With the summer gaming drought beginning and an onslaught of new shooters coming out later this year, now is the perfect time for a good Call of Duty: Black Ops III DLC – for those who aren't sick of it yet, of course. Descent offers the usual four multiplayer maps and single Zombies level, and in spite of the familiarity, is the best DLC released for the Treyarch shooter yet – provided you're a fan of Zombies.
If you are, then Descent offers an absolute treat: Gorod Krovi, set in alternate-timeline Stalingrad in which mechanised soldiers and dragons tear the city apart, is excellent. It's the most ludicrous Zombies map yet, and that's what makes it so special: dragons act as both transport and enemies, supersoldiers and hovering drones attempt to hinder your quest to defeat Nikolai's clone, and the atmosphere is simply one of all-out chaos, making Gorod Krovi an absolute joy to play.
World at War fans will remember the PPSh submachine gun from the Russian campaign, but the new weapons don't stop there: the NX ShadowClaw crossbow, L4 Siege rocket launcher, and FFAR assault rifle all transfer to Zombies from multiplayer, while the ability to use mounted MG42 machine guns for 1,000 points a pop is also added. The Wonder Weapon this time around is the GKZ-45 Mk3 – a gun that shoots poisonous clouds of ash and is dual-wielded with a Ray Gun – but easily the best new addition is the Gauntlet of Siegfried, essentially a baby dragon that acts like a flamethrower.
While the size of the map and the huge amount of new weapons may present fears of overcomplication, all of the new mechanics and abilities can be easily learned in your first game – though there are plenty of complex unlockables and multi-stage Easter eggs for completionists. All in all, Gorod Krovi is a very memorable experience: the setting is fantastical, the scale grand, the music blaring, and the set-pieces awesome.
The same could be said – albeit to a lesser extent – of two of the multiplayer maps. The obvious highlight is Berserk, set in a Viking village that's been – wait for it – frozen in time. The level design is very well done, with a lot of fighting happening in the claustrophobic interiors of the wooden cabins, and there are plenty of chokepoints and corners to make matches exciting – especially on Hardpoint mode.
Empire is also a fun romp, taking place in an authentic Roman villa created by a billionaire playboy who might be a trifle puzzled by all of the men in exosuits jumping around the place. It's a recreation of Black Ops 2 map Raid (who remembers that classic? Anyone?) and its older roots are clear – there are far fewer opportunites for wall-running and general parkouring – but it's nice to have a change, the map's intricacies and colour offering a welcome change from the browns and greys of most shooters.
Things go downhill from here, though. Rumble, a map set in a robot battle arena with a noticeable lack of Craig Charles, should be a good concept on paper, but ends up being hugely forgettable. All of the fighting is done inside said arena, but because of the wide-open space and long lines of sight, you'll be killed in an instant, causing matches to become repetitive and boring. The little things in the map such as the referee bots, signs, and other cool little details are appreciated, but the gameplay is far too monotonous to warrant playing it. It's a good thing you'll never have to, then, as it's constantly voted down whenever it appears as an option in the lobby.
But Rumble's tediousness pales in comparison to Cryogen, an offshore prison facility where criminals are cryogenically frozen. After playing a round or two on the map, you'll want to join them, because Cryogen is just plain dull. It's literally made up of two wide open spaces that are far too easy to get killed in, and the tone and general atmosphere is that of a stock FPS map. It's mundane, soul-crushingly so, and you'll be yearning for something original and exciting long before the match ends.
While two of the multiplayer maps ultimately let it down, Descent is Black Ops III's best DLC so far, thanks to the sheer madness and fun-factor of Gorod Krovi, one of the series' best Zombies maps. Empire and Berserk are also great additions to the multiplayer, adding their own individual styles to a once-monotonous selection of maps. Contrary to the expansion's title, Descent has ascended to the top of the Season Pass' pile.