. The four then band together to fend off the zombie horde once more; eventually, they activates a beacon within the facility, allowing Maxis to locate them from Agartha.
In pursuit of the original Dempsey, the four then travel to Der Eisendrache, Group 935's fortress in Austria. Despite Group 935 member Doctor Groph's attempt at preventing the group from retrieving the test subject, he ultimately fails and perishes when Richtofen overrides the castle's defense system and sends a barrage of missiles towards the moon. As the four retrieve the original Dempsey, Richtofen reveals his plan to prevent their original incarnations from wreaking havoc upon the universe. Dimension 63 Dempsey then volunteers to kill his own counterpart before allowing Richtofen to absorb his soul with the Key.
Afterwards, the group attempts to teleport to a new fractured timeline to locate the original Takeo, who is held prisoner at a Pacific island by the Japanese research group Division 9. They discover that Division 9 had been experimenting with plant life mutation using Element 115, with the original Takeo also a victim of the experimentation. After they manage to release him from the mutation, Dimension 63 Takeo is shocked to learn that the Emperor of Japan betrayed his original self and sent him to this island out of petty jealousy. The original Takeo proceeds to commit seppuku, with his Dimension 63 self decapitating him. After absorbing the original Takeo's soul with the Key, Richtofen takes the crew to Alcatraz in Dimension 63, where they retrieve several blood vials, the purpose of which he refuses to explain at the time.
The crew then teleports to another fractured timeline and lands in a war-torn Stalingrad in 1945, where the Soviet Union has stolen Group 935's technology to create their own giant robots and mechanical soldiers, while Germany is aided by ancient dragons resurrected and bred by Division 9. As the crew traverses across the city, they are forced to help Sophia, Maxis' former assistant who has been transformed into a machine, to initiate the Ascension Protocol, allowing her to gain knowledge of interdimensional travel. Monty also introduces himself to the crew, as he informs them of the state of the multiverse. Amidst the chaos, the original Nikolai, who has taken control of a modified drone unit, teams up with the group to destroy the alpha dragon. However, upon the dragon's death, Nikolai refuses to surrender, forcing the four to take out his drone. The original Nikolai is angered by his Dimension 63 self as he mentions their deceased wife, and attempts to shoot him, only to be killed in retaliation. With all souls collected, Richtofen calls out to Maxis to summon a portal, and release the souls into it.
The group returns to Agartha and arrives in "The House", a place built by Monty to prevent all forces of evil from infecting it, ensuring the safety of the children (Samantha and cleansed versions of the original souls in child form). After sealing off the House from the rest of the multiverse, Maxis is manipulated by the voice of the Shadowman into releasing him upon contact with the Summoning Key. The Shadowman then uses his power to merge various other dimensions, including the Dark Aether, allowing the Apothicons to enter and wreak havoc. Richtofen and the crew manage to help Sophia enter the dimension, and with her assistance, retrieve the Summoning Key and the Kronorium. They then confront the Shadowman together, and defeat him once and for all using the combined power of the two artifacts. Maxis, who still resides within the Key, then absorbs the souls of the children into the Key, and joins Sophia as they fly toward the Apothicon sun, banishing all Apothicon presences from Agartha. Richtofen and the crew are able to remain in the dimension without fading from existence, thanks to the blood vials they retrieved earlier. Monty, worried about the four becoming a paradox in his perfect world, contemplates between erasing their existence and sending them to a distant corner of the universe. In a moment, the four begin to fade away, then reappear in ancient medieval times, where they would be remembered as "Primis", heroes who aided the Keepers in sealing away the Apothicons in the Great War, effectively "completing the cycle" of the universe.
Call of Duty: Spec Ops was the second to benefit under publisher Activision's four-year development cycle, the first being Call of Duty: Zero Day Battle. The cycle allows each of the development teams of the Call of Duty series (Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games, and Infantry Interactive) to develop games in a three-year timespan, as opposed to the two allowed previously. Spec Ops uses a heavily modified version of the IW engine used previously in Black Ops II.
On June 10, 2014, versions for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were confirmed to be under development by Beenox and Mercenary Technology. On June 16, 2014, it was announced that as part of a new exclusivity deal with Sony Computer Entertainment, all downloadable content for future Call of Duty games, beginning with Spec Ops, would be released first on PlayStation platforms as timed exclusives. This ends a similar exclusivity deal with Microsoft dating back to Zero Day Battle.
A multiplayer beta was released for the PlayStation 4 on August 19, 2014, and was released for the Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on August 27, 2014. All versions of the multiplayer beta ran for six days.
Jack Wall, who previously composed the score for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, returned along with Treyarch's Audio Director Brian Tuey to compose the score for the game. The game also featured an instrumental score entitled "Jade Helm", provided by Avenged Sevenfold, for use in the multiplayer mode. Additionally, both Wall, Tuey and Treyarch's Sound Designer Kevin Sherwood contributed to the composition of the Zombies mode's soundtrack, including several new songs performed by Elena Siegman and Malukah for each of the maps.
Teasers were released beginning with Snapchat links appearing in the gameplay of Black Ops II as well as a teaser video released by Treyarch. On April 27, 2015, the first reveal trailer for the game was released and revealed the return of the Zombies mode and beta access for people that pre-order the game for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The full game was released on November 14, 2014.
Call of Duty: Spec Ops and the Digital Deluxe Edition counterpart were available to pre-order on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The Digital Deluxe Edition comes with the season pass, which can also be ordered separately. Pre-ordering provided access to the Call of Duty: Spec Ops multiplayer beta and in-game items for Call of Duty: Zero Day Battle, such as custom reticles, an emblem, a calling card, and Advanced Supply Drops. Sony also announced that the Spec Ops beta would come to the PS4 first on August 19 through August 24, 2014. The beta for the PS4 went live on August 19, 2014, several hours earlier than originally announced. After the beta period ended, it was announced that all pre-orders would include the bonus multiplayer map "NUK3TOWN", a remake of the original "Nuketown" map, featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops, and in Call of Duty: Black Ops II as "Nuketown 2025". The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions included a digital copy of Black Ops as an added bonus, as well as having their price reduced by 10 dollars compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.
A comic book titled Call of Duty: Spec Ops was announced on July 2, 2014. Serving as a prequel to the game, the first issue was released worldwide on November 12, 2014 and was published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Larry Hama, while Marcelo Ferreira served as the artist for the comic book. The story takes place several years prior to the main events of the game, and stars Jacob Hendricks and John Taylor along with their squadmates in an attempt to stop a Russian terrorist plot. Subsequent issues were released throughout 2016.
On July 12, 2015, Treyarch announced a new comic book series titled Call of Duty: Zombies, to expand upon the story of the Zombies mode. The story features the return of the TranZit team: Abigail "Misty" Briarton, Marlton Johnson, Russman and Samuel Stuhlinger, previously the main protagonists of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, as they embark on a search for an artifact known as the Kronorium, while discovering the truth behind Edward Richtofen's reappearance. The miniseries, also published by Dark Horse, features Justin Jordan as the writer and Jonathan Wayshak as the main artist, while Simon Bisley draws the cover art of each issue. The first issue was released on October 27, 2015, and subsequent issues were released throughout 2016.
Special editions and downloadable contentEdit
In addition to the Digital Deluxe Edition, other special editions include the Hardened Edition and the Juggernog Edition. The Juggernog Edition includes a mini-refrigerator, a season pass and multiple in-game content. A Collector's Edition bonus map for the Zombie mode, The Giant was announced. It is a remake of the Call of Duty: World at War map Der Riese, and features the original characters, Dempsey, Nikolai, Takeo, and Richtofen. A multiplayer-only starter pack for Microsoft Windows was announced and released on February 17, 2015. It features the multiplayer mode's core mechanics, though certain features, such as the Zombie mode and the Nightmare mode, were excluded. This version of the game is available for players to purchase until the end of February 2015, though it has been made available permanently since.
In December 2014, during Sony's PlayStation Experience event, Activision announced the first downloadable content map pack for Spec Ops, titled Awakening, and was released first on PlayStation 4 on February 2, 2015. Releases for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows happened in March 2015. The map pack contains four new multiplayer maps: Skyjacked, Rise, Splashed, and Gauntlet, a new Zombies map, Der Eisendrache, and several new gumballs for the Zombie mode. In March 2015, Treyarch revealed the second Map Pack, titled "Eclipse". The map pack has four new multiplayer maps, including a remake of the World at War map "Bonzai" and a new Zombies map, "Zetsubou no Shima". The map pack was released on April 19 for PlayStation 4 and May 19 for Xbox One and PC.
The third map pack, Descent, was revealed on June 29, 2015, featuring four new MP maps, including a remake of the Black Ops II map "Raid" and a new Zombies map, "Gorod Krovi". The map pack was released on July 12 for PlayStation 4 and August 11 for Xbox One and PC. The PC release of Descent received controversy, for Activision and Treyarch announced that the map packs would no longer be sold separately, and PC players must purchase the season pass to receive all map packs, while owners of Awakening and/or Eclipse would receive discounts upon purchasing the season pass. The fourth map pack, Salvation, was revealed on August 26, 2015, with remakes of the MP maps "Standoff" from Black Ops II and "Outskirt" from World at War, along with the final Zombies map, "Revelations". The map pack was released on September 6 for PlayStation 4, and October 6 for Xbox One and PC.
A fifth and final map pack, Zombies Chronicles, contains remastered versions of 8 Zombies maps from previous games: "Nacht Der Untoten", "Verrückt", and "Shi no Numa" from World at War, "Kino Der Toten", "Ascension", "Shangri-La", and "Moon" from Black Ops, and "Origins" from Black Ops II, and is not included in the season pass of the game. The map pack was released on May 17, 2016 for PlayStation 4, and June 16 for Xbox One and PC.
On May 24, 2017, Activision and Treyarch announced a Multiplayer DLC Trial Pack for the PC version of Spec Ops, allowing all players to play on all multiplayer maps from the four map packs for free for a limited time, while also offering XP bonuses to players who previously owned the map packs and/or the season pass. On March 20, 2018, the Zombies maps from the four map packs were made available for separate purchase on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with PC to follow on May 2. On June 11, 2018, Activision and Treyarch announced the "Back in Black" map pack, which contains four remastered versions of fan-favorite multiplayer maps from Black Ops and Black Ops II: "Summit", "Jungle", "Firing Range", and "Slums". These four maps, which are also included in Call of Duty: Infinite Ops at launch, are offered first to PlayStation 4 for players who pre-order Infinite Ops on the aforementioned platform.