Specialists are the playable characters in Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer. Each Specialist is designed with a unique voice and personality, as opposed to the generic multiplayer soldiers in previous games. Each of them has both a unique weapon and a unique ability, but players can only choose one to use during each match. The chosen weapon or ability becomes usable for a short time after the player fills up their power meter; the power meter is filled up automatically over time, but fills up faster through earning score. Players also can only use one Specialist per match; Specialist selection is done before starting a match. There are a total of nine Specialists, listed below.
There are four Specialists available from level 1; Donnie "Ruin" Walsh, Alessandra "Outrider" Castillo, David "Prophet" Wilkes and Erin "Battery" Baker. He "Seraph" Zhen-Zhen is unlocked at level 22, Tavo "Nomad" Rojas at level 28, Experimental War Robot-115 "Reaper" at level 34, Spectre at level 40, and Krystof "Firebreak" Hejek at level 46. Each can be unlocked by spending an unlock token on either their weapon or ability. Upon starting multiplayer for the first time a player will be given an unlock token to unlock one of the default four for use, and the game will default to this selection upon prestiging. The last specialist, Danny "Blackjack" Li, can be unlocked via acquiring Mercenary Contracts, by completing Weekly Contracts. Each Mercenary Contract allows the usage of Blackjack for a limited time of one hour per week.
Outside of Specialist abilities and weapons, gameplay is identical for all Specialists. Each Specialist has customizable armor which is purely aesthetic. They each also have unique quotes, sometimes speaking to other Specialists during gameplay or in the beginning of a match.
Because there are no differences in specialist appearances by team nor are there any team based specalists, in order to make it easier for players to spot an enemy all hostile specialists have red lights on there bodies to make it easier to distinguish them from friendlies. The lights are located in different areas of each specialist but typically are on ammo pouches, shoulders, knee and elbow guards, and on heads. During gameplay all friendly players will have no lights but enemy players will have lights. When an enemy is killed the lights will turn off which can make it hard to distinguish dead players has hostile or friendly.
- In the map Gauntlet, there are displays that feature the Specialists' equipment and outfits.
- There is a display with an unknown Specialist, and the nameplate is scratched out. However, if the player examines the contents of the display, it appears it was intended for Prophet.
- There is also a Specialist display with no Specialist in it, but it has a king of hearts playing card in the display, and the status seen above the display says "Unknown".
- In Kill Confirmed, dog tags display information about the specialist that dropped them.
- Spectre's dog tags are scratched out, since nothing is known about him/her.