Call of Duty fans were treated to a new Black Ops on the 12th with a game that Treyarch claimed would be like no other Call of Duty to date. Well they were right, Black Ops 4 is both totally different and at the same time the exact game many Call of Duty fans have loved for years. They’ve changed the formula a little, mostly in the right direction. Hot on the heels of Call of Duty: WWII, fans of the series were yearning for the next big game. Was the hype enough, or was it another flop like Infinite Warfare?
In general, the way Treyarch took Black Ops 4 was in the right direction. No more absolute, over-the-top super overpowered abilities. Everything is toned down to a more manageable level to improve not only gunplay, but gameplay overall. Sure, you’ve got abilities that can give you wallhacks, but it’s not something that’s available constantly. It comes in the form of specialists. Specialists are characters chosen at the beginning of the match that have certain abilities attached to them. Take Torque for example, he has razor wire and a magnetic shield that he can place down. In Core, these aren’t much more than a hindrance. In Hardcore, however, they kill you almost instantly. Pair Torque’s abilities with Ajax, and you can literally blockade an area preventing the enemy from moving in that direction altogether. Basically forcing them into a tunnel of death. Each specialist has their uses, with the intention of pairing them with the best possible combinations. Which requires teamwork, and it’s Call of Duty, good luck with that! I must say, again, that the specialist abilities, to me, were not that much of a threat in core. They were more of a mere hindrance to my play rather than a threat. Everything changed in hardcore. Each and every ability the specialists bring to the table are deadly and need steady tactics to counter. None, however, feel overpowered. Take Torque’s Shield and Razor Wire for example, two rockets and they’re gone. Everything basically has a counter, except Recon’s wallhacks…Yeah, Recon can give the entire team wallhacks for a few moments. Long enough to get many kills for your team. At first, I thought this system was over-complicated and convoluted. As I gained more time in the game I’ve come to the realization that they really aren’t that complicated at all, and actually add a nice tactical edge to the game that was missing for a long time from the series.
I’ve seen a fair share of reviews stating that the guns were balanced and there were no “overpowered” weapons. I have to disagree. While most are fairly balanced, not all are equal in the least. Case in point is the Titan LMG. High magazine capacity, high damage, high rate of fire. You’d think that this, in and of itself, would make this more overpowered than a rifle with fewer rounds, less power. Then you slap on a thermal scope and welcome to god tier. While leveling up you are so limited with your choices that you can’t really make a custom class until you max your level out. Which is sad honestly. I remember in previous titles having to level up to unlock that grail gun, but it’s never been hard for me to craft a custom loadout prior to maxing my level out. You’ve always had access to fairly decent guns and perks. I feel like that’s totally not the way it is in Black Ops 4. It may just be me, but I know a friend of mine feels the same. This is both a good and a bad thing for the game. It’s great because you have to work towards getting the really good stuff. It’s bad because you are forced to use generic default kits to actually stay competitive until you unlock the perks you need. That being said, the default kits are fairly good loadouts. And would you believe it, the Titan with Thermal and x2 FMJ perks attached to it is one of the default loadouts! Do you know what loadout I chose? I think you can guess! While many might consider this cheap, and unfair, or say “You’ve got no skill!” I don’t see the problem with it. Mainly because I simply cannot make the loadout I really want right now. If I could choose the perks I wanted, sure, I could do something different. I just can’t do that right now, therefore I choose to use the best loadout possible to make the most points possible. Call it cheap, I call it tactics!
So far I’ve had nothing but good things to say for the game. This is great considering I hated Infinite Warfare. I thoroughly enjoyed CoD: WWII as well, however, it got tiring fast and I got burnt out on it rather quickly. Mainly because of map choices. I wasn’t a huge fan of the maps from WWII. Some were great, some weren’t. The ones that weren’t outweighed the ones that were for me unfortunately. Which brings me to a downside to Black Ops 4: The Maps. I was really hoping they would expand the map size slightly. Each and every map feels like nothing more than small corridor meat grinders. “But that’s what Call of Duty is about!” Sure, it’s about action packed FPS combat. However, when the map is so small that you are constantly having someone spawn right behind you because you stepped 2 feet too far towards the other side, it’s getting a little out of hand. Put it this way, I feel like most maps are more versions of Nuke Town. Constantly being killed from someone who spawns feet behind you simply because of the map being so small. I don’t hate all of the maps. There are a few that are really great, they did a really good job of creating them. Then you have some that just make me want to quit playing and re-queue. Then you have the fact that they recycled maps from older Black Ops games. While I don’t mind having some maps recycled, and honestly I like the maps they chose, I expected more “new” maps. Out of the fourteen total maps available, four of them are recycled. Pair all of these things with specialist’s ability to truly block off areas of the map, you’ve got serious problems. This may sound nitpicky to some, but to me, it’s a huge deal. Is it so much to ask for well thought out and designed maps? I don’t think so, especially since there is no single-player campaign. They have solely worked on multiplayer aspects of the game.
What about killstreaks? Surely they are better this time around, right? For the most part, yes, they are a whole lot better than WWII or Infinite Warfare for that matter. Unfortunately the “Airborne Troopers” killstreak from WWII has made its way to Black Ops 4 in the form of “Strike Team.” Unlike the Airborne Troopers from WWII, these can actually be commanded to move to specific locations using the reload button. What makes them so bad, you ask? If you remember from WWII the Airborne Troops absolute decimated the battlefield once they were called in. They took a lot of damage, and had aimbot accuracy. They were basically a guarantee team wipe. Well, the strike team only comes in a unit of 3 troops. Except they’re literally tanks. I’ve yet to face them in Core, as I play Hardcore after the first day, so I can’t really talk about them in Core mode. In Hardcore, however, they’re just way too overpowered. You die instantly, one hit and you’re done. They can shoot you nearly across the map. They are tanks, did I mention that? I’ve unloaded two magazines from my Titan and they weren’t dead. It took multiple people shooting them multiple times through death to kill them. This is a very overpowered, very unbalanced killstreak that seriously needs some work. It is the only killstreak that I can honestly say needs work. The rest are actually really great and don’t give you such an advantage over anyone else.
The last thing I want to touch on won’t be Blackout. I don’t really enjoy the battle-royale scene as much as some. While it’s fun, it’s not my cup of tea. Maybe that will change when they offer up hardcore mode, we’ll see. The last thing I want to talk about is the servers. Back when the beta was active, multiplayer was running at 60hz. What this means is the server is able to send packets to the client at a rate of no more than 60 per second. The information in these packets contain player positions, for example. If the information isn’t updated fast enough, you have what is seen as hit registration issues. “I shot him and he didn’t die, and he turned around and I died instantly!” Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they decided to reduce the tick rate from 60 down to 20. There are many videos out there showing proof, and you can even install wireshark yourself and check it out. This is a huge issue. In competitive games, especially fast paced games like Call of Duty, having a high tick rate is imperative to have top performance and enjoyment. No one wants to shoot someone, say 30 times, to have them turn around and kill you instantly simply because the tick rate happened to be in their favor by shear luck, “perfect timing.” No one knows why they chose to do this, nor when it will be increased. Aside from the server tick rates, the game is running great. I’ve yet to have any graphical issues or frame rate issues. It’s fairly optimized, at least for me.
Note: This review was done with a PC key provided by Activision PR.