Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Review – Trimming The Fat
As somebody who hasn’t played a Call of Duty game for more than 5 minutes since Advanced Warfare, I had zero hype for Black Ops 4. I was given the opportunity to take part in the beta for the multiplayer and boy oh boy was I… completely nonplussed. It was fine, serviceable, exactly what you’d expect from a Call of Duty game if you’ve played any of them in the last five years or so. I couldn’t find a particular specialist that I really liked, though, and for a game that’s 95% multiplayer, that felt like a disappointment. I also got to check out Blackout, which was marginally more exciting, and that’s coming from someone who basically swore off Battle Royale games.
Of course, both of these experiences were very short, they were beta tests, not the full game, and I was willing to give the game a try when it came out. Fortunately for my wallet, we got a lovely review copy, so I am very much appreciative of that, and it meant that I actually got to play the game as soon as it came out.
You know, rather than my broke ass waiting for it to go on sale for half price.
Speaking of money, I was pretty pleasantly surprised with Black Ops 4 for not really shoving micro transactions in my face. I was pretty cynical going into this, because I thought for sure that the game was going to boot up and be like “HEY WANNA GET SOME SKINS FOR BLACKOUT?” I’m aware that that’s a pretty low standard to have when it comes to a video game, but this is Activision Blizzard we’re talking about. Destiny 2 was pretty notorious early on for predatory practices when it came to micro transactions, and Overwatch might as well trademark Loot Boxes. Long story short, Black Ops 4 doesn’t feel like it’s begging for your money after you’ve already purchased the game.
Okay now we can talk about the game.
I’ll get the regular multiplayer out of the way first because it’s the easiest part to talk about. My opinion of that hasn’t really changed since the beta, because it’s completely fine. Fans of the series are going to love it because it’s mostly the same as always, but fine-tuned enough to stand above the last handful of entries. The specialists feel mostly the same, once you find the one that has your favorite super, you’ll probably JUST play that one forever. I feel no desire nor pull to play as anyone aside from one, MAYBE two specialists, and that’s disappointing. You are recommended to play through the “Specialist HQ“ segment of the game, which is this game’s replacement for a campaign. Here you thought this game was multiplayer only but NOPE. You can play through a tutorial with each character while Mason obnoxiously yells “fuck” a lot, then play against some bots to practice for MP. It’s laughably thrown together, and some of the cutscenes have some pretty stinky voice acting/writing. It doesn’t even get an icon that’s full-sized on the main menu, it’s the little tumor on the side of the screen. I actually completely missed it the first couple times I booted up the game. Oh well, rest easy, Specialist HQ, you were dead before you were even alive, only to be played by those anal retentive enough to 100% a Call of Duty game.
Okay now we can talk about Zombies.
Again, I haven’ played any CoD Zombies mode in a very long time, and to my surprise, this one isn’t overly complicated. It took me a little while to get used to actually utilizing my vigor bottles, but once I consistently remembered that they were a thing I had, I was popping those things left and right. The maps that are available are fun, and that’s all I can ask for, because I felt like some of the maps in past games were all style, no substance. All three of the maps that come with Black Ops 4 are fun as hell and a blast all in their own special ways. The special unique weapons that you can get are both deadly and hilarious, especially the boat cannon gun in Voyage of Despair.
I guess you could say it’s a blast.
The customizable classes overwhelmed me a little bit at first, but after a couple of matches I finally understood how it worked. You have four perk slots, assigned to different vending machines/statues, so essentially you get to pick which perks spawn on the map. You also get to unlock attachments for the different guns in the game mode so that when you pick up those guns, they have the attachments you assign them, it’s pretty cool, and actually makes me want to play more and more. You can also assign each of your classes a super move that you charge up and can use during the game. These include a massive thunder hammer, a whip sword/blunderbuss combo, and a handful of other awesome weapons. What all of this boils down to is the fact that even though you’ve only got a few maps to choose from, the possibilities for how you play them is virtually endless. There’s also a special map you can get with the Black Ops Pass, which is a remake of “Five” from Black Ops, and I really want to play it. I just want to hear fake JFK spout one-liners at zombies.
Okay now we can finally talk about Blackout.
Even though I’m not a huge fan of Battle Royale games in general, I get the appeal, I understand why people like them. I just haven’t found one that I really liked or could get into, that didn’t feel massively repetitive after a couple matches… until now, that is. Blackout has so much stuff going on in it all the time, there are so many viable weapons, awesome pieces of equipment, land, air, and sea vehicles, and unique places to drop. Also, this mode also has zombies, and they’re a somewhat prominent part of the gameplay. Let me explain this:
You drop wherever you want in the map, and during the course of the match, different areas become infested with zombies, and feature a mystery box. By killing all of the zombies in that area, you can open the box, which is full of decent to awesome weapons, armor, first aid meds, and equipment. The zombies aren’t too hard to take care of, either, so if you get there and no one is around, you can really capitalize on it and deck yourself out without much effort. You can also lure people into the zombies to distract them, then kill them while they deal with each other, like the crafty little devil you are. I should add that you can totally find awesome weapons without doing this, zombified areas aren’t the only place to locate rare items.
It should be noted that this battle royale is probably the best one for playing with friends, but slightly behind Fortnite for solo play. When you’re playing with buddies and can all watch each other’s back, it is at the peak of online multiplayer games. When you’re by yourself though, 95/100 times, if you get shot first, you’re probably going to get smoked. There’s almost nothing you can do to defend yourself, except by being the best shot in the wild west with whatever weapon you have. You can’t build, if you try to heal and get hit again, it interrupts it, although it could be a lucky first shot, then they miss every single one after that. It’s the only real gripe I have with the game, but everything else is just so damn fun that it overshadows it. Finding the perfect weapon for where you are is fun, riding down the river in a boat with your boys/girls is a blast, and winning a match is oh-so satisfying. You can pick up perks and use them twice for short periods to give yourself an edge, like louder enemy foot steps, or quieter steps for yourself.
It is just straight up fun, the map is varied amongst the different locales, and I hope it gets the Fortnite treatment, where it keeps changing. Maybe Zombies will become a more prominent feature on the map and become almost as rampant as enemy players. Maybe the weapons will get more wacky and we’ll get stuff like the Thundergun, or even the super moves from the other modes. I haven’t enjoyed myself this much with a Call of Duty game since high school, which was over six years ago now (I know, somebody get my walker). The specialist HQ mode could easily be cut from the game though, it serves little to no purpose, I’d rather just have a firing range where I get to try out each character. I wouldn’t mind having something like that for Blackout as well that lets you practice with stuff like the grapple gun. Small critiques, but nothing that should make anyone turn their nose up to the game. Call of Duty feels like it’s back and in a good place, let’s hope it continues this upward trend, and doesn’t get too pushy with micro transactions.
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