Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 review – something lost, something earned

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 (PS4): a real success

Call Of Duty may no longer have the chokehold of the shooter genre, but the voice of this year shows that it is not yet a question of surrendering the crown.

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Since the new Sledgehammer Games got their hands on Call Of Duty, it was a much more dramatic change from the sequel to the sequel, and though not all of them were welcomed with open arms (we're watching you, Infinite Warfare ) there is no denying that the three teams that now work on the franchise are experimenting in a distinct way.

Treyarch's vision for the series is perhaps more focused than his twin studies, having worked on Black Ops for a decade. However, if you told us that this is what Black Ops 4 would be, we would call you a bloody liar. Although it exists within the same timeline, this last entry seems to be a different beast, although it inherits the constant and superb shooting of Call Of Duty.

Black Ops no longer talks about the protagonists Mason and Woods. No cryptic floating numbers or Cold War dramas. No more fun business of mental bending or any other nonsense Black Ops 3 has tried to pull with its complicated plot. In reality, there is no story – at least not in the form of a traditional campaign of six to eight hours. When Treyarch announced this pivot to a purely multiplayer sequel, many were shocked, but tradition may have been exactly what this game needed.

Of course, the absence of a campaign leaves a hole. It became a bit of a fan ritual to start a new game of Call Of Duty just to do the blitz through any high octane set that it has in store, so jump straight into multiplayer. This is not an option in Black Ops 4, however. Its minimalist main menu indicates the following three modes: the competitive online game, the new and improved Zombies and the highly anticipated take of the series on Battle Royale: Blackout.

Once revealed, he had many labels like Treyarch as a trend hunter, turning his back on the more experienced followers to get a slice of that insanely profitable Battle Royale action. Blackout had no shortage of opponents but now that it is in the hands of the players is already proving a hit, becoming the Battle Royale of choice for those unimpressed by Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Borrow the same premise from these games. Whether you are playing alone, with a teammate, or in a team of four, you and up to 87 other players come down on the biggest multiplayer map of the series to date, left to fend for themselves with only one team coming out winner.

You're still playing Call Of Duty but the rules have changed. Forget the torment for the perfect upload or try to insinuate yourself in a scorestreak. Everything, from weapons and equipment to health and ammunition, is all acquired on the spot, each player starts with nothing but his own hands. Or punch, if you like your chances in the initial game.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 (PS4) – Treyarch dominated Battle Royale on their first attempt

Inventory management has always been an obstacle in the Battle Royale games, but Treyarch seems to have found an exceptional solution, which allows you to quickly open a bar showing the available items, then move between them rather than dive into a screen menu whole. An even bigger obstacle that the veterans will have to overcome is the vastness of the Blackout game zone, which is said to be 1,500 times that of Nuketown. Unlike the traditional close quarters of online multiplayer, here it is very likely that it will change fire in much wider spaces, long-range weapons are more important than they have ever been in a Call of Duty game.

Speaking of Nuketown, he makes an appearance in Blackout, but only just burnt residues that make up one of the twelve landmarks. Many of these are also based on previous Treyarch maps such as Estates, Array and Asylum, borrowing their layout and raw resources from past games. Together they form a bizarre patchwork, joined by a series of streets and fields, these adjacent spaces populated by groups of buildings and land.

As Battle Royale fans know, those first minutes can go in two ways. You can get stuck, scrape with other players for equipment or end up landing somewhere completely isolated, safely filling your boots with all first aid kits and shotgun cartridges. To try to keep the action focused, the limit of the map will start moving towards a single area, forcing you to reposition instead of throwing a curtain or leaving the game inactive.

It is fair to assume that Treyarch had something different in mind for Black Ops 4 originally. The Call Of Duty games now have a three year development cycle and it has only been during the last 18 months that Battle Royale has gone from being a niche mode to solving players all over the world. While you never hear together, there are some corners here and there, a lack of polish and a surprising lack of cosmetics for the players. This does not detract from the fact that Blackout is wonderfully executed and we would be shocked if Treyarch did not exploit its momentum, adopting a similar approach to Epic and pulling out frequent updates and drops of content.

But as new and brilliant as Blackout, it is not the crowning jewel of this three-part package. Competitive multiplayer has long been the focus of Activision's energy sales franchise and this is something that Treyarch has not forgotten. While there are many similarities between Black Ops 4 and its predecessor, there was also a great deal of sophistication.

The racing and jump packages have been removed, which reduces the overall time, but the movement is still fast and fluid. There are also new competitive ways for those who have the courage to get away from capture playlists and deathmatches. The control has teams in conflict on two checkpoints with a limited number of respawns in several turns. Meanwhile, Heist is a bit more complex and sees both teams try to secure and extract a drop of money. You can then spend that money between rounds and the other to buy benefits and equipment, starting with just a gun and some bullets.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 (PS4): specialists make multiplayer more like a hero shooter

Treyarch also doubled the specialists. These characters replace your generic avatar and everyone has their own unique powers and gadgets that, when combined with your loadout, define your in-game style of play. The pair, for example, is a good choice for how to capture, launch the razor's edge and the barricade to block areas and create bottlenecks. Meanwhile, Crash fills a supporting role, distributing ammunition and even using his Tak 5 to heal and empower teammates.

The specialists impose Treyarch's shift to the focus of Call Of Duty, the abilities of these characters that allow the more experienced players to line up and employ tactics that simply were not valid in the previous ones. Even the way Black Ops 4 tracks the points and the statistics are oriented towards objective play, diverting attention from annoying killing / death ratios. It is a decision that is undoubtedly informed by the success of games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six: Siege even if the Call Of Duty gameplay is still quite distinct to make it stand out.

The closest to a campaign in Black Ops 4 is a series of cut scenes that represent each of the specialists, giving you an idea of ​​their stories of origin. These seem to be fragments of what the campaign could have been, but ultimately fail to make the game tradition more attractive. They are poorly recited and practically a waste of time. If this was the base from which Treyarch had planned to build a single player campaign, we are happy to have killed him.

It is still quite surprising to see how zealous the Zombie fan is. Considering that it was once a bonus phase for those beating World At War, this mode has been greatly expanded over the years, accumulating a nice following. An excess of zombies and a lack of imagination have even seen Sledgehammer and Infinity Ward create their version of the mode but, as longtime fans will tell you, this is still very much Treyarch's baby.

The veteran studio Call Of Duty gives us our biggest line-up of Zombies content ever, with three chapters to play right away. Two of these have a new cast of characters who find themselves traveling back in time to fight the undead and strangers, other supernatural forces. These are two of the most bizarre survival stages to include in Black Ops, one set in an ancient colosseum with the other aboard an overgrown Titanic.

To complete this trio is a review of Mob Of The Dead by Black Ops II, which sees the return of favorite characters from fans Richtofen, Tank, Nikolai and Takeo. It may seem a strange inclusion even though Treyarch claims that there are hardcore Zombi players out there, many of whom are particularly involved in the plot of previous games.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 (PS4) – Zombies is still an acquired taste

This time Zombies offers a better onboarding experience for newcomers, explaining the basic mechanics and how to use the various loading options. There is certainly much more here than in the mode of the Nazi zombies that debuted ten years ago. While this will be a pleasure for fans, others will find this cooperative mode of survival equally lifeless and brain dead as its namesake.

Coping with hordes of undead is fun in small doses, but soon becomes old, as well as slowly unlocking new areas inside each labyrinth map. It is too time-consuming, with no real sense of reward, in contrast to the high octane number of competitive multiplayer and the slow and tactical tension of Blackout. However, those who actually enjoy Zombies will have to face a wide range of challenges to beat, weapons to customize and other breakouts of progression.

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Although its three parts may seem bumpy, on the whole, Black Ops 4 is the strongest Call Of Duty experience we've seen in this generation of consoles. Undressing the campaign is intended to ward off the purists, but it gave Treyarch the freedom to invest his time elsewhere, strengthening the multiplayer online core and offering zombie fans a huge, bloody content of content to bite.

Then there is Blackout, of course, a fantastic alternative to Battle Royale that we will hear a lot more in the coming weeks and months. Call Of Duty has not been consistent in recent years, but now it's back on a winning streak. No pressure, therefore, Infinity Ward …

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4

In short: The best Call Of Duty of the generation and while some complain about the lack of a campaign of stories, it is difficult to discuss with the quality and quantity of content offered.

Professionals: Blackout is a surprisingly brilliant alternative to Fortnite and PUBG. Treyarch's competitive multiplayer is also a triumph, encouraging tactical team play without compromising the core of Call Of Duty.

Versus: Attempts to create a background are incredibly negative. Without a campaign, even those who do not like the Zombies mode of the series may soon feel changed.

Point: 8/10

Formats: PlayStation 4 (review), Xbox One and PC
Price: £ 59.99
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Release date: October 12, 2018
Age classification: 18

By Jim Hargreaves

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