Publisher: Activision Developer: Treyarch Players: 1-100 Genre: FPS Launch Date: October 12th 2018 Price: $59.99 or £49.99
Has it been that long already? It only feels like a year since the last Call of Duty game was...... oh, wait a minute... It WAS a year since the last CoD game was out and WWII was good, but flawed when Sledgehammer churned their one out in 2017. We go back to what is now the main developer of the series, Treyarch, but we also go back with a bit of a confused look on our face.
The problem with Black Ops 4, for me anyway, is that there is no campaign. I know that we are now getting to a stage where first person shooters are almost by proxy making you create your own story by what you do in an online arena, but some of us still like having a tale to be told and Treyarch were pretty damned good at doing this. This has all changed this time around, with the PUBG based Blackout mode taking over. The question that burns square into your retina is a simple one....
Was it worth the trade off?
It is pretty strange trying to talk about a Call of Duty game when there isn’t a narrative to speak of. Well, I say that, but there is a tiny little part of story hidden in the background. This is in the form of the Specialist section. This is pretty much the same style as Rainbow Six: Siege, coincidentally, another game that involves no single player whatsoever. You get basic mini stories where you learn about each of the soldiers and what their special abilities are and how best to use them. This almost acts like a trial of most of the game modes, with your new protagonist going through everything from Kill Confirmed to Domination, as well as the usual Deathmatch options.
It’s Blackout though that is the big addition to the Black Ops franchise. A mish mash map filled with loads of old school battlegrounds from previous games in the Treyarch titles put together to form a massive map. It is good fun to play and holds up very well. The greatest thing is that is holds steady and firm at 60 frames a second, which is vital for this style of game, as Fortnite has proven. It does take a graphical step down, but it had to considering what is going on all around you.
Zombies is as zombies does, and as much as there are more starting maps than ever at launch, it is just more of the same. I played it for a little while and I did enjoy it more than I have done for a while, as the maps do feel more expansive, but you will no doubt have been there and done it for the most part. The classic multiplayer modes are pretty much untouched, although it is great to not have wall jumping and all the other crazy stuff that plagued the futuristic variants of CoD. Killstreaks have been modified, making them a little harder to get, but I like that. The balance feels nice, as it always has in the Black Ops series. It’s also nice to see a few of the old maps get a reworking, but there will no doubt be the obligatory purchase of passes to get more.
Time to go blow some stuff up
Graphics - 7/10
For every moment where the game looks amazing, there’s another where you are disappointed. The remake of old maps have been done with love and you can clearly see the differences. Nuketown is back for another outing and it has a cold war setting, which looks fabulous. The snow all over the joint really makes it less daunting than it used to be, even if I do still get killed many MANY times on the map. The new additions are well thought out and look very colourful, which is a change from the previous games of monochromatic boredom. They don’t look TOO unbelievable, but your eyes don’t really ever get bored. The fact that everything runs smoothly for the most part makes things even more pleasant.
BUT....There are moments where the frame rate can be pretty erratic, especially with in-game cutscenes. The Nuketown nuke looks like it needs a jump start when things slow RIGHT down to a crawl. There is, as I’ve said, a graphical downgrade with Blackout, which makes things look more like they're on a 360, but again, sacrifices have to be made. I can’t be too harsh on them for that, but you have to be critical when you’re a critic.
Sound - 6/10
If you’re a fan of hard grunge metal then you can add an extra mark onto this, but there is really no stand out audio here. It is exactly as you would expect. The impact noises, explosions and all the other sound effects haven’t really changed in years, so why would it change now? The music is not exactly ground-breaking, but it isn’t sore on the ear either. There isn’t really much else to say here, as the style of game we have now doesn’t have to worry about a single player melody to keep you entertained. It does the job, but that is it.
Runs smoother than PubG
Difficulty - N/A
In all honesty, I find it pretty much pointless to give the game a difficulty rating. I mean, how can you base the toughness of something that is totally made up of online parts that don’t go towards something? The only real difficulty is trying not to lose your temper at the online currency that urges you at every turn to buy something, but this has just become a staple part of the current gaming situation, so it can’t be helped anymore.
The beauty of Blackout is that you don’t really have to worry about what level you’re at or what guns you’ve unlocked in multiplayer, as everything is available from the word go, which is refreshing. You won’t feel like you’re punished for not being an early starter.
Achievements - 4/10
It’ll take you a while to get anything on Black Ops 4. I played for hours and had nothing pop up at all, so I can only assume that they are more linked to the Specialist sections and perhaps completing Zombie mode and indeed getting a victory in Blackout. These might be pretty hard for us normal gamers who aren’t blessed with almost child-like reflexes that a ninja would be scared of. I didn’t fare well with achievements here.
The aftermath of blowing some stuff up
Black Ops 4 is almost like a Best Of compilation with an extra thrown in, but what an extra. Blackout is nice to play and with a group of friends makes for a proper laugh, as well as producing some top-quality shooting action. The issue I have with the game is that it tries to take the best from other franchises and make it its own, but instead of it working to bond Black Ops 4 together, it loses the identity that makes it what it is. It will feel the same to play, but when you look through all of the Specialist sections and then decide to go for Zombies or Blackout instead, you’ll wonder why you bothered. This isn’t to say that we have a bad game on our hands, far from it, but I just feel that this was rushed out for Christmas and you can FEEL that with Treyarch’s latest addition. Imagine if they had been given a bit longer and what we may have had. I reckon it could have been the best entry in the series for years, but what we DO have will cover enough bases and keep enough people happy until next year, when Infinity Ward try again to get their crown back.
By then, Titanfall 3 will be out...... Just saying.