At this past E3 I was invited to a closed door event held by Activision to allow a select few people have hands on time with Black Ops 4 multiplayer. While I went into this with skepticism, I left the event impressed and hopeful for the future of the franchise. Black Ops 4 is going to be the COD title that reshapes the way franchise moves forward and is a much needed breath of fresh air for the decade spanning series. There is no campaign, a heavy focus on multiplayer, an even heavier focus on zombies, and of course the new mode Black Out (battle royale) are all key ingredients that should help put Call of Duty back on the map and give long time players like myself a reason to play this years installment.
How does it play?The best way to explain BO4 multiplayer is that it is a mashup of every good feature from many current AAA FPS titles thrown into one mode. You get your hero-based shooter mechanics from Overwatch and Paladins, as well as a more squad-based team focus from Rainbow Six Seige and CS:GO ontop of the ultra tight twitch shooter the series is known for. At the event I was able to play two maps, Contraband & Frequency.
Contraband takes place on an island in the Caribbean and it has your standard three lanes, as well as underwater areas that are very reminiscent of BO3. In lane B there is a bridge that is surrounded by water and two areas for cover on either side. The center of the bridge has wooden crates for the player to duck behind and use as cover. This bridge is intentionally set up to be the hot spot for killing in modes such as TDM and Domination.
Frequency on the other hand seems to small and the futuristic styling turned me off. The top level lacks the intuitive nature that most COD maps have, and due to this I felt that I was running in circles most of the time. If your team can work together using their specialist abilities (yes, specialists are back) you can pile up turrets and other mechanisms to ensure the other team does not stand a chance. I genuinely think we have not seen enough of multiplayer to give it a perfect rating, but what I have seen I enjoy and is only the tip of the iceberg.
Mechanics & Gunplay
While most of the mechanics are what you would expect from the annual franchise, a few key elements have been tweaked. Gunplay is just as good, if not better, as it has always been a very natural experience. Even though Black Ops 4 takes place in the future, there is no wall running or thrust jumping, which is probably a good thing since the last few games have never seemed able to get that movement down correctly. While pace may feel slower to newer players to the series, its something that's easy to get over quickly and won't be missed after a few rounds.
One of the biggest changes to Black Ops 4 is the fact that health no longer regenerates automatically. Each player is provided a stimpak that you use by pressing the left bumper and has a 1 minute cooldown time but can be used whenever you feel the need. This provides players with a more tactical approach when engaging enemies and eliminates the need to hide and regenerate health. While the movement is “slower” this time around, this simple mechanic seemed to speed up the game immensely. It should be interesting to see what other new mechanics Treyarch has hidden up their sleeves, as from what I was told, this was a slice of whats to come.
Now for all the zombies fans out there (primarily me), I do not have a ton of news for you. What I can say is the zombie community is going to be overloaded with content at launch. There are three maps on disc: "IX," "Voyage of Despair," and "Blood of the Dead." The first two are part of a brand new story created by co-studio head Jason Blundell and lead-writer Craig Huston; the latter story is tying up loose ends from the last 10 years of zombie’s maps. If you decide to upgrade and buy the Black Ops Pass, you will receive an extra zombies map at launch as well. This map is titled "Classified" and takes place in the pentagon as a prequel to the beloved map "Five." The Black Ops Pass also includes four more zombie experiences throughout the year, 12 new multiplayer maps, and four-character skins for Black Out.
Check out the video below for uncut gameplay from the Activision event.
I know that Activision has a tendency to front load their customers with expensive season passes and DLC, and as expected people are becoming tired of it. But, from what I've played, this game might be worth the day one investment. Treyarch is providing new game modes, game mechanics, and more content on launch than we have ever seen before.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 releases on october 12th on the PS4, Xbox one, and on PC though Battle.net. The game will also include 4k HDR enhancements on the Xbox One X and a higher resolution on the PS4 Pro.
What do you think of all these new changes? Are you ready to dive back into the world of Black Ops, or did WW2 and Advanced Warfare leave you with a bitter after taste? Does Call of Duty need a battle royale mode? Do you also solo Zombies easter eggs? Lets us know in the comments below!