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Est. April 2016. III Version 2.0. III

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CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 4
It’s a blackout.

REVIEW
By JAY TEE
16/10/18

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 feels like the biggest evolution of this stalwart smash hit franchise in years. There’s an enormous amount of subtle refinement and big picture adjustments that make this stand out in a way previous entries like Advanced Warfare and WW2 failed to achieve.

The lack of regenerating health is an interesting wrinkle; combined with the absence of wall running (‘boots on the ground’) the whole thing feels slightly more tactical and deliberate. You won’t come up against stupidly unbalanced perks in multiplayer nearly as often, which is a pleasing improvement.

The ‘back of the box’ headline grabber is definitely Treyarch’s take on Battle Royale; an 88-100 player slug fest where Solo’s and Duo’s cap off at the lower end of the scale, and Quads push the count higher. It feels like a polished PUBG, and simultaneously a jankier version of the standard COD multiplayer. It’s very fast, but not without its quirks.

THE BASICS - First person multiplayer only shooter, with competitive play, battle royale, and zombies.

PLATFORMS - PS4, XB1, and PC

PLAYERS - Offline - 4, Online - 100

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - You betcha. Split screen is also supported, which is nice.
 
DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - A season pass with four new zombies maps, 12 for multiplayer, and new characters.  

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

REVIEWS KEY:

The Look - Art style, graphics, and overall presentation.

The Feel - Mechanics, controls, and learning curve.

The Sound - Music, sound effects, and dialogue.

The Experience - Anecdotes and random thoughts.

Blam blam shooty time.

Armour balance continues to be an issue, which can make player encounters frustratingly lopsided. The map itself is pretty unremarkable, although the nods to previous Black Ops titles are appreciated. There’s a lot of asset repetition, and a distinct lack of cover, which feels at odds with Call of Duty’s usually tight, thoughtful design. One frustrating choice is the inclusion of non interactive ‘prop’ cars and trucks, alongside a smattering of driveable vehicle types. I often got caught out in the heat of battle, assuming I’d make a quick getaway, only to realise that most of the vehicles are just for show. Very odd. So, Blackout is a bold first step, but one that will benefit greatly from further iteration.

Competitive multiplayer is a delight, with well optimised load times, a selection of excellent maps, and a welcome ‘back to basics’ vibe that compliments the more experimental Zombies campaign. The three included stories are pleasingly varied, but I couldn’t help feeling that the lack of a traditional single player is disappointing. I realise most COD players don’t even touch the campaigns (and I’m sure Activision has player data that will back this up), but Black Ops 3’s narrative co-op mode was a great deal of fun. It’s a shame to see it chopped in favour of an uneven attempt at Battle Royale.

The biggest takeaway for me is that Treyarch have taken some risks. They don’t always pay off, but I appreciate their effort. They’ve messed with the core formula, but retained the tight gunplay. They’ve dipped their toe into battle royale, and doubled down on what fans enjoy about Zombies. It may not be perfect, but it’s easily the best Call of Duty of this generation, and a real shot in the arm for a series that ran the risk of turning stale.

LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE!
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, TWEET US @JAYTEE_GA, OR E-MAIL: EDITOR@JTGA.CO.UK.

The KILLSTEAK badge is for a game where wins / kills are really satisfying.

The MAYORAL ELECTION badge is for a game filled with high pressure moments that put your skills to the test.  

The ALPHA SITE badge is for a game with an excellent PvE or Horde mode.

The EXPECTATION PHASERS badge is for a game that has a feature that exceeds our previously low expectations.

The SLICK RICK badge is earned when the soundtrack, effects, and / or overall audio design is fantastic across the board.

The CAPTAIN JONWAY badge is earned for a game that lets you party up and / or invite friends into online matchmaking.  

The POO MEDIC badge is for a game with class based multiplayer.



4

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the best in the series this generation. Treyarch’s willingness to mess with established tradition and evolve the gameplay was absolutely the right approach.

*PS4 review code provided by Activision*

TARP BADGES:

MICHAEL SHEEN

The competitive multiplayer is as polished as ever, but the engine creeks in Blackout. Framerate remains very stable, but detail takes an obvious hit.  

GOLD STANDARD

The shooting mechanics are still ‘best in the biz’, and the lack of wacky movement mechanics shows welcome restraint.    

THUD PUNCH

Sound design is superb across the board. This is a game that demands you play using headphones.

PICK N’ MIX

Blackout could do with some work, but the core multiplayer offering is smashing stuff.  

THE FINAL SCORE:

REVIEW POLICY:

We use a simple “out of 5” rating criteria for all reviews.

4 out of 5 is GREAT.

You’ll have a fun and varied experience, with plenty of reasons to invest. Even if it’s just shy of perfection.

OUT OF 5

THE BREAKDOWN:

THE LAST WORD: