Preview: Call of Duty – Black Ops 4

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Just two days left and with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 one of the most anti­ci­pa­ted games of the year will be released. We’ve play­ed the Black­out mul­ti­play­er mode exten­si­ve­ly and descri­be our impres­si­ons in detail in the sub­se­quent pre­view.


Oh, Call of Duty (CoD)… a fran­chise that could never exci­te me. Inte­res­tin­g­ly Trey­arch mana­ges with Black­out to crea­te a mode which could at least pique my inte­rest. Natu­ral­ly, this doesn’t real­ly bring anything new to the table. Game­play is simi­lar­ly plain as in Fort­ni­te and the likes. 100 play­ers fight each other to sur­vi­ve on a spa­cious map, collect wea­pons, ammu­ni­ti­on and other gear and tho­se remain stan­ding win the round. At the begin­ning the map is con­fu­sin­gly huge but as the rounds pro­gress it gets increa­sinly smal­ler which in turn forces play­ers to fight at the end of the match. That doesn’t appe­ar to be very com­plex and thus tho­se new to the gen­re have bet­ter chan­ces to suc­ceed than in Fort­ni­te.

Whe­re in com­pe­ting games it is vital to build struc­tures and play­ers are chal­len­ged in a dif­fe­rent way, in CoD the out­co­me of any given con­fron­ta­ti­on is based on your posi­ti­on and the equip­ment you’ve collec­ted. Black­out is a lot slo­wer than a round of death­match but the focus shifts to a more tac­tile approach. It’s just a mat­ter of time until you die if you’re not pre­pa­red for the huge map and accom­pany­ing pos­si­bi­li­ties. Naked fists won’t pre­vail in a gun fight.


In Black­out you use the majo­ri­ty of the time to sca­ven­ge your envi­ron­ment for all kinds of loot. Back­packs extend the initi­al­ly very small invento­ry and wea­pons can be modi­fied by app­ly­ing a varie­ty of atta­che­ments. Even a see­min­gly ter­ri­ble gun can be upgraded to be able to defend yours­elf decent­ly enough. Speaking of wea­pons: There’s a broad ran­ge of fire arms but the­re are no real sur­pri­ses. Besi­des the usu­al guns you can find very rare power wea­pons like a cross hook and a zom­bie spaw­ning trap which loo­sen up the the ran­ge.

The map is made up of small vil­la­ges, a run-down sana­to­ri­um and an ite­ra­ti­on of the popu­lar CoD map Nuke­town. In some are­as even zom­bies can be found. Once kil­led they fre­quent­ly drop rare loot but sin­ce they’re very aggres­si­ve and figh­t­ing them cau­ses a lot of noi­se, a con­fron­ta­ti­on with the undead is always a risk of life and limb. In most of my ses­si­ons tho­se are­as were pret­ty much avoi­ded by play­ers as the risk isn’t worth the reward. That is unfor­tu­n­a­te sin­ce tho­se AI enemies are one of the few addi­ti­ons the game brings to the Batt­le Roya­le gen­re.

If you’re not a fan of the gen­re, Black­out also won’t make you feel at home. In order to suc­ceed that the mode would need to dif­fer a lot more from the com­pe­ti­ti­on. Black­out faces pro­blems of bad luck on qua­li­ty of loot, some­ti­mes boring dry peri­ods bet­ween fire­fights and cam­pers. At least the per­for­mance is a lot bet­ter than in PlayerUnknown’s Batt­le­grounds (PUBG).

I’m thril­led by this mode. A rea­son for this could be that my expe­ri­ence with the gen­re is limi­ted Fort­ni­te. For 12 hours the beta kept me enga­ged wit­hout pau­se but I’m not sure if that would be the case after 100 hours. Pro­vi­ding play­ers with disap­poin­ting loot in zom­bie infested are­as seem like a was­ted oppor­tu­ni­ty that can still chan­ge upon release of the final game. It remains to be seen if the game will be real­ly worth its 60 Euro pri­ce­tag.


I didn’t think that I’d enjoy the beta for Black Ops 4’s Black­out as much as I did. I’ve most­ly avoi­ded the batt­le roya­le gen­re, having only real­ly play­ed a few hours of Fort­ni­te and deci­ding it’s not for me. I’d say the rea­son I enjoy­ed Black­out more is the guns, most of them feel much more satis­fy­ing to use than Fort­ni­te and there’s a good varie­ty of wea­pons to choo­se from. The wingsu­it was also a nice addi­ti­on, let­ting you dive off tall buil­dings wit­hout having to worry about fall dama­ge. The mode’s balan­ce was defi­ni­te­ly not per­fect in the beta though, some wea­pon types – most­ly the shot­guns – felt rather useless over­all, and armour gives too much of an advan­ta­ge. It also some­ti­mes felt that loot was dis­tri­bu­t­ed uneven­ly. Some­ti­mes the­re would be tons of guns but no healing items, then the next game it would be the oppo­si­te. As long as the­se issu­es are worked on for the full release, and may­be some more maps are added post launch, the final game mode should be pret­ty fun.


I’ve never been a big fan of eit­her the CoD series or the Batt­le Roya­le gen­re. Howe­ver, I must admit that the Black Ops 4 beta has only impres­sed me so far, even in the regu­lar mul­ti­play­er modes. This also trans­la­ted well to Black­out: I didn’t think that the Call of Duty game­play and the Batt­le Roya­le for­mu­la could be mixed so well, but they did. I had a lot of fun snea­king around, try­ing to build the best loadout pos­si­ble and being care­ful to not attract too much atten­ti­on. The huge map that’s also a collec­tion of pre­vious mul­ti­play­er maps appeared in other Call of Duty games also helps making it the ulti­ma­te nost­al­gia trip. Over­all, I think Trey­arch is doing a won­der­ful job with this game (and they also lis­tened a lot to feed­back from the users), and I wish them the best of luck for this game.


The only time I’ve touched the gen­re of Batt­le Roya­le games so far has been in the 6 hours in the Black­out beta of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. I’m impres­sed by the mas­si­ve map which is offers a varie­ty of uni­que loca­ti­ons and the good per­for­mance on Play­Sta­ti­on 4 Pro while 100 play­ers com­pe­te with each other. I’m disa­poin­ted by the ran­ge of vehi­cles and wea­pons sin­ce they’re limi­ted to bug­gies, boats and heli­cop­ters and guns feel most­ly simi­lar. Also loot doesn’t give too much of a sur­pri­se. Level design is well exe­cu­t­ed and ensu­res loca­ti­ons in which thril­ling fire­fights ensue. I’m loo­king for­ward to the final game and to try out the other modes the first-per­son-shoo­ter offers.

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