Call of Duty has been in dire need of revitalization over the last few years. The formula, while solid, had grown to become overly familiar and not all that exciting. And when they had announced that they are dropping the single player and adding a Battle Royale mode, I audibly sighed. This was looking bad. As someone who had enjoyed my time with Fortnite & PUBG, I was not hungry for more of the same.
But you know what, I was wrong. Call of Duty’s new Battle Royale mode, called Blackout, is surprisingly fun. It offers the same tactical depth as many other Battle Royale games, but still has the over the top action that Call of Duty is known for.
The setup is similar – you drop out of the air, land on the ground, gear up and murder. This time though, you’re in helicopters, and instead of parachutes you have wingsuits. The wingsuits are more precise to control and get you around faster. Once you drop in, it’s a mad rush to collect loot – of which there is a great variety. Sure, there are guns and attachments. But nothing beats the Monkey Bomb, a grenade that can draw in a horde of zombies to mess with other players. Imagine trapping them in a building with a zombie horde to engage along with other players attacking them. This is a theme I notices interspersed throughout Blackout – there’s great depth to the game, but it’s also clear that the devs want the players to get creative and have some fun.
The weapons and shooting feel fantastic. The guns sound great and distinct. More importantly, this feels like the first time in a Call of Duty game that you’re getting into combat engagements at such long distances and it still holds up well. Many of zones also have tall buildings you can get into, like the construction site, and these are often the best combat sections. Having other players above and beneath you gives way to some intense moments, and getting out of these alive feels enthralling. Call in a helicopter or send out a RC car, and you can get up to all kinds of shenanigans.
The map is huge, and various zones stand out. Folks will clearly have their favorite sites to loot eventually, but in these early days, I am enjoying discovering the nuances of all the different areas. Also, with the large map size, vehicles play an important part and you can find them all over the map. They are easy to control, but are not the standard R2 L2 affair, instead they are fully controlled by the sticks, at least by default. It takes a minute to get a hand of and strangely enough you never have good control over the camera while driving. It’s not that bad, and something that can easily be fixed with a patch.
The core of the gameplay, while similar to the standard Call of Duty multiplayer feel, does have some significant differences. You are always encouraged to take cover and scout out areas. running willy-nilly in the open will get you killed pretty fast. However, the ‘time to kill – ttk’, is definitely longer, and you have a better chance of ducking down, healing yourself and getting out of a rough spot alive, than you would in a standard multiplayer match. there’s also a wide array of defensive and offensive equipment at your disposal – you can lay down barbwire to slow down incoming enemies, deploy RC cars to pick out enemies around the corner, shoot out sensors to detect hidden enemies nearby, and more offer tactical options not found in other Battle royale games.
I have always enjoyed Call of Duty, and it’s great to see that they are doing interesting things with the Battle Royale genre. The Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout private beta dates are as below:
- PS4 Blackout beta start date: Monday, September 10th
- Xbox One Blackout beta start date: Friday, September 14th
- PC early access Blackout beta start date: Friday, September 14th
- PC open beta Blackout beta start date: Saturday, September 15th
The Blackout beta end date is the same for all platforms – Monday, September 17th.
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