This year we're getting a Black Ops 4 battle royale mode called Blackout, a massive franchise-hopping take on the genre that seems to be built from anything and everything that’s ever appeared in Black Ops.
It’s hard to tell how much of the secrecy around the mode is tease, and how much is because it’s a short notice addition to catch the genre’s popularity, but developer Treyarch has admitted the mode wasn’t originally planned. Asked if Blackout had been in from the beginning or a reaction to things like Fortnite, Treyarch chairman Mark Lamia replied that “over the years we’ve talked about having big multiplayer game modes but, yeah, that [decision] came during development.”
The player count has yet to be pinned down, with “lots” the only official word so far. Lamia explains that "people like to debate the number, but its going to come out of gameplay. Right now the map is large but there’s also vehicle stuff we’ve got going in there, things like that. So there are a lot of factors would go into that”. Land, sea and air vehicles are promised, and even the remote control car bomb, the RC-XD, has been mentioned.
The map will be “100 times bigger than your typical MP map” according to studio director David Vonderhaar, and the implication appears to be it’ll be filled with a patchwork of just about anything that’s appeared in a Black Ops game to date. “We have 10 years of Black Ops franchise to work with. Your favourite characters, your favourite weapons, your favourite vehicles and the most iconic parts of your favourite maps - all here in one absolute crazy collision of just pure fun.”
The sales pitch overall is an exciting, if confusing, mash up of series touch points. Vonderhaar says “let me just tease it up for you today” before following with, “remember your CIA handler Hudson? You remember that very first RCXD kill? Or ‘the numbers Mason, what do they mean?’ Crazy, crazy Reznov. Which of the multiple endings did you experience with Mendez? Maybe you remember this: the HIND and working with with Woods to take it out. Did I mention it’s got your favourite Zombies cast, their weapons, their gear as well?”
The implication seems to be that Blackout will reference or use just about everything the series has ever done to build its massive last man standing experience; an exciting if unclear prospect. When pushed for clarity on whether you’d be playing ‘as’ Reznov, or just a skin the answer was “these are all characters you’ll be able to play.” Vonderhaar concluded by saying, “it’s the universe. And parts of maps too, favourite multiplayer maps. It truly is the entire franchise.”