The newest installment of Call of Duty is on the horizon, and with that some multiplayer betas. It just so happens I was given a key, so I decided to try it out for myself on PC. So, here are my thoughts on Call of Duty Black Ops 4.
Before I even get into the game, I already had a flaw with this game: it's only being sold on Battle.net. I understand why it isn't being sold on Steam, but even then I think only selling it on battle.net is a big mistake. Steam workshop support? Steam forums? Better sales generally speaking? Gone. Since this is Treyarch's baby, I thought it would follow along Black Ops 3's path with adding mods, but now I am not so sure. Then we get to the gameplay.
In many ways, Black Ops 4 is different and the same at the same time. At the end of the day, it is still a CoD game through and through, but when you look deeper you can see some bigger differences and bigger similarities than ever before. But what do I mean? I'll start with the differences.
Obviously, the biggest change to the game is the lack of singleplayer. Now, this beta only had multiplayer active, but that change can be seen in multiplayer as well. How so? It's theme (or lack thereof). The game seems to be set in the near future, and the battle has Black Ops forces taking on mercenaries. What for? I don't know. But I actually kind of liked the lack of a theme. This lack of a theme really frees things up in terms of locales, and I think simply having mercs vs. Black Ops with no story tied to it is strange yet oddly cool. The other thing singleplayer changed up are the prongs to the game. Call of Duty has always been a three prong game: singleplayer, multiplayer, and a third mode (zombies at this point). Now, everyone already knows singleplayer is being replaced by a battle royale mode, but one thing I noticed in the main menu of the beta is a fourth option: solo missions. From the sounds of it, they are missions to hone your skills, but as long as they don't tie the game down to any story, then that's fine.
When you enter the multiplayer, you hit the menu to create a class, look at the different specialists, choose what game mode you want to play, and a few more options. The first thing you notice, of course, are the menus as for you are choosing whatever you want to do through a menu. I wanted to talk about the menus real quick because of how unwieldy they are while playing the game; more specifically choosing a loadout. Changing loadouts while in-game is a pretty big deal for me, so when I see that choosing a loadout is something you scroll left to right on one at a time, it annoys me. Another issue similar to the menu is the HUD. Most of the HUD is fine, but the ammo counter is terrible, as for it makes how much ammo you have left hard to tell. I know these are micro-complaints, but when we are dealing with Call of Duty so a lot of things are micro.
After you see the menu, you try to make a loadout, only to find that like every other CoD, you can't do anything until you hit level five. So, you go right into the game modes. As of now, there are five game modes (though there are game modes within some of the game modes). The craziest and newest one on the block is called 'heist.' In this mode, you and the other team are trying to capture a bag of money and bring it to an extraction point. But what makes this different from a basic capture the flag mode are three things: you only have one life per round, each round starts with you investing money into a loadout, and supplies are limited. I found this mode to be a lot of fun and extremely creative, but I also wanted to work with my loadouts, and I found that the mode didn't feel really tactical (something I will talk about later). The next mode is control, which has teams either capturing or defending two points with a limited amount of lives (thirty for each team). I found this mode to be my favorite because of how long matches lasted and its gameplay. Two other modes are moshpits of previous CoD modes. The first had team deathmatch and kill confirmed, while the other had domination and hardpoint. The last mode is search and destroy. Overall, I think Black Ops 4's new game modes are fun, but I also know they will most likely be abandoned when the game comes out for its standard modes. Then we get into actually playing the game, and that is when the biggest changes and similarities shine.
The next biggest thing talked about behind a lack of singleplayer is manually healing. Does it make the game more difficult or more tactical? No. In the end, all you are doing is pushing a button after being shot at. If anything, it made healing faster because with auto healing, it takes a few seconds for the healing to start while this game you can start it immediately. It became such a habit to manually heal, that I would find myself pressing the button instead of reloading some times. In the end, it didn't change how people fight in CoD, or anything really. Classes make a comeback from Black Ops 3, and man do they suck. There are a surprisingly high amount of them ripped straight from Black Ops 3 (some with the same name even), but there are some new ones as well. Despite that, I didn't find playing with them to be 'tactical' and their abilities felt more like equipment choices in a loadout than actual abilities (which I actually wish they were). The only characters worth noting are a dude with a grapple gun because grappling was pretty fun, a lady with a tac deploy which I will get to soon, and a dude with a shield because his shield ability was way too overpowered. Overall, I would say that the biggest 'changes' made either don't make the experience any different or suck. But there are a lot of smaller differences to the game that aren't being mentioned that actually do change things up a bit.
I talked about a lady with a tac deploy earlier, so the question is what is a tac deploy? In this game, you can actually choose to either spawn at a random location or spawn on a tac deploy. The most strategy I ever used in this game was to play as that character and put down a tac deploy near a control point in control to be near that point. I actually think choosing where to spawn is a pretty big micro change for the game, and I only wish you could choose to spawn on players at any time. Also, I don't think anyone ever used it except me. The other big micro change are how grenades are used. You don't really have a tactical and lethal grenade slot anymore. You can change out one of your abilities for a grenade, but that didn't unlock until level twenty-nine. So more is happening under the hood, but in the grand scheme of things are small changes.
After leveling up some, you get to the loadout. The loadout follows the ten point system similar to Black Ops 3, and has the same things like wildcards, optics, attachments, etc. But there are some differences. There are two types of sniper rifles in the primary slot, and shotguns have been pushed down to secondary. Also, fully leveling up a gun unlocks a cool mod for the game that changes up how the gun is used like making a weapon burst fire, adding a bayonet, incendiary ammo, and more. The guns themselves were fun to use and felt meaty, but the guns all felt the same and still seems to follow a basic unlock formula. Also, leveling up feels slower, which means slower unlocks. Overall, I actually like the changes made to the loadout, with the exception of grenades.
Some other things to note: matchmaking felt horribly unbalanced, maps were pretty but still ultimately feel like basic CoD maps, and being killed by a sniper gives you a pretty cool sound of a rifle bolt being cocked back.
I have held off two things now, so let's get into the first one: how the game is the same. I said earlier this game is more different and the same as any Call of Duty before. I talked about the differences, so let's get into the similarities. This game is almost EXACTLY like Black Ops 3. I know it's a common criticism to say that all CoD games are alike, but Black Ops 3 and 4 are the closest Cod games ever. Some people like to say as a criticism that 'all they did was do this one thing to the game to change it,' but I have always seen the bigger differences between games. This time though, all I feel Black Ops 4 did was rip off the exo suits from Black Ops 3 and call it that. I don't like calling developers lazy because they are not, but I believe this has got to be the laziest Call of Duty game ever made. My guess is that they were planning something big and had to can it at the last minute, so they made this game. But if that is the case, then why should I buy this possible last second creation? Even the main menu music sounds like Black Ops 2's music.
The other thing I held back and talked about throughout is about being tactical. A lot of people are saying this is a tactical Call of Duty and whatnot. So is it? No. It certainly looks the part, and I felt slightly tactical placing a tac deploy that nobody used, but this is not a tactical Call of Duty. Some things like telling you exactly how much damage you have, telling you the percentage of help you gave capturing something, or the guns makes the experience look cool, and the classes if played right could be tactical, but at the end of the day this is the same CoD experience through and through. Character abilities don't feel like they can be tactically used; they feel like something used for cheap kills. Even at its most hardcore mode (heist), nobody was talking to each other. Now some of this is to blame on the players. Call of Duty is a casual game, so their consumer base is a casual audience (for the most part). But I still think trying to compare this to more tactical games like Rainbow Six: Siege or CS:GO is a lost cause.
In the end, I think that despite the bigger changes, you are still playing the same game. If anything, this is the laziest the series has ever gotten. Nothing here really changed how I play CoD. Despite some of the changes, this has got to be the most uneventful Call of Duty multiplayer to date. Now more than ever, I want to know what its battle royale mode is like because now I know just how bland this new CoD multiplayer is. I can't speak for the rest of the game, but I think this new CoD multiplayer, the biggest prong in the game, is not worth any money.
If you have any questions about the multiplayer, as well as if you would like to know about my thoughts on anything else Black Ops 4, I can answer them down below in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading.