Treyarch has released another Call of Duty game, and this year they decided to take a different and ambitious approach with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The all-time favourite and well known Single Player Campaign was replaced with a focused tutorial mission instead called Specialist HQ, which introduces you to the 10 multiplayer Specialists one by one.
This would have been a deal breaker as the single-player stories were what made Call of Duty, well, Call of Duty. But it felt like CoD’s multiplayer, Zombies, and their battle royale mode Blackout took a step up and compensated for the loss of the mode—I wasn’t one to watch the cutscenes anyway, Single Player was always just a warmup before going into the multiplayer battlefield against the young teens who’d insult my mother…
However, for those who did watch all those cutscenes and enjoyed something more laid back, Specialist HQ does provide that. There were some gorgeous, and gory cut scenes which thread all the “missions” together. Specialist HQ also helps with getting you used to their new Specialist mechanics–which is worth the amount of time spent since it appears in Multiplayer & Blackout.
I’ve always been one to skip tutorials or never really got into it, which in return has me running around aimlessly in-game and figuring how to play, but I sat through all of the tutorials for CoD: BO4 because it was somewhat different compared to the previous CoD games.
BO4 attempts to be more tactical now in Multiplayer. Auto-healing has been taken away and replaced with self-healing on a cool down timer. This new combination forces to be more thoughtful with your positioning as you need to make sure you have cover and time to heal yourself. Gone were the days where you Rambo solo into enemy lines and chip away at their team, waiting for your health to regenerate while dodging enemy fire.
Finding the right moment to stop aiming and heal is a skill on its own that you want to master. Surprising as it is, something as small as that can turn the tides of the fight between your enemies.
The Specialists extends the tactical feel to the game, built upon those introduced in Black Ops 3. Each “class” has their own set of unique weapons and equipment that focuses on specific combat styles, like area control. These Specialists also have a super-powered attack or defence tied to their weapon kills. Getting kills charges up your “specials”, so it’s like getting rewards every time you deal damage.
Treyarch also made it so certain Specialists and strategies are more useful in game types compared to others. Area control is better for objective-based modes, like Domination but not so much during scattered modes like Team Deathmatch. You’d still need some base skills of shooting and positioning though, different classes only bring you so far before in the game, I’m a terrible shot, so I know the struggle and frustration newbies have.
This year’s CoD has decided to add a Battle Royale mode called Blackout. The dynamics of it is relatively similar to PUBG and other Battle Royale games. You start by leaping out of an aircraft in a wingsuit, then search buildings, build up your arsenal and kill “enemies” while preparing for the circle of death to slowly encroach on your position. Granted, veteran battle royale players would immediately understand how to play, but that’s not to say Treyarch didn’t bring anything new to bring to the table.
Having experience in both multiplayer and Zombies benefits you in Blackout, so even if you’ve never played any battle royale, you still have some advantage. Specialist equipment and perks are scattered around the map to be looted during a match, just knowing how to use and counter them efficiently help turn the tides of your game.
One thing I did find interesting was the PvE twists. It really distinguishes Blackout from others like PUBG & Fortnite. In the map, there are zombie-infested areas that offer powerful loot. Of course, the words “powerful loot” definitely makes you want to tackle these areas, but it is a risk as you might end up attracting trouble from human players as well.
The map design of Blackout combined with superior controls makes the mode a force to be reckoned with, and unlike PUBG or Fortnite, you’ll spend most of your time actually shooting other players which is a welcomed distinction.
BO4 returns with another cult favourite, zombie mode, with 3 maps that feel drastically different from each other. You also get an extra map with a season pass which is a remake of the original Black Ops’ Five.
“IX” puts you in a gladiatorial combat situation back to the good old days where battle was seen as a sport, to fight off waves of the undead, this unique map was an interesting addition to the series.
“Voyage of Despair” transports you to the infamous Titanic, where you will have to fight the forces of evil in the depths of the ship, swimming through icy water and whatnots. “Blood of the Dead” which takes place in Alcatraz includes sprawling indoor and outdoor areas loaded with traditional zombies, more giant monsters, and explosive dogs.
I have always been a Zombies fan, but after some time it becomes mind-numbing. The lack of a clear progression or even an objective besides ‘shoot the zombies’ makes it a very stagnant, occasionally broken up bullet soaking super-zombies and funny dialogues. Sometimes, when I eventually die, I feel a sense of relief. Like the cycle was over and I was free. Even if the upgraded or big guns made me feel powerful, I didn’t quite feel like going through the motions again.
I did find the new Zombies mode, Rush, fun though. Here, you don’t play in a team but against each other in a murder race, trying to score more points by offing zombies and the player with the most points wins. This mode is also faster paced (thus the name) and removes all the thinking, planning and saving like in the regular zombies. It’s too intense to be a tutorial, but it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the map, test weapons, and plan where to go next if you get stuck in the Classic mode.
Treyarch did well this time with BO4, and I thought it was a good move for them to remove the campaign mode and replace it with Specialist HQ instead of butchering a storyline. Plus with all the content and Battle Royale, I feel it’s worth the money.