A Trio Of Impressive Multiplayer Modes
Along with the usual flurry of sport titles to hit consoles every Autumn, the one thing you can guarantee in the video game industry is the annual release of Call Of Duty. With the recent announcement that Black Ops 4 would ditch its single player campaign and implement its own Battle Royale mode called Blackout instead, more than a few gamers had their doubts that Call Of Duty would pull off its questionable intent. In a way, Black Ops 4 is an acknowledgement of its core fan-base that has stuck with the game all these years, producing an impressive array of multiplayer options whilst shunning newcomers to the franchise with a game void of single player content. It’s a strange place to be in for the franchise, highlighting the intent Activision has to turn Call Of Duty into an online-only service.
To be fair to Black Ops 4, if you’re a fan of Call Of Duty, this is a game that’s been crafted with its hardcore fan-base in mind and it shows through every facet of the game. Ignoring the eye-watering 77 GB day-one patch and lack of single player content, the stripped back menu breaks the game down into three significantly fleshed out areas. Classic Multiplayer speaks for itself with its own array of game modes while Blackout works as Black Ops’ answer to the Battle Royale craze. A substantial Zombie mode bolsters out the trio with a polished mode complete with several large maps to explore and blast through waves of the undead.
The zombie mode features three impressively designed arenas to blast through
The biggest change to the franchise this year comes from the aforementioned Blackout mode and like it or not, it’s easily one of the best Battle Royales out there. The similarities to Fortnite are apparent from the off; lush greens and blues dominate the landscape between many memorable hot-spots from previous games including Nuketown and the beautifully designed Train Station area (which is our personal favourite). Several other areas boast zombies to add even more variety to the mix and the usual slew of loot is laid out in abundance across the map.
Those who aren’t aware how battle royale modes work, each multiplayer game begins with you air-dropped into the terrain as either a solo combatant or as a duo or a team of four. You then collect up resources including first aid kits, backpacks and temporary buffs while snapping up weapons and ammo strewn across the vast map. From here, the massive open map progressively shrinks in size after a set period of time (2 minutes usually), whittling down to a frantic and often tense showdown as you reach the final 10, 5, 2 and eventual winner in a small playing space picked at random across the map.
This process is then repeated again and again with varying levels of unpredictability as you go up against different players with varying level of skill and equipment. Unlike Fortnite and other games of its kind, Black Ops 4 assumes all of its players know which weapons are more powerful so those going into this not knowing if a Swordfish machine gun is more powerful than a standard SMG with a laser-optic scope, there’s not much on the UI that gives any indication toward this, giving newcomers to the series an immediate disadvantage.
The classic multiplayer features the same usual array of modes you’d expect here
This spills across to the standard multiplayer mode too which manages to rekindle some of the smooth, fast fluidity recent games in the franchise lacked with their abundance of perks and special abilities. With this all stripped back, the multiplayer feels akin to that of the early games, simplifying a lot of the gameplay to the standard fast-paced deathmatches anyone who’s played before will instantly recognise. Of course, all the usual array of modes are included here, laid out on a handful of maps that unfortunately breed everything from camping to spawn-point kills. Hopefully this is something Activision clear up at a later date but at the time of writing, this is a constant issue with the multiplayer and results in more cheap deaths than it perhaps should.
Like it or not, Black Ops 4’s Battle Royale mode is easily one of the best
The final mode is Zombies which boasts some cleverly worked maps; one roman arena called IX, a cruiser liner called Voyage Of The Damned and the more traditional Blood of the Dead make up the bulk of the content here. This mode sees you tackling infinite waves of zombies in an arena that can be progressively expanded and enhanced through points accumulated by killing zombies. As the rounds increase, so too does the difficulty and level of challenge as the undead are joined by tigers, brutes, acid-spewing zombies and all manner of nastiness that help to give some much needed variety to this mode. It can get incredibly chaotic too, especially late on, with the only way to finish completely to die and begin another round. Rinse and repeat.
As with many multiplayer-only games, Black Ops 4 is its own worst enemy. Disconnections, lag, server issues and difficulty finding players during zombie runs were apparent throughout the extensive time playing the game. Of course, while this has always been an issue with Call Of Duty in the past, the profound lack of anything single-player orientated means the game is likely to be redundant a year down the line when Call Of Duty pump out their next title which, based on the success of Black Ops 4, is likely to use the same online-only template being tested here. As a bit of a saving grace, Black Ops 4 supports split screen which is a really great addition to the game and does alleviate some of the issues the game faces if/when its servers go offline.
Lush greens and blues dominate Blackout’s nicely detailed map
How much enjoyment you’re likely to get from Call Of Duty this year is wholly dependent on your level of multiplayer tolerance and to an extent, your internet connection. If you’re an online enthusiast and love blasting through zombies or are a fan of Battle Royale modes, Black Ops 4 is the perfect game for you. It features enough multiplayer variety to make it a real crowd pleaser for enthusiasts of the game while delivering a battle royale experience that’s up there with the best. Those looking for something new or single-player orientated to entice them back into the series are likely to be alienated with this offering though. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen before in other games but in terms of multiplayer prowess, Black Ops 4 is certainly a step up, even if solidifies itself as a game intended for fans of the franchise, not the casual gamer.
Update 01/11 – In light of Activision announcing they’re pumping microtransactions into Black Ops 4, requiring over 200 hours of grinding or the equivalent of £180 to unlock the highest tiered weapons, we have subsequently reduced our score of 7.5 to 5.5 in light of this. These predatory tactics show a complete disregard for the fan-base and a complete unbalancing of a £45 game that managed to paint Call Of Duty in a positive light.
Verdict - 5.5/10