Paint It Black...Again
Nothing in gaming felt quite as rewarding as landing a crazy shot in Modern Warfare 2.
Though a close second would be coming in hot with a nuclear streak and dropping the bomb on the entire enemy team and hearing their rage fill your headset with screeches and screams. Any longtime Call of Duty fan knows these feelings, and none of the franchise’s games since the first and second Black Ops iterations have riled up that nostalgia for me. It’s no secret that the last few years have been rather divisive for Call of Duty, but 30 hours with Black Ops 4 have been a serious trip down memory lane with a fresh new take on one of the most popular shooter franchises of all time.
Starting from the top, BO4 takes us back to the highly requested “boots on the ground” gameplay style- a far cry from the more recent use of jetpacks and boosters we’ve seen thus far- and man is it refreshing. The gameplay is smooth and the lack of boosting and hopping around would probably make one assume that it slows the pace of the game down, but the truth is quite the opposite. Smaller maps with shorter lines of sight mean the action never stops, though this speed does occasionally make for strange spawn points and frustrating instances of repeated deaths to players you can’t even see. These are all minor gripes that can be fixed with updates and attributed to becoming accustomed to the speed of the gameplay, however. Ultimately, going back to its roots is exactly what Call of Duty needed to liven up the experience for new players and longtime fans.
Healing after a gunfight in past games meant sneaking behind cover and waiting for your health to come back before pushing forward again, but BO4 once again changes the formula with their manual healing system. The press of a button initiates a “stimshot” healing that slowly regenerates HP and goes into a cooldown afterward. This is one of the mechanics that speeds up the gameplay and allows players to stay in the fight or jump back in very quickly. Certain perks will lower the cooldown and let players heal while shooting, making for some exciting and game-changing plays. Other perks allow you to use body armor, granting you bonus HP and a buffer against gunfire. The armor was one of the most controversial additions leading up to the release, and it could use a little more tweaking, but it’s a huge improvement comparatively. BO4’s multiplayer has made leaps and bounds when compared to past games, and the sacrifice of losing the campaign is apparent in the time and effort put into this mode.
When World at War released, I had only tried the critically acclaimed and hugely popular zombies mode a few times. However, when the first of the Black Ops trilogy made its way into stores, I lost countless hours of sleep and my grades tanked quite a bit as I began playing every single bit of zombies content over and over again. In my first minutes with Black Ops 4 and its zombies content, I knew that Treyarch had yet again struck gold- and let’s just say I’m glad I haven’t had any homework to do. With three action-packed zombies experiences (four if you’re a season pass holder) to choose from, the potential for hours of mindless zombie slaying is at an all-time high. The gameplay feels fresh and classic all at the same time, delivering new content without pushing too much on players and driving some veteran fans away. The addition of new, hulk-like zombies offer a new way to shake things up and keep players on their toes.
Zombies used to make me nervous playing, as if I was actually on the blood-soaked grounds, hammering windows and fearing the corners I bustled around. As time went on, it began to become a routine of trying for higher and higher rounds- the zombies simply obstacles in my path. Now, dropping in with the ominous music playing fills me with nervousness and dread as I hear the undead’s moans closing in, and I love every moment of it. Treyarch has infused the mode with fresh takes and challenging obstacles, all the while tapping back into my love for zombies mode of old and I can’t wait to dive back in.
Blackout was easily the most anticipated and simultaneously the most controversial game mode to be added to the franchise. The Battle Royale buzz has been climbing for some time now, brought along by powerhouses in the genre like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and has sprouted many titles from developers new and old alike. So it comes as no surprise that Call of Duty would attempt to capitalize on that hype by adding their own twist to the newly lauded genre. I was nervous for Blackout and after the beta, I didn’t feel that anything new would be brought to the table, but Treyarch has managed to deliver a fresh and tantalizing battle royale experience.
While the player count started slightly lower, usually at 88 (it decreases and increases with updates based on player feedback), the experience feels largely similar to a typical battle royale, with the last player standing victorious. Various maps from previous Call of Duty entries make an appearance on the large map, split up by typical geographical landmarks like hills and mountains that make for great vantage points. I haven’t spent a ton of time with it yet, but I’ve had some of the funniest and most enjoyable experiences with friends while playing- something I’ve never had with other battle royale games. The smooth and fast gameplay of Call of Duty multiplayer translates well into Blackout and the potential pairing of seasoned shooting mechanics with this genre is limitless.
With Black Ops 4, Treyarch has written a familiar love letter to past iterations while still managing to deliver a fresh and exciting take on the FPS genre. These small iterations on the formula provide a pallet cleanse of sorts for players who have burned out on previous titles. Smaller maps and very few spawn points make for a frustrating adjustment, but the end result is still the exact same thrilling rush that Black Ops has become known for. I fell in love with Call of Duty all over again here and as many of the pro players are saying- “It’s gonna be a good year for CoD.”