The Black Ops 4 Blackout mode is impressive

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - Blackout mode - battle royale - Treyarch

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has made its mark on the 2018 beta season. With a two-week beta (one for non-PlayStation gamers) to kick things off, Treyarch didn’t want to leave the beta scene this year without pulling out the big guns (see what I did there). The game mode dominating the multiplayer space – battle royale – has now made its way to one of the world’s largest first-person shooter franchises. And, like the giant alien ships from Independence Day, it’s blotted out the sun and taken over our lives. Okay, maybe I speak for myself there. However, like many fans, I’ve courted several hours with Treyarch’s latest and greatest. So, the big question is – yay or nay on the battle royale front? That’s a hard “yay,” my friends.

Like any beta, there will be problems. There will be bugs. And, there most certainly will be server crashes! Some might disagree based on their beta experiences, but that is my history. It absolutely holds true here. But, that’s the purpose of a beta – is it not? Treyarch has proven that it’s dedicated to working out the kinks.

What’s good?

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 plays like any other Call of Duty. It offers the fast, frenetic shooting gameplay at (or nearly at) 60 fps that we’ve come to know from the series. Nothing has changed with Blackout mode with the exception of the mode itself and its features. If you were expecting Blackout to be the result of PUBG and Call of Duty cross-pollination, then I’d say you are correct. That largely seems to be the product here with a few extra Call of Duty twists.

Zombies

First and foremost, zombies. Enough said. But in all seriousness, I was genuinely surprised at just how much zombies content can be found within the Blackout map. A few locales that are replicas of old zombies maps, such as Verruckt, can be found and even mined for goodies and Easter eggs. And, of course, zombies attack. Ray guns, monkey grenades, and more all make a return and can be found in these areas including the famed mystery box.

The map and vehicles

While the map isn’t quite as expansive as Fortnite, it’s certainly still massive by Call of Duty standards. The map is varied enough at its multiple destinations and hotspots to keep things rather interesting. Additionally, the vehicular placement is pretty well dispersed and using said vehicles (such as choppers) in combat is thrilling.

Player count

Player count started at 80, but it seems like they’ve upped the player count to possibly 90? The team initially did note that 80 was a starting point and could change based on beta results and feedback. However, I didn’t expect changes to happen so quickly. Regardless, Blackout didn’t feel any more vacant than PUBG or Fortnite with the initial missing 20 players. And, the game mode played largely as I expected/hoped which I count as a win in my book.

What can use some work?

There are a few things that Treyarch can do to tighten up the action and remove some of the more tedious moments. For instance, picking up items is a pain. Looking down at the items and holding square breaks up the momentum too much. Being FPS gameplay, I understand that it might be hard to do it any other way. But, it tends to make folks vulnerable in the worst way. Perhaps adding some sort of magnetic radius to snatch items or quickly select an item if multiple are sitting next to each other might be easier for players on the move. A prompt can appear onscreen showing the item available for pick-up within the given radius.

Additionally, I think that making the action to glide more apparent when diving off tall structures such as the one we witnessed in the trailer would be a nice touch. In one round, I landed on top of a construction site right next to another guy who grabbed the only gun in the area. My only choice was to leap off the building or die. I quickly made the decision to jump thinking I could activate my wingsuit, however no prompt or combination of buttons I pressed bore fruit. I plummeted to my death. And I have not tried that stunt again. So, at this moment, I still do not know how that works.

I also experienced a handful of crashes. I understand that this is a beta so I won’t lean too hard on that since those are the kinds of issues Treyarch is certainly on top of for the final product. But, all in all, I had a lot of fun and will continue to do so through Sunday. Blackout was a thrill and may even supplant Fortnite as my new battle royale fix. If you’ve been able to jump into the battle royale beta we’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you enjoying the mode? How does it rank against PUBG and Fortnite? What are your favorite highlights of the mode? Let us know in the comments below.

I was baptized in the world of gaming at the ripe age of four with an Atari 7800 playing Pole Position II and Galaga most days.  Now, I can be found amidst the chaotic online shooter arena like the Destiny, Battlefield, Fortnite, and anything-Tom-Clancy scenes or a solid AAA campaign found in games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or God of War.  My other passion for journalism syncs up with gaming nicely and is something I’m striving to expand on in the future.