This instalment in the franchise brings what you would expect from black ops, fast-paced multiplayer, terrifying zombies, a host of weapons to unlocks, an amazing single player campaign, no wait I mean a Battle Royal mode! So maybe Black Ops 4 doesn’t have the normal package but is that a bad thing this time around?
When you get into one of these modes though you get that feeling that you are in a COD game straight away. The graphics are great, the gun mechanics are on point, the multiplayer matches are quick paced and the cutscenes, few they are, are still beautifully captured. In short, this game looks as good as we have come to expect from the franchise.
Each mode of Black Ops 4 offers something different so let us start with a mode that I think has been overlooked a lot in the content I have seen and that is the Specialist HQ. This mode is an offline tutorial with a bit of story added in as you learn about each of the different specialists and their backstory. I found the mode really helpful in better understanding the different abilities of each class, what their main ability is and how they work in a combat environment. You also get taken through each of the multiplayer modes in case you weren’t aware of what a team deathmatch or control game was.
The Specialist HQ mode also offers the challenge of collecting 3 stars for each different class in their final combat test. You get these stars by winning the final match on varying levels of enemy difficulty. Getting your first star is a walk in the park but it soon gets tougher as your AI teammates are not great but it is a good place to practice using each class and to learn some of the maps.
Now that I had a better idea of the different classes it was time to jump into the trusted multiplayer and I can confirm it is everything you would expect. The maps are designed to always keep you on your toes, they promote combat and look fantastic. You will be welcomed by some old classics such as Firing Range and Summit as well as 10 new maps. Weapons, perks and other upgrades unlock as you level up and each weapon levels up as you use it.
As always there is a huge amount of unlocks for each weapon including camos, sights and accessories. Once you get to level 5 you can start to create your own custom classes and I would recommend you spend some time setting up each class to how you play and for the different maps. I did my normal of making a sprinting class with a sub-machine gun, a typical assault class with an assault rifle and the normally unused sniper class. You only have the basics when you first start so levelling up is a must to get the best perks and equipment.
The addition of the specialists to the game certainly adds a welcome new style of gameplay. Each of the classes brings something to the team whether that is a recon dart that is a mini UAV, a ballistic shield, a cluster grenade or a killer K-9. It breaks up the usual gameplay of running around, shooting, respawning and so on. It makes you think about when to use your ability, who to partner up with when using it and how to use it to claim an objective. Each class is balanced and suits a different play style so I don’t think there are any issues of being overpowered. However, timing your ability right can really change the tide of a match.
Zombies has evolved so much over the years that the only things that has really remained the same is that zombie sound that we are all familiar with and still scares us each time and headshots are important on the undead! Black Ops 4 Zombie mode continues that development with a great tutorial to get you settled into the game, challenge map objectives to keep you extra busy while you fight off hordes of Zombies and AI teammates.
You have a choice of 2 different storylines to follow, Aether and Chaos. Aether is made up of remastered Zombies maps from previous games and Chaos brings new characters and story for you to dive into, what you would have seen in most trailer footage. I will be upfront that I have always struggled with making my way through the new Zombie style gameplay. With hidden objectives that need to be done in a set order and progress locked behind certain actions, I have always needed a team to carry me through. However, that doesn’t seem to take away from the experience of Zombies for me as the maps are so detailed, the gameplay is on point and I can appreciate the work gone in to create the mode objectives.
Rush mode in Zombies also adds a new approach to the game with all weapons and ammo being free with the emphasis being placed on kills to grow a multiplier while avoiding being hit. This mode is a quicker way to play compared to the sometimes long commitment required in the normal Zombies mode. You can also select special weapons before each match for your player that gives you a tide turning ability once powered up.
And finally, we come to the grand Battle Royal mode that is Blackout. I will be upfront and say I have had some graphics issues with this mode that include poor performance when landing in a game, character loading between games and one-off glitches. This could be my own connection issues but they have been rather consistent throughout my play time. With that out of the way though Blackout is a great take on Battle Royal.
Blackout does a great job of adjusting to the different play style of Battle Royale modes compared to typical COD online by adding plenty of buildings, cover and a host of weapons and items to pick up. The gameplay is smooth and once you get used to the inventory management you are on your way to that glorious match win! It is nice to see vehicles in this mode as the map certainly welcomes them but I don’t think they are a major part of the gameplay. I hope they are developed over time to work better in the game but for now, they certainly work for getting in the circle.
Having Zombies and mystery boxes on the map certainly adds something to it, I have defiantly been killed more times while hunting Zombies then I have in open gameplay! The locations on the map are detailed and allow for great combat moments but the nature of needing to get into the circle sometimes means you will miss out on admiring the work that has probably gone into building these locations in Blackout.
Across the online modes, I think there are a few things that do need improving and I am sure this will happen over time but wanted to highlight them now. Multiplayer is limited if you are in a full party of 6 to mainly Kill Confirmed with the odd Team Deathmatch if you are lucky, still not sure on where body armour really fits into this game and not being able to see markers in Blackout when playing with friends. These are minor points I picked up on while playing and I fully agree that for the size of this game that only having 3 requests is impressive.
Black Ops 4 is a great game that has taken what the series does best and developed on it. Yes it would have been nice to have a full single player campaign but this game is not without content. As always the multiplayer is as deep as you would expect and I didn’t even mention the race to Master Prestige, Zombies will keep you coming back with friends and Blackout is that endless pursuit of wanting your next #1 spot.
This game is what you would expect from the franchise; great gunplay mechanics, even better graphics, fast-paced multiplayer matches and a solid showing in the Battle Royale genre. Liked a previous COD? Then you will jump right in when you pick this one up. A point to mention though is I think it will be interesting to see how they continue to support Blackout in the long term to ensure it doesn’t drop off the radar.
*Reviewed using our own copy of the game*