Over Thanksgiving break, my friend Arijit and I played the new Call of Duty game, “Black Ops 4.” Since it’s a mainstream game published by Activision and developed by Treyarch, we expected amazing graphics, an easy-to-understand progression system and fantastic gameplay. “Black Ops 4” met most of those expectations but failed to outdo its predecessor, “Black Ops 3.”

Call of Duty (CoD) “Black Ops 3” began the era of futuristic, wall-running and thrust-jumping CoD games; however, “Black Ops 4” does not take after its sister game.

“Black Ops 4” adopted a more classic look to make it stand out compared to the futuristic path of “Black Ops 3.” The bar was set low after the sci-fi “Infinite Warfare” was added to the franchise, so “Black Ops 4” was not expected to achieve the level of greatness that “Black Ops 3” did. But when compared to “Black Ops 3,” “Black Ops 4” was unexpectedly able to achieve the same level of popularity.

There are a few differences, though, the first being player count. Previous CoD games have always had six versus six public matches with a couple of exceptions, but now it has been reduced to five versus five to make the matches feel more competitive and more like esports gaming. The idea behind this was to allow the common player to experience what professional gamers do when playing CoD.

However, even with a player gone from each team, the matches are still just as fast paced as before and work very well. Maps are a little smaller, allowing the action to be just as intense, and the movement speed has been increased from “Black Ops 3.” Many Specialists — different classes that players can choose when starting a game — have made a return from “Black Ops 3” but with slight tweaks.

The overall strength of each Specialist has been adjusted to encourage more teamwork, rather than working just as a lone wolf. Also, new Specialists have been added with different abilities to create more options for players to experiment with. Even though there is such a variety of Specialists, they all feel balanced and well-thought-out so that no matter which one you choose to play as it will fit in with your playstyle and fill a vital role in your team. However, “Black Ops 4” still caters to those who prefer more of a lone wolf style of play, with weapons and loadouts that allow the player freedom of playstyle.

Another huge change — for the better — is the time-to-kill (TTK) rate. The TTK has been raised to make gunfights fairer and more intense. Compared to “Black Ops 3,” it takes an extra bullet or two to kill a player. Instead of players getting mowed down, the guns have been balanced to create a fair, skill-based environment. Instead of regularly dying from something out of your control, the higher TTK, more balanced guns and new manual healing system make you feel as if your life is completely in your hands.  

However, although “Black Ops 4” has brought many new things to the franchise, the fluid movement system that many fans had grown to love in “Black Ops 3” was replaced by a more lifelike movement system, which brought mixed feelings to the community. Personally I loved the fluidity of the “Black Ops 3” movement system, so this came as a big shock. The automatic-regeneration health system was replaced with manual healing, which requires players to be more focused and engaged in the game. All in all, “Black Ops 4” multiplayer is a great addition to the CoD multiplayer franchise and to its sister game, “Black Ops 3.”

—By Arjin Claire

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“Black Ops 4” features a new game mode in the CoD franchise: Blackout. Blackout is Treyarch’s answer to the popular battle-royale game mode made famous by the games Fortnite and Player Unkown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).

In Blackout, 88 players jump out of helicopters and parachute down to the main map. This is different from Fortnite’s and PUBG’s 100-player counts. I ended up liking the smaller player count of Blackout because the game gets competitive faster. Players loot buildings to get gear while staying in a “safe” zone on the map to avoid being hurt by incoming projectiles. The zone gets smaller as the game goes on, and so does the player count. The only way to win Blackout – and any other battle-royale game –  is to be the last person or team on the map.

Blackout features land, air and sea vehicles, unlocking a whole new level of transportation. The ground vehicles, for now, are cargo trucks and ATVs. The cargo truck can hold up to five players plus gear, while the ATV can seat two players. The only air vehicle currently available in the game  is the helicopter, which, oddly enough, has very few health points. The Zodiac is currently the only boat in Blackout that mainly serves as a fast mode of transportation across the giant river, which is in the middle of the Blackout map.

Blackout’s map features known multiplayer maps from past CoD games, such as the Nuketown and Array map. However, that’s not all: The map consists of many different environments, even some areas with zombies. If you kill all the zombies in an area, you get a mystery box, which you can loot for some extra gear. I especially liked the zombies, a nod to the popular zombies mode in CoD.

The map is, without a doubt, the biggest in the CoD franchise. Because of this, Arjin and I had to play many games to experience all the areas.

We landed on Nuketown Island many times, hoping to get better gear and get in more engagements with enemy players. The variety of gear in this game is far better than any other battle-royale game I have played. Blackout features most of the guns available in the “Black Ops 4” multiplayer and other guns that have appeared throughout the franchise.

Loot in Blackout is so numerous and plenty, yet the large map helps balance it all. There are guns and equipment in almost every building and vehicles in every area. Having so many interesting types of equipment helps Blackout stand out from other battle-royale experiences.

Another new addition in “Black Ops 4” is the recon car, a remote-controlled rover players can use to see areas without actually going into that area. Much to my disappointment, you can’t detonate the rover when it is near an enemy, as you can in the other multiplayer game modes.

Another interesting piece of equipment is the sensor dart, which allows you to see the locations of enemy players in an area.

I came into Blackout expecting a terrible copy of PUBG or Fortnite but soon found that Blackout was an outstanding battle-royale experience. It corrected all the flaws of Fortnite and PUBG — such as bad vehicles and shooting mechanics — while integrating its own creative elements.

Arjin and I loved the gunplay, movement mechanics, the different biomes and all the gear. It is realistic and features the same CoD-style gunplay fans have grown to love. Hitting shots is much easier, and the recoil from the guns is easy to control. The map was large, but this allowed for slower and more controlled encounters — very different from CoD’s usually small and hectic team deathmatches.

Blackout is what every battle royale should be like. It is the perfect encapsulation of what a true battle-royale experience is: dropping down on a large map and fighting your way to victory using a variety of weapons and gear.

—By Arijit Trivedi

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