I dived into Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 without any idea of how the story took place or its timeline. Treyarch’s Call of Duty installments has been phenomenal when it comes to the multiplayer side of things. They moved the franchise forward and wanted to be unique when it’s their time to release a Call of Duty game. I’ve played a fair amount of Activision’s popular fast-paced first-person shooter in the past but the Black Ops iteration wasn’t a game I was interested in which I can’t really explain why. But I have to thank Activision and Sony Interactive Entertainment in putting Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 free for PS Plus subscribers. I never really liked the campaign, but oh boy, the multiplayer was entertaining the least.
When Black Ops 4 was announced, Activision revealed that this new installment of the Black Ops franchise isn’t going to have any campaign, I was surprised. There wasn’t a time when Call of Duty didn’t have any 5-7 hour single-player campaign. That announcement felt like a Titanfall-esque direction when Vince Zampella of Respawn Entertainment wanted to have their first project to be multiplayer-only which didn’t manage to keep the majority of its community unlike Titanfall 2. My feeling about Black Ops 4 was, let’s say, worried. Treyarch is the first big studio that hopped in to join the battle royale bandwagon. A Call of Duty Battle Royale mode? Everyone in the community was excited, but I, for one, was skeptical at best.
Black Ops 4 is made for the community, for its fans – a huge fan-service, so to speak. Call of Duty was never a place for single-player experiences, it was meant for multiplayer. The campaigns were just little side-things or, let’s say, a massive 5-7 hour tutorial. Multiplayer is Call of Duty’s strongest feat, the fast-paced and fluid gunplay action were what the fans wanted and Treyarch decided to go on full with multiplayer. And let me say that, as a follower of the franchise, I can say that Black Ops 4 is a great game overall.
A lot of changes were made to Black Ops 4, gunplay and movements have all been polished, the removal of jump kits and wall-running made the experience better than it was before. The inclusion of these so-called game-changing mechanics, the jump kits and wall-running, was highly criticized by the community. It made the game sophisticated and the community considers the change more of a nuisance than innovation. While I didn’t have any problems with it since I’ve been playing Titanfall, Treyarch’s decision in removing these add-on mechanics puts Call of Duty back to where it was before.
Black Ops 4 retained the Specialist class but with a more refined and straightforward role. This provides tactical strategies and makes you choose which Specialist suits your playstyle. Unlike Black Ops 3’s Specialists, all of them are already unlocked from the get-go and you don’t have to grind your way to get these Specialists available. There’s one personal Specialist that I really enjoy using and that’s Nomad. His ultimate ability to call in a K-9 unit that attacks any enemy player on sight with just one hit, he also has a mesh mine for traps as his secondary ability. I love how each Specialist’s roles are well-defined and have meaning in each match.
The progression system is somewhat all similar to Black Ops 3. You still have to gain experience to unlock weapons, paint jobs, and perks. You still have wildcards that enable you to add more weapon upgrades in exchange for another upgrade or a weapon slot. This approach is what makes the game balanced and it doesn’t overpower the players in that sense. However, while the progression system is solid, it’s a total grind. Certain weapons unlock at very far off levels which can be frustrating especially that you’re in the need to wanting to go for another gun in your arsenal. Nevertheless, the fluidity and balance what makes Black Ops 4 really fun. While you wait for those experience points rolling in after each match, sometimes we even dismiss how grindy the game can be due to the fact that the game is highly enjoyable.
It’s never a complete package if Zombies mode isn’t added to Call of Duty. It has lived throughout the years after the huge success with the studio’s first attempt of the mode in Call of Duty: World at War. Zombies then swiftly followed to Treyarch’s future games in Black Ops, Infinity Ward’s Infinite Warfare, and even in Sledgehammer Games’ WWII and Advanced Warfare.
In Black Ops 4, the Zombies mode offers more content than the previous Call of Duty entries; it features 3 campaigns: IX, Blood of the Dead, and Voyage of the Damned. That’s 3 campaigns in just one Call of Duty entry. In terms of characters and setting, IX and Voyage of Despair feature the typical four protagonists with each having their own unique traits and personality. Then we have Blood of the Dead, which is still technically a Mob of the Dead mode from the second Black Ops.
While the short stories are somewhat average for my taste, it still retains its humor that all Call of Duty fans love. Zombies mode is a great way to have fun with your friends. Have 2 TVs prepared for split-screen, set up LAN, and play!
Battle Royale has been the hottest game mode in the games industry. You see Twitch streamers and YouTubers fight, loot and survive in a massive map along with other players. With Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds’ (PUBG) huge success, followed swiftly by Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale, studios and publishers have started adding this insane 100-player last man standing mode into their games due to its popular demand. Treyarch and Activision didn’t want to miss the opportunity to develop their own iteration of battle royale and thus decided to add the mode in Black Ops 4.
I have to say, from a person who didn’t take interest in battle royale, Black Ops 4’s Blackout is surely a life changer. Treyarch took their time developing and polishing the mode and I tell you it’s the smoothest and feels a lot more ‘complete’ than PUBG. I had fun. Period. There wasn’t a time while I was playing Blackout that made me think of skipping it while I play with Black Ops 4’s other modes during the day. All thanks to former IGN Southeast Asia’s Editor-in-Chief and Kakuchopurei founder, Kenn Leandre, for the amazing duo experience. You deserve a shoutout man. Playing Solo can be fun, it’s even a lot more enjoyable when you play with your with friends in a squad or Duo.
One downside though, in order for the game to be at its fullest performance and stabilizes at 60 frames per second, Treyarch had to lower its visuals. While it’s a bummer, you never really get to mind the graphical downgrade as it still looks awesome than PUBG and Fortnite. Performance over graphics, it’s better that way.
While I would love to compare Fortnite, its gameplay mechanics aren’t similar compared to PUBG. Blackout is more tactical, similar to PUBG. You have to loot weapons and useful materials in the beginning then survive. You can even ride a chopper and have your squad eliminate enemy players in the process. And the good thing about Blackout, it doesn’t feature any absurd gameplay mechanics such as wall-running and jump-kits. Everyone can play, with or without any experience with battle royale.
Treyarch has put their time and effort in compensating the lack of a single-player campaign by polishing and developing its content, making sure that they have refined the game’s combat system and find the right balance. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is fun, entertaining, and addicting. While ditching the single-player campaign can be a huge turn-off, once you realize Black Ops 4’s potential and how enjoyable their multiplayer modes are, especially its great battle royale mode Blackout, you will definitely love Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by Activision. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.