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Call of Duty Ditches 'Archaic' Campaign Unlock System

Illustration for article titled iCall of Duty/i Ditches Archaic Campaign Unlock System

Most games force you to play things in a certain order—and that gating can be a drag in certain situations. Black Ops 3, however, is trying something very different.


As Eurogamer reports, Black Ops 3 will let players go through the campaign in whatever order they’d like. Wanna start the game right at the end? You can do that. Just pick the last level (and prepare yourself for a whole lotta spoilers, I guess.) Kind of wild, no?

“The unlocking level system is an archaic mentality we’ve had since we did bedroom development back in the day—you do this, then go on to the next one,” Jason Blundell, the director of Black Ops 3’s campaign, told Eurogamer.


“Consumers and game players in general are far more mature these days. There are so many things vying for our interests today. It’s about, how do they want to consume it? Maybe they put it down on level two, and then they’re in work the next day, and some guy says, ‘dude, you’ve got to check out level four!’ And he’s like, ‘okay, I’ll have a quick look.’ That’s totally fine. I think it’s their choice.”

The obvious benefit is that this sort of loose structure lets the player experience a game on their own terms—something which suits the medium perfectly. But more overtly, a structure like this would force games to stop relying so much on twists and spoilers. If players can just jump straight to the end of the game, then the rest of the game has to be enticing enough to convince people to experience it in its totality. As Blundell says to Eurogamer, “it’s about the journey.”

The funny thing is, most media works like this. You can skip ahead in a movie. You can open up a book to whatever page you’d like. You can select whatever Netflix episode of a show you’d like to see, regardless of what you have watched before. Obviously, starting something at the middle or end isn’t the most ideal way to experience something, but if for some reason you want to do that, well...why not? If you don’t like a level, should you be forced to play it? If you want to skip to a specific part, shouldn’t you be able to do that? Games are one of the few things that don’t give you this sort of freedom, so it’s really cool to see a big-name game test the waters here. I hope this idea spreads—I’d love to see more games try it. Blundell is right; gating is outdated idea that some games don’t need.

You can read more of Blundell’s thoughts on Black Ops 3 here.

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We have had this since a long time ago. then it was called “Level Select”. You typically unlock it by beating the game (or appropriate section[s]) at least once, or emulate it by saving to new slots periodically (When I played e.g. DOOM I would use a new save for each level, so I could later jump back to any level I wanted). PC games with consoles would even have commands that could jump you straight to whatever level you wanted (sometimes with stipulations attached; some games appropriately wouldn’t give you credit for completing the game if you used cheats or level skips).

If you wanted to skip around without actually playing through to that point at least once, you could just use a cheat code or a password or whatever. The only reason this fell out of style is because progression-unlocked Level Select and Save systems became pretty much standard.

Movies, books, TV shows, etc are media that you just watch. Games are generally supposed to have you earn your progression; that’s half the point. Games aren’t movies.

In conclusion, this is dumb.