Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has been out for two months. Since the initial release, there have been numerous title updates and balance changes. Yet, there are still some issues with the much-anticipated battle royale mode – Blackout.
The battle royale genre exploded onto the scene the past couple of years with titles such as H1Z1, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG for short), and Fortnite. Call of Duty’s yearly installment joined the party in 2018 with Blackout. The mode is similar to everything we have seen before. Players soar into the massive battlefield with nothing but the shirts on their back. Once players land it is a race to find guns, ammo and most importantly, armor. The mode is fun and frustrating. One life and no respawns make this a thrill ride to the very last confrontation. There are some things that take this mode down a few pegs. The main issues right now are audio, armor and the campy gameplay meta.
Can you hear me now?
Audio has been a source of frustration since the launch of the game. Engineers are working on ways to fix certain audio cues and although adjustments have already been made, there are still issues. In certain situations, players aren’t able to properly identify what direction and elevation footsteps are coming from. This happens far too often and most likely contributes to the campy nature of the gameplay flow. Players will often set up behind a bush and just wait to hear the slightest sound in hopes they can get the drop on the enemy. Sure there is some practicality to this but there is an unwritten rule that gets abused in most cases.
Bullets also suffer from this. Rewatching the kill cam will reveal that a sniper missed multiple shots before landing the fatal blow without giving the deceased any kind of sound to alert them. There are perks in the game that will alert gamers if they are being aimed at but they only work if they are picked up and activated.
The armor system in Blackout offers players additional protection from bullets that can and will extend gunfights. Three levels of armor are available. Level three armor includes a helmet that protects from headshots where the other levels do not. The problem with this system is that armor is too easily destroyed and it is not repairable. Therefore, it heavily rewards players that hang back and avoid engaging in combat. The final circle usually comes down to who has the highest level armor. This means that a player with ten kills might have half-broken armor one, versus a player that has one or two kills but found armor three and decided to lay low.
I suggest that Treyarch adds a crafting mechanic to the armor system. Something that rewards players for getting kills and looting staches. Additionally, I also propose that the developers change the way armor works inside of the storm. The storm closes in periodically to force players towards a central location. This helps control flow and keeps players funneling into the fight. I would like to see a degradation or rusting effect to armor for players that get caught in the storm. Currently, the storm only takes away health. There are perks in the game that reduce this effect and players are able to survive in the storm for extended periods of time. This solution will make it harder for the players in the storm to be rewarded by camping out outside of the safe area.
Camping has been around for a long time. It is not new to Call of Duty. For some reason, in Blackout it is becoming a huge issue. Items like the barricade, trip mines, some of the perks, and armor are contributing to a shifting meta that rewards players for playing low and slow. Call of Duty has always been known as a fast-paced arcade shooter and Blackout promised to deliver that same style.
In order to try and stop this, the final circles need to be programmed to avoid certain areas of the map or they need to shift. Construction Site is an area that has many levels and a final circle located directly above it will result in victory for the player with the most healing items and perks. At that point, it takes away the gun skill portion of the game and is all about luck. Obviously, the game can not always end in an open field with rocks and trees for cover. This is why the final circle should shift to force players into a more open area to allow for more gunfights and fewer storm deaths in the endgame.
Overall I think Blackout is a solid beginning. I do think that there are things that still need some work and the developers have been great with the open communication in regards to these problems. Season Two for Blackout begins mid-December and will most definitely bring with it some Christmas related cosmetics and hopefully a map update. When we will see fundamental changes to some of the game mechanics is still up in the air.