With game releases picking up around this time of year, Call of Duty: Black Ops III DLC is a tough sell when you could be experiencing the whimsical magic of Ratchet & Clank or the masochistic beauty of Dark Souls III – and rightly so, considering that the strangely-named Eclipse isn't very special at all. The sun doesn't shine much on this part of the Season Pass, for sure.
As with most CoD DLCs, the main addition here is a brand new zombies map, Zetsubou no Shima – or Island of Despair – which is set in a research facility on a remote Pacific island, in which mysterious scientific group Division 9 have been conducting secret experiments. The zombies crew of Takeo, Richtofen, Tank, and Nikolai are there to destroy Takeo's cloned body in order to prevent the destruction of Earth – trust us, this probably makes sense to someone.
The map itself, like Shadows of Evil and Der Eisendrache before it, is big and complicated. There are plenty of doors to open, buildings to enter – including a huge bunker that's essentially a second level – and secrets to find, and there's more of an emphasis on exploration and getting the best gear than survival, with the ultimate goal being to kill Takeo's double in a convoluted Easter egg that requires many steps.
There's some new gear to make, too – as well as the usual Zombie Shield – including the Skull of Nan Sapwe (a wonder weapon that freezes zombies), the KT-4 (a weapon that causes explosive sacks to grow on zombies), as well as gas masks, seeds, and buckets that are all needed to fulfil certain tasks. It's the most complicated zombies map yet, which will have many yearning for the simplicity of the World at War levels. It's well designed, but it feels a little overwhelming the first couple of times that you play – eventually, though, you'll build up a routine as you push for those higher rounds.
Elsewhere, the multiplayer maps, once again, are a mixed bag. Knockout – set in a temple in Polynesia – is the highlight here, with the pink blossom trees, grand Shaolin temples, and blue skies almost making it a disappointment that you'll spend most of your time there dying and re-spawning instead of exploring. It's got the usual three-lane system that so many CoD maps are based on, but Knockout feels more close-quartered, with Safeguard being the mode of choice; successfully escorting the robot through a choke-point-filled bridge feels really satisfying.
Verge isn't half bad either, and is chock full of personality. Based on World at War multiplayer map Banzai, it takes place in a post-apocalyptic battleground known as The Wastes, and is home to plenty of tunnels, bridges, and fortresses to fight in. Running through the cave systems always feels tense, and while you may feel a little hard done by when shotgun-toting enemies gun you down easily, it won't stop you having fun.
The other two maps, however, are pretty uninspired. The best of the worst, perhaps, is Rift, a military facility set over a volcano in Iceland. There are some cool wall-runs and parkour sections to use, but it feels too open and exposed, forcing you to hole up in a bridge that's far too easy to defend. There can be some exciting moments when playing Rift, but every match you play will be laced with frustration.
Lastly comes Spire. Though its clean, white, New York space port setting is aesthetically pleasing, it's a very dull and repetitive map to play on, with all of the action focused on the middle courtyard that rarely offers much more than a battle of attrition. There are plenty of easy places to camp and snipe, but you're often pushed there anyway through bad map design.
Unlike its real-life counterpart, Eclipse isn't anything to get excited about. While the Verge and Knockout multiplayer maps have a lot of personality and are excellent fun, Rift and Spire are pretty dull. As for the zombie map, Zetsubou no Shima will prove rewarding for any dedicated Easter egg hunters and secret scavengers, but it's lost the heart of what CoD Zombies is all about, and it'll put many a player off. It's not a bad DLC – you just won't love it to (or)bits.