Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 takes an all-or-nothing approach to season pass DLC, and fans aren't happy

Activision has revealed the contents of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's special editions, and they're pretty much what you'd expect: a few in-game goodies here, some microtransaction currency there, and a few kitschy physical goods in the Pro Edition. But there's one extra wrinkle this time around that has players particularly riled: the season pass.

We've become accustomed to season passes - even as the industry moves away from them in favor of free post-launch content, as will be the case with CoD competitor Battlefield 5 - but Black Ops 4's version of the practice is a bit more restrictive. For starters, the season pass isn't being sold separately, at least not yet.

While a FAQ about the Black Ops Pass says that it'll be available by itself at a later date, there's no indication of when that date will be. Until we learn more, the only way to ensure you get Black Ops 4's newest maps, characters, and Zombies mode additions as soon as they're released is to drop $100 / £85 on the Digital Deluxe version of the game - more if you go for the Pro Edition ($120 / £110) or Digital Deluxe Enhanced Edition ($130 / £110).

If you're thinking to yourself "That's fine, I'll just pick up the map packs as they come out instead," well... no you won't. In addition to tying the season pass so closely to its special editions, Activision is making the Black Ops Pass the only way you can get the content contained within it. Other DLC may be available separately, but the maps and modes of the season pass will be locked away.

You may remember Activision did something similar when it announced that Modern Warfare Remastered would only be available as part of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's special editions, before ultimately selling the game standalone seven months later. So does this mean that players will need to wait half a year before they can join their friends in Black Ops 4 if they don't splurge on the $100+ special edition? Hopefully not, but right now there's no indication of when more options will be available.

Over at r/Blackops4, fans are making their voices heard. From threads asking how to cancel a pre-order to calling a season pass in 2018 "unacceptable," the anger is palpable. Right now there's a general hope that with enough attention and outspoken criticism, Activision will change course. Some are even proposing their own alternatives, loosely modeled on the Fortnite Battle Pass Challenges. Will it work? With Black Ops 4 slated for an October 12 release date, we're sure to find out soon.

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Sam Prell

Sam is a former News Editor here at GamesRadar. His expert words have appeared on many of the web's well-known gaming sites, including Joystiq, Penny Arcade, Destructoid, and G4 Media, among others. Sam has a serious soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.