Blackout makes 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4' a standout in the long-running franchise

Blackout makes 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4' a standout in the long-running franchise

I’ll admit. I was extremely disappointed to hear that this year’s Call of Duty game wouldn’t include a story-based, single player campaign mode.

Yes, I’m completely aware that I’m in the minority here, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the quirky characters, blown out set pieces and weird wonder of the world of Call of Duty. Maybe that comes from Call of Duty 2 being my first game in the series, and maybe it’s just a weird wish on my part.

That being said, I’m more than happy with the amount of content packed into Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Instead of the traditional multiplayer/single player split of similar titles, Black Ops 4 opts to go for a bit of a rolling structure, with the entire game segmented into three sections: Multiplayer, Blackout and Zombies. Multiplayer includes the classic formula of core and hardcore player-vs-player game types. Blackout is Treyarch’s take on the popular Battle Royale genre of games (see: Fortnite and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds). Zombies is, well, zombies, just a lot more of it.

But this segmentation is extremely fluid in the game, with loading taking just seconds to hop into any of the many multiplayer modes Black Ops 4 has to offer. It’s a far cry from the days of loading all the way back to the main title screen just to head into a different mode. It’s a welcome quality-of-life change.

And though the menus themselves might feel a bit clunky, what with customization buried kind of deep and progression hopping around the user interface depending on where you’re at, they are simple enough to navigate successfully.

And the game modes themselves are no slouch either. Multiplayer is pretty similar to how it’s been in the past, what with it’s addictive, fast-paced action and blaring sound effects. There are a few interesting, new game modes, including Heist, where players work as a team to carry a bag of cash to an extraction point. The twist? Everyone starts out on a level playing field and has to buy all of their guns, equipment, perks and attachments.

It’s a nice distraction from the Specialist-heavy game types littered throughout multiplayer. As far as things this game could do without, those Specialists (glorified “Hero” characters) are at the top of the list. But for the most part, you can ignore them and just play as you would.

Zombies seems to be where most of the story content planned for Black Ops 4 went, and there’s plenty of fun to be had here for fans of the round-based mode. But you’re just here for Blackout, right?

Put simply: Blackout doesn’t feel like wholly new experience considering the current climate of gaming, but it does feel like a better one.

I’m hesistant to compare it to Fortnite at all, because Epic Games’ battle royale seems to be off on its own path. The real direct competitor here is PUBG, and fans will be hard-pressed to find anything that would keep them playing the firestarter of the battle royale genre.

Blackout is incredibly polished, though not without a few kinks (like one moment where I was trapped in some sort of water transportation system and could not jump out of it). But in a genre that has dealt heavily with glitches, texture loading issues and map complaints, Blackout is starting well ahead of PUBG. It also helps that it’s already on PS4, and if there’s a choice between the two games, the Call of Duty name seems to hold that sway.

It’s tense, extremely difficult and very, very fun, which seems to be exactly what was needed from a Treyarch take on battle royale. Flying vehicles are also an extremely solid addition, and nothing feels better than picking up your friends in a helicopter and trying to stay in the air long enough to have a fighting chance at winning.

That all being said, Blackout still has a long way to go, but as the keystone of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, it builds a foundation that will keep fans playing this entry for hopefully years to come. Ball’s in your court for next year, Infinity Ward.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is now available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. A review copy was provided by Activision.

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