Eclipse is a pretty standard DLC package at best, and a stroke job at worst. Not only do the maps feel tired and haphazardly thrown together, but they don’t offer much regarding strategic diversity. There is one map that’s fun, and like Nuketown and other fantastic maps, it’s the ones that step away from the narratively sensitive and decides to slum it at a place they’re not suppose to be that end up being memorable. The Zombies map however might be the best in the third entry thus far, and I would recommend it to any fan who was iffy about Shadows of Evil.
I’m a huge fan of Zombies. I think it’s single-handedly the thing that keeps me coming back to Treyarch’s second fiddle series every time. Allow me to explain; they’re not second fiddle due to quality, but because Infinity Ward is simply a titan that’s too ginormous to overthrow. Not to mention, every time Treyarch introduces something revolutionary to the series, such as dolphin diving and custom logos, the Ward swoops in and picks it up. These grievous rips don’t exclude the Zombies series either- with their ‘Exo Zombies’ crap. I honestly can’t stand how much they bite from their studio.
Now, like the monstrosities they created, it’s Activision turn to start feeding on my poor underdog of a studio.
First and foremost- if I pay for a DLC pack- I want my guns. I want my camos, and trinkets, and anything else you’ve decided to put behind Kryptokeys, or Black Op Points, or whatever you’re calling them. It’s a paywall, and if I’m shelling out 15 bucks, I expect all my content available to me from the start. I don’t care for Destiny’s model of sit back and hope for weaponry; it does nothing but creates unfair advantages that extend outside of the cosmetic and discourages the casual player from even attempting to keep up. Evidently, Activision is forcing this- so if anyone from there is reading this- stop it. No!
To discuss the new maps, I’m not a huge fan. Three of these maps feel like carbon copies with different skins slapped on top. These three have elongated layouts, with corridor choke points and a center area that opens up; there’s not much variety between them. There’s Knockout, an Asian-themed level that’s full of lush reds and pinks flowers, and reminds me very much of the colorful maps from the series’ roots. Rift is set on an equipment carrier that hovers over a volcano ripped right out of the Lucas catalog, carrying what I can only describe as future boxes (containers of tomorrow). Rounding out the hackneyed 22nd-century aesthetics is Spire, a futuristic resort that has tons of Spielbergesque architecture that just comes across as old hat. I could almost forgive the lack of visual imagination if some conventional design were thrown into the four maps so that they could feel completely different.
Verge, however, is where the most polish went in. I believe the layout is inspired by Banzai, a map from World at War, and is a welcome addition to my roster of locations. A beautiful central bridge, with overlook sites hanging above, and a waterway underneath, making this feel like the most layered of all the new areas Treyarch has created. Not to mention, I love the raider-inspired look of a rock quarry that seems to be inhabited by some nasty marauders. It might not fit into the universe, but my favorite of the last maps was a water park- so maybe COD should take itself a little less serious, and we could ditch the mundane future stuff and have more maps like Nuketown.
Finally, we get to the Zombies. I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a huge fan of the last story- but this one is well worth your money. There are tons of hidden secrets, mini-bosses, and Easter eggs for you to search out and discover. This time around the story is centralized on Takeo and takes us to a Japanese island that’s filled with deadly vegetation. In fact, you’ll be planting radioactive and helpful plants that’ll either gift you with supplies, booby traps or reveal secret areas. There’s a new “pincher plant” (my name for it anyway) that’ll hold onto a zombie for you, which is super convenient if you’re someone who likes to run around and try to uncover all the amazing backstory; that you should be getting into if you haven’t already. Not only does it have a fantastically creepy atmosphere and tone, but it’s one of the most rewarding maps out of the collection thus far. But, if you just like to mow down zombies, you should find it to be a tight map, with petite open areas, so you’ll start to get into trouble when you get into the 15-20 round range.
Overall, while I’m still loving Zombies, and the way they’re going about addressing some of the plot holes introduced, the rest of the content makes the 15 buck price point a hard pill to swallow. Three out of four of the maps don’t seem like there’s any love in them, and only one has any soul. And honestly, putting guns behind walls is not cool in a game that’s so competitive. Why should I have to rake out even more money just to get the weapons I unlocked with my 15 dollar purchase!? Sure, I could keep trying to get them the hard way, like your knife cosmetics from the last update- but I still haven’t gotten those yet either! Pay to win is your way to sin, and your audience won’t accept that.