Review – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 finally up and throws away the single-player campaign that the franchise has tacked on for years despite the majority of its fanbase not caring about it in the slightest. This isn’t hyperbole either, Achievement and Trophy data backs it up with the last few games seeing completion percentages in the low teens – at best. 2016’s Infinite Warfare, for example, had only 12.84% of players making it through the final mission, while Black Ops 3 had only 8.05% complete it on Easy, and just 1.65% further beat it on a harder difficulty.
Now the game isn’t all online multiplayer, with gamers able to take on training missions in Specialist HQ that both showcase how to play the characters and the various online modes and show that there was a single player mode planned at some point, with detailed cutscenes that spell out a by-the-book plot of revenge and betrayal. There are even bot options and split screen, for those who’d rather avoid playing online entirely.
Black Ops 4 has four modes to play in – Specialist HQ, regular multiplayer in both regular and hardcore styles across a wealth of game types, Blackout – the all-new battle royale style experience, and Zombies – a crowd favourite that returns with even more convoluted secrets to uncover.
Multiplayer is the classic all-out action that Call of Duty is known for, with little in the way of framerate drop and an emphasis on fast movement and getting your loadout just right. The class loadouts remain a ‘pick’em’ style where you can choose to concentrate on weapons, skills, or a combination of the two, and that adds considerable depth to the gameplay. A ton of classic maps make a return, and the full facelift they’ve gotten is striking. Several of the maps are so changed by the graphical update that it might be a little while before the similarities start to creep in and you realize you’ve played this before.
Blackout is Call of Duty’s answer to PUBG, with similar inventory mechanics for picking things up, shuffling them around, and adding attachments to guns. Perks are something you pick up off the ground and hold until used up, making for an interesting dynamic – trading off space you could use for equipment to carry a perk like Dead Silence that’s invaluable in the late-game circle. Blackout runs very well, which gives it a major lift over PUBG, but doesn’t feel as tense even when you’re in the final 10 players alive. The map is interesting, with few barren places and a wealth of locations from past games to spot and explore.
Zombie mode is hard for me to evaluate, as I played very little of it in past games. It’s certainly fun, but the frantic pace and lack of explanation might leave it out of reach of new players. It’s a positive that they added bots to this mode as well, so new people can practice with them first before going into a live game and being “the new guy” who doesn’t know what they’re doing. With craftable special weapons that require parts being picked up within the level, a couple storylines to walk four player teams through, and a crazy assortment of fast-paced combat situations, Zombies is – if nothing else – incredibly fun to play even for ten minutes at a time.