There’s no denying that the “Battle Royale” game genre blew up and is taking over. Fortnite is the hottest video game property in the world and PUBG is massive, too. Even the Marvel’s ultimate villain, Thanos, wanted to get in on the fun. There’s been chatter on social media and forums for months now has been about who would be next to iterate on the popular game type. Titans like Call of Duty and Battlefield were frequently cited, while the now-defunct Boss Key Productions scrambled to release Radical Heights in a last-minute attempt to save their studio. GTA Online even just recently announced Trap Door; their own take on Battle Royale. Well, after months of speculation, Activision officially confirmed their biggest franchise would be dipping their toes into Battle Royale when they announced a ‘‘Blackout’’ mode during the Black Ops 4 reveal event on May 17, 2018.
From what we saw in the trailer, Blackout could be truly special. But, does that mean Call of Duty needs Battle Royale? Is Call of Duty joining the Battle Royale ranks positive for the genre? Can Blackout take a sizable share of the market from Fortnite and PUBG? Let’s explore!
To start, and answer my first question, no. I don’t think Call of Duty needs Battle Royale. There’s a significant number of gamers who only buy and play the new Call of Duty every year and won’t be swayed either way from a new Battle Royale mode. Sure, Blackout may end up being good business for them, but it’s not as if anyone thinks Black Ops 4 wouldn’t be a commercial success without it either. Call of Duty is nothing if not consistent, and that includes its development cycle, developer cycle, quality of gameplay and in its sales figures. With the goodwill that Treyarch’s Black Ops series has as well, it would certainly be a hit without a Battle Royale mode.
Some may look at Call of Duty making its own Battle Royale mode, especially with others like Battlefield expected to join the fray as well, as over-saturating the market. That’s likely the case, but in most situations, the established kings win out. The core CoD fan won’t buy the new Call of Duty specifically for Blackout. To really make a dent in Fortnite and/or PUBG’s player base, Blackout would have to be revolutionary, but can it be?
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 isn’t a Battle Royale game. Rather, it’s a Call of Duty game with a Battle Royale mode.
Your regular suite of CoD multiplayer is still the base of the game, zombies is still a huge mode and Blackout is just an addition to that. I don’t doubt it’ll be fun, but how much emphasis will they truly put into Blackout? Will they commit to it the way Epic Games and PUBG Corporation are committed to their Battle Royale games? Only time will tell, but the answer is likely no. Rather, Blackout mode feels like a decision made to entice the curious to make the purchase to try it out, while also providing the CoD faithful with another mode to keep things fresh as they put hundreds and thousands of hours into Black Ops 4.
What’s interesting about Blackout is the inclusion of vehicles. While PUBG has some vehicles, it doesn’t have the full array of land, sea and air vehicles that Blackout will. This could be the difference maker for Black Ops 4 that really separates it from the rest. The revolution that Blackout would need could be in the implementation of these vehicles, but we don’t know how they work. With details still limited and no gameplay videos available, as of this writing, we can’t say what the vehicles work well or will end up being disastrous.
As an aside, we’re two days away from the official reveal event for Battlefield 5 and the rumors are already circulating that they’re exploring a Battle Royale mode. Keep checking back as we’ll continue to track both these games.
If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode being fun, and maybe even help boost sales this year. But it doesn’t need it. By the time October rolls around and Blacks Ops 4 is out, who’s to say there isn’t Battle Royale fatigue. Call of Duty could be that break people need. As much as people will opine and predict trends in the video game industry, there really is no such thing as a certainty. I’d say not many changes regarding the status quo for Call of Duty sales and the kings of Battle Royale. Blackout may not be the Battle Royale mode we need, but it’s the Battle Royale mode we’re going to get.