Call of Duty games have been popular among many gamers over the years, but some might say the formula has gotten stale. Treyarch has heard these cries and made an effort to mix things up a bit for the newest edition to the franchise.
Black Ops 4 is taking the plunge into purely multiplayer action, including a battle royale type mode called Blackout. The traditional multiplayer was given a private beta on PS4 from August 3rd to August 6th. This offered those who pre-ordered the game, along with some select gamers, a chance to test things out before the October 12th release.
The biggest change to the franchise is the inclusion of specialists; each specialist has their own unique abilities to use in combat. All characters have a normal skill and an ultimate skill. The normal skill has a cooldown before it can be used again, while the ultimate skill has a meter surrounding its icon that must be filled. Think of how Overwatch and Paladins work to a degree. For example, Firebreak has a portable nuclear reactor that he can open for a short time, causing nearby enemies’ max health to drop and take damage. There’s a meter that builds, and when it reaches the red area, the damage increases, but also drains your health as well. You can release the button to stop at any time, so use it wisely because it can become a double-edged sword. His ultimate lets him pull out a long range flamethrower in order to burn his enemies to a crisp. Firebreak’s abilities make him very useful for clearing an area with your team.
The concept of specialists is meant to not only add new elements to the combat, but also encourage more tactical teamwork. Some specialists have abilities designed to help their team, whether it be Crash setting down ammo packs for his team or Seraph placing a deployment beacon that allies can respawn on until it gets destroyed. The specialists also have their designated roles, which is based off of their abilities. Recon has a sensor dart to track enemy movement or a pulse sensor if he builds up his ultimate. So if Recon reveals a group of enemies nearby, Firebreak could get close and open his reactor to weaken them as his team rushes in.
Another big change is the removal of regenerating health; now you have to use a stim pak to heal. The stim pak has a cooldown as well, so you’ll need to fight more strategically in order to survive. No more “shoot, eat some bullets, and crouch” while the screen clears up as you naturally heal. I really like this change because it requires you to think about your moves more carefully. I knew I couldn’t run and gun as recklessly anymore, although doing that is still fun in this game. Even with this, the combat is still fast, fluid, and incredibly exciting. Things get even more tense when you are waiting on a cooldown to end as you fight for your life.
The multiplayer beta included three modes that any Call of Duty fan would recognize, although one name is altered: Chaos Team Deathmatch, Control, and Search and Destroy. Chaos Team Deathmatch consists of the regular deathmatch and Kill Confirmed, but I didn’t see an option to choose between the two. I clicked it and it would randomly choose between one of the two variations for me to join. I hope this gets adjusted for the full release because I personally don’t like playing Kill Confirmed. Both versions are broken into 6 V 6 matches, which makes you feel like you’re in a small squad that might be counting on you. Control has one team attack while the other defends two designated points for a certain amount of time. Taking one location causes the time to go up, with that location permanently taken. If the time runs out before both points are taken, the defenders win. After each round, the teams switch sides, and the first to four wins claims victory. Also, both sides have a limited number of lives; if a team’s lives are wiped out, they lose. Search and Destroy focuses on one team trying to plant a bomb to destroy one of two cargo drops, while the other team tries to stop them. There are no respawns, so when you die, you’re dead until next round. These matches can go fast, so they’re perfect for those who want to play quickly. The latter two modes consist of 8-10 players each.
The multiplayer beta offered five maps: Seaside, Contraband, Frequency, Payload, and Gridlock. They are wonderfully crafted, each with their own theme and charm to them. Whether you be in a facility filled with tech, running through a town, or even having firefights by the ocean, there’s a good amount of variety here. I have a feeling we haven’t seen all of the maps yet, and if so, I can’t wait to see what other battlegrounds Black Ops 4 has in store for us.
All in all, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 aims to switch up the franchise, and it does that very well. From including specialists to encouraging teamwork and strategic firefights, this newest installment feels like it might be able to bring some more life back into the series. The need for more tactical approaches doesn’t hinder the fast paced gunplay at all, and I really appreciate that. Respawn times were quick, but the loading times between matches felt a little long. That being said, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 looks like it’s going to be a great new addition to the series.