Black Ops 4 is looming on the horizon. Treyarch’s latest voyage into the world of guns, guns, and more guns might be lacking in a single-player campaign, but there’s enough multiplayer modes to keep you busy for to foreseeable, bullet-ridden future. Along with Blackout, a dedicated battle royale mode, there’s the usual multiplayer fare and also the much-loved zombies mode is being brought to life yet again (see what I did there?). Despite the lack of a dedicated solo campaign, apparently there will be story elements but this time they’ll be being told inside the multiplayer format.
Black Ops 4: Blackout battle royale beta is in September
As of September 10 - 14 for PS4 owners (and beginning on September 15 for Xbox One and PC owners) the Blackout beta is going to be in full swing. You can get your very own beta key right here as long as you have a PS4 and you live in Europe, and try out the battle royale mode for yourself. With 80 people on one map and even split screen making a potential appearance, it’s well worth trying out to see if it could push you over the edge when it comes to splashing out and buying Black Ops 4. Hopefully Treyarch has learnt from the multiplayer beta that went on earlier this year, where the addition of body armor meant that it took a lot longer to kill your foes and unbalanced the frantic battles.
Black Ops 4 release date is 12 October 2018
This year the Black Ops 4 release date is earlier, with the rumour being it's to avoid going up against Red Dead Redemption 2. It's also rumoured that this earlier Black Ops 4 release date is the real reason for the lack of single player - allegedly there wasn't enough time to finish a solo campaign and shoehorn in a battle royale mode which, by Treyarch's own admission, only started development last year.
Black Ops 4 battle royale is called Blackout
The fact that Call of Duty is doing a battle royale mode isn’t that surprising given Fortnite is the game mode right now, but it’s taking an interesting angle with the idea. Blackout, as the battle royale mode is known, takes place in a map “100 times bigger than your traditional [multiplayer] map,” according to studio director David Vonderhaar. The interesting thing, however, is this massive area appears to be mushing together the entire Black Ops universe: characters, vehicles, scorestreaks, multiplayer maps and more. Treyarch’s presentation suggested almost the entire history of the series was making an appearance, from Reznov to old zombie heroes, the RC-XD remote control car bomb was mentioned, and even set pieces and story beats appear to be on the cards somehow as well. Plus there’ll be land sea and air vehicles. There’s no player count yet other than “lots".
Black Ops 4 season pass is all or nothing this year
At the moment the only Black Ops 4 season pass option is to get one of the special editions of the game. So that's the $100/£85 Digital Deluxe version, the $120/£110 Pro Edition of the game, or if you really want to splash out, the $130/£110 Deluxe Enhanced Edition. So, expensive, then. But it gets worse as so far that Black Ops 4 season pass is the only way to get the additional maps and modes on offer.
Black Ops 4 single-player campaign has been dropped, it’s just multiplayer, zombies and battle royale
The rumour that Black Ops 4 wouldn’t have a traditional single player campaign seemed almost incomprehensible when it did the rounds recently, but it’s true. There will be single-player stuff in the game, but as Treyarch chairman, Mark Lamia, puts it, “no traditional campaign.” Instead the ‘three pillars’ are its multiplayer, Zombies and Blackout, Call of Duty’s new battle royal mode.
Black Ops 4 DOES have solo player experiences, though
There’s no dedicated single-player experience this year but there are solo… things. “There’s a story, but it’s being told inside of the multiplayer universe,” I was told at Treyarch. That’s happening mainly via skill-based solo missions that act as tutorials for the multiplayer characters: the Specialist classes returning from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. They’re described as “a series of fun and fast paced trials” by co-studio head Dan Bunting, happening “inside of a narrative universe that takes place between Black Ops 2 and Black Ops 3.” The new Black Ops 4 Zombies modes will also include bots for the first time, letting you play the game with an AI team instead of other players.
Black Ops 4 is boots on the ground again, so no boost jumps or wall running
When Call of Duty: World War 2 ditched all the jet powered double jumps it made sense, but surprisingly Black Ops 4 is sticking with that decision. “No wall running or boost jumps, 100% boots on the ground,” stated Vonderhaar. Instead it’s introducing what the studio calls a ‘guns up’ philosophy to keep the pace high. That means whatever you do in the game - from throwing grenades to using equipment, or even calling in scorestreaks - your weapon is always raised and ready to fire.
Black Ops 4 classes have unique abilities
The Black Ops 3 Specialists return, bring back old characters like Ruin and Seraph, alongside new faces. The key thing is that, like BLOPs 3, each has a unique piece of equipment or skill. But with a larger cast and much more specific abilities it’s all starting to feel a lot more like Overwatch or Rainbow 6. There’s potential here for combo plays - a barricading character teamed with a high damage Heavy for example. Take a look at the ones we know about so far, and their abilities, to see what you think:
Ruin - This returning Specialist now has a Titanfall-like grapple gun to zip across the map quickly.
Crash - A new medic character with the ability to heal other players, and distribute assault packs to act in a support role.
Recon - A scout style character that comes with a sensor dart to highlight areas of the map. He also has the enemy highlighting Vision Pulse ability, previously used by Outrider in Black Ops 3, that’s now shared with the entire team.
Seraph - Another returning character who has a Tac Beacon, a portable spawn point.
Torque - This is a very Rainbow 6 character with deployable rolls of razor wire to impede the opposition's movement and a portable barricade for cover.
Firebreak - Another returning character who has a Reactor Core, a device that lets him exchange some health for an area of effect fire damage attack that can block off areas of the map.
Black Ops 4 will bring back fan favourite maps along side new locations
As you might hope for a game only focusing on the mutiplayer this time, Black Ops 4 is looking good on the map front. Obviously there will be new maps, four of which have been announced as playable at E3. Then there are four confirmed old maps that will be returning from previous games, one of which is Nuketown because a BLOPs without Nuketown is no kind of BLOPs at all.
- Contraband (new)
- Seaside (new)
- Payload (new)
- Frequency (new)
- Jungle (Black Ops)
- Slums (Black Ops 2)
- Summit (Black Ops)
- Firing Range (Black Ops)
- Nuketown (all BLOPS since the dawn of time)
What will be interesting will be how these and other classic maps will feature in the Blackout battle royale mode. Treyarch has been talking about how this will feature a sort of greatest hits approach to locations, characters and gear, incorporating famous maps into its one giant last man standing map.
Black Ops 4 weapons now have unique attachments and special abilities
This is one of the bigger changes in Black Ops 4 that, combined with character abilities, could really change the game: gun classes no longer share attachments. Instead each weapon has a unique set of add ons. The idea is that each gun feels different, special and rewards those that master its differences. In addition, each gun has an Operator Mod, a specific attachment that amplifies its overall role or ability. The Titan LMG, for example, has a suppressive fire mod that, when equipped, blurs the screen of any enemies the bullets fly past.
Black Ops 4 manual healing replaces regenerating health
There’s no regenerating health in Black Ops 4, instead there’s a button to manually trigger it. According to Treyarch this adds a couple of tactical layers. Partly because you have to choose when to heal, but also because taking damage will cancel the healing process. So you need to make space to find the time to do it, and inversely can decide to go after a player that’s taken damage because you know they haven’t had a chance to heal yet.
Black Ops 4’s minimap now has a fog of war effect
Treyarch are making a big deal about situation awareness this year by introducing a fog of war mechanism. Essentially you can only see the map in a small radius around you, and your teammates in turn. Outside of that everything else is blacked out, although unsuppressed gunfire will still give away positions, and things like UAV scorestreaks will still work the way you expect. The idea is that it will increase the opportunities players have to communicate and work together.
Black Ops 4 zombies has three campaigns, player customisable missions, seasonal events and bots
Prepare for a lot more of the undead this year as Black Ops 4 zombies mode will launch with what co-studio head Jason Blundell is is calling “three fully fledged, fully loaded Zombie experiences” on day one. They are as follows:
- Nine: The trailer for this showed four heroes fighting zombies a roman gladiator arena.
- Voyage of Despair: This one takes place on the Titanic.
- Blood of the Dead: This campaign has only been teased so far. It's an all new narrative with new characters and new enemies (although the basic monsters are still zombies). The exact details are still secret but it revolves around an evil secret society up to no good and using some sort of Egyptian looking totem that turns people into monsters.
There are also customisation tools that that let you adjust things like zombie speed, health, type, player damage, magic box functionality and so on to create your own shareable challenges. As well as time limited challenges known as Callings, bot support to play solo, difficulty settings and a mode called Zombie Rush which will “simplify the experience to create a whole new tempo of gameplay".
According to Blundell the aim is to “provide the community with customisable tools and social systems to evolve zombies into an evergreen mode, for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly engagement".