‘Call of Duty: Black Ops III’ Weapons Impressions

Silver the Hedgehog
Games Call of Duty
Games Call of Duty

Hello everyone! With the recent release of the “Awakening” DLC for last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III, I thought now would be the best time for me to air my views on one of Black Ops III‘s core components: the guns. For those not into the Call of Duty scene or Black Ops III in general, let’s start with a brief description of what weapon classes are available.

Weapons Overview

There are two main sets of weapons, primary and secondary. On the primary side, there are the submachine guns (SMGs), useful close-quarters battles with its full-auto capabilities. Then, there are the assault rifles, which function as mid-range, jack-of-all-trades weapons. There are also shotguns, which can make the SMGs look silly in close quarters with a well-placed blast. Ranged weapons — sniper rifles and light machine guns (LMGs) — with sniper rifles acting as the precision instruments of the game and LMGs offering unparalleled sustained fire and power.

On to secondaries, which offer players three choices. There are pistols, the run-of-the-mill secondary that can save your skin when your primary runs out of ammo. Then there are the rocket launchers, which launch, well, rockets. Finally, there are the melee/special weapons, which at the moment are fairly limited in variety.

Weapons Impressions

Now, on to my personal views on all the weapons I’ve played around with so far.



I’ll start with the SMGs. As I stated above, the SMGs have always been close-quarters bullet hoses in games, and in Black Ops III that’s no different. I’ve never been much of a rusher, so I’ve only experimented with some of the weapons available.

Overall, all the SMGs are pretty much the same, with only varying rates of fire, damage over range, and recoil. Meaning the SMGs have a pretty stable role, with none of them trying to be something they’re not or having some kind of cheap gimmick. (I will grant that unlike the other SMGs the Pharo fires in four-round bursts instead of full auto, it still only really excels in close quarters and is nothing directly new to the series.)

In my time playing, I’ve mainly gravitated towards the Kuda, VMP, and Vesper, and none of them has won me over just yet. The VMP and Vesper feel like your average rapid-fire, from-the-hip weapons, while the Kuda has felt a bit tamer.

It’s a good and stable weapon class overall, but one that’s just not for me.

Assault Rifles


Onwards, we have the assault rifles. Being my favorite weapon class, I’ve had much experience with them. Like I said, assault rifles are essentially the jack-of-all-trades weapons, fulfilling roles at multiple ranges in differing ways. While they mainly dominate in the medium range, some variations also have applications at close and long ranges. Despite the wide variation, assault rifles can be easily defined into three main groups: heavy, light, and burst/semi.

The heavy assault rifles are the ones that deal high damage, often with lower fire rates, to really give them medium- to long-range capabilities. In Black Ops III, those roles are taken by the KN-44 and Man-O-War.

Then there are the light assault rifles. These usually consist of high fire-rate weapons, making them akin to SMGs; or low recoil, high accuracy weapons, almost akin to sniper rifles. In these cases, the roles are taken by the HVK-30 and ICR-1.

Finally are the burst/semi weapons. These weapons fire in bursts or with single shots. The damage often falls somewhere between the heavy and light versions depending on how they operate. The weapons for this case are the XR-2, Sheiva, M8A7 and MX Garand.

My personal favorite for this class has been the ICR-1 so far, as I’ve always preferred the lighter assault rifles with high accuracy. In other words, it’s an excellent flexible class suited for a multitude of situations.



Moving onward to shotguns. As mentioned, shotguns are the close-quarters powerhouses. They’re capable of immense power at close range, but it drops off quickly. At their core, all the shotguns are essentially the same — none of them have any fancy quirks, and they work how you’d expect. However, unlike the SMGs, each shotgun has a different firing mode, which greatly alters its usage.

There’s the KRM-262, which is pump action, resulting in a one-shot kill, but it’s got a slow rate of fire due to having to pump it after every shot. The 205 Brecci is semi-automatic, which means it can fire as fast as one pulls the trigger, but it requires at least two shots to get a kill. The Haymaker 12 is fully automatic, meaning you can just hold down the trigger, but it has even less power than the 205 Brecci. Finally, there’s the Argus, which is lever action, and is as powerful as the KRM but with more accuracy.

Much like the SMGs, shotguns are made more for runners, which I’m not. However, I have used them a tad more than the SMGs due to their faster killing speed in close quarters and less need to aim. As of now, I’ve mainly used the 205 Brecci and KRM-262. The KRM is slowly becoming my new favorite due to its ability to perform a one-shot kill, but I sometimes miss the fire rate of a semi-auto.

Overall, it’s a solid close-quarters class, one I enjoy using, but not one I gravitate to unless the opportunity arises.

Sniper Rifles


Now, on to the sniper rifles. These are basically the polar opposite of the shotguns: long-range damage dealers, ill-suited to close-range combat. However, much like the shotguns, they are the same at their core but have different firing modes that completely change how they operate.

Firstly there’s the Drakon, a semi-automatic sniper rifle capable of killing in two shots at near any range. Then there’s the Locus, a bolt-action rifle capable of a one-shot kill as long as the shot is high enough on the chest. The P-06 is a three-round burst rifle, capable of killing in two shots — so only one burst, if you aim your burst well. Finally, there’s the SVG-100, a bolt-action rifle much like the Locus but far more powerful.

Now, in past games sniper rifles have played into my personal play style well, as I enjoy the ability to get a few kills in one location and then moving when I feel I’ve overstayed my welcome. (It’s amazing how many people try to kill you when you camp.)

In Black Ops III, however, I’ve not had much luck. The three-lane map design makes kill zones more of a chore to find, and even then, you’re likely to get flanked down one of the other lanes, or your team will have locked the lane down and you’ll not be getting many kills. Therefore, I’ve found using snipers for their intended purpose to be fruitless.

That being said, they’re not completely out of the picture. The ability to add on scopes of lower magnification effectively turns them into marksman rifles, performing well at mid to long range. The Drakon and P-06 are most commonly seen fulfilling this role, due to the Drakon being very similar to the Sheiva assault rifle and the P-06 having its one burst kill ability. Some others also do this for the Locus and SVG-100, making them like the bolt-action rifles of Call of Duty: World at War.

For myself however, I’ve been avoiding sniper rifles. I’ve given them some time, but found the class to be ultimately boring. To take a long-range weapon and demote it to a mid-range one just to use it does not really seem interesting, and frankly I already have my assault rifles to fill that role. Some players using sniper rifles for long-range killing do pop up occasionally on some of the longer range maps, but I’ve yet to see any do all that well in comparison to others on their team.

Overall, it’s a class with great potential let down by the map design — one I truly do not use often.



Finally, there are the LMGs. LMGs sit somewhere between sniper rifles and assault rifles. They have great damage over range, decent rates of fire, impressive magazine sizes, and can be pretty versatile. LMGs are also pretty similar to SMGs in their core function. Aside from the 48 Dredge, which is a six-round burst, they are all fully automatic, only with differing rates of fire, damage, and range.

This makes LMGs fairly stable weapons. However, unlike the SMGs, the LMG differences give each one somewhat of a unique property.

The BRM is the middle-of-the-road LMG, dealing fairly consistent damage, with a pretty average fire rate. It more or less fills in for an assault rifle, being fairly good at mid range and long range and not good in close quarters.

The Dingo is a fast-firing LMG, not as powerful as the BRM but far more lethal in close quarters, and capable of spitting out far more bullets in a much shorter time. It just about rivals SMGs for fire rate, and coupled with its large magazine size, it can really go to town against a large amount of enemies.

In contrast, the Gorgon is an incredibly slow to fire LMG. However, it makes up for this by being a guaranteed two-shot kill. This essentially makes it the best lockdown weapon in the game. Unlike every other two-shot kill weapon, this one is full auto and maintains its damage out to a great range. While it likely will falter if flanked or put into close combat, in any other situation it’s most liable to rack up an impressive amount of kills before it even needs to be reloaded.

Finally, there’s the wild card: the 48 Dredge. As I mentioned, this LMG fires a six-round burst, and it fires said burst incredibly fast. To a degree, it makes this weapon a hybrid between the Dingo and Gorgon. It has the ability to kill a player in one burst, having similar power to the Gorgon, and each burst fires incredibly fast, like the Dingo.

As one can guess, however, firing in six-round bursts can also cause some unlucky deaths. The magazine only allows for 10 bursts before needing a reload, meaning one will have to reload more often, and with each trigger pull losing six bullets, a maneuverable enemy player could cause an empty magazine faster than one would like.

Personally, I’ve stuck to the BRM. It’s a decent, stable LMG, and its similarities to assault rifles have won me over. That being said, I’ve always been a fan of point defense, so I may soon be won over by one of the others.

Overall, these are of the best support weapons you can have.



Now moving on to the secondaries of the game. This is of course a much shorter section in that there are only three, and two of those fulfill pretty niche roles. As such, this will mainly be for the pistols.

The pistols in this game are more or less what one would expect from a secondary weapon. They’re not really something one should build their class around, but you’d miss them if you didn’t have one strapped to you.

Similar to the shotguns and snipers, each pistol operates a little differently to help it stand out for different roles.

Firstly is the MR6, your standard semi-auto pistol, which is a reliable secondary for most of the primaries in the game. Of course, if your primary weapon is also semi-auto or burst-fire, then it may not seem like much of a help should you find yourself suddenly in close quarters. While it handles much better than an assault rifle or sniper rifle, one of its companion pistols may be better suited in those cases. It is however still very handy to switch to if players find themselves suddenly needing to reload, or discovering they’re in a combat range their current weapon may not favor.

The next pistol is the RK5, a three-round, burst firing pistol that is a bit more favorable in close quarters. If an enemy is close enough, it has enough stopping power to put them down in one burst. However at farther ranges it may take far more, possibly resulting in an empty magazine before your enemy is dead.

The final vanilla pistol is the L-CAR 9, a fully automatic pistol that is one of the best to carry for close quarters. It’s essentially the polar opposite of the MR6, much more capable of killing at close quarters, and slightly more reliable than the RK5. However, should a player’s main weapon be an SMG, it may seem a bit out of place, because if the enemy happens to be out of effective range for your SMG, this sidearm is going to do no better.

Finally, there’s the newest weapon, the Marshal 16. This pistol is highly unique in that it is a shotgun-pistol — meaning this pistol is capable of getting a one-shot kill at close range. However out to longer range it will only wound your enemy, if it hits at all. Furthermore, it fires both its shells at once, meaning a missed or non-lethal shot could instantly put the player at a disadvantage. Obviously, a pistol like this would be ill-suited to be matched up with something like a shotgun or SMG, as it would offer no range benefit.

Overall, the pistol class has a nice range of advantages, meaning one can be used for any occasion. They’re not really something I’d recommended using solely as they’ve been made to be a backup weapon more than a main one, but they can and will save your life in a pinch.

Rocket Launchers and Melee/Specials


Finally, there are the launchers and the melee/specials. As stated, these weapons are fairly niche and only exist to fulfill certain roles. The launchers are mainly available to shoot down enemy pointstreaks. There’s only the XM-53 and the BlackCell in this section, and both operate more or less the same. Both are capable of shooting down enemy pointstreaks, and neither is any more powerful than the other. The only real difference is that the XM-53 can be free-fired to kill other players should the need arise, while the BlackCell is lock-on only but has more rockets available.

Overall this means the XM-53 is good for multitasking, taking out pointstreaks or players, while the BlackCell capitalizes on taking out pointstreaks.

Having one equipped really depends on if you feel you need a pistol or not. Taking out pointstreaks can be a fairly decent way of getting some points of your own and denying the enemy team advantages. I have one set up on my “Support” class, and it’s not steered me wrong yet.

Melees are quite simply what the name implies: weapons for killing in melee combat. By default, meleeing an enemy will only result in hitting them with a weapon bash, which requires two hits to kill it is done from the back, during which time one could easily be shot. When the game first launched, all that was in this section was the combat knife. While more weapons have been added, the changes are purely cosmetic for the most part, though some players believe there that there is a difference in lunge times.

Personally, if I feel the need for combat this close, I stick to the Marshal 16 or L-CAR 9. However, the melee weapons are capable of one-hit kills and are completely silent by default, meaning a decent flank could net one a good few kills. I’ve tried using melee weapons, and not found myself using them much, so really I couldn’t give much of an opinion myself. I prefer sticking to the pistols, but there are those that build stealth classes up and run around with weapons such as this and do quite well.


Finally, there is the lone special weapon: the NX ShadowClaw, which was added in an update after the game was released. While I could have lobbed this in with pistols, it is classified as a “special” and operates somewhat like a melee weapon.

The NX ShadowClaw is a crossbow that fires bolts that kill instantly if they connect. However, unlike many guns in the game, the bolts are fired as projectiles instead of using a hitscan, meaning enemies can avoid them much easier. It also means that over range they can start to drop off, making their usage less useful than that of a pistol.

To make up for these shortcomings, the projectiles fired can be retrieved and used again, and all shots fired are completely silent. I don’t have this weapon myself yet, nor do I see it that often, so I cannot say much on it. It seems that, like the melee weapons, it would suit a stealth class, but isn’t quite as reliable as a pistol.

Anyway, this has been my personal review on the weapon classes as a whole. I hope you had as much fun reading through this as I had testing these weapons out.

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