Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Review
I’ll be the first to admit, I was super bummed when it was revealed Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 would not have a single player mode. I may have been in the minority, but I enjoyed those mindless 6-8 hour action packed roller coaster rides through epic set pieces and cheesy dialogue. So when I heard the franchise was ditching the campaign in favour of a Battle Royale money-making machine, I legitimately contemplated walking away from Call of Duty. Sure, over the years I’ve spent countless hours in the traditional multiplayer matches and zombies is always a riot but a Call of Duty game without a story mode feels like an incomplete experience.
Then the Black Ops 4 beta came along, and all that was old felt new again. The multiplayer beta (which dropped before the Blackout beta) had a familiar yet fresh feeling. And Blackout, Call of Duty’s Battle Royale mode, surpassed all my expectations. Sure, my kill/death ratio was hot garbage but I had a time and even in beta pre-release which was full of bugs, Blackout was far superior to PUBG and even Fortnite. That’s right, I said it – better than Fortnite! So, I guess I won’t be walking away after all. Not by a long shot. It’s definitely not all doom and gloom for a franchise that in the first time in its history decided to drop a traditional story mode.
Blacking Out The Competition
Let’s face it, the success of Black Ops 4 begins and ends with Blackout. I know it, you know it and Activision knows it. If you played the beta, you already know its rock solid and after spending some significant time with the full release version of Blackout it remains a tight and superb battle royale experience. Sure, it is far from perfect and has plenty of room for growth but compared to the competition, Black Ops 4 is heads and shoulders above the rest.
The vehicles handle wonderfully, there are plenty of weapons and loot to pick up, and you’ll feel right at home with those familiar Call of Duty snap controls. Not to mention the gameplay is as intense as you could possibly imagine. The map itself is massive, the biggest in franchise history. I liked how the map features plenty of verticality, which prevents those proficient with snipers from completely dominating the action. Of course, the inclusion of zombies in various locations is a brilliant touch. It runs silky smooth and the Call of Duty brand of combat really shines in the mode.
I also love the way Blackout allows you to play the way you want to play. You can wingsuit into Nuketown island and engage in chaotic shootouts right from the onset. Likewise, you can find yourself a cozy spot away from the action and slowly plod your way towards the inner circle. It’s this varied and intense style of gamplay that really shines and makes Blackout so addicting. Coming out on top is thrilling while coming in 2nd can be absolutely soul crushing.
My complaints with Blackout are really nit-picky in nature. I don’t have any major complaints with the mode at all. Sure, you could argue they aren’t redefining the battle royale genre in any way and are more or less copying Fortnite and PUBG but there is no question Blackout is the battle royale game Call of Duty fans want. That said, I found searching through a downed opponents loot or opening supply drop crates a bit cumbersome. I definitely prefer Fortnite’s approach where everything spills out of supply crate. Likewise, some of the visuals appeared a bit murkey and certainly lacked the polish we’ve seen in some of the traditional COD multiplayer maps. This is likely due to ensuring the game is optimized to run in the best possible way but nevertheless visually Blackout isn’t the best looking Call of Duty multiplayer map we’ve ever seen.
Speaking of which, Black Ops 4 features 14 maps out the box. Plus, in November we get a downloadable Nuketown map. Surprisingly enough; however, 4 of those maps are remakes. Granted, they look nice, play smoothly and are perfectly balanced but I cannot help but be a little disappointed nearly a third of the games “new” maps are remakes. Has Treyarch run out of ideas? Did the multiplayer team not have enough resources to come up with new levels? Whatever the reason, Black Ops 4 has a few too many retreads so I cannot help but feel a little disappointed with the roster of multiplayer. That said, 14 out of the box is more than we had with WWII last year.
That being said, the MP games are as fast, fluid and frantic. The weapons all feel great and Treyarch has once again established themselves as the Call of Duty development team that really knows it’s fan base and delivers exactly what the COD community wants. There is no wall running, or boost jumping and it is a no-frills boots on the ground experience.
Easy to Pick Up, Hard to Master
The multiplayer game is a more tactical experience in Black Ops 4. The Specialists are back and you can check out each character’s backstory in some slick little cut-scenes. The Specialists all have unique abilities, so they certainly add a layer of strategy to that run and gun style of gameplay.
Aside from a new Heist mode, Black Ops 4 doesn’t offer much in the way of new modes or new gameplay mechanics. It feels and plays nearly identical to other Call of Duty games. I am a little disappointed we aren’t getting much in the way of innovation this year but hey if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix, right.
This year is the 10-year anniversary of Call of Duty Zombies. Black Ops 4 is celebrating by giving us their biggest launch ever with three full Zombies experiences, which is pretty cool. My favorite of the new zombie maps is easily IX. This map is set in Rome and throws you into the pit of a coliseum where all sorts of ancient zombies come at you from all directions. This visually stunning map features menacing enemies and slick layout. The other two maps, Voyage of Despair (which takes place aboard the RMS Titanic) and Blood of the Dead (which features Origins characters from the previous Zombies storyline) are equally solid. There are a few new wrinkles added to the mix but much like the rest of the Black Ops 4 experience, there isn’t much of an overhaul to the modes that fans love. Frankly, that is okay, as fans of zombies games should be pretty pleased with what you get at launch.
One thing is for certain, Black Ops 4 is easily the best multiplayer experience we have seen from the franchise to date. With a robust line-up of multiplayer maps, 3 graphically stunning zombie experiences and featuring the best battle royale shooter on the planet, Call of Duty fans should be thrilled with what Black Ops 4 is offering. Sure, the lack of a single player mode is a bit of downer and I do feel like Activision is positioning itself to monetize the crap out of Blackout. Yet at the end of the day, Black Ops 4 is the most definitive and complete Call of Duty multiplayer experience and is primed to take a big chunk out of PUBG and Fortnite’s market share.
***A PS4 review copy was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review***
- Blackout is awesome
- Zombies looks incredible
- A multiplayer shooters delight
- No single player sucks
- Blackouts visuals are not the sharpest
- Expensive COD game after DLC and Micros