Starting as a series centered on World War II, the Call of Duty games have since gone on to become one of the mainstays of the vibrant (and crowded) first-person shooter market. This is because, like Halo and Destiny, Call of Duty combines stellar multiplayer gameplay with a variety of competitive options that keeps players coming back for each installment.
Heck, Activision Blizzard has even begun releasing the games with such regularity that they can be likened to EA’s annual series Madden for how often a new CoD game comes out. That said, each game tries to offer its own unique take on the classic formula and many have a different flavor from the others - such as the space combat in Infinite Warfare or the return to the beaches of Normandy in the recent WWII edition.
But the Black Ops sub-brand, first arriving to stores in 2010, is a little bit different from the other offerings in that it comes from Treyarch who is renown for how they handle the zombies sub-game. Originally distinguished from the main series by a more Cold War-leaning plot and aesthetic, Black Ops 4 is a thoroughly modern game in just about every way, making it hard to distinguish from the mainline Call of Duty series.
This is both a good and a bad thing. First, we will start with what many gamers might consider a glaring omission in Black Ops 4’s otherwise robust offerings of gameplay options.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the first Black Ops game to eschew a single-player narrative entirely. There are short vignettes that focus on the specialists (none of who are interesting enough to merit this) but gone completely is the even brief single-player campaign featured in past games.
Touted as a benefit by Treyarch, who often regurgitates factoids about how few people play the single-player campaign, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is, instead, markedly focused on multiplayer and online gaming.
Don’t worry: If you wanna blast zombies with bots or go head-to-head in arenas with the same, you still have that option, though we must say the latter is particularly worthless this time around. Seriously, the game almost punishes you for trying to play its core deathmatch multiplayer by yourself, and that’s a shame.
What is a positive, though, is how easy it is to jump into and out of matches and the people you play with, for the most part, are decent and keep the trolling to a minimum. There’s not much new here aside from the annoyance of having to constantly heal yourself, but that’s all fans of the games want.
Where Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 shines, however, is in its Blackout mode and, of course, Zombies. Blackout is Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s version of battle royale - the phenomenon infecting every segment of gaming - and plops you down into a massive arena with up to 80 other players. It’s survival of the fittest and a true blast to play. Zombies is present and accounted for, showing up with an expanded narrative and a continuation of the deep lore that sub-game offers. Arenas coming back include the Pentagon for people who bought the season pass but everyone gets to run around the deck of the sinking Titanic blasting zombies away.
It’s still zombies, but it’s amazingly fun - especially with friends online or locally.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a hard game not to recommend, for fans or newcomers. Indeed, if you need some good, old-fashioned arcade action and first-person shooting, there’s really not much better out there.