Game discussion

COD: Black Ops 4: Reveal – The Empire Snipes Back ?

Call of Duty has a been a regular staples of most gamer’s diets for well over a decade. Each annual iteration seemingly larger the last and the series has become one of the most popular, and profitable, franchises in all of entertainment media.

However, in recent years it has very much lost its allure, beginning with the move to future-based battlefields of COD: Advanced Warfare, where energy-based weapons and movement enhancing exo-suits seemingly began a schism in the series’ loyal fan-base that nearly tore the franchise apart.

Several ‘advanced movement’ sequels later, and a return to boots on the ground in last year’s WWII, we now await 2018’s COD with baited breath. A return to ever-popular sub-franchise of Black Ops, but with far more at stake than just this year’s bottom line revenue. COD is fighting for its relevance in a sea of Battle Royale based usurpers to its own crown. How will Activision respond, or is it too late to save COD and the classic FPS genre?

It goes without saying, even before seeing tonight’s reveal trailer, that I was very excited about Black Ops 4. The development team at Treyarch, who’ve been responsible for the Black Ops series to date have solidified themselves as the top team for great Call of Duty games (particularly in Multiplayer) since the slow demise and stunted rebirth of Infinity Ward, and I’m over the moon that I’ll get to play a new Treyarch Call of Duty game this fall.

COD has been an annual event for me for as long as I can remember now, and typically they’ve always hit the mark and attributed to hundreds of hours of my personal gameplay per year. However, the last two entries have been uninspiring. Whilst an excellent single-player game, 2016’s Infinite Warfare was a hulking and over-elaborate mess in Multiplayer.

WWII gave the people what they wanted; and I dare say it still missed the mark. It was very much a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. The fickle COD community are hard buggers to please in fairness, but it’s not just a case of change for the sake of change. Gamer habits are very different to 10 years ago when COD 4 brought ultra-competitive and satisfying multiplayer FPS action to the console scene. COD now must compete in a world where PC Gaming is king again, and PUBG and Fortnite dominate the multiplayer landscape.

I’ve been desperate to see what Treyarch have concocted in this year’s Black Ops 4 release. Will it re-invent the FPS genre, or will it ride the crest of popular demand and compete amongst the two giant Battle Royale games currently redefining Multiplayer action gaming?

Now, we have the answer…

Before we get to the Main Course, lets talk a little bit what was confirmed during the community reveal:


The end of advanced movement

Didn’t take a genius to work out this was going to happen. The community backlash to advanced movement, and the failure of rival games like Titanfall to popularise it, means that Treyarch are safely withdrawing back into good old boots on the ground.

It comes with a caveat however. Removing advanced movement would make the game feel very slow compared to BLOPS 3 and Infinite Warfare, so they’ve implemented a ‘guns up’ mechanic, meaning you can still aim & fire (with limited control) whilst performing other tasks, such as healing, vaulting and using grenades. This should ensure the speed of the action is maintained whilst doing away with the unpopular wall-running and boost-jumping features.

Yep, you can say goodbye to this kind of gameplay

Setting is future-modern

Not quite sci-fi futuristic, but not restricted by the confines of Battlefield-esque modern-realism. The game is set in a period in between BLOPS 2 and 3, with some interesting but plausible looking weaponry.


Auto-generating health is no more

Yes, the staple of COD games is now a thing of the past. Players will need to find cover and health manually rather than simply hide it out. This will present some interesting variation on tactics and some of the more gung-ho gameplay that has spoilt COD over the years will be nerfed.


Specialists return

Introduced in BLOPS 3, the Specialists gave each player unique abilities to ensure you got at least one meaningful killstreak per game. Some old faces return but we’re promised an enhanced roster in this area, but I’m sure you’ll be pleased to see Firebreak, Ruin and Seraph return to the fold.

Yes, the mighty and rather evil ‘Firebreak’ specialist returns in BLOPS 4

Competitive league play

E-Sports is so big now, but COD has not served the community so well since BLOPS 2 in this area, but now competitive league play is back. If you’re good enough to play ranked matches, you may just find yourself going to the COD Championships!


Multiplayer is everything

Some of the info that was spilled prior to the reveal suggested that this was a multiplayer only game. Whilst not strictly true, the emphasis is clearly into making BLOPS 4 a multi-year project for multiplayer competition. Specialist training modules are available in single player, as is the ability to play Zombies with A.I bots, but the game’s primary narrative and best features are all in the Multiplayer.


Zombies

Yes, Treyarch’s baby returns and it seems to be bigger and better than ever! The game will launch with three zombies maps, including a hilarious looking Voyage of Demise (set on the Titanic) and a Roman Colosseum stage that seems to have more melee based combat.


Bespoke PC experience

COD has often been criticised over the years for abandoning its core PC base in order to chase the console-cheddar! But now Treyarch are making a robust build exclusive to PC, running on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform. This should get the most elite of master-race gamers excited and taking out loans to upgrade their rig!

And finally….


BATTLE ROYALE

It’s the game mode that has changed the face of multiplayer gaming in the last 18 months. From Day-Z to PUBG and more recently Fortnite, everyone is playing Battle Royale, and surely a new COD would have failed miserably in this modern gaming climate without taking up the challenge here.

They saved it until last during the reveal, but Treyarch delivered and the mode will be called BLACKOUT and I, for one, am excited as hell! It will be refreshing to see excellent COD style gunplay and AAA optimisation in a game variant we all have come to love, but is still so flawed.

It will be very interesting to see how PUGB Corp respond to this, particularly on their Xbox Early Access release, which many months after launch is still so terribly optimised. Might it even get out of early access?


Closing thoughts

I think it is fair to conclude that this will be the most important Call of Duty to date and either see the franchise slowly become an afterthought amongst gamers, or re-launch it to the pinnacle of the gaming world it dominated for a decade.

At Set the Tape, we want to know what you think about BLOPS 4. Our opinion is that we can’t wait for October 12th to roll around so we can get our hands on it, but if you think we’re wrong, or just want to echo our thoughts, let us know on social media.

The pretenders need to seriously raise their game, because the King is back, baby!

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will be available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from October 12th.

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