Black Ops III takes place in 2065 40 years after the events of Black Ops II in a world facing upheaval from climate change and new technologies. Similar to its predecessors the story follows a group of black ops soldiers. The games 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 will be unlocked after the player completes all campaign missions.
Announced on April 26 2015 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 games downloadable content. Upon release, the game received generally positive reviews from critics, albeit slightly lower than the previous two games in the sub series with critics praising the gameplay Zombies mode and content. However, it was criticized for its story absence of fan favorite story mode characters, and its lack of innovation. The seventh generation console versions in particular were criticized for the lack of a campaign and numerous features as well as it being online only. It was a commercial success with it becoming the top selling retail game in the US in 2015, and one of the most successful titles released for the eighth generation of video game consoles.
On June 9 2015 versions for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were confirmed to be under development by Beenox and Mercenary Technology. These versions lack some features available on other platforms, such as the games campaign mode. On June 15 2015 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 Black Ops III would be released first on PlayStation platforms as timed exclusives. This ends a similar exclusivity deal with Microsoft dating back to Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare.A multiplayer beta was released for the PlayStation 4 on August 18 2015, and was released for the Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on August 26, 2015.All versions of the multiplayer beta ran for six days.
On October 27 2065 the Winslow Accord initiate a successful mission in Ethiopia to rescue hostages from the tyrannical Nile River Coalition. However the Player is critically wounded by a combat robot. Rescued by Taylor the Player undergoes cybernetic surgery to save their life being installed with a direct neural interface (DNI) and receiving virtual training from Taylor and his team during surgery. Hendricks also undergoes surgery.
After five years of wetwork the Player and Hendricks are put under the command of Rachel Kane and tasked with investigating a CIA black site in Singapore that has gone quiet. They find the site attacked by the 54 Immortals and the sites data stolen. Kane concludes that Taylor and his team defected and murdered the staff. The Player and Hendricks investigate their last location, the Coalescence Corporation in Singapore destroyed ten years prior in a mysterious explosion that killed 300,000 people finding a secret CIA lab.
The pair find Diaz leaking CIA information and are forced to kill him. Interfacing with Diaz’s DNI Hendricks discovers Taylor is trying to find the survivors of the explosion: Sebastian Krueger and Dr. Yousef Salim. The leaked information allows the Immortals to capture Kane. The Player disobeys Kanes orders to leave and rescues her by killing Immortals leader Goh Xiulan. The trio then head to Egypt and find Salim, who reveals that he performed secret DNI experiments involving comforting humans via a calming exercise involving imagining a frozen forest.
Salim is then interrogated and executed by Taylor. The Player, Hendricks and Kane pursue Taylor with assistance from the Egyptian Army. After killing Hall the Player connects to her DNI and encounters Corvus, a gestalt intelligence created during the experiments to monitor thoughts of DNI users which malfunctioned, causing the explosion. Infecting Taylor and his team Corvus made them obsessed with finding the forest with the Player and Hendricks also becoming infected after interfacing with Hall and Diaz.
After killing Maretti the pair track down Taylor in Cairo. After wounding the Player Taylor manages to resist Corvus and tear his DNI out sparing the Player. However Hendricks then succumbs to Corvus and kills Taylor before abandoning the Player leaving for Zürich to find Krueger. The Player races to Zürich with Kane to stop him. Reaching Zürichs Coalescence Corporation, the pair find Corvus caused the explosion with the gas Nova 6 Kane attempts to contain it, but Corvus locks her in the compound room, leaking the gas to kill her in front of a helpless Player.
Continuing on, the Player finds Hendricks holding Krueger hostage. After Hendricks kills Krueger the Player kills him in turn. The Player then tries to kill themselves to end Corvus infection, but ends up in a simulated frozen forest, created by Corvus to retain the consciousness of dead DNI users. Taylor still alive after becoming a glitch in the forest reunites with the Player stating that they must purge their DNI to end Corvus. With Taylor help, the Player resists Corvus last ditch manipulation and purges their DNI, erasing the virus. Stumbling out of the Zurich headquarters the Player identifies themselves to ZSF forces as Taylor
Taylor mission reports reveal that the Player actually died during their cybernetics surgery due to complications. The resulting events until Taylor death occur in a simulation deviating from Taylor and Hendricks experience of hunting down Dylan Stone and his team Javier Ramirez, Alice Conrad, and Joseph Fierro, their teammates who defected after finding the CIA black site. The Players consciousness is shown living in Taylors mind throughout the simulation, indicating that the Player manages to take over Taylors body after his death until the DNI purge saw Corvus erased and Taylor regain control.