Another year, another Call of Duty releases. Interesting fact for you all, the last year that we did not receive a Call of Duty title in some form was 2002 and that was purely because the series had not yet arrived. This year however marks the first time the series has done away with the campaign and delivered a strictly multiplayer experience. To quote a source we might all be familiar with ‘That’s a bold move Cotton, let’s see if it pays off’ with our review for Call of Duty Black Ops 4.
We all know how this plays, we also know the famous hate it receives online calling Call of Duty nothing more than a clone of itself year after year. However picking up previous titles for a moment then jumping back to the newer incarnations will show that’s nothing more than garbage, we’ve evolved as gamers and with us so has the gameplay. From series favourite Modern Warfare 2, to the this incarnation we’ve seen sliding come in as well as movement designed to pick up the pace bringing it closer to an arena shooter and further from the term tactical shooter. The concept is simple, shoot to kill and don’t get shot or you die. It’s this concept that makes it such a hit, allowing casual gamers to pick it up and play at any point without feeling left behind. As long as they can ignore messages and mute headsets that is, the community is unforgiving.
Old favourites have returned again with the standard Team Death match, Domination and Free for all there along with their friends as well as Control. A mode that takes it’s spot in the limelight as a default selection, two teams taking it turns to attack and defend an objective. Some old friends also return on the map front, the first few times I these played older maps like Gridlock and Firing Range I was hit with a nice dose of nostalgia. It’s a benefit picking it up and already knowing the maps and it’s a nice little treat seeing them in their new updated graphical glory. For the most part this mode doesn’t change, you select multiplayer and you know what you’re getting and how to play.
It’s when you select that Blackout mode when things change, we are all familiar with the battle royale modes found in most games now. The most popular one being that Epic Games title Fornite, it didn’t start the trend but it did bring it into the limelight and it’s only fair other developers have a go, it’s a money making business after all right? For those few who for some reason aren’t familiar with what a Battle Royale title is, the simple explanation is ‘Last Man standing’ on a large scale. Take 88 players (or 100 for Squads) and throw them all one massive map, drop guns around the place, throw in some zombies and oh turn off re-spawns.
This is a fight to the death with no second chances, watching the top right of the screen you’ll see the player count decrease quickly while in the distance you hear gun fire. As the player count drops and the timer ticks away, the map shrinks with a circle around you closing in forcing the last remaining players to come face to face with only one left standing. This is the mode that replaced the campaign and let’s face it, it’s the mode you’ll pump more hours into than you would have a campaign anyway.
What is a Black Ops title without it’s zombies? I mentioned above that they might drop into the Blackout mode but for a sure fire zombie apocalypse, there is still the zombie mode available as the third option yet again. It’s one of the modes you can be sure will always have some improvements, year after year they keep refreshing it while it keeping it familiar a feat most developers struggle with but here there is no miss step. We all know how this works, you and three friends (or random matchmaking buddies) start off in a small area facing your first wave of zombies. They are easy, you did this in no time and your confidence is soaring. The second wave hits and again you rid the place of them with ease, don’t get cocky thou. As each wave passes, the zombies grow in strength and numbers, new types come in and suddenly you’re overwhelmed the area is too small and you want to run.
Lucky for you there are gates you can unlock, exchanging in game currency for more space you unlock a gate and suddenly there is room to move. Each Zombies map has objectives to complete, powering up different areas while trying not to meet the same fate as Sam from I Am Legend. Unfortunately matchmaking will rarely find you a good team, so getting some buddies is a must if you want to progress further into this.
It’s not the prettiest game, there is no over hyped realism to the character models and while some environments look pretty at a distance up close they are just ‘alright’. The thing is, nobody plays Call of Duty for the views it’s the fast paced action and pick up and play that draws others in. The fast paced is where the frame rate comes into play, making the game look pretty while sacrificing the frame rate would be a disaster for the title so thankfully that’s been made a priority. For those of you on PC, zombies and multiplayer are uncapped while Blackout is for now capped at 120fps with a rise to 144 expected at a later date. All console versions are capped at 60fps which given the refresh rates of most televisions out there is perfectly acceptable.
Sound wise, this game gives me the shits. It’s not that it sounds bad, it’s that it’s so damn repetitive. Most guns sound the same while the damn announcer letting you know everything going on gets frustrating at times talking over the footsteps I’m listening out for. It’s a necessary evil though, as much as I wish he’d just shut up we also need to know when objectives are captured or a chopper is about to rip us a new one from above.
While you may be a little upset to begin with at the lack of campaign, after the first day of playing you’re in the exact position you’d be even with a campaign and that’s playing the multiplayer and ignoring everything else. While there are plenty of improvements in the overall gameplay, most small tweaks that you won’t generally notice unless you’re looking. Sadly the same issue that plaques Call of Duty remains once again and it only took a handful of games to spot it.
The community, while this doesn’t cover everyone who picks up the game. It is for the most part a very toxic community plagued by arrogance and know it all gamers unwilling to make the newbie feel welcome. Unless you’re one of the elite, you can expect abuse from teammates while you learn your way around the maps and if you’re someone who only picks up the game for brief moments here and there, you’ll be abused if you don’t fall in the top half of the leaderboard. Objective based modes while fun in the right team are also generally full of players putting their own KDR (Kill death ratio) before the overall victory choosing to camp an objective for the quick kills instead of grabbing the points on offer. This is why scoring a title like this is so hard, the game itself may be a stand out but on an online only title it’s the community that makes the game and that’s why Call of Duty Black Ops 4 sits at a comfortable 3 out of 5 Thumbs.
Will Muscat is an avid gamer and has been gaming for many years, from playing on an Amstrad that his dad found at the tip to his Xbox one now. Will enjoys plenty of variety in the games he plays and while he can be found in the world of Gears of War and Halo, he can also be found writing letters to RARE asking for another Jet Force Gemini.