Hello and welcome to my thoughts on Blackout. Sorry I am late on this, getting banned on Giant Bomb and having all of the floors in my house ripped out can do that some times. But that is besides the point, as for I am here to talk about the newest competitor in the battle royale market. So, how is Call of Duty’s take on this trendy multiplayer mode?
Normally, I would go over what the game is about, but this is just Call of Duty battle royale. So, I’ll go over some details. The game has 88 players (though towards the end of the beta they were toying with 100). I cannot seem to find the exact measurements of the map but I would say it’s between Fortnite and PUBG’s first map. the game includes weapons, attachments, vehicles, temporary perk boosts, various pieces of equipment, and more. The beta was already throwing in some special modes and map elements, including a mode that has a faster moving circle and only close-quarter weapons as well as throwing in a boss zombie into the map on the last day. Overall, I would say that structurally, Blackout falls in between Fortnite and PUBG with some elements of the game leaning towards the latter. So, how is the mode?
My thoughts of the game can pretty much be summed up into seven words: it is Call of Duty battle royale. Now I get that this is a terrible description for my thoughts on the game because, well no duh this is Call of Duty battle royale. So let me say this in another way: the best aspects of Call of Duty are blended with what makes battle royale so great and this is the result. I can’t help but describe the game in this manner because when I think about what makes this mode stand out above the rest, I can’t point to one major mechanic of the game or anything like that. When thinking about what makes Blackout so good, I usually end up with ‘it’s just a really good one of those’ or ‘it’s Call of Duty in a battle royale.’ So, what exactly makes this mode great?
Let’s start with the Call of Duty aspect to the game. The biggest concern I had with this mode going in is how opposite the mode feels to Call of Duty. Call of Duty isn’t known for large maps with high player counts and vehicles scattered around the maps. But I would say that they do a good job at making this large world while still keeping the gameplay tight. Guns now have bullet drop at long distances but the shooting still feels tight. Perks now litter the ground and give you a few minutes of boost, and all of the perks feel useful. Vehicles control fine, but being able to freely move around the vehicle instead of being locked into the seat feels great. Loads of equipment like various throwables, an rc recon car, a grappling hook, and more are also scattered around the map and those feel useful as well. The game does a good job at nailing the Call of Duty feel while being in this large area. Whenever I played other BR games I found myself playing more conservatively; holding back, not using a lot of my equipment, etc. But I find myself playing this like I play normal Call of Duty. I find myself rushing into buildings, throwing my grenades, using my equipment, and more. This is just just a me thing of course, but I found that the Call of Duty feel to the game makes me feel less like a bumbling mess and now I am playing with more aggression and skill. It feels nice for once to actually feel like I am winning battles based on my skill and not luck. In PUBG, I would never use any throwables, but in this game I find myself using the various pieces of equipment because they all feel much more useful to me. For me, Blackout is the mode where I feel I can use my skill instead of luck to get better at the game.
It’s not too surprising that the game nails the Call of Duty aspects, but how does it handle the battle royale aspects? As it turns out, pretty damn well. The map feels like the perfect size between Fortnite and PUBG. I found that Fortnite’s small map size doesn’t get me as invested into the game because the map leads to shorter play times while PUBG lasts way too long and leaves me running constantly. While I won’t say you won’t have some of these issues in this mode, I find the map size to be a good balance between the two. Also, I like this map the most. It’s various callbacks to other Call of Duty games makes the map unique and I personally felt that the generic elements of the map were both beautiful and felt less cut-and-paste than other games. Guns are scattered in a way so that it doesn’t take long to find yourself with a decent arsenal, which I felt also played into the skill aspect because it allows people to be more evenly matched. Also, the equipment screen and equipping items is super fast, more organized than other games, and gives more flow to the gameplay. One complaint I have for the inventory is how it structured. While I think its structure of separating ammo and items makes going through the menus faster, I would prefer the PUBG style of picking up based on weight. Still, little complaints overall on the BR aspects. Overall, I would say the battle royale aspect to the game feels like the goldilocks of BR games.
One of the big things I liked about the game are the smaller details. Kind of an oxymoron, but I found myself noticing a lot of smaller detail and small fun things that annoyed me other games. Things like being able to heal yourself while moving, having all bandages heal you to max with one bandage overcharging your health, being able to shoot and swim, and more being small inconveniences fixed in this game. But the one small thing (which I guess isn’t that small the more I think about it) I enjoyed are the zombies. Around the map, there are a few mystery boxes filled with good stuff. The only issue is there are zombies that spawn around the box and everyone knows where these boxes are by the bright blue light the shines on the box. I thought this was a really cool aspect of the game, but it speaks to a larger picture that the game feels fully featured. One of the other biggest things I liked about this is how lush the game feels. It doesn’t feel like some slapped together mode with some guns scattered around, it feels like the developers sat down with the game and tried to add as many things to the game as possible. Zombies, fun game modes, perks, the map itself, equipment, and more speaks to how well built the game feels compared to others. I don’t know if it could compete with how updated Fortnite is, but it still feels like something developers really care about.
At this point, I talk about how well the beta ran, and I would say it was not that great. The game ran smooth, but I had a lot of hiccups along the way. The biggest issue I had was with matchmaking, because for some weird reason it was really hard to play with my friends. The game would sometimes kick my friends out of the game, sometimes I would get kicked out the game, I had the game crash a few times, and some other small issues here-and-there. I tend to keep the technical issues of a beta out of my thoughts of the game because, well, it’s a beta; but these issues were troubling and I hope they are ironed out when the game launches.
In the end, I would say that Blackout is one of the best things Call of Duty has done (for me at least) in a few years. It acts as both a solid third prong to the game as well as an interesting Black Ops time capsule through its characters and map. Not only that, Blackout is my favorite battle royale game because it feels like the perfect balance between the other two giants. The mode isn’t perfect, but I believe it will be a big competitor to the others. I hope that this mode will be sold separately from the rest of the game in the future (though I am not holding my breath), because I think this mode could thrive on its own. After the multiplayer beta, I thought I would be done with this game, but this mode now has me interested in Black Ops 4 again. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am excited for Black Ops 4.
Well, that’s about it. I do have some negatives about the game, but I can’t quite put my finger on them. Still, I don’t think they hold as much weight as the positives of the game. I know I sound like a kiss-ass for this game, but I did have a lot of fun with it and I can’t wait to dive right back into it. But what are your thoughts on the game? Put ‘em in the comments below. And as always, thank you for reading.