Black Ops 4 Review: Make or Break

Call of Duty requires zero introduction. The most prestigious gaming franchise in history is back for another year, but this year is different. It’s Call of Duty’s make or break year. Many people have argued that ever since Black Ops 2 in 2012, there hasn’t been a single quality release of a CoD (Call of Duty) since then. Black Ops 4 must answer the question whether or not this franchise is in the dumps, or if there is still potential within this revolutionary gaming series. 

Official Black Ops 4 zombie art

Official Black Ops 4 zombie art

ZOMBIES

This year, the zombies mode is exponentially more difficult. All three maps (excluding the season pass exclusive map) are enormous, complicated, filled with narrow hallways, and have a lot to take in. On the map, “IX” you will find yourself against 4-8 different zombie bosses per round. “Blood of the Dead” (my personal favorite) has players struggling where to go next and every round holds something new. The most fun I’ve ever had in this game is having a group of my buddies go into “Blood of the Dead” and tactically strategize each round that is thrown at us. I’ve played 500+ hours of zombies from Black Ops 1, Black Ops 2, Black Ops 3, and never have I stressed, sweat, and prepared so much for each zombies match played. Not only is each map difficult in their own way, but the zombies AI (The way they act) is game changing. In every previous title zombies have followed your every direction, zombies in front of you chase you head on, but in BO4 the zombies will cut you off. They will walk where you’ll end up being in a few seconds. This makes the classic training method much more difficult, and it only adds on to the fact that there aren’t any great training spots on any map.

Even though the map design, zombie difficulty, and basic weapon damage all go against your favor, it still doesn’t hold me back from having fun. The excitement and challenge stems from countering these changes. For new/casual players who want to simply have fun, it’s almost impossible. According to Moeller junior Justin Hornschmeir , “I feel like zombies is a well done game mode, but every map is hard to learn and simply too difficult to have fun on, even though I want to get better, I just don’t have the energy or time”.

He’s right. Many players aren’t going to know how to adjust to these changes. However, many players like me, and a YouTuber by the name of DeathlyQ have many praises for the game mode. “I will admit they didn’t cater to the casual player. It feels like they reduced overall damage for all guns, they increased the amount of bosses, they made stronger zombies, the maps are made of tight corridors and small rooms, but for experienced players like me wanting to have more challenge, this game is for them”. Even DeathlyQ admits that zombies is hard, but there’s a reason why it’s still fun to play.

New zombies boss named, “The Blightfather”

New zombies boss named, “The Blightfather”

Customization has evolved exponentially. Not only can you add attachments to weapons, but you can create your own class, and with this new feature comes with many other major game changes as well. BO4 introduced a new perk system, a special weapon, 5 different equipment options, elixir loadouts (gobblegum from BO3), and a whole lot of freedom. For each class, you can choose 4 perks out of 12 available you’d like to bring into your game instead of having default perks load in for you. I like this system, despite the fact I highly dislike the removal of the classic perks (juggernog, speed cola, double tap). It offers a new experience each time you enter a new game, I must admit though I find myself running the same perks every game, but opinions differ everywhere.

Most importantly, they added an option for a special weapon. A highly overpowered piece of weaponry that can range from a specialized katana, death machine, or the classic Ragnaroks from BO3. They charge up over a period of time so you can’t use them constantly but it’s a small change that makes a huge difference.

Special weapon named Ragnarok DG-4’s

Special weapon named Ragnarok DG-4’s

Overall the zombies experience in Black Ops 4 has left no unanswered questions. It’s still an extremely well-made mode that compliments the series very well despite the difficulty it may hold. Even though the changes made such as the new perk system, the underwhelming wonder weapons, and the higher difficulty may deter more casual players from the game mode, if you’re a rather experienced player looking for a higher challenge and a lot of high paced action, Black Ops 4 zombies will provide with such.

Blackout

Call of Duty’s new Blackout mode did not fail to meet expectations. Despite how much criticism was slapped on BO4 when a battle royale game mode was announced, the amount of effort and innovation that’s been introduced to Blackout is unbelievable. Weapons have lootable attachments, the different map locations are vast, and you can even find perks on the ground. Even though the changes made to this battle royale game mode are unique, there’s still one major problem that will no doubtedly keep players from playing…the pacing.

Instead of the classic 100 player match, there’s only 88 players per round. Considering just how massive the map is, you’re lucky to find a person/squad outside of where you landed before the circle gets really small. For tactical players like senior Cameron Reid, this is a great sight to see, “Being able to safely loot one or more places outside of where you landed is great, it allows you to collect as much loot as possible in preparation for the bigger battles that happen towards the end.” Moeller baseball player Michael Tennie disagrees, “I want to be in the action and be on the edge of my seat for the entire game. Sometimes I get so bored looking for action that I’ll kill my character to start over”.

Another issue is that the flow of Blackout is just like any other battle royale. Most battle royale maps are made up of large grasslands with lumpy hills that connect each place to each place. 95% of the time the final circle will occur in these areas and Blackout is no exception. We’ve been playing battle royale for almost 2 years now for some people, to have the same thing happen every time in every game is honestly starting to dwell. Sit behind a rock/tree and try to find other people doing the same thing. It would’ve been nice to see a major change in how the games come to a conclusion. Maybe have the circle close in on a compacted city to increase pace and action every game? Decrease map size so grasslands aren’t so overwhelmingly vast? If you’re someone who enjoys the classic match conclusions, Blackout will surely be of benefit to you, but if you’re someone who fiends for high paced, edge of your seat game-play, then Blackout may not be for you.

Official Blackout map

Official Blackout map

MULTIPLAYER

As someone who has played Call of Duty ESports since 2015, you might expect someone as experienced as me to love the multiplayer, but I happen to feel otherwise. In fact, this is the worst multiplayer since Call of Duty: Ghosts. The maps are small, but feel enormous because of how large the spawn areas are. Getting back into the action after a death feels more like a chore in BO4. They did this is prevent spawn trapping, but making the spawns bigger only makes the situation worse. I can’t tell you how many games of domination are spent just trying to dig yourself out of your own spawn.

The worst map of them all is “Icebreaker”. The spawn is extremely wide, so you may spawn on one side, but then get flanked from the other side inside your own spawn area. I’m not the only one who sees this problem. Webb City senior out of Missouri named Chandler Clopton had many things to say about the spawns, “It feels like the majority of games in all game modes are spent trying to get yourself to spawn elsewhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll die in a row before the game finally decides to spawn me somewhere else where I can actually move”. We can trust they’ll change this in the future, but if bad spawns irritate you and you haven’t bought the game, wait a little because the situation is so bad it has to be addressed. But there are some changes that are hopeless. Some changes that make me simply quit playing. And the number one culprit of this is the new health system introduced.

Screenshot of in-game HUD

Screenshot of in-game HUD

 It’s almost guaranteed for the people who haven’t bought the game are doing so only because they want to see how the new health operates. And oh man is it a terrible change. They changed the health from 100HP to 150HP. It may not seem like much but a +50HP increase is like 2-4 more bullets depending on your gun. Snipers are almost always a 2-hit kill, and the only guns that seem to work well are a couple assault rifles, semi-autos, and LMG’s. In fact LMG’s are always consistent 2-4 hit kills. Even senior Michael Shipp said he found himself playing way differently in Black Ops 4, “The gameplay just feels slower so there isn’t much incentive to move around. I find myself just sitting in a building using an LMG because most of the other guns don’t function as highly as the others.” Shipp is one of many people who have found this easier for themselves, and most of this spike in camping in BO4 is due to the map design in Call of Duty.

The Black Ops series is known for a 3-lane map system. A left lane, a right lane, and middle lane, all completely different from each other. Most of these lanes include easy flank routes and curvatures in order to prevent major camping and support the fast-pace of Call of Duty. However, lanes in Black Ops 4 are open, long, skinny, and straight. Pushing up in a lane is almost impossible. If you’re a player who enjoys the fast-paced action Call of Duty had to offer for the past decade, then this Call of Duty might not be for you, if you’re a player who enjoys taking things slow and steady, then Black Ops 4 is meant for you.

When I asked Moeller senior Evan Davis and Moeller football player Jack Lampert, they had the same exact problem, “It’s unbelievable how much the health system has changed the game. If you run around the map you’ll get kills, but since it takes so long to kill people, you’re not as likely to get major killstreaks and feeds like in previous titles. This is why people camp up in lanes because they know they face almost no risk with a high reward waiting for them”.

Titan LMG in Black Ops 4

Titan LMG in Black Ops 4

 

You may have heard of the sub-machine gun controversy in the multiplayer. It isn’t just a controversy, it’s a crisis. A YouTuber who calls himself, Drift0r, ran an experiment in Black Ops 4 testing the effectiveness of assault rifles to sub-machine guns at a distance of approximately 7-15 meters (close range). According to his research, the average time-to-kill without headshots/high caliber is .34 seconds. Where the average time-to-kill for sub-machine guns is .37 seconds. keep in mind this is for close ranges, where sub-machine guns have traditionally engineered in the game to thrive with very high time-to-kill, and this number only gets substantially more divided as you move to high ranges (close-mid range, mid-range, long range). Keep in mind, rapid fire and high caliber (increased headshot damage).

For assault rifles, here are the averages for time-to-kill with rapid fire/high caliber

ICR: .39

KN57: .3

Rampart: .24

VAPR: .18

Maddox: .28

AVERAGE: .27 seconds

Here are the sub-machine gun time-to-kill numbers with rapid fire/high caliber

MX9: .23

GKS: .45

Spitfire: .21

Cordite: .34

Saug: .32

AVERAGE: .32 seconds

The numbers are absurd. Statistically speaking, you should never be choosing to use a sub-machine gun in your entire time playing Black Ops 4. If you’re someone who typically thrives in sub-machine gun use, then you might want to make a change. This only solidifies the fact that the game-play in BO4 has become slower and more tactical. Keep in mind this video was put out 10/29/18. SO they might make a change in the near future.

OVERALL

Black Ops 4 is a complete Call of Duty. It’s full of content and it truly feels like a $60 dollar game. Zombies is a fierce challenge that will only get better and produce over time, and Blackout is a fun yet competitive break from multiplayer or zombies. The game is worthwhile overall, despite some major flaws in Multiplayer,

Mike Stefanski