The wait is finally over.
Call of Duty fans will this week be treated to the new Battle Royale mode – Blackout – for the first time… and it’s looking spectacular.
The beta starts on September 10 at 6pm UK time for PS4 pre-order customers. It then continues on September 14 at 6pm for Xbox and PC users.
There’s a good chunk of time with it, too – as it lasts until 6pm BST on September 17. That’s a week of gameplay for PlayStation owners.
What exactly is Blackout?
Blackout is a Battle Royale mode similar to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite (Blops 4 obviously features team death-match and other standard multiplayer offerings).
Just like those two games, you’ll start by parachuting to a location of your choosing.
There will be land, sea and air vehicles, weapons from across the series and solo or in teams based combat.
Usually games of this ilk have 100 players, but in this beta there will be 80.
Treyarch hasn’t ruled out 100, though – so we could very well see numbers increase when the full game launches on October 12.
According to Eurogamer, Treyarch promises “multiples higher than the highest we’ve ever done”.
“Our approach on this is, it’s not really about player count, because at the end of the day it’s about whatever that experience is designed to be optimised for and to have the most fun in,” co-studio head Dan Bunting told Eurogamer.
How big will the map be?
Well, to put it into perspective – it’ll be roughly 1,500 times larger than Black Ops’ Nuketown.
There are also rumours it’ll contain key locations from past Call of Duty games – including:
- Raid (Black Ops 2)
- Cargo (Black Ops 2)
- Asylum (Call of Duty: World at War)
- Nuketown (Black Ops 2)
Will there be any ‘futuristic’ abilities?
Thankfully, no. Hell no. It’s all about ‘boots on the ground’.
There’s no automatic health regeneration, either – meaning you’ll need to find medkits or be healed by teammates.
The game’s Pick 10 system returns alongside class-based specialists – whether they’ll feature in Blackout remains to be seen.
Tell me about the graphics and performance
Sure thing – expect a variable 60FPS across all platforms.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Bunting said: “We are always committed to 60 frames per second with every chance we possibly can.
“Of course, there’s always circumstances where you might dip down. But a core pillar of our team is to deliver the performance players need, especially in multiplayer type gameplay settings.”
Graphically, it looks more of the same – vibrant colours, detailed character models and lush environments. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the latter is destructible – which is shame.
Tell us about the guns?
Sure – there’s a range of shotguns, grenades, SMGs… all standard COD stuff. Drones and larger robots – including turrets – will also feature.
Interestingly, there’s even a sniper rifle designed specifically for quick scopers.
Speaking to VG247, game designer Tony Flame explained: “It’s a very high-skilled gun – if you’re very good, you’re gonna be able to have benefits like fast ADS time and smaller hit spread, so you’re going to get to use those traditional quickscope mechanics, but the gun is going to be balanced so you have to be super accurate.”
Weapons behave in a very different way to other COD games.
One such difference is predictive recoil – meaning that weapons behave the same way each time you fire them.
This means you’ll be able to learn the recoil patterns – giving each weapon its own personality.
“I think they’re the best feeling weapons in the Call of Duty games – certainly the ones Treyarch has released,” said Flame.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve done with the weapons – the feel, the look, the tuning, and the balance.
“A lot of that has been helped out by experimentation in the different modes, including Blackout.”
There’s even a ballistics system – where the bullet takes time to hit the target.
“With multiplayer, we’re experimenting with that in the beta – we’ve got kind of a mixed system there, what works best for what gun – so we’re going to see how that works,” Flame explained.
“It really gives us an opportunity to balance some guns that we traditionally had trouble balancing in Call of Duty.”
Will there be Xbox 360 and PS3 versions?
Nope – it simply wouldn’t be feasible to scale down the engine for last-gen.
FIFA games get around it because they use an engine from a couple years ago called Ignite.
However, there are some sacrifices. For one, there’s no Journey mode.
The last COD game to come out for last gen was Black Ops 3 – but that didn’t include the campaign and only had a limited multiplayer section.
Unsurprisingly, it was received very poorly – which may have contributed to the decision to scrap this year’s version.
Just to confirm… there’s no proper campaign, right?
After the magnificent first two games, BLOPS 3 was a bit of a disappointment.
The single-player campaign barely clocked eight hours and paled in comparison to the other games in the series.
Not surprisingly, figures revealed only a small portion of gamers stuck around until the end – with many just jumping straight into multiplayer.
That’s why Activison may have decided to give the story mode a year off.
Treyarch first brought Zombies into the fold in 2009, as part of COD: World at War.
BLOPS 3 arguably had the best zombies mode of the lot. Shadows of Evil was set in the 1940s and included the likes of Jeff Goldblum in the cast.
Characters were diverse and interesting – a magician, a boxer, a cop, and a burlesque dancer – all introduced with a great short video.
What we know is that there will be three zombies experiences in BLOPS 4 – and we’ll likely hear more about this at gamescom, Cologne, later this month.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is out on Xbox One, PC and PS4 on October 12.