Earlier this year, Treyarch and Activision made a colossal announcement regarding the next game in the Black Ops series. Call of Duty Black Ops 4 would be the first game in the series not to feature a story campaign mode. Instead, narratives are woven through each of the game’s three core types of gameplay. These include multiplayer, Zombies, and the all-new battle royale mode called Blackout.
Like many, I was shocked and skeptical of this new direction they were taking the series. How could they remove a core game mode from the franchise that had been there since day one, 15 years ago? With over 40 hours put into the game, here is my review of Call of Duty Black Ops 4.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Details
A focus on online multiplayer gaming
In what many, including myself, see as a controversial move, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 does not include a single player campaign mode. I’ll be totally honest with you, when I first heard about this I couldn’t believe my ears. After all, the first thing I would do with any Call of Duty game was to play the single player campaign before getting into the online multiplayer action.
However, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 includes a mode called Specialist HQ, which is as close to a single player campaign as you are going to get with the game. This mode gives you the back stories for each of the Specialists in the game with some beautifully crafted intros and cutscenes. You are loaded into a simulator and here you get to practice using your abilities. Think of Specialist HQ as a grand tutorial of sorts.
Upon mastering your skills, you then unlock all the multiplayer maps and can practice all the different match types with added requirements. It’s really useful for those new to the franchise, or for those looking to freshen up their skills. After a while, it does feel repetitive and I was just going through the motions trying to get my 75 kills so that I could move on.
Furthermore, while playing and progressing through the various different challenges, I couldn’t help but feel maybe these were the early makings of what was a scrapped single player mode. We’ll never find out, but I often think of what could have been.
Fan favourite multiplayer modes return with tweaks
In addition, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 offers all the classic multiplayer modes you’ve come to love from the franchise. Specialist make their return and office special abilities and traits for you to use in combat. There are a total of ten Specialist, of which four are new and six are returning from Black Ops III.
There are a total of five multiplayer maps, which are remakes of some of the best in the series. These include Slums, Firing Range, Jungle, Summit and the recently released Nuketown. No longer does your health regenerate, you now have a health bar and must manually heal yourself. In addition, weapon customization is heavily emphasized and encouraged. Attachments now have tiers and can offer big upgrades to your weapons.
Overall, I feel as if the multiplayer modes have been fine tuned to offer gameplay that is more team oriented and tactical based.
Two new multiplayer modes to spice up gameplay
In addition to the classic multiplayer modes, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 includes two new multiplayer modes. The first new mode is called Control. In this mode you must fight to capture two different points by alternating between defenders and attackers. Team communication is very important and can mean the difference between success and failure.
The second new mode is called Heist. This is a tactical challenge with no respawns and is round based. You are your team must steal a bag of money before the opposing team does. Once you do that you must then reach an extraction point to win.
You start with $500 and a pistol with limited ammo. You must carefully use your money that you earn by taking out your enemy to upgrade and buy better weapons. This mode definitely has a Counter Strike vibe to it, which I really enjoyed and had fun with.
Another fan favourite mode makes its return, Zombies. If you’ve played this mode before in previous games, then you will feel right at home. There really haven’t been any dramatic changes to the formula. You and up to three others play online and try to survive the waves of zombies for as long as you can.
You now can customize gameplay with over 100 different variables such as damage, zombie speed, and difficulty. Additionally, Treyarch has added a new game type called Rush. Your goal is to build up as many points and multipliers you can with the hopes of getting the highest points possible when you die.
There are a total of the maps included with the game. Voyage of Despair takes place on the Titanic, IX takes place in an Ancient Rome arena, and Blood of the Dead takes place in Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Interestingly enough, both Voyage of Despair and IX feature a new cast of characters: Scarlett, Stanton, Diego and Bruno from the new Chaos storyline. On the other hand, Blood of the Dead features the four original characters from the previous Black Ops games.
Battle Royale with Blackout mode
Without a single player campaign mode, Treyarch instead decided to shift focus on an all-new battle royale mode. It’s no secret the success this genre has seen in the past few years. To say I was skeptical at first would be an understatement. Though, I believe a lot of that initial skepticism came from the fact that the single player campaign mode was removed from the game.
After accepting that fact, I went into Blackout mode with an open mind. I wanted to see if Treyarch could create its own magic with this brand new mode. And, I am happy to say I am quite impressed with what Treyarch has accomplished.
The mode takes place on a map that is the largest in franchise history—about 1500 times bigger than Nuketown. You and 100 other players battle it out, scavenging for weapons with a shirking safe zone—forcing each other closer and closer together. In order to be successful you must master accuracy, positioning, reaction time and basic shooter skills.
Additionally, what sets Blackout mode apart from other games in the genre is the presence of zombies. When you encounter these NPCs, it gives you the opportunity to score some pretty high-level weapons without having to take on other online opponents. And, Blackout mode also includes vehicles such as helicopters, boats, and cargo trucks to name a few. I can’t tell you how much I love whizzing across the battlefield in a helicopter and trying to take out my opponents.
Overall, I was surprised as just how much I enjoyed this new mode. And, while it may not revolutionize the Battle Royale genre, it has its own uniqueness and perks that make it a welcome addition to the genre.
Treyarch’s gamble paid off and Call of Duty Black Ops 4 successfully takes the series in a new direction
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 did the unthinkable and succeeded in grand fashion. By this I mean, removed a beloved gameplay mode and replaced it with another one that offers a unique and enjoyable experience. To be honest, I wish that the single player campaign mode was still included. However, after ample play time with the game I am “missing” it less and less the more that I play.
Simply put, if you enjoy Call of Duty multiplayer game modes and enjoy the Battle Royale game genre then you will love Call of Duty Black Ops 4. Even if you are skeptical, like I was at first, I urge you to give this game a try—you’ll be surprised at just how much fun you’ll have.
+ Blackout mode offers a fun and unique Battle Royale experience
+ Multiplayer modes are as fun as ever and the two new modes are a fantastic addition
+ Redefined gameplay makes it one of the best games in the series
– Lack of single player campaign
– Specialist HQ is a tease of what could have been
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS 4
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.75/5
Overall Rating 4.2/5 (84%)