Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 reveals omnimovement, 12 multiplayer maps at launch in promising preview

Much was revealed about this year's Call of Duty during the 2024 Xbox Games Showcase early Monday morning (NZ time).

Call of Duty: Black Ops 6's brand new movement system, called 'omnimovement,' was showcased alongside several new details about the single-player, multiplayer and Zombies modes of the game, which will be released on October 25.

The title represents a massive investment by Microsoft, which for the first time will release it in full for Xbox Game Pass subscribers on the same day it is launched on all platforms.

Many long-time fans hope Black Ops 6 saves Call of Duty.

Of course, having over 100 million people play every month and pulling in over US$30 billion in its lifetime means Call of Duty is not in need of 'saving'. But for many players, the franchise today is a far cry from its glory days.

Last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III was widely considered a major disappointment and received the franchise's lowest Metacritic score ever thanks to several scathing reviews. It was described by some as more of a minor add-on to the previous year's release rather than an actual full game, despite being priced as one.

Black Ops 6 is being co-developed by Treyarch and Raven Software, whose last effort was 2020's Black Ops Cold War. While that fared better in reviews than the 2023 game - especially for its single-player campaign - it was still criticised for launching with just six core multiplayer maps.

Among the announcements about Black Ops 6 was a loud and clear course-correction on that Cold War problem.

"We're happy to announce that we will be launching with 16 all-new multiplayer maps. We've got 12 core 6v6 and four Strike maps, which can be played as 6v6 or 2v2," said Brittany Pirello, a senior producer at Treyarch, in the 'Direct' video.

"We're back to our classic three-lane maps. We've got fast, frenetic experiences, and we have that balance with more medium-sized maps, better for hardcore pacing to keep the action flowing but still have meaningful decisions for the player to make."

There were other signals that this year's Call of Duty is trying to undo some of the more controversial practices the franchise has introduced in recent years.

"It's been 10 years since Call of Duty has been in our show," said Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming. "It's been even longer since all Call of Duty players got the same game at the same time. Going forward, everyone will experience the game - including the Black Ops 6 beta, the season expansions and the updates - at launch."

However, the video ended with a promise of what pre-ordering a special edition of the game would reward buyers with, including a 'mastercraft weapon selection'. It's unclear what sort of advantage that may offer over other players.

But in the 25-minute deep dive Direct video, there was definitely an air of confidence from Treyarch and Raven Software. In it they also addressed concerns with more recent Zombies gameplay and the Prestige system of multiplayer.

Black Ops 6 is going back to basics with round-based Zombies gameplay that also features dedicated operators and self-contained maps. The game is also bringing back the 'traditional' Prestige system, which means players who reach the maximum level will be given the choice to start fresh without any of their unlocked gear and play through the entire journey again for additional rewards.

Omnimovement in Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 multiplayer.
Omnimovement could significantly change Call of Duty multiplayer. Photo credit: Treyarch / Raven Software

The biggest upgrade is perhaps the 'omnimovement' system which allows sprinting, sliding and diving in any direction, rather than just forward. It also allows shooting during these movements and in any direction while prone.

"It's really something that changes how you think and play the game, whether it's campaign, multiplayer, or Zombies," said Matt Scronce, associate director of design at Treyarch. "We truly believe that once you experience omnimovement, there's no going back."

There is also a new 'intelligent' movement system that reduces the amount of button-pushing players have to do through three features that can each be toggled off or on as well as fine-tuned: sprint assist, mantle assist and crouch assist. Scronce said this was to allow all players to engage with omnimovement, regardless of skill level, as a feature inspired by the many optional assists in racing simulators.

More on the multiplayer upgrades of Black Ops 6 will be revealed in a standalone preview event in August, but in Monday's Direct video, some big claims were made about the single-player campaign.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 single-player campaign screenshot.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 single-player campaign screenshot. Photo credit: Treyarch / Raven Software

"Every Call of Duty player has a favourite campaign mission. When we set out to make Black Ops 6, we were focused on delivering missions so iconic that they stick in your memory long after," said Jon Zuk, associate creative director at Raven Software.

"We're bringing that action-packed blockbuster feel to every step of the narrative. We're giving you more variety, more dynamic moment-to-moment gameplay, and more options to finish each mission."

Those options include conquering levels with stealth and strategy, rather than all-out guns-blazing aggression - not unheard of in Call of Duty. More interesting is the "conversation opportunities" in which players are promised the ability to "talk, barter and manipulate your way into different experiences".

The early '90s Gulf War setting is also being met with positive reactions online, with players eager to see how the era is represented in the game.

Xbox Game Pass subscribers in Aotearoa will be able to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 on October 25 and pre-orders opened today.