Set in between the events of Black Ops 2 and Black Ops 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 takes the risky move of ditching the campaign fans have come to expect from each annual Call of Duty title, in favor of more zombie maps, a new and overhauled multiplier, and a brand new battle royale mode, “Blackout”. With Black Ops 4, Treyarch set out to make the most replayable and enjoyable first person shooter and I feel they have achieved that goal.
Back to Black
This year, Treyarch took Multiplayer in a completely new direction. In their previous title, they introduced Specialists, each with their own unique abilities. However, you never felt like you needed a certain specialist over the others to complete the objective. They were all designed that you could use whichever you wanted and the game would still play out the same way. That is not the case in Black Ops 4. Specialists and their abilities are taken to a new level, each with their own properties and skill sets. Seraph is able to deploy a spawn beacon so your teammates are able to respawn closer to the objective and other characters can deploy Barricades or Razor Wires to completely block enemy teams out of objectives. Similar to a game like Overwatch, whichever Specialists you pick could really turn the tide for the outcome of the game and I think this is a positive change for the series. Healing, has also been completely overhauled. No longer does your near death red screen health automatically regenerate. For the first time, healing is assigned to its own button and needs to be manually done. This adds a new dynamic to the game especially when you are in tight situations. If you are low on health and out of ammo, are you going to reload your weapon first, heal your character, or just flee from the battle? With these new mechanics, Black Ops 4 forces you to make split second decisions that could result in life or death. Weapons mechanics have also been altered. Every gun now has their own predictive recoil set, meaning you could learn the recoil pattern of each weapon and practice mastering them. Previously, every weapon would just have a random pattern of spray. Also in past titles, each weapon class like Assault Rifles or SMGs would all have their own set of attachments to unlock. This is no longer the case. Each weapon now has their own set of attachments and operator mods. Every weapon in the Assault Rifle class will have completely different attachments from each other. This allows for many more diverse play styles within weapon and attachment choices for players.
Return to Form
This is also the second game in the franchise since Infinite Warfare to return to Boots on the Ground combat. After many fan outcry about advanced and vertical movement in Call of Duty games, like Sledgehammer with World War 2, Treyarch was forced to ditch the Advanced Movement system of Black Ops 3 and return to straight beloved ground combat. I was a fan of the advanced movement systems in those titles as I felt it made those games feel more fast paced and allowed you to get into the action faster. When they returned to boots on the ground last year with World War 2, the game was very slow and ultimately not as enjoyable. So when Treyarch announced that they would return to this for Black Ops 4 and that matches would be 5v5 instead of the standard 6v6 we have come to expect from every previous title, I was very worried. Slow paced action with less enemies on the map? Those were the concerns I had going into the game and thankfully, they were not true. Many of the maps designed for this game are small and close quartered, allowing for fast paced action even though it is boots on the ground. Even with the change to 5v5, I never felt like I was missing out on action because of how well the maps were designed for this change.
Similar to every previous Call of Duty, as you play multiplayer matches, you level up by earning XP through kills, accolades and challenges until you reach the max level and prestige and do it all over again. Of course once again, this system has returned with very little change, however, I did find that leveling up was much quicker than previous titles, but that may just be due to the improvement in my skills. Another change in this game would be the noticeably longer “Time to Kill”. Many players, including myself, felt that recent titles like Black Ops 3 and Infinite Warfare had the perfect time to kill. However, in Multiplayer specifically, this Call of Duty takes the longest time to kill people and that may turn off many people. With this change, it clearly outlines how unbalanced several of the weapons are. At the current time of writing this, the game favors Assault Rifles and Snipers and they outshine the very weak Sub Machine Guns. However, Treyarch could easily implement a patch to buff SMGs or nerf the other weapons making the game more balanced. This Call of Duty also has one of the worst respawns in the history of the franchise. Many times when I kill someone, they will spawn just around the corner for me to kill them, and I can continue to do this over and over again until the spawns flip and vice-versa. This and the unbalanced weapons are current glaring issues in the game that need to be addressed by Treyarch immediately but by the time you are reading this, may have already been fixed.
Treyarch introduces Battle Royale to the Call of Duty franchise with “Blackout”. Like other Battle Royale games, Blackout has players either in Solos, Duos and Quads, up to 100 dropped into a massive open world, tasked with finding loot and killing each other while a circle closes in making the arena smaller and concluding with one player or team on top. Every week, Treyarch allows certain characters for you to unlock in Blackout. To do so, you have to find certain items in the Blackout world and complete tasks to unlock them. I found this to be a cool feature as you could also kill an enemy and steal that objective and unlock the character for yourself. The map of Blackout is also the largest Call of Duty map to date. The world of Blackout contains maps from all across Black Ops history like Nuketown, Array and even zombie maps like Verruckt, making longtime Call of Duty fans very nostalgic when revisiting these older locations from previous titles. However, I feel that many matches in Blackout last too long as the circle takes too long to close in. This is a change Treyarch could easily alter with a patch. Overall with Blackout, besides the fact that is runs very well, Treyarch does not do enough in this mode to differentiate itself from the already oversaturated Battle Royale market. However, Blackout is a perfect option to have whenever you are bored of Multiplayer or Zombies and vice-versa.
Speaking of Zombies, Treyarch brings the largest Zombies mode to date for Call of Duty with Black Ops 4. Black Ops 4 introduces the “Chaos” storyline with two new maps, “IX” and “Voyage of Despair” that are separate and completely deviates from the ten-year-old “Aether” storyline, dating back to World at War in 2008. Despite the change in direction, Black Ops 4 still continues the fan favorite Aether story with Blood of the Dead and Classified (with the purchase of the Black Ops Pass). After the complaints of zombies being to difficult or complicated for newcomers, Treyarch have designed maps like IX to be more simple and oriented towards these kind of players. They also went as far as to implement a tutorial system and different difficulty levels, a first for the game mode, for those that are really struggling to fend off the zombie horde. Like multiplayer, Zombies systems and mechanics are completely overhauled. No longer does each map have its dedicated set of perks and you can say goodbye to the fan favorite Juggernog. Now, each player assigns four perks to a location in each map and out of the handful of perks players are able to choose from, only a couple are returning from previous games. Players now also choose out of 4 ultimate weapons that they can with them into the map. At first, these changes may have you concerned. I certainly was when I found out they removed my favorite perks like Juggernog, Speed Cola and Double Tap. However, these new mechanics allow you to tailor to your play style for each map. Maybe you want to camp at the end of the Titanic on Voyage of Despair, or you want to train the zombies in the starting arena in IX, or maybe you’re going for the Easter Egg in Blood of the Dead. Then you will have a loadout of perks and weapons that cater to your specific Zombie playstyle. Each player, depending on their playstyle and objective, will have a completely different loadout, making the game more diverse for different opportunities. Zombies also introduces “Rush” Mode. A Solo or Co-op mode where all doors and weapons are unlocked and your only goal is to kill zombies to achieve the highest score. It’s not an amazing addition, but it’s fun to cool off with friends if your tired of traditional zombies.
For fans that were tired of the slow paced action of World War 2 and are looking for a shooter that is a little more fast paced, then Black Ops 4 is for you. Whether you’re a fan of fast paced multiplayer arcade shooters, or you want to relax and kill some zombies, or maybe you want to dive into a world with 100 other players to see who becomes victorious, then Black Ops 4 has something in store for everyone. With the exclusion of a campaign mode, Treyarch was able to further improve the quality of already beloved game modes as well as introduce the new and addictive battle royale mode. Black Ops 4 is a great package that is sure to keep me coming back coming for months.