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Old 11-05-2018, 07:58 AM   #1
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The Evil Avatar Black Ops 4 Review

Title: Call of Duty Black Ops 4
Platform: PS4,Xbox One, PC
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
MSRP: $59.99
Writer: Aaron Birch

Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Review

Pay half now, and half later

A very popular subset of the Call of Duty series, Treyarch's Black Ops has been held in high regard by fans as a continual high point of the CoD series, with solid stories, flashy production, cool extras and, of course, one of the most robust and well developed multiplayer components. Oh yeah, and it also had Zombies, now a staple of the entire series.



Black Ops 4 is the next iteration, and one that's come with quite the bit of controversy, long before release, doing away, as it has with the traditional single player campaign. Instead, Treyarch has produced a multiplayer-only edition of Call of Duty, and it's also dipped its toe into the current fad of Battle Royales with its new Blackout mode. Was the gamble of ditching multiplayer and jumping on the Battle Royale bandwagon worth it?

Black Ops 4 isn't a single game, no matter how Treyarch try to package it. What we have here is three distinctly different games, and a single player training mode.



I'm not going to spend a great deal of time on the training mode, which Treyarch has clearly rushed together, re-purposing some of the scrapped single player cutscenes as a flimsy attempt to tick the single player content box. The end result is a botched, and disjointed mixture of training and ham fisted lore-drops that make little sense. You can slog through the challenges on offer against AI bots and unlock more lore and character details, but the whole thing is dull, and entirely forgettable. If it wasn't included here, no one would miss it, and it's certainly nowhere near a substitute for a proper solo campaign.

Luckily, the main three portions of the title fare much better, with a multiplayer mode that many fans are already hailing as the best CoD multiplayer since the early Modern Warfares.



It's a more refined and down to earth affair this time, doing away with Black Ops 3's jetpacks, double jumps, and high tech weapons. Black Ops 4 returns to a more near-future setting, and sees some of the specialists from BO3 return, such as Ruin, Battery, Firebreak, and Nomad, and a few new characters. High tech, overly futuristic characters, like Reaper and Spectre are not included. Well, not yet. Expect DLC to remedy that.

Weapons are more realistic in design, although there's obviously a lot of fictional license too, such as tough as nails super dogs that can be called into battle, lighting guns, portable nuclear reactors, and so on. Each specialist has been altered from the previous games, with many similarities, but a few changes.



Indeed, the mixture of characters and special abilities here are quire varied, with more of a focus on building a balanced team, complete with support characters to heal and buff the team, and another that can block off routes and funnel your enemy into ambushes.

Actual control and weapon feedback is very similar to previous games, and as impeccably polished as always. However, this time there's a longer time to kill, which requires a greater mastery of weapons and management of recoil and sway, and you no longer heal automatically when you get into cover. Instead you have a manual, recharging healing stim, and mastering the right times to use it in a fire fight is a new, very important skill. The same beefy SFX and weapon feel are present, and that hit feedback is as satisfying as we've come to expect.



Games modes are all familiar, with the new Heist mode being a standout for those looking for a much more tactical battle, and score streaks return with all the usual features. As you level up you can earn new weapons, perks, parts to customise weapons, and other unlockables, and for the most part, it's more of the same, but when the same is this good, and so much fun, there's little to complain about, but yes, there are some issues.

I found the maps included were decent, but nothing really special. There are no really impressive, outstanding maps, and what we have are fairly generic themes like jungle, urban, ruins, and so on. Each map is well designed, though, with multiple main corridors to fight through, multiple choke points, and as with all good PvP maps, areas of the map that always become the king of the hill-style area each team tries to defend and dominate. Not the best showing of maps, but still good. No doubt DLC will improve things, if you're willing to pay, of course.



The matchmaking is just as terrible as it's always been, with no effort at all put into trying to balance games and match skill levels. In every single game I played, no matter how low my level, even lowly level 1, I was pit against players who had already gone through prestige. Needless to say, these games were not exactly fun, and frustration crept in as I was clearly outmatched by far more experience players who had better gear and know the maps. Skill-based matchmaking is desperately needed to address this.

There's also a major issue with overall balance. The various specialists are interesting, but only a few seem to be truly useful. Recon and Ruin are very common picks, as are Tourqe, Ajax, and Nomad. Other characters are not as useful right now, and some skills are far too suited to specific modes, side-lining characters for some modes.



Weapons are also in need of fine tuning, and there are already some weapons the community has adopted as the staple loadouts (I'm looking at you, Spitfire). Of course, despite the time to kill increase, there are many weapons that can still one-shot people, such as snipers and shottys.

In all, Black Ops 4's traditional multiplayer is not only solid, but certainly one of the best offerings in CoD so far, even if it still has some issues that need to be addressed. It's fun, has tons of modes, a great levelling system, and is so very polished.

The next mode on the list is the 'new' battle royale mode, Blackout. Clearly a last minute change during development as Activision saw the meteoric rise of the genre, this hasn't stopped Treyarch from surprising everyone. Criticised for cashing in on a trend at the expense of single player following the announcement, Treyarch has actually managed to produce not only a rock solid and superb battle royale mode, but possibly the best around. Yes, it's that good.



Far more of a competitor to PUBG, with Fortnite remaining unique thanks to building mechanics and it's fluid evolution of story via timed events, Blackout is a realistic take on the genre, and it plays like a streamlined PUBG, but one that isn't crippled by a rough and ready engine. Instead, what we have is a PUBG-style battle royale, but one with the impeccable CoD engine, and superb gun play. It plays far better than PUBG in every way, and it takes place on a brilliant, and huge map.

Treyarch has delivered a lot of fan service with this map, dotted as it is with re-workings of previous multiplayer map-themed locations, such as Nuketown Island, Array, Turbine, and even zombies maps, like Asylum. Some sections of the map even have PvE zombies wandering around.

There are vehicles littered around the map, including helicopters, and all of the usual battle royale features are present, such as the ever decreasing circular safe zone, air drops, and the constant need to loot building and fallen foes for weapons, ammo, and equipment.

The start of each game drops you in the staging area, where you'll obviously be punched incessantly by randoms, and after a short wait, you're off to the Blackout zone, jumping out of the helicopter and gliding down to your chosen starting area using a combination of your wingsuit and parachute. You can hold off on jumping, to try and locate a drop zone not as filled with foes, and for all intents and purposes, you'll feel just like you're playing PUBG.

When on the ground, though, the differences become apparent. I've already mentioned the far more polished engine, which essentially feels exactly like the normal multiplayer, but only in a large open map. It feels so good, and is far smoother than any other battle royale. This feature alone puts it head and shoulders above the competition in my opinion, but the varied and well designed map, simplified, but still great inventory management and looting system, and useful vehicles add the cherry. As the gunplay is CoD through-and-through, it's also a much more approachable game.

I'll freely admit it. I suck at battle royales. I range from okay to poor in PUBG, and my skill in Fortnite is not worth mentioning. With Blackout, though, I found I was actually able to hang in there with others, even to the point where in my very second game I bagged the number 2 spot.

There are still huge skill gaps, of course, and seasoned battle royal vets will continue to dominate, but newcomers are now left as frustrated, and you do feel as tough you can have some fun and get better.

Unfortunately, a big part of the battle royale experience is missing, and that's unlockables and levelling. You do level up and unlock some items, like character skins, but there's very little to really strive for. You can play for a very long time and get nothing, which is unfortunate, as one of the big addictive features of other battle royales, and even Black Ops 4's own multiplayer mode, is levelling and unlocking new items. No doubt the inevitable microtransactions will eventually be introduced into the mode (there are none at the moment, shock, horror!), and then we'll see a glut of premium items, but for now, it's fairly minimal.

What there is right now is a superb take on battle royale, if one that's a little too shallow right now. With some more content, and more focus on levelling and earning rewards, it'll be even better.

The final section of the package is Zombies, and if you've played any of the previous outings of this mode, you'll know hat to expect. As always, we have a eclectic mixture of locations, including Alcatraz and the Titanic, and Treyarch has injected a ridiculous boost of complexity, with all manner of new mechanics and vending machines. The maps are great, well designed, and absolutely packed with multiple routes, interesting sights, and challenges. It's also the first time we've seen bots allowed to help with the zombie slaughter, meaning you can play with a full team, even if you're playing solo. The AI aren't a match for real people, obviously, but it's surprisingly good, and team mates chatter away, revealing lore and details, and they earn points, buy new weapons, unlock doors, and will heal you. Zombies is best played online with friends, of course, but with the major solo portion of the game removed, anything is welcome.

Although I enjoyed it, I couldn't shake that feeling of over-familiarity, though. The Zombies mode has been in the last few CoD releases, and over time, although it's been tweaked and updated, the core gameplay just hasn't changed, and I feel it's about time to either rework it to deliver something new, or put the mode out to pasture. Fans of the mode will disagree, I know, but I just fond everything so samey, and the feeling of mystery present in the Zombies mode of Black Ops 3 wasn't really there for me. It's a solid mode, and still fun with friends, but it needs to evolve.

Now, with the game modes covered, I'm left with a difficult task – rating the game. Whilst playing it, and in the midst of great firefights, tense last survivor hunts of Blackout, and even facing waves of zombies on low health and almost at the objective, I want to give it a great score. Indeed, I have no reservations saying this is the best CoD has been for a long time, but, it's also one amongst the most disgusting the series has been in terms of cost, and gated off content.

The game already has content that's not available without the Season Pass. This content is already on the disc, in the form of a fourth Zombies map and a new character. They're there, in your menus, ready to go, but locked behind an extortionate Season Pass, costing as it does $50, almost the price of the main game, and the same as other releases. Yes, this is a $60 game that has a quarter of the zombies content locked away behind an extra cost, and to actually buy the 'full' game, you'll need to shell out over $100, and that's before microtransactions are added. Eventually, around 12 new multiplayer maps, 4 Zombies maps, and more character skins will be added to the pass, but an extra $50? Really?!

Then we have the lack of a campaign. It's already been proven that the ridiculous claims made by big publishers that single player games don't make money and are no longer wanted are utter guff, so removing a whole portion of the game, but still charging $60 (and the rest) is just despicable. If released at a lower price point, I would be more forgiving, but as it stands, Activision is once again treating its fans like cattle, and disrespecting gamers everywhere. It's all about the bottom line, and no matter how good the game is (and it IS very good), I just can't ignore it.

So, overall, Black Ops 4 delivers the best CoD combat we've seen in a very long times. The Blackout mode is excellent for the most part, and Zombies, whilst familiar, is fun. This all comes in the shadow of greed and ugly business practises, and lacks a very big portion of the game many fans will miss.

I heartily recommend you buy the game, but only when the price drops, making the season pass content more reasonable, and the actual, complete game more affordable.

Score: 4 out of 5



The Good
  • Excellent multiplayer
  • Possibly the best battle royale yet
  • more accessible for newcomers
The Bad
  • Zombies is getting old hat
  • Blackout lacks progression
The Ugly
  • Typical greedy practises and lack of campaign
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:29 AM   #2
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Send me a friend request on battle.net if you are playing this game and want to squad up in BR. I think the game is great, but none of my RL friends are playing it, and it looks like the squad based combat would be really fun. I'm wunshot#1378 on battle.net.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by wunshot View Post
Send me a friend request on battle.net if you are playing this game and want to squad up in BR. I think the game is great, but none of my RL friends are playing it, and it looks like the squad based combat would be really fun. I'm wunshot#1378 on battle.net.
Now you are going to make me download it again.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:25 PM   #4
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What the hell is with the golden Valhalla people in a CoD game? I'm so confused.....
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Old 11-05-2018, 03:10 PM   #5
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Now you are going to make me download it again.
Do it. Do it now.
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:11 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ElektroDragon View Post
What the hell is with the golden Valhalla people in a CoD game? I'm so confused.....
Stupid shit like that makes me write the game off right there. Anytime colorful characters are thrown in your face it means something is lacking. Too bad it wasn't my introduction into Battle Royale, I might have liked that better. But PUBG ruined my taste for BR.

I suppose the fact "nobody wants single player" came from nobody finishing BLOPS III single player. That BS with angst monster Katie Sackoff and Bastigone made me cringe so badly I went septic from a knot in my intestine.
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ElektroDragon View Post
What the hell is with the golden Valhalla people in a CoD game? I'm so confused.....

That is from the Zombie campaign. Completely different look from the standard game.
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