This year, it’s Treyarch’s turn at the wheel of Activision Blizzard’s most prolific title, Call of Duty, and you know what that means, there’s a new Black Ops game on the horizon – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. That’s all the opportunity franchise naysayers usually need, “it’s the same game, again,” they’ll claim, and they’re sort of right, but only sort of.
Black Ops, historically, hasn’t been the world’s most original franchise, instead opting for consistency and refinement. But, it’s that lack of originality, this time, that’s going to win big for Treyarch and the bigwigs at Activision Blizzard. During last night’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 reveal, we saw a lot of the features we expected to see, and then some.
It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it
Take weapon customisation, character classes and the ubiquitous zombie mode. All three make a return to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and all three have been turned up to 11 this time around.
Weapon customisation has been greatly expanded. Whereas before, you were able to make minor tweaks to the stats (recoil, noise suppression, stopping power, etc.) and the ammo capacity of your favourite guns, now you’re able to alter their utility and the way they function in a match.
Character classes, on the other hand, fulfil a similar role to Black Ops 3, but Treyarch has clearly learnt a few things from Overwatch and Rainbow Six: Siege. Each class comes with match-defining gadgets and abilities, focused largely on aiding the team rather than just the player, and each team is limited to one of each class in any single match.
Throw in complicated loadout and perk decisions, and it’s clear that a lot of matches are going to come down to player choice and teamwork as much as it will be about individual skill. That’s probably why League is returning to Black Ops 4, that and the undeniable success of Overwatch’s own league play – remember, Activision and Blizzard are besties now.
Speaking of which, the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will no longer live on Steam and is, instead, moving over to Activision Blizzard’s digital distribution platform, Battle.net. As an added perk, it’s getting dedicated servers, and we were promised a constant stream of new content and polish, as any Blizzard game would – Overwatch’s own Jeff Kaplan even said as much.
The stream of new content Treyarch was referring to is undoubtedly going to focus heavily on their new co-op zombie mode, revealed during the event last night. In it, players will travel through time and work together to right the wrongs of both fictional and non-fictional events – each promising a radically different encounter. That includes a much larger assortment of supernatural villains. Throw in hundreds of unique mutations to affect each playthrough, leaderboards and more, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
No one was surprised by a battle royale mode – Blackout still sounds fun though
The elephant in the room, the one we were all waiting for, was of course announced by Treyarch at the conclusion of the presentation. Black Ops 4 is entering the battle royale business. It’s a mode we’ve all been anticipating, but we weren’t prepared for the promise of the inclusion of vehicles and all of the loony weapons from zombie mode. That’s exciting.
We don’t actually know all that much about the mode, or whether it’ll even launch alongside the rest of the game, but we were promised maps that are hundreds, if not thousands, of times larger than anything Call of Duty fans have experienced before.
What we do know is that the cost of this new mode is the loss of a dedicated campaign for Black Ops 4. Instead, players will be given the option to learn a little about each character class through what sounded a lot like story-driven mini-campaigns.
Go big or go home
Whether you’re a long-time fan of Call of Duty or not, Black Ops 4 is worth keeping an eye on. It’s prettier and more ambitious than any game in the franchise before it. That’s not insignificant because Call of Duty may not be the most original franchise, but it has transformed the gaming landscape in more ways than we can count. Like it or not, it’s a cultural phenomenon, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 looks to be no different.
We’d just like to thank Mettlestate, South Africa’s own dedicated streaming and competitive eSports haven, as well as Megarom, distributor for Call of Duty, for inviting us to their event last night.