I’ve been going back and forth for a couple of days thinking about just how to summarize my initial experience with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. On one hand, it’s exactly what I expect from the franchise. On the other, there are a few issues that really irk me about this iteration. While the issues aren’t enough to keep me from enjoying it, they are certainly keep it from being one of my favourite entries in the series.
Let’s start with the good parts. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is unequivocally the most polished shooter on the PS4. It should be. It is, after all, the 15th main instalment in a franchise that gets more polish each year. With Treyarch at the reigns of this one, they’ve given us a beautiful, scenic shooter that controls just as you would expect the latest entry in the billion-dollar franchise would. The guns are cool, the explosions are big and that’s pretty much the formula for success right there.
They’ve expanded on WW2’s specialist system, adding all kinds of weapons both big and small. They’re fun to use, easy to learn, and damn it if it isn’t incredible killing a whole room of people with one scatter grenade. The zombie mode has received a face-lift as well with laboratory potion making, factions and custom mutations that allow you to completely customize your zombie mode gameplay. You’ll definitely get more out of this mode than ever before, and there’s a Titanic map, so that’s a seller right there.
The biggest addition here is the new Fortnite-style battle royale mode called Blackout. Oddly enough – and maybe because I’m an older gamer – if I could change one thing about Fortnite, it would be to give it the polished shooting of Call of Duty, and that’s exactly what we have here. The shooting feels great and the mode plays exactly as you’d expect. In terms of features and gameplay, it’s basically identical to Fortnite’s winner-take-all style and certainly benefits from the added polish. It’s a mode that you could easily lose a few hours in, and for a game that already dominates the team-based, multiplayer shooter arena, jumping into this market this seems to be a pretty good move for the future.
The exclusion of a single-player campaign in lieu of the new Blackout mode, however, was a huge deal for me. While I love the multiplayer aspects, my favourite part of most modern Call of Duty games is the story. I loved the Black Ops, Modern Warfare and WW2 stories and was disappointed to hear that there wouldn’t be a main campaign in Black Ops 4. There are story elements thrown in through the training missions, but it’s certainly not the same.
There are also the serious network issues that have plagued the series for years. This shouldn’t be happening anymore. Too often, I find that I can’t play an online multiplayer match with a group of friends so we have to resort to playing custom games that don’t reward experience. This is CORE GAMEPLAY, and one of the only ways to play since they’ve removed the story mode and this needs to be fixed for good. Network errors are far too common in a game that is online only and has 15 earlier versions.
As for multiplayer, there are a ton of new maps as well as some old favorites including one of my personal faves, Slums. There is a good mix of big and small maps that cater to all play styles. I don’t know who decided that boosting the attack dogs killstreak would be a good idea though, as they one-hit kill you, and since you can’t play a map without them being deployed at least 3 times – something needs to change. Even if you manage to shoot one before it gets to you – which is almost impossible – the next one is bound to get you. These should at least take a couple of bites out of you before killing you.
The guns are great, but I just haven’t found anything that compares to the amazing BAR or STG-44 from WW2. It is also a little underwhelming that you can’t completely customize your load-outs until much farther in the game than earlier years. Other than customizing your weapons, your load outs are at the mercy of whichever specialist is available in the pre-game lobby. You don’t even unlock a normal frag grenade as your explosive until level 42. That’s bonkers.
Overall, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is one of the best shooters of the year and is a worthy entry in the acclaimed series. While it’s missing a single-player story, you’re gaining hours of gameplay in the fun Blackout battle royale mode and the weapons, multiplayer and refinement you expect from the series is all here. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll love this game.
Let us know in the comments how you like the new features!