If sales are any indication, overall interest in Call of Duty is sinking slowly by the year - so Activision aims to generate a little renewed excitement by letting gamers jump into this year's Black Ops III three months early with an online multiplayer beta test.
Due to Activision's new deal with Sony, which also gives PlayStation users first dibs on downloadable content, PlayStation 4 owners will get the beta first next week, on 19 August, with a test that lasts through the 23rd. Xbox One and PC owners will get it soon thereafter, with their respective tests running from 26 August to 30 August.
In any case, it sounds like everyone is on the same page as far as which content will be playable on each system. Activision says the test will feature three new maps: Hunted, which surrounds an Ethiopian hunting lodge; Combine, which spotlights a research facility in the Sahara desert; and Evac, an abandoned evacuation area in Singapore. Of course, all three take place in a far-future world decimated by war, so they're sure to twist and contort those real-life locales.
Seven popular game modes will be featured in the beta, including Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Hardpoint, and the test will feature eight playable Specialists, which have unique weapons and abilities to utilize. Plus, it'll have the weapon paintshop feature for decorating your firearms of choice. Go nuts out there.
Developed by Treyarch, Black Ops III comes out on 6 November for all three platforms, while Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions - which aren't being beta tested - are in the works at other studios. See you on the virtual battlefields in the coming weeks?