Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the latest addition to the ever-growing franchise. This game has been widely-anticipated amid the trend of AAA publishers trying to quickly capitalize on the success of the battle royale craze. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 adds its own twist to the battle royale formula with Blackout. This is the first time in Call of Duty‘s history that a single player campaign will not be included. The developers at Treyarch are banking on revitalizing the franchise on three core pillars: Blackout, Multiplayer, and Zombies. Does the inclusion of Blackout make up for the lack of any single player content? Let’s jump straight into it and talk about the marquee game mode.

Total Blackout

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Blackout is Call of Duty‘s take on the immensely popular battle royale genre. Treyarch remained silent about the details surrounding their battle royale mode since E3 2018. Players were recently given access to a beta before the final release. First impressions were promising. Here we are with a full release and I can safely say that Blackout is an amazing game mode. It includes all the hooks that will keep solo players and squads playing for hundreds of hours. Fornite may still be more accessible because of its cartooney aesthetics. However, Black Ops 4 offers the tactical warfare that players crave. Call of Duty‘s engine makes Blackout shine when compared to its closest competitor, PUBG.

Playing Blackout feels responsive, fluid, and snappy. Players can jump, vault and slide their way across the map with an acute sense of control. Mobility is a key skill that players must master in order to escape engagements. On several occasions, I would find myself under fire by someone who is attacking me from outside a building. I would jump out the window and run around the building to get the drop on them, secure an easy kill, and look through their loot for anything useful. Blackout’s mobility gives players a great sense of control and precise movement. It’s surprising how fluid and seamless traveling across Blackout’s massive map can be.

Nuketown Island!

Call of Duty

Fans of the series will recognize several map locations. They’re mostly based on popular multiplayer maps from previous Call of Duty entries. While each location is changed to accommodate a high player count. The wilderness in between each major locale could be better populated. I often found myself trekking from point to point with nothing in between. Making the experience a bit hollow in a game mode that should reward players with loot for exploring. Blackout’s map is vast and there are several roads built for player vehicles. Initially, I had fears that vehicles could pose balancing issues. Luckily, they’re mostly used for mobility. Positioning is crucial in Blackout. Finding an ATV or truck helps you quickly navigate to the next safe zone. Vehicles also have built-in balancing since their sound tips enemies off to your location.

There are tons of guns that can be found in major locations and the backpacks of defeated foes. So, what can you find in Blackout? You’ll find ammo and weapons in several buildings. However, what I find most interesting is the inclusion of gadgets, perks and weapon attachments. Depending on your luck, you can find gadgets that allow for tactical play. You can hunker down with a Barricade, stay mobile with a grapple gun or scout with an RC car. Perks are another consumable loot that you can pick up and use at your discretion. Weapon attachments can help a good Assault Rifle evolve to an efficient killing machine. I want to commend Treyarch for developing a clean UI in Blackout that doesn’t leave you completely vulnerable. Equipping items and sorting through your perks is easy and doesn’t block your view.

Blackout Verdict

Blackout is a fun game mode that stands on its own with the likes of Fortnite and PUBG. However, there’s a lack of objectives and new ways to gain experience. The only ways to progress your rank in Blackout is to kill players, place top 15, complete challenges or win a match. The progression system is lacking at least at the state of how it is now. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has hinted at supporting the game mode with a plethora of post-launch support. Hopefully, that comes sooner rather than later because Blackout will get repetitive if there aren’t new ways to progress.

Either way, this new game mode is as addictive as Fortnite and PUBG while also embracing its Call of Duty aspects that fans have enjoyed for years. Mobility is fun and precise. The gunfights are intense and players are rewarded for aggressive or cautious play depending on your loadout. Blackout is an amazing game mode that delivers that intensity that battle royale games are known for but with Call of Duty‘s style. While Blackout is the newest game mode in the Call of Duty franchise, let’s not forget the other two pillars; Multiplayer and Zombies.

Specialists and Teamwork

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What is there to say about the great Multiplayer experience that Treyarch is known for? Well, plenty as the developers have subtly changed some key aspects of Call of Duty‘s specialist-oriented multiplayer action. The most noticeable changes comes from both the Time to Kill (TTK) and the reigning in of the specialist class system.

The TTK of Black Ops 4 has increased thus changing the way you approach various game modes. Players now have health bars and everyone can manually heal themselves with an ability on cooldown. This changes modes like Domination dramatically because it narrows the focus on teamwork. Teamwork is further encouraged as teams can’t run multiple of the same specialist. Each specialist is given a better defining role rather than each a variation of a non-stop killing machine. Take the new specialist Crash as an example, he can boost the max health of all his teammates and several classes have been reworked to certain roles. While Seraph still carries her signature Annihilator pistol, she can also deploy a tactical beacon on cooldown. Nomad’s Nano Bugs have been scrapped in favor of a dog. The canine buddy seeks out enemies or patrols an area alongside his laser triggered mines.

Multiplayer is still as great as it has ever been. You get all the game modes fans of the series love like Kill Confirmed, TDM, Search and Destroy, etc. There is great synergy between Blackout and Multiplayer. Both play almost the same. This allows for a seamless transition between them when you need to take a break from Blackout. I found myself playing several matches of Blackout while regularly switching to multiplayer to level up my rank and vice versa.

Zombies returns with a brand-new storyline known as IX alongside Voyage of Despair and Blood of the Dead. The fan favorite mode also includes its own progression system. You can easily sink hours into it by discovering new amulets, potions and weapons to craft. For the first time ever, single players will be able to play this mode by themselves with bots filling in the rest of the roles.

Final Notes

Call of Duty

Lastly, there are two facts about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 which need to be addressed. There is no real single player content and the specialist “story modes” are nothing but tutorial missions slapped with some cut-scenes. Treyarch and Activision had said beforehand that a single player campaign would no longer be included and Blackout will take its place instead. As someone who has enjoyed the series since the first games it’s understandable why they made this move. The other complaint I have with the game is the lackluster UI in the main menu. That first menu UI is horrendous when you compare it to the other menus for Blackout, Multiplayer, and Zombies. The UI design for those modes looks fantastic. The added touch of loading characters via a smoke effect is the icing on the cake.

Other than those two complaints, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 offers a ton of replayability despite the lack of content. It will be interesting to see how the series will change and evolve with post-launch support. Blackout is a great take on the battle royale game mode. It’s one of the best performing games when compared to the bug-filled PUBG. Multiplayer still offers a great time and can help change things up after several Blackout matches. Zombies is a deep and massive as it has ever been. While other games like Fortnite and PUBG have cheaper barriers to entry, you shouldn’t sleep on Black Ops 4. It’s well worth the price of admission for the level of polish that only Call of Duty can provide.

THE GOOD
Blackout
New Crazy Zombie Maps
Rebalancing of Multiplayer
Blackout’s Map
THE BAD
Empty Spaces in Blackout
Progression in Blackout
Lack of new game modes in Multiplayer
8.5
Great

Review Summary

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a great entry with the inclusion of their battle royale mode known as Blackout. Multiplayer has changed for the better by focusing on teamwork and Zombies is back with three massive new maps. While Blackout is amazing there is still room to improve as the initial offering is lacking in content.

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