The last time a Call Of Duty game carried the Black Ops subtitle, the game was focused on the story of mechanically enhanced super soldiers. This time with Black Ops 4, Treyarch has taken a bold decision to skip out on single player content altogether and replace it with a Battle Royale mode. But does the streamlining and leaning into Battle Royale works or is it another COD dud? Let’s find out.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It was released worldwide on October 12, 2018, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4
On the surface, Call Of Duty Black Ops 4 (BLOPS 4) comes with 3 basic modes. Multiplayer (PvP), Zombie (PvE) and Blackout (Battle Royale). But diving into each mode reveals a plethora of options which can easily take up to a week to try out at least once.
This is especially true for the Multiplayer suite, which comes equipped with almost every single multiplayer mode imaginable from Capture the Flag to Confirmed Kills, to Deathmatch, to King Of The Hill. There is something for everyone here, and Specialist HQ, which gives offers tutorials with respect to every Specialist role available in the game, it’s easy to find the game mode that suits you the most.
Switching over to the Zombie mode. Once again, the kind of game modes available, mixed in with the 2 completely different maps (Titanic and IX Gladiator Arena), and then reshuffled again by the load-out that you carry into the game including the potions and class, makes the mode enjoyable to experiment when playing with strangers and pretty intense when fulfilling a role with friends.
Finally, the talk of the town, the debuting, Battle Royale mode, Blackout. While Blackout does not offer anything new with its modes (Solo, Duos, and Quads), and its single map. It should also be noted that it does not deduct anything from the formula too. 100 players (tick), vehicles (tick), random drops (tick), huge map with decreasing area of action (tick). It has everything you would expect from a full-fledged premium Battle Royale experience but then makes that mode its own with Zombie infestation all over the map. It’s not hard to pick up and get used to for both long-time Call Of Duty players or Battle Royale players and for a game which boasts sales in millions easy accessibility is a boon. I am just disappointed that the reducing circle is not just a huge army of zombies converging, that would have been a technical and a creative marvel.
Gameplay & Mechanics
No health regen, no wall jumping, and no all-purpose class. These are the primary changes you would notice when you boot up BLOPS 4 for the first time. Treyarch has focused on bringing back the core ground-based multiplayer that has made the game what it is, and have then streamlined the experience even more. Load outs are now based on classes or Specialists (*cough cough* Operators *cough cough*), which makes you put extra thought into what role you like playing or would want to play every round. Granted once in a game, you can pick up whatever weapon you like, but all of your abilities are closely tied in with your class, and some specialists are better equipped at “Area of denial” than others.
This is why getting to know all the Specialist classes is a good idea, before diving into the multiplayer. The Specialist HQ, offers a quick tutorial about each of the classes (along with an extremely disjointed and lame attempt at narrative context). These quick tutorials will not only give you a glimpse into your Specialist, but it will also introduce you to the different game modes, and let you find the one that best suits you without actually hampering your online repute.
While the entire multiplayer is built around strict Specialist classes and pre-defined roles, Blackout is all about randomness. As is prevalent in Battle Royale games, you are dropped off into a huge map, initially unarmed and competing with 100 others. You then set out to explore and try to equip the best weapons you can find, which could help you in killing others and end up as the sole survivor. Of course, human players are not the only threat, and there are various locations which are inhabited with Zombies, which offer greater risk/reward challenges if you feel ready for one. The vehicles in the mode though drive weirdly (Accelerate and directions both with Analog), and while there is an option to change vehicle controls, I wonder why a game which is built on the motto, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, would try to risk something like this.
When it comes to experimentation though, Zombies is your jam. There is a class concept in Zombies too, but its the bond to the gameplay is much looser here than in any other mode. A PvE mode, the Call Of Duty Black Ops 4 Zombie mode (now isn’t that a mouthful) starts off in either the RMS Titanic or the IX Gladiatorial arena. The objective is to survive waves upon waves of zombies, each getting harder than the next, and gain level and points in the interim. While level gains are permanent and unlock new weapons, potions, and accessories which you can carry into your next game. Points are contained to a single game and can be used to swap weapons and acquire other bonuses while the round is active.
Zombie mode is an endless mode, with the game ending in the round where all of your teammates are downed and bleed out, which means one game of Zombies can last up to an hour if your team is competent enough, so make sure you have time on your hands when you decide to try this one out. Outside the actual matches, one could also try his hand in the Lab, and come up with different potions, that have various effects when consumed, thus limiting your own load-out by only your imagination.
Performance Graphics & Sound
The wait time in the lobby is almost zero. That is perhaps the biggest compliment one can make for a multiplayer game. The matchmaking is lightning fast, and given the high number of players available getting into an actual game is pretty quick. Of course, with all the new specialists and other changes in gameplay, it also means that a lot of people are still finding their feet in the game, which gives you enough room to experiment and get placed into balanced firefights.
I played the game for extended periods of time, and across modes. The only time where loading times seemed to be noticeable was when I switched from one of the primary modes to another (eg. changing from Multiplayer to Blackout and vice versa). On the PS4 Pro, the game performed admirably and even in the Blackout mode, I rarely experienced glitches or frame drops (kudos to Treyarch). The Zombie mode does take some time to load in, but I didn’t see any problem there either apart from random phantom dialogues at different points in the game.
Audio wise, BLOPS 4 does a decent job. The underlying background score can be described as catchy, spunky and rock, and helps to bring in the intense feeling of war simulation. The Zombie mode has some quirky voice over of itself, and tries some dry witty humor, but is bearable at best, and with little to no narrative context, mostly stands ignored in game. There is some voice acting during the tutorials of Specialist HQ, but again its so minimal, its tough to pass any judgment.
Call Of Duty Black Ops 4, ditches the single-player mode and doesn’t even miss it. The comprehensive multiplayer, blackout and zombie mode justify the reduction in budget and scope to almost everyone but the traditionalists. Nobody wants to see the single player go, but if it ever made sense in a game, it was in Black Ops 4.