Call of Fatigue
I picked up Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 last week, the first Call of Duty game I have bought since 2013’s Ghosts. The aforementioned Ghosts really put me off the series and in my mind the franchise was slowly falling into decline, after the incredible first two Black Ops titles and the dismally disappointing third Modern Warfare, I had complete series burn out. Nothing that would be released in the series over the last four years would peak my interest. I must admit, I was a little bit intrigued by Call of Duty:WWII but that was overshadowed by the release of Destiny 2 and the utter controversy over the Normandy Beach micro-transaction loot crate fest. I became indifferent to the series; as far as I was concerned the franchise peaked at Black Ops 2. Other game series took its place and I haven’t felt like I was missing out on the series.
It wasn’t until the explosion of the Battle Royale game mode and Activision’s insistence of throwing out the single player campaign, solely for the inclusion of its own Battle Royale mode called Black Out, that – I won’t lie – I was interested. With Fortnite’s building mechanics not being for me and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds disjointed mess and poor net code, I thought Activision’s COD series could really pull this off. I was still skeptical of course and with the absence of a single player campaign I wondered how they were going to fill the game out to justify the $60/£50 asking price. I have never been a multiplayer gamer, so I originally thought the idea of picking it up was going to make a big mistake, but I caved in and got it, and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised!
Five Hours In, Where Have I Been?
I have played around five hours of COD: Black Ops 4, not including Zombies, sticking to Multiplayer Team Death Match and Black Out. In Multiplayer I am currently at level 30. I am not the best at the game, pretty rubbish actually, but the it’s immensely fun even if you’re getting annihilated by other players. Once I found a load-out that I liked, that’s when I got better. I started out using the stock Support load-out with the Titan Light Machine Gun as my primary weapon, which had a NVR scope attached. The NVR scope is somewhat like a thermal scope which highlights enemies, this made it a lot easier for me to rack up kills and eventually unlock custom load-outs. With custom load-outs unlocked you are able to pick ten items which vary from primary weapon, secondary weapons, perks and attachments. I have continued to use the Titan as my daily driver in my own custom load-out, having a lot of fun the more I unlock for it, It is currently at max level and I have unlocked that awesome NVR scope.
Picking up this year’s entry after five years, I must say I’m having a blast, traversal is satisfying and feels good while still keeping the series’ signature gun-play, which is tight and rewarding, with satisfying feedback when you hit your target and a lovely squelching sound when you get a head-shot kill. So far, so good.
Black Ops 4 has some really good mechanical changes too, which add an extra dynamic to combat. You no longer regain health automatically, instead you have to use a stim-pack. Everyone in a match has a health bar of 150 hit points and as you receive damage it depletes until you die. If you are able to survive a skirmish with an enemy and able to find cover, you can fully heal yourself using a stim-pack. This feature is on a cool down so it cannot be abused.
The time to kill is a bit longer than I remember but usually if you’re not quick in reacting, you’re dead in seconds. Other welcome changes include grenades being an ability rather than a load-out item, so they too are on a cool-down. Only select Classes have Grenades and you are only allowed two of the same specialist per team, to that stops a full team all being one particular specialist, whom could possibly grenade spam. Speaking of the Specialists, I have only played as one out of the ten available so far; Battery, who has become my main throughout the entirety of my play time. Battery carries combustion grenades, explosives that will stick to a surface and when detonated, launch several smaller grenades which cover a large area. You can easily clear a room with these and they come in handy in desperate situations. I have killed many players upon my death thanks to a last ditch effort throwing a combustion grenade. Each Specialist has a special ability that charges up during a match, Battery in particular can use a grenade launcher for a limited time, another great area clearing weapon. I tend to be cheap when using it and blind fire it into the air, in an attempt to take out any enemies nearby, it works more often than not, usually ending in my death though.
The map variety is pretty excellent, mixing varied locales with old favourites such as Summit and Firing Range. The routes and choke points are easily accessible and I never felt turned around and eventuality found my spots to lay down a hail of gun fire. Spawning can be an issue, especially when the enemy begin to spawn behind you and you get caught off guard. There have been many occasions where I have spawned in just to die in milliseconds. It’s frustrating but that never brought an end to my enjoyment of the current Map variety. Choke point gun fights are desperate intense affairs as you attempt to push back the enemy; it’s a lot of fun.
Overall I have found the Multiplayer portion of Black Ops 4 to be as enjoyable and addicting as Call of Duty ever was, with some much needed changes that have definitely improved the experience. If you are in it for Multiplayer you won’t be disappointed, four to fives hours in and I’m in love with the series all over again.
Battle Royale Perfected?
The multiplayer is excellent fun, but how would Treyarch bring that to their Battle Royale mode, Black Out? The answer, damn near perfectly. First thing of note is that Treyarch’s version of Battle Royale only holds up to 80 players per match, compared to the 100 player capacity of other titles in the genre, it’s a bit odd why they didn’t go for the standard 100, but I digress. The map is pretty big and fits the 80 players well. It doesn’t feel too crowded or too bereft of player encounters. The map is filled with locations from previous COD games, most prominently the Black Ops titles. Maps such as; Nuke Town, Array and Firing Range are all present here, stitched together like Frankenstein to create a huge open map that’s believable within the Black Ops universe. The game mode starts off as per most Battle Royale games, with the player starting in a lobby called the Staging Area where you can mess around with weapons and just run about for a few seconds before the game is ready to start.
Black Out follows the Battle Royale blueprint drawn up by its contemporaries, pretty much by the book, spawning the player in a helicopter to await drop in. The player can choose when they want to drop in. The usual game-play loop of Loot, Move, Kill, repeat begins and with a fixed first person perspective. I found this to be extra rewarding because you can not use the camera to your advantage like in other third person Battle Royale titles and with that restriction, it makes for a more intense experience. From spawning, dropping in and finding my first assault rifle, I am on constant edge that someone is going to pop out of nowhere and blow my face off.
Everyone is on an even playing field to begin with but can become armed to the teeth towards the end. When the circle forces me to traverse a large open field, all exposed with no cover, it’s do or die, or in my case die and die! It’s immensely heart pumping stuff and when the game crawls down to the last 10 players. It becomes a slow methodical game of hide and seek with a player not necessarily having to kill anyone throughout the entire match until the end and somehow edge out victorious.
Black Out sounds all too familiar then but it’s the execution that makes it stand out above it’s peers, with excellent gun-play (best in class for a Battle Royale game), a heart stopping first person perspective and a great map utilizing the best known Black Ops locations. I have had a blast on this mode and wholeheartedly believe it’s the best implementation of Battle Royale so far.
This was my experience within the first five hours of play, Multiplayer is excellent and Black Out is a lot of fun. This was just my experience however, your mileage may vary. I’m more than excited to put in another five hours easily. Return to form? Quite possibly.