Developed by:Treyarch Published by:Activision Genre(s):
  • FPS
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:2-12 Online Release date:October 12, 2018 Reviewed on:XBox One

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

    The lead up to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has been crazy. Whether it was Treyarch’s removal of its campaign or the announcement of the new battle royale mode, Blackout, Black Ops 4 has been the topic of discussion for FPS fans. The recent Betas added to these talks. Things seemed positive for the most part; Blackout well received even in its unfinished state. People still wanted to know if Treyarch’s multiplayer focused Call of Duty title would be worth their time though. The short answer is a resounding yes!

    Personally, I play shooters for the competitive aspect. The thrill of battling players locally/online is what keeps me coming back. This new setup (sans Zombies) certainly catering to players like me. Still, there is a single player element that acts as a tutorial(s) for those hesitant to jump right into the competitive modes. These brief missions will teach players how to properly play as each of the game’s Specialists. To spice things up a bit, Treyarch included a narrative of sorts, with backstories that are unlocked as players progress/hit certain milestones; it’ll reveal how Battery got her cybernetic arm, for instance. There’s an overarching story that, while far from a campaign, is interesting to watch unfold. Again, the goal was to act as a tutorial. After completing all of the missions, I had a much better understanding of who each character and how I could utilize their skills to help my team during online matches. Even better, I learned how they could be useful in the various multiplayer modes (Control, TDM, etc.).

    Beyond the tutorials are three core game modes: Multiplayer, Blackout, and Zombies. While each one is rich with content, what makes them good or bad depends on the type of player. The good news is that there isn’t a game mode I didn’t enjoy playing for this review. Still, your mileage may vary…


    In Multiplayer, we are presented with the typical CoD competitive game modes alongside a few new options. The regular trappings – Team Death Match, Kill Confirmed, Domination and so on – feel similar at first. It doesn’t take long to see how things have changed. The need to heal oneself after a shootout slows the pace a bit; with the hit of a button, the character will pull out what seems to be syringe/a hit of adrenaline that kickstarts health regeneration. This doesn’t change the pace in terms of how quickly players are able to move about the map, but in how they might choose to move about. A tactical approach seems to be key as it can be difficult to string together a bunch of kills after taking damage if the player doesn’t pause to heal themselves. Add in a cooldown timer, making it impossible to heal rapidly, and the flow of combat is successfully interrupted (in a good way).

    Then there are the Specialists. Each of them has their own set of special abilities and equipment that either help them to become more lethal or supports their team’s efforts. A character like Crash, for example, is more of your support/medic class. He’s equipped with an assault pack that, when dropped, grants special ammo for his teammates. Players who pick up and kill enemies using this ammo will earn bonuses that’ll allow unlock their scorestreaks faster. Crashes specialist ability (TAK-5) on the other hand, simultaneously removes wounds – debuffs that reduces a player’s max health – from himself and four other teammates while also boosting their max health. Both of these abilities have a cooldown period that can be shorten with perks or, in the case of the specialist ability, lowered by completing objectives and getting kills.

    The timers keep people from abusing abilities, forcing them to look for the most appropriate moments to use each one during a given match. Rules that limit how many players on each team can pick a certain Specialist helps in this regard. The idea is to combine equipment and abilities to outsmart and/or overwhelm the other team. Using Recon’s Vision Pulse to spot enemies through walls in conjunction someone’s killstreak could result in a ton of kills. Torque’s barricade could be used to block access to an objective while also providing shielding for Battery, who might decide to pepper the battlefield with her grenade launcher. The synergy between the Specialists, their abilities, and some of the killstreaks is something special. It doesn’t always go that way; not everyone is going to play nice with one another. But most of the matches provide thrilling encounters where everyone is using their abilities in tandem.

    Treyarch pushes teamwork by emphasizing this type of tactical gameplay. Matches are still full of arcade like shooting, attack dogs, and care packages. But there are elements at work that promote different playstyles; the game rewards players for actions that help the team, moving their focus away from just getting a high kill/death ratio. This can be readily seen in newer multiplayer modes like Heist. Similar to Counter Strike, this mode has two teams purchase weapons, perks, and such before charging into battle. The goal is to either escape with a bag of cash located in the center of a map or kill everyone on the other team (there are no respawns). After each round, players are rewarded with more points to unlock better items and perks. The winning team will be the one that wins the most rounds. Basically, teamwork is a must; not only will good teams work together to secure the bag, but also will purchase perks and such that work well with each other.

    So far so good. Black Ops 4’s multiplayer offers up loads of fast paced action that tempered with strategic elements, creating an entertaining experience. What initially had me torn, however, was the map designs. This is somehow one of its weakest and its strongest parts of multiplayer at the same time. Most of the maps are remasters of previous Black Ops maps. When I first logged in and knew all the level designs, I was pretty excited. I knew where the bottlenecks were, what routes to take to an objective and so on. This led to some (seemingly) easily won skirmishes with rival players. On the flipside though, I wondered why there weren’t more unique maps on tab. If Treyarch wasn’t going to create a campaign, couldn’t they have added more maps? I have a sneaky suspicion that some of the newer maps were reserved for DLC buying customers. The game’s selling point is multiplayer (not just these modes), meaning one shouldn’t want to split the customer base. This might not be the case – though there is a season pass – and all of the extra time allotted by the missing campaign could have went into the new Blackout mode. Still, the competitive offerings feel a bit off. I like the older maps. I just wish there was some more new ones, as they seemed to be better designed regardless of mode.


    That criticism completely fades away when it comes to Blackout. Somehow, Treyarch was able to create a giant play area by stitching together old CoD maps. And…it works. Like, amazingly so. Being able to run through these old areas as they seamlessly connect should be a treat to any CoD fan. Did you love waging war in Nuketown? Well the ruins of this popular map are here, complete with a welcoming sign that displays the actual number of players in the area. Its eerily familiar, features a secret bunker directly under the town, and is a majorly contended spot on the map. It’s basically a good time waiting to happen.

    If the nostalgia factor doesn’t help elevate the fatigue surrounding battle royale games, the exciting gunplay will surely wake players up. The moment to moment bouts between players fighting to be the final players (or squad) standing is made better by Blockout’s level of polish. The arcade shooting works. Picking up perks and equipment scattered about the map works; everything from attaching a scope to surveying the insides of a downed foe’s backpack is a snap. And with land, air, and water vehicles, the inclusion of zombies/boss characters, rare weapons and secret missions to unlock classic characters – there are plenty of reasons to don a wingsuit and dive into the fray. It isn’t Fortnite or PUBG. It’s something different. Possibly something better. Whatever the case, it’s certainly entertaining. Broken into solo, duo, and quad variations, Blackout has the legs to keep players coming back long after launch.


    What really took me back was how great Zombies still seems to be. I have played a litany of horde-type game modes, but none emphasize the storytelling elements that this series is known for. Featuring two distinct storylines – Chaos, which involves new characters and Aether, starting the original cast from previous Black Ops games. They provide a typical group of survivors, three men and one woman, but each character’s dialogue is great. Their voice actors belt out each line in a convincing (and often humous) manner, all of which help to explain what’s going on. The level designs here are hands down the best in the game. Thematically, they excel by offering crazy environments with opportunities to experience unique gameplay mechanics; the Chaos maps, XI and Voyage of Despair, take place in a Roman arena and the Titanic respectively. Fleeing a pack of undead tigers is unsettling, especially when the events are being cheered on by spectators – more than once, I exclaimed “what the heck is going on here?”.

    Besides the creative story-based trapping and zombie killing, there’s the ability to tailor each run to your playstyle and temperament. Want to play with bots on easy, to get a grasp of how everything works? Go for it. Want to raise the difficulty to an insane level, where one hit equals death? Do it. Everything from the zombies’ speed and health can be altered, making the mode more inviting than ever before. Cool perks and abilities also promote multiple runs. The only thing that worries me is the season pass. Yes, I know there is always a pass that unlocks more maps, continuing the Zombie story. This year seems counterproductive though. The hardcore fans will certainly pay for more. Those of us who are trying it out for the first time, thanks to the aforementioned inclusive elements, might feel left out once the new maps are released.

    A wise man said to me “It’s like a love letter to past Black Ops titles.” That’s probably the best way to describe this game to a fan of the series; it echoes how Treyarch was able to blend fresh ideas with heaps of nostalgia, creating a solid shooter. Many, like myself, were skeptical of what Black Ops 4 would ultimately be. Bringing everything back to a basic level of combat while still using futuristic tech after the success of WWII was a risk. Removing the campaign and adding a battle royale mode is even riskier. All of it has paid off though. Regardless of how it felt to play on mostly familiar maps in multiplayer, the frantic combat and new tactical elements livened things up. Blackout has set the bar for future battle royale games/modes thanks to polished gunplay, unique elements (zombies) and well-designed environments. With three distinct Zombie maps and two storylines to explore anchoring the game, Black Ops 4 stands as one of the best Call of Duty titles released in the last decade. It isn’t perfect – frame rate dips and connectivity issues pop up from time to time – but it’s certainly worth our time!



    Multiplayer, Blackout, Zombies – regardless of the mode, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 offers FPS fans a good time.



    The game looks great, especially on the Xbox One X.



    The gunfire, voice work (in Zombies), and soundtrack are all well done.

    Replay Value:


    All three modes will keep your attention long after launch.

    Final Score:


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