I’ll admit, I once hated the fact that the game had no single player campaign. I’d blame the great campaign modes from Modern Warfare (and even from WW2!) for spoiling me and I’m one of the many who is used to and wanted a campaign mode. Historically, you would play a 10-15 hour story based mode and then possibly spend the next hundred or so hours in multiplayer. To everyone’s surprise, Treyarch puts their foot down and strips the game of that 10-15 hour experience and pumps everything they have into ensuring that the multiplayer experience is fantastic as hell and you know what? It is. Check out our review for Call of Duty Black Ops 4!

First off, you have the traditional multiplayer mode, which in itself is worth a good couple of hundred hours if you’re into this sort of thing. If you aren’t, I suggest that you turn back as early as now because that’s all you’re getting here, a full multiplayer experience. The biggest “change”, if you will, from Black Ops 3 is that the classic boots on the ground action is back and boy is it a sight for sore eyes. Majority of the community, including me, hated the futuristic turn of events from previous games and what we have in Black Ops 4 is honest to goodness, fast paced, classic CoD action. The base is strong and since Call of Duty has been a franchise that has stood the test of time, its foundations are rooted solid and in the same way, you can expect the multiplayer experience to be something that is polished, refined, and perfected.

During my playthrough, it was very evident that the experience this time around was very deliberate and tactical. From the active heal mechanic to the lack of insane boost related jumps, gone are the days of reckless abandon where you could outmaneuver someone by wall running and other unbelievable antics. In Black Ops 4, encounters are a mind game and everything is given a thoughtful approach. Do I like it that way? You bet your ass I do. I’m not the best FPS guy around and I play with very low sensitivity settings, so you can imagine how frustrated I am when somebody just flies past me and I can’t turn fast enough. This time around, the playing field is more balanced and winning relies more on true aiming skill and teamwork.

The usual culprits are still present, as you have Team Deatchmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, and others but we focus on 2 of the new modes, namely Control and Heist. Control is basically your zone capture mode, where teams strives to juggle attacking and defending a zone as you either kill the enemy enough times to finish off their life counter or by taking 2 out of the 3 objectives. Heist is, long story short, your terrorist / counter terrorist-esque mode, where each player has only one life until the next round starts as you look to extract a bag of cash (I know, it sounds cheesy af). As a personal preference coming from quite a number of hours playing Destiny 1 and 2, my favorite was Control because your specialist choice along with team tactics really come into play in this mode. At this point in the life cycle of the game, it was fun seeing the different tactics and Specialist combinations being used and expecting this to change over the next few weeks is something I’m excitedly looking forward to.

Speaking of Specialists, these are your “Character Classes”, simply put. In Black Ops 4, there are 10 specialists to choose from, with each having a unique loadout that is only usable by them. Whether your team needs a defensive or offensive specialist is something completely up to you. Trying to hold down a control spot? Torque is probably your best bet as he can set down a barricade that will allow your team to hunker down and defend an objective with ease. Tired of second guessing where that stray bullet is coming from? Choose Recon, as her Sensor Dart can reveal enemies within proximity, allowing your team to get the jump on any flank attempts. Just want to blow everything to pieces? Well then take on Battery and blast everything in sight using her grenade launcher. There’s a Specialist for nearly every occasion, and none of them feel particularly overpowered, but some will prove to be more useful than others in most situations. I’ve particularly taken a liking to Recon, because I absolutely hate it when enemies flare around for the backstab, so this is something that suits my playstyle more than the others and it also allows me to support the team with the additional intel.

 

If you’re looking for a campaign-ish mode, well then Zombies can probably fill in that role. There are 3 main experiences here – IX, Voyage of Despair, and Blood of the Dead – each with its own charm and storyline so to speak. If you haven’t played a Zombie mode from the previous Black Ops games, think of it simply as a wave-based scenario wherein you kill Zombies that will yield currency that you can use to either unlock new pathways or more powerful weapons. It sounds simple enough, but each scenario has some interesting unlocks and interactions that will uncover secret rooms and enemies that will provide you with a nearly new experience each time. Blood of the Dead is particularly noteworthy, as this was based off of a fan favorite from Black Ops 2. I’d go out on a limb to say that Black Ops 4 Zombie mode is the deepest and most engaging its ever been, especially since there are so many custom sliders and options to choose from which will allow you to almost play a custom zombie game within this mode!

As we move into Blackout, I’ll be the first to admit again that I was skeptical about this mode taking the nod over the tried and tested single player campaign. I hated the fact that it was nothing “new” and was just another pitiful and piggyback attempt at the battle royal genre which has gained excessive popularity as of late. While it technically is, Blackout dares to stand out from the rest of the games out there due to its polish. PUBG, for all its worth, is still buggy as hell but let’s give credit where it is due as it really set the tone for shooters to follow suit. Given that the foundation for a Call of Duty shooter is very strong, it would not be surprising that Blackout was as clean as it was going to be. Sure there are some small hitches here and there, and some players are even exploiting the emotes to peek through corners, but overall Blackout is a seriously fun and polished battle royal experience that few other games had been able to deliver.

Blackout pits you against a group of 50 60 70 other people all attempting to be the last man standing. Whether solo or with a squad, the action is very suspenseful and frantic, with the map being so big that stray fire can come from any side. Some matches may end in a couple of minutes while others will take quite a while, depending on how good and lucky you are, and that’s just the nature of the game mode and it really makes for some intense and memorable moments in the field. You scavenge houses and sheds for armor and weapons that will help you manage and as you encounter and defeat opponents along the way, you can pick up the items that they’ve managed to find to add to your ever growing inventory. One thing that you’ll need getting used to is the controls for Blackout, especially with trying out new attachments for guns. It isn’t as easy as I would have wanted and it’ll take a bit of getting used to, but you’ll get the hang of it a couple of games in and you’ll eventually figure out what loadout you’d want to roll with.

The loot within the game is a tad bit generous here, so you’ll be packing heat in no time. Out of all the games I’ve played, I think I only died once or twice without a gun in my hand just because I landed a bit further off than I would have wanted. This makes for some intense shootouts and most of the time, you should be prepared to face off against an armed opponent. I guess that’s what it is with Blackout, the fact that even in this mode, it still feels like a multiplayer mode match which makes for a hell of a lot of fun.

There are some supply drops to pick up the pace and if you’re like me who likes to shoot everything on sight, there are ZOMBIES as well. That’s right, Zombies are present even in Blackout and they pose some sort of an additional threat in game which when dealt with, can lead to some rewarding items that may spell victory during those last moments. There are multiple vehicles to toy with as well and getting into one is a double edged sword because as easy as it is to frag someone, you’re an easy target as well. Speaking of picking up the pace, you don’t need to stick to a match if you suddenly just got tagged as the first casualty. Step right out and hop back into another match to get right into the thick of things right away.

Pros:

  • Lack of a campaign mode is hardly noticeable
  • Blackout is the shining star of the game and well worth the price of admission
  • Zombie modes are a great distraction from Blackout
  • Massive multiplayer offering in terms of maps and modes

Cons:

  • Players may find it hard to swallow paying full price for a multiplayer only game
  • For a game of this nature, expect a lot of balance updates in the future and if you don’t have a good internet connection, you may want to skip this one out

Final Verdict: 9/10

Let’s face it, that God-awful campaign mode in Black Ops 3 was something that had to go and if they were just gonna put another similar offering in the 4th game, it was better off without. I’d imagine that not creating a campaign mode freed up ample resources to really bring the multiplayer experience to life and does it show here in the Black Ops 4. Multiplayer modes are packed, Zombies is still a smash to play, and Blackout is arguably the best iteration of a battle royal mode that I’ve seen so far. Black Ops 4 is out to prove a lot of doubters wrong and it is doing so in style.

*Call of Duty Black Ops 4 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review code provided by the publisher.