Call of Duty is back in Black…Ops 4! This marks the 4th entry into the Call of Duty: Black Ops series and the first that doesn’t include a single player campaign. Activision and co. more than likely took a look at the market and decide not to run a campaign this year, and I can understand why for 3 reasons:
- The first reason being the plethora of single player titles available this year, and inevitably ones that would offer more of the kind of single player experiences people want (God of War, Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2 etc.)
- The second reason is the current market. Call of Duty is popular for its multiplayer, which even then – it’s been weak over the last few years. The emergence of the battle royale gametype was always going to be something that companies that produce shooters would look to integrate. It’s raking in fortunes in Fortnite, PUBG does very well and it’s the latest trend. Activision simply used what they had: an established franchise, a hardcore player base and the safety to take a risk.
- The third just comes down to resources. The campaigns were rarely touched by the vast majority, it’d be silly for them to invest resources to creating a campaign when they’re sole focus would be to get people from PUBG or Fortnite onto Black Ops (PUBG not having a campaign and nobody at Epic really bothered about Fortnite’s single player experience [just from comments I’ve seen online, not my own experience]).
So this year we got our standard Call of Duty multiplayer, our always popular zombies experience and the brand new battle royale mode – Blackout. Each mode allowing friends to join or the ability to play alone as you would expect with Call of Duty. The multiplayer and zombies experience has changed considerably since I last properly invested any interest or time in it, but from what I’ve gathered; they are still the same. Multiplayer allows you to choose an operator, each with 2 specific cooldown abilities (one being a longer recharge ‘ultimate’ style ability). For the first time in the franchise however, they took away the quick regen feature and allowing a stimpac to be used. The rest is fairly normal for fans of the series. You have 10 ‘points’ you can spend on your create a class, choosing from perks, guns, equipment and attachments.
The final mode, Blackout, kind of deserves and warrants its own paragraph with it being brand new to the Call of Duty franchise. It comes in 3 breakdowns; solo, duos and quads, similar to other popular battle royale games. The map itself is 2.6km squared and is composed of popular Call of Duty multiplayer maps all integrated into one map. The game seems to switch from allowing 88 players to 100 every now and again (which I’m assuming is just ensuring servers run smoothly) and takes the same format as other battle royale games – last man standing! The mode itself comes with armour, vehicles, supply drops, zombies, healing items, equipment and perks. There is enough in there that it has something to establish a new enough experience for a gametype that is getting overloaded lately.
Again, as always, this will be my honest reaction to the game. I played the beta for Multiplayer and Blackout, and bought Black Ops 4 on release, so I’m trying to be as raw as possible. This way, you get a sense of how I found the game at first and subsequently how I feel now.
I have distanced myself from Call of Duty for quite some time. I bought Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, Black Ops 3 and Infinite Warfare (this was more for CoD 4 Remastered) on launch and not once did I enjoy myself. Every year I tried to convince myself that “this’ll be one” and every single time I was wrong. Though when I tried both beta’s, I finally got a sense of enjoyment and for the first time in a long while I was excited for a Call of Duty game. The multiplayer felt smooth, it was easy to grasp and for once I didn’t need a degree in CoD to understand what was going on. This is something that continued into the main game and provided me with an online shooter that I feel really comfortable playing.
Then there was Blackout; an unbelievably well polished, quick paced, super fun experience from the very first time I dropped in the beta, to when I dropped in at the beginning of this week. Take away how much fun I have playing it, I take my hat off to Treyarch for giving us such an elegant experience in their first attempt at the battle royale gametype. I don’t like PUBG, i find it’s boring, looks awful, plays awful and feels/plays like something that belonged on the PS2. Blackout tops it in every aspect for me, and I know that we’re dealing with a video game juggernaut with Call of Duty, but the fact that they delivered something so good on their first attempt still has to be acknowledged.
Though this game is quite limited to the game modes, the main 2 I care about, or that I purchased it for, are obviously massive positives for me.
As you can probably guess, my first positive will be Blackout. I feel like I’ve said enough in the paragraph above so I’m not going to go on too much more about it, but for me to enjoy a battle royale game says a lot. I’m not as good at FPS games as I used to be and I’m not particularly fantastic at this either. I play games to win, ultimately, and I’m extremely disappointed and annoyed when I lose. In a game type where the odds are stacked against you and the chances of losing are higher than the chances of winning, for me to still get a kick out of it and enjoy it is a credit to how fun I find blackout.
The multiplayer may not be an exact return to the kind of boots on the ground or old school Call of Duty that everyone will want, but for me it’s perfect. I’ve hated the multiplayer ever since around Modern Warfare 2 (shocking I know) because it just got very convoluted. Every iteration felt like it had to be bigger and more complex than the last, which I think made the franchise lose its way. Black Ops 4 takes it back to what I enjoyed, it’s simple, easier to pick up and play and more importantly plays very fluidly.
Granted that the whole reason I bought this game, I got exactly what I wanted/expected, I feel like there’s 2 main things I’m a little critical about. The season pass strategy this year isn’t great and though I find the zombies experience fun – it’s stupidly complex for the easter eggs.
Activision have tried something new with their season pass this year, and it hasn’t went down well with the majority of people, myself included. It used to be the case where you could buy the pass, get all the content and save some money, or you could buy each content drop individually. This is now no longer the case because you either buy the season pass or you don’t get any content at all (only the free bits they release). I find this utterly ridiculous considering (and let’s be honest) the majority of the Call of Duty players are under the age rating and thus won’t necessarily have £40 to splash out on a season pass. My past history at working at GAME has taught me enough that buying each individual piece of content is still necessary for some players. Of course this could change and I wouldn’t be surprised if it does because it just doesn’t seem particularly logical when you’re cutting off some of the fan base that you’ve got left (and we know how much that has dwindled over the last few years).
The second negative may well just be my own personal one, but I want to start off by saying I do find the zombies game mode fun. This is another gametype I’ve never been hugely invested in and that I preferred when it was just a case of trying to survive as many rounds as you could. Now there is so much cramped into the zombies, I just kinda don’t know what to do anymore. Your lobby could be composed of one person trying to do the easter egg and the other 3 more focused on seeing how far they can survive. It just causes a mess and the easter egg player may see people not caring so leaves the game. Likewise, the players who are trying to survive may all have gotten downed or died and are now being forced to spectate someone running around the map trying to find something. From a personal stand point, the zombies experience has just gotten far too much for me. I enjoy just trying to survive, but that doesn’t really feel like what I need to do anymore. It’s all about the long winded, tedious, impossible to memorise easter eggs.
Call of Duty has definitely made a massive step up this year by simplifying the multiplayer experience and delivering Blackout mode. It would be easy for them to just release the same thing as they have down the years and it would still probably do alright for sales. Yes, battle royale is popular at the moment and yes, the gameplay is just the same, but you know what you’re getting with these types of games and all you (or I or both maybe) want is for it to just play well and be fun.
The season pass situation can be a bit of an annoyance, but it doesn’t really affect me that much. I feel sorry for the people it does affect but I don’t think I really intend to buy it, or if I did want the additional content – I would have just bought the season pass anyway. The key content I’m most concerned about is Blackout, and it’s already been confirmed that all the Blackout content will be free (minus some operators which offer nothing more than a new skin).