New ‘Call Of Duty’ drops single player for battle royale

"Call of Duty: Black Ops 4" promotional key art, courtesy of Activision.

Activision and Treyarch’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” is the 15th instalment of the long running annual franchise and although the development studio oped to forego releasing a campaign for this outing, the multiplayer offerings more than make up for its absence.

The game opens up by directing the player to the Specialist HQ, part of the package that serves as the small amount of “story” in the game, adding to the lore Treyarch has been forming over the last three titles. However, this mode is primarily a tutorial that introduces the player to the various competitive multiplayer characters — called operators — that play a more important role in that area of the game.

As for the competitive multiplayer, it’s the best it has been in years for a number of key reasons.

One of the factors in this year’s success is map selection. Many fan favorites from previous Black Ops titles return, but the new maps are made with the same quality, offering interesting engagements and solid map flow.

The operators also have a secondary gadget in addition to their primary one now, creating more gameplay variety by giving players more tools. In addition to gadgets, many of the guns have special modifications that can significantly alter the behavior of the weapon and in turn its effectiveness in combat. There’s a lot of room for players to experiment with operators and classes in this year’s title. The game still has the Pick-10 system that it has used in the past for class creation balance, and although it works, I find it is somewhat limiting with the amount of attachments needed to make some weapons viable with the various other equipment and perks.

As for the familiar zombies gamemode, “Black Ops 4” has the largest amount of content ever at launch. With three launch maps and an additional one in the season pass, as well as its own progression, fans of the zombies mode will have tons of content to chew through, zombies to mow down and easter eggs to find. Admittedly, I’m not too familiar with the game mode in previous titles, so if they changed something and ruined it, I wouldn’t be able to tell, however from my experience playing it, it’s fun and there seems to be a lot there.

Piggybacking of the success of other battle royal games such as “Fortnite” and “Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds,” Treyarch created its own battle royale mode — Call of Duty: Black Out. Not only is the mode the highlight of “Black Ops 4,” it easily competes to be the top quality game in the genre. The gameplay is the standard affair of dropping on to a map with dozens of other players and fighting until one is left standing, however Black Ops brings its tried and true gameplay to the table, creating one of the smoothest yet intuitive battle royale games on the market today.

Although good, the game is not without problems.

Upon booting the game up, I noticed how terrible the user interface is and how bad it is at displaying important information and options, but most players will quickly get used to it after fumbling around for the first few sessions. Also, like most competitive games, “Black Ops 4” suffers from balancing issues, but those will hopefully get ironed out. Another slight issue is that operator selection is limited to one to two for each team, meaning that if other players pick the operator you like, you’ll have to play as someone else.

The most egregious problem is how they have handled cosmetics and their version of a battle pass, a seperate form of progression that unlocks cosmetics for weapons and operators. The battle pass is 200 tiers, and in over around ten hours of gameplay, I’ve only hit tier 12. The amount of time required to complete the battle pass appears to be in the range of 180 to 200 hours compared to Fortnite 70, and it clearly incentivises players to purchase tires with real money. In addition to that, a majority of the tiers are randomized loot boxes that contain one cosmetic item for an operator. Not only do these boxes have a chance of containing duplicates, many of the items you can get out of them such as operator face paints and sprays require the cosmetic’s full operator skin to be used, rendering many of the things from these boxes useless until the player gets lucky enough to find the skin in a box or grinds to it on the battle pass if it’s actually on there. In a full priced title with a full priced season pass, this type of monetization and design is anti-consumer and gross, and hopefully it won’t be here to stay.

In conclusion, players looking for solid first-person shooter with multiplayer, co-op and battle royale will find it in “Black Ops 4.”