The Call of Duty franchise is generally the butt of the FPS and gaming communities jokes. The franchise has had many misses and too few hits over the years and yet it keeps getting re-skinned and released to the masses.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 feels different, in the best possible way.
The first major change that had many fans reeling, was the discontinuation of the single-player mode. Previously, the heavily linear, over-the-top war stories that make up the offline aspect of the franchise was something fans could look forward to. It would give them a feel for the game’s lore and environments and, most importantly, the weapons. Let’s face it. It was training for multiplayer.
Whilst admittedly the story of the original Black Ops captured my imagination, the rest of the titles fell woefully short. The lack of a campaign in this title wasn’t missed by me. Instead, the small snippets of story about the different operators the player can use were some nice spice on the steak of a game I was keen to devour.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Review
Another major change was the introduction of the Blackout game mode.
Purists will argue that the inclusion of a battle royale mode is a cash grab and they could be right, however, if something is popular and works, you’d be mad not to get involved. Especially when the current BR shooters on the market don’t do it as good as Call of Duty Black Ops 4 does.
Blackout is invigorating and brings a freshness to a long stale franchise. I am absolutely hooked.
In Blackout, for those unfamiliar with the BR style of game, a player is pitted against up to 99 other opponents with the objective being the last one standing. Players need to scavenge equipment and weapons from the map. All the while, the adrenaline of closing in on the final gun fights in this mode is thrilling, to say the least.
My hands have definitely been shaking on more than one make or break engagement.
Cover, choice of playstyle and positioning is king in these white-knuckle skirmishes. Many times I have been the hunter for an entire round, only to make an unfortunate error and end up the hunted…and dead.
It can be frustrating, but with the amazing frequency of the servers, I found it very quick and easy to reset and jump into a new game to hone my skills again and again. I soon found my prefered loadout and would actively try new weapons to adapt and overcome in case I ended up with a limited kit when I first touch the ground.
This game actually had me excited to get better. Slowly and surely I’ve felt comfortable engaging at any range and ultimately I have secured a few victories as a result. The satisfaction of taking the number one spot is immeasurable.*
The size of the Blackout map is great and the and locations within are diverse and present individual challenges of their own. Players will, over time, learn to dominate their preferred drop zones.
Blackout features three styles of play; Solos, Duos and Squads. I play a lot of Solo, but the true fun for me is the Duo mode with a friend.
Communication is King
Having the ability to communicate and coordinate with another player is fantastic and opens up a whole other tactical approach. I prefer a mid-range engagement with a tooled up assault rifle, whereas any sniper rifles we find will go immediately into my squaddies hands. He prefers to have more of an overwatch/spotter role.
The synergy that can be achieved by playing with mates is a very intoxicating feeling, not to mention the ability to pick each other’s ass up with things get hot.
Squads mode is naturally similar but with a team of four. Blackout has thus far been the mode I have sunk the most hours into and it doesn’t look like I’ll be stopping any time soon.
Onto the standard multiplayer. Fans of the genre will not be disappointed in the bread and butter of the CoD franchise. Familiar gunplay will see veterans of the series ease into this title seamlessly, with the game still being approachable for beginners alike.
I had not played a CoD title seriously since the days of Black Ops 1 and I was delighted to see some of my favourite maps and modes present with small throwbacks to previous titles. What I was happy to see done away with was the ridiculous wall riding/movement shenanigans and the hyper future of Black Ops 3 and Infinite Warfare.
It’s the Future, but not as we know it
Black Ops 4 still feels futuristic, but it feels like the near future. Still communicating the down in the dirt grittiness of boots on the ground fighting.
The player is able to select a character from a small roster of operators each with different abilities. My prefered two are Firebreak and Nomad.
Firebreak has an area denial tool as his grenade and can charge up an ultimate ability in the form of a team melting flamethrower. Nomad possesses a grenade called the Mesh Mine, which is essentially a proximity explosive.
Nothing is more satisfying than knowing you have smoked an unwitting player across the map due to your carefully placed trap. It’s the ultimate troll. He also packs his K9 companion; a dog that patrols an area of the map biting enemies and generally causing chaos in their ranks.
There are several other characters available; one with a deployable riot shield, one with a savage grenade launcher, another with recon abilities able to highlight enemies on the map and so on. Players will soon find their preferred play style, choosing a loadout that will compliment them.
Modes on Modes
There are many modes available to play including classics such as Team Deathmatch, Control, Domination and Search and Destroy. There are also hardcore variants available for those that prefer a bit more of a challenge.
The addition of the new Heist game mode pits teams in a faux capture the flag style game. Opposing teams are tasked with stealing a load of cash and escorting it to an extraction site. The team that pulls it off wins.
Players earn cash over the course of a game through kills and scores which improves their loadout and perks to build a class on the fly. It has a very Counter-Strike flavour to it and adds to the overall replayability of the title.
Onto Zombies. A staple of the Black Ops series and one that could even be sold as its own standalone game. The four-player survival fest in Black Ops 4 has been fleshed out. Pun intended.
No longer is Zombies just about eliminating hordes of the undead and building barricades, although that is primarily the goal. The inclusion of an excellent perk and elixir system allows much more depth to each player.
Each of the perks and elixirs provides an interesting benefit such as teleporting you out of a bind to safety and knocking back all zombies in range to give you a bit of breathing room.
Players new to the mode, like me, can thank the short sweet, yet concise tutorial to get in the swing of things quickly. It does a great job of giving you a feel for the various powerups and goings on in the mode.
It’s essential that new players complete the tutorial before they sally forth with three other friends. When they do, this is when the mode really shines. The inclusion of comrades will make this mode a quick favourite of fans and newcomers alike.
Working together towards a common goal and progressing whichever of the two storylines you have chosen (Chaos and Aether) will provide hours of fun and in an ever-dwindling genre of cooperation based games, it is a welcome inclusion.
It’s one I am keen to sink my teeth into with my own squad more.
Overall, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is a well-rounded title offering something for every FPS focused gamer. However, the dreaded microtransaction hydra has reared its head and naturally, players are up in arms.
Thankfully it is limited to cosmetics in the normal and Blackout modes. In Zombies the main craftable ingredient for elixirs allows players to essentially gamble up powerups in exchange for microtransactions which I vehemently disagree with.
I am keen to see more features being added. I’d like to see new maps for Blackout, more operators for multiplayer and more story for Zombies. With the right amount of backing, this title has the potential to stick around as a favourite for years to come.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided by Activision.
Game Title: Call of Duty Black Ops 4
Well rounded game modes to appeal to all types - 9.4/10
Satisfying CoD gunplay - 9.8/10
BR mode is fantastic - 9.9/10
Cosmetics are incredibly overpriced - 4.3/10
The grind is real for XP tiers and unlocks - 6.4/10