When it comes to technical shooters, few are able to stack up to the likes of Call of Duty. I say this in spite of all of the gripe from gamers year over year, because there’s a simple reason that the franchise is still releasing instalments annually: a ton of people buy it. So when the series opted to venture into the Battle Royale genre (something expected given the radical success of several games within it), inquiries about whether or not it was the creme de la creme in its field were sure to surface.
Opting to spearhead the inevitable, I’ve decided to provide my opinion on whether or not Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 usurps the current king of Battle Royale, Fortnite. Still with me? Let’s dive in.
First things first, many gamers may not already be aware that this iteration of CoD is lacking a story mode. This is a divisive decision to be sure, and it’s something noticeably absent given how iconic past campaigns have been from the franchise. This is the case so much so that characters from previous entries of Black Ops are present as unlockable characters in the Blackout mode (this game’s Battle Royale option) of the finished title, so fans can make of what they will of this decision.
If it’s of any concern, the lack of any sort of narrative doesn’t imply that the game isn’t packed with content, as the finished product is teeming with multiplayer modes and corresponding shenanigans. The mode that’s being directly compared to Fortnite, however, is the aforementioned Blackout. Dropping 100 players onto a map that features locales based on several noteworthy battlegrounds from the franchise’s longstanding history.
Truthfully, it’s a wonderful homage to the games that have come before it, but Treyarch (the studio that developed this title) has also done a wonderful job at incorporating traditional mechanics of the franchise into the large-scale landscape that players drop into. It works, for the most part, with players being able to drop in solo, in duos, or in a squad of up to four players, but there are some drawbacks.
Picking up items can be a little clunky at times, slowing users down as they galavant around the map in search of the best items. Meanwhile, the colours of the game are more or less all a hodgepodge of grey and brown, which makes it very difficult to spot other players in the environment – which is a stark contrast to the whimsical and bright aesthetic of Fortnite in particular.
I don’t mean that as a game-breaking negative either because ultimately it does work, and the technical first-person shooter aspects of Black Ops 4 (fine-tuned over years of Call of Duty games) makes it a standout take on the formula to be sure. Everything from the look to the feel just combine to scratch a very different itch in that sense, giving gamers a unique experience when playing through a match with 99 other human-controlled characters.
Then there are other more recognizable modes like traditional versus matches and, of course, Zombies. The former relies on more familiar gameplay, ditching the Cirque du Soleil-styled, wall-running abilities featured in previous franchise entries in favour of the run and gun antics that made the property such a powerhouse in the first place. They’ve also been improved for anyone looking for a richer offering this time around.
One of the biggest changes to the tried and true Multiplayer Mode, however, comes in the form of The Specialists, which are classes that provide unique aspects and abilities for anyone that is looking to jump into the role of one of the ops. This combined with Zombies makes the overall package much more appealing for shooter fans, as the depth of the content surrounds Blackout to make one of the better smorgasbords in all of gaming.
In that sense, the value of the game as a full retail title more than matches the price of its SKU. There’s no question that the debate will continue on about whether or not Black Ops 4 is the usurper so many claimed it was prior to launch, but the value for anyone looking for an exceptional multiplayer shooter and a worthy newcomer to the Battle Royale genre will find what they are looking for with the latest from Activision and Treyarch.
Outside of the level of customization present for one’s avatar, my opinion is that this is the best technical Battle Royale offering yet.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is currently available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Activision provided Okay, Cool with a copy of the game on Xbox One for coverage purposes.
You can find Riley on Twitter at @TheRileyLittle if you’d like to chat about video games. Or, heck, maybe even movies. Those are cool too, right?