Black Ops 4: What I learned from the BETA

    The Call of Duty Black Ops 4 BETA has officially ended.  It was a sad moment when the servers were shut down and the game displayed the message thanking us for participating.  After two weekends of play, the game underwent some sweeping changes and some balances to make launch much smoother come October.  Having reached max level (40 for this BETA) I was able to use just about everything that was made available. Sniper rifles were left untouched because I am terrible with them and there was one light machine gun that honestly was not worth the attention.  Let’s take a moment to discuss what I love, hated, and what I think needs improvement moving towards the October launch.

LOVE

    Black Ops 4 was designed on the foundation of teamwork.  Specialists are back and each offers a unique ability and weapon to bring to each game.  These abilities absolutely shine in the new game mode Control. Control is a perfect mix of Domination and Conquest (Battlefield series).  Each team has 30 lives to either defend or attack two points on the map. Victory is achieved by eliminating all enemy lives or capturing the two objectives.  The game mode is round based and the first to three wins takes the match. This mode is perfect when played with three to five friends. Teamwork is paramount in winning this mode as eSports has been a focus for Treyarch this time around.  With rumors of league play coming back, it only makes sense.  For all of the lone-wolf casuals out there, team deathmatch is still around and there is nothing stopping you from teaming up with a squad of four.  I will say that having a mic and a headset will make 

 

HATE

    When the BETA first launched there were a few things holding the game back.  Horrendous spawns in Domination and Hardpoint, the new gear item armor, and bunny hopping.  The spawns were addressed. For whatever reason, the spawn system in Domination was broken and was allowing some unbreakable spawn traps.  This made the mode virtually unplayable for the first weekend. Thankfully, Treyarch fixed these issues for weekend two and the spawns were back to being on par with previous titles.  

 

    Armor was a riot-inducing piece of equipment that would grant you complete immunity to, what Treyarch was saying, one bullet worth of lethal damage.  This gear essentially gave players a “get out of jail free card” for the first bullet that made contact in a life (including the Gunship scorestreak as seen in this video).

 

    Luckily this has been reworked so that it only cuts out a percentage of damage from the first bullet.  Much better and I definitely noticed a difference in weekend two. There is a hard counter for it in game.  AP rounds is an attachment on some guns that will eat right through armor. It is nice that there is a counter but I hate the idea of “crutch” items in create-a-class.  Anything that is in the game that you feel like you have to equip for fear that you will be at a disadvantage should be removed or reworked. It is that simple. The game should be focused around skill and not randomness from equipment or guns that you may or may not have access to.

    The last thing that really got under my skin was “bunny hopping”.  For whatever reason players were able to jump six feet into the air which created some unrealistic movement mechanics.  Granted this game is near future in setting, and it is way better than the boost jumping we have had in previous games, but the jumping around can be frustrating at times.  The developers made a change that would lessen the max jump height of players in each subsequent jump. So no longer would players be able to repeatedly jump six feet in the air.  It is almost like a built-in jump fatigue and penalizes you for jumping too frequently.

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

    Weapon balancing still needs a bit of tweaking.  Call of Duty has generally been an SMG dominant game and that remains the case this year.  Out of the gate, SMGs were the gun of choice and this prompted the devs to make a wholesale buff to the Assault Rifle class.  As an AR player, this was great for me. I don’t have the twitch skills to run and gun like the dominant SMG guys so sitting back for medium range engagements is my sweet spot.  Shotguns were also garbage at launch. Neither of the shotguns were capable of one-shot kills without attachments. Most notably the pump shotgun in the game was 100% dependant on multiple attachments to be relevant in combat.  Moving forward I would like to see another slight buff to the shotguns so that skilled players are able to control the very close quarters environments. 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Image result for blackout logo cod

    Blackout.  It is that simple.  September 10th is when the Blackout BETA opens on PS4.  Dates and times for other consoles have yet to be announced.  With the absolute dominance that Fortnite has been able to display, Call of Duty is, in a way, forced to join the Battle Royale genre to try and compete with the free-to-play behemoth that is Fortnite.  Will Blackout be able to end Fortnite? No. What Fortnite has been able to accomplish is industry changing. Blackout can capitalize on the growing genre, however. The thing that will separate it from everything else will be the core mechanics of the game.  Fast-paced, smooth control and the gunplay of a Call of Duty game is something that other games can only dream of. The devil will be in the details as much is unknown about how the game will function. A big point of contention will be with the player count.  Anything less than 100 players will most likely be seen as a huge misstep and I agree. Only time will tell but there is a lot of excitement building around Blackout and how it can compete in the Battle Royale scene.

 

BOTTOM LINE

Black Ops 4 will be a good game.  Treyarch has been listening to the feedback from the BETA and they are making changes.  I have faith that multiplayer will continue to get better and evolve over time.  This is usually the case with games in our current climate.  I’m most interested to see how Blackout shapes up and whether or not that will keep the game relevant up to the point that Infinity War releases CoD 2019 (Modern Warfare 4 if I had to guess).  The problem with the most recent games is that it starts out hot and almost always fizzles out around February or March.  Gamers can only hope until the final game is released in October.

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