Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a very different release in this franchise as it's the first to leave the campaign behind. I wanted to mention this aspect right away as it won't have an impact in the score. While I believe it's an essential part of the experience I need to evaluate this game based on what content it provides. In this fourth Black Ops title we're getting what's basically a celebration of the franchise being a mash-up of its legacy. There's of course the traditional competitive multiplayer, the return of the well loved deadly zombies mode and Treyarch's take on battle royale.
It's definitely a modern multiplayer experience bringing the most refined take on these genres. The competitive side of things is great, there's a focus on team play with the further use of Specialists. There's even a bit of a story surrounding those characters with minor cutscenes, but who cares about that aspect. We're given a good mix of playlist options when competing and these are balanced with core or hardcore offerings based on your preference. I liked the new team based modes such as Control, but land on Hardpoint as being my primary choice of play. The modes play well, there's a great selection of maps and a lot of depth in the class customization options. It should feel like past titles, yet a tad more improved.
This is going to be an insanely popular addition to the game as it's one sleek battle royale experience. I was initially unsure about how this was going to be, but it's a lot of fun. It merges the insanity of close ranged Call of Duty with an expansive environment. You're basically battling at key locations that are maps from the other releases in the franchise. The middle areas are a bit awkward, but it's great once you get into those smaller situations.
You're able to play in Solos, Duos or Quads at launch. It's fast to matchmake and it doesn't take long to fight across any of those options. The looting system is great, it's fast paced and it feels fresh. The vehicles were also appreciated as it's been quite awhile since we've seen them in the series' multiplayer efforts. There are some fun secrets hidden within the large area and despite being vast it still feels competitive throughout each battle. While playing you're able to unlock additional veteran heroes from past titles or the multiplayer/zombies areas of the game.
This a larger than we're used to zombies package at launch. It's an evolution of the previous entry and one almost confusing time. There are three maps with the base package. "IX" which is Gladiator in theme, "Voyage of Despair" which takes place on the Titanic and "Blood of the Dead" which is a remake of "Mob of the Dead". The latter has been upgraded and enhanced with the original zombie crew. In the first two mentioned maps we have a new crew with a narrative driven mission.
I wish this story aspect was pushed less as I like the survival aspect, but things evolve. There are many class type options to adjust including a powered weapon that charges every so often, special drinks for timed bonuses and your choice of new perks. Levels have buildable items, traps and many horrors to take in. The levels mostly felt congested in style with Voyage being almost a maze. IX definitely felt the most nostalgic with its design and setup. There's a good selection here, something zombie based for everyone.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 looks gorgeous being Xbox One X enhanced providing a dynamic 4k resolution at 60fps with shining HDR implementation. It's a very impressive game in terms of the visual quality. Every environment shines and is full of depth. There seemed to be a heavy jungle theme in the multiplayer maps and those that returned were essentially the same as their original version. This was disappointing as it leads into a complaint of this game featuring lots of recycled material.
A large chunk of the multiplayer maps were taken directly from past releases, the Blackout map is a mash-up of existing maps and one of the zombies maps was a revamp. The general gameplay feels balanced whether you're fending off zombies or others online. It's a sleek experience with a perfect UI no matter what portion of the game you're playing. It handles well with great performance and as mentioned, the visuals are impressive. The scope of this package is remarkable and it still feels like that classic boots on the ground combat style you probably love.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a solid combination of competitive multiplayer, exciting battle royale with Blackout and chilling battles against the undead with zombies. It comes together for a great package and one for those that enjoy the multiplayer offering of the series. It does feel as though a lot of the material was recycled however, many exactly the same multiplayer maps as well as a zombies map being another remake in here. That's built upon further with Blackout literally featuring a series of past maps placed across a larger area.
I liked the build-up of Specialists in multiplayer, couldn't care about their attempt at a story there in the slightest. There's a lot of depth across the modes as you level, feel progression and compete with, or against others online. I felt that everything was largely balanced across the offerings and this is a compelling release for the series. Blackout is particularly surprising as it's been nothing but positive in terms of enjoyment and it feels sleek. This is a complete multiplayer take on the series and Black Ops 4 celebrates what this part of the Call of Duty franchise is all about.
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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Review on Xbox One X
Review Code Provided by Activision