Black Ops 4 Review: A Return to Form for a Juggernaut of the Video Game Industry

Call of Duty is one of the longest and most successful franchises in video game history. You’ll struggle to find someone who hasn’t at least tried playing a Call of Duty game before.

In recent memory however, the games have continued to dip in sales year after year. As of January 2018, 2011’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the highest selling game in franchise history with just over 30 million units sold. The two most recent Call of Duty’s however, Infinite Warfare (2016) and WW2 (2017), have sold around 12 million copies respectively. This means that these games have been outsold by every other Call of Duty game except those prior to 2006, going all the way back to Call of Duty 3.

There is a shining light however. For those who don’t know, Call of Duty is on a cycle between 3 developers where they each take turns coming up with their own version of the game: Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, and finally Treyarch. Treyarch games have consistently performed at a high level despite the dip in numbers overall for the franchise. Their last three Treyarch games all land in the top 5 of all time sales with outstanding games, and Black Ops 4 looks poised to be no different.

Multiplayer

The game has three primary game modes that are all so unique and different, they could warrant their own individual reviews. We’ll start off with the classic that has run through every iteration of the game since 2007 and is what boosted the franchise into the spotlight when it was first introduced in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare: Multiplayer.

After several years of jet packs, boosting and other movement mechanics that were received poorly by fans, Black Ops 4 returns to the traditional boots-on-the-ground gameplay. The game did still add new mechanics to keep the game fresh though. The most notable introduction is that of the new healing system. Rather than simply regenerating health passively as you are out of combat, players must now actively press a button and choose a correct time to heal yourself in the middle of battle, adding a new level of strategy and awareness to the game.

Treyarch also built on the specialist characters introduced in their previous game, Black Ops 3 (2015). Now every character feels unique and adds a new depth to the game, as the character you choose and their abilities can help determine the outcome of a fight when pushing certain objectives. Lastly the multiplayer also added two new game modes which are extremely captivating and will definitely be seen on the professional stage.

Multiplayer

The 150 health does feel as though the time-to-kill is much slower in this game in comparison to previous games, and if you find yourself fighting two people it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to take them both down. Spawns have been an issue but Treyarch have already rolled out patches fixing some of these issues and are sure to continue to do so during the games life cycle.

Overall, the multiplayer game mode has found new ways the keep players reeled in and grinding for those prestiges, which is impressive considering the game mode has been in every Call of Duty for the last 10 years.

Blackout

Fortnite, PUBG, H1Z1; its likely that you’ve heard of or played one of these titles. The battle royale craze has taken over the gaming industry and Treyarch have made their own take on the game mode with the introduction of Blackout. They revealed it back in March at E3, creating an enormous amount of buzz and curiosity to see how they were going to pull it off. Thus far, Blackout has surpassed expectations whilst still leaving room to grow.

Blackout

The map is the largest in franchise history. It is supposedly 1500 times larger than the fan favourite Nuketown map seen in every iteration of Black ops. The map is filled with unique locations across the whole thing, each with its own distinct features. Many of the locations are throwbacks for previous COD players, implementing different locations from multiplayer and zombies maps from the past. The zombies locations also have ACTUAL zombies that add another challenge to the game, rewarding players with better loot for visiting these locations.

You are also provided with several different transportation methods to traverse the massive landscape. The game has a variety of different sea, land and air vehicles that provide an interesting dynamic and approach as you make your way towards the safe zone. Some area’s of the map do feel a bit empty, but the developers have said that they will constantly be looking to improve the game mode, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if new locations were to be added similar to the way Epic Games has done with Fortnite.

There is also a large variety of different loot including not only weapons, but also different pieces of tactical equipment which allow for a more strategic and thought out game plan alongside the classic frenzy normally experienced in a Battle Royale.

Overall, Treyarch can definitely give themselves a huge pat on the shoulder. As the Battle Royale genre continues to be saturated with more and more games trying to jump on the hype train, Blackout delivers a smooth and unique take that makes me lose track of time as I jump into game after game.

Zombies

What started off 10 years ago as a bonus mode for completing the campaign, zombies has certainly grown to become a major staple of the Call of Duty franchise and specifically the Treyarch games. Several of the previous CoD games from other developers have attempted to replicate the addicting experience that Treyarch provides by creating their own versions of the survival game mode, and yet none have quite managed to captivate fans the same way.

Black ops 4 came with 3 new zombies experiences on the base game, with a bonus map for anyone who purchases the season pass. This is the most maps we have ever been given on launch day for the zombies game mode. Each of the maps is a masterpiece, providing an experience unlike any other.

Zombies

The game runs two different story lines at the same time. The Aether story line takes classic black ops zombies maps and remastering them with new areas and gameplay mechanics. The chaos story provides us with brand new zombies experiences whilst sticking to the classic aspects of the gameplay that has won over many fans over the years. That being said, much of the story elements behind these maps are hidden behind difficult easter egg steps and puzzles that one only discovers by going out of their way to do so. This is because, at its core, zombies has always simply been a co-op survival experience.

This years iteration of the fan favourite game mode is also the most daring by the developers, as we see the largest number of changes made to date. The new create-a-class system introduces new specialist weapons, the ability to change your starting weapon and equipment, and assign which perks you want to use for your game. The game has also removed many of the classic perks that were a must in previous games, and provide a wide variety with 14 different perks to choose from now.

This is not the only way in which zombies has become more customisable, as they have now introduced mutations, which allows you to change just about anything you want in the game before hopping in. You can customise almost every aspect of the game you can think of and make it as easy or as difficult for yourself as you’d like.

This iteration of zombies might just be the best we have ever had on launch, leaving us very optimistic about the maps we will be receiving in future DLC and giving us plenty to sink our teeth into until then. The game provides an incredible experience for every type of player, from the most casual to the hardcore easter egg hunting and story driven players.

Verdict: 9/10

Overall, Black Ops 4 is a well crafted game, innovating many of the well-known and fleshed out gameplay features across the classic zombies and multiplayer experiences, whilst also providing a brand new and fresh take on a popular genre with the introduction of Blackout. After several years of poor performance, this may be the turn around that the Call of Duty franchise was hoping for.

 

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