I’ll say this right off the bat: prior to trying out Black Ops IIII’s very own battle royale mode “Blackout”, I wasn’t a fan of the genre or anything resembling it. Be it PUBG, Fortnite, god forbid even Rules of Survival.
While I do occasionally play these titles to check what’s new, I rarely stay around beyond that, instead hopping back to my go-to multiplayer shooter titles such as Overwatch, CoDWWII, World of Tanks and Warships as well as the hugely underappreciated Titanfall 2.
“But why not, Kenn?” you may ask?
In spite of their popularity, (dwindling if you want to specifically talk about PUBG) battle royale games currently available in the market aren’t finished products. There are too many flaws and imbalances plaguing them which, while make for good viewing on Twitch, does not serve anything towards the makings a good game. These notions alone disqualifies current titles of this genre from being viable esports titles.
My main issue with PUBG is the broken gunplay. I’ll be frank: it’s horrendous. Too many variables and inconsistencies consigns this game dead in the water the second another developer come up with some solid shooting. I would be quaking in my boots if I was Bluehole right about now.
What about Fortnite? While it has taken the gaming world by storm, I just cannot get myself to enjoy playing something that look like a Borderlands ripoff. The fort building mechanics – while have paved a unique path for Epic Games’ take – are neither intuitive nor enjoyable as well which then leads to the highly questionable gunplay. Calling them broken would be an understatement.
So what’s with Blackout that changed me from a non-believer to a convinced converter? My answer is twofold.
First, it showcases the most solid gun play ever seen on any battle royale game in the market and this thing is still in beta! When we first heard Treyarch was going down the battle royale route with Black Ops 4, our second reaction (the first being ‘NOT ANOTHER BATTLE ROYALE!’) was that they better have some solid gun play if they were to topple Fortnite and PUBG.
And on that front, Treyarch delivered.
The decent variety of weapons adds a larger dimension to the gameplay as every one of them felt unique. The shots felt punchier and you can instantly notice the visual and audio differences when switching between guns sporting different bullet calibers.
Their effects are instantly noticeable and only after you see your health hit the low 20’s following a sniper rifle hit would you start to appreciate the little nuances and detail that can only come from developers who has got years and a shit ton of shooter games under their bandolier.
In other battle royale games, with Fortnite being the biggest culprit, the shotgun have taken over the meta with players resorting to close quarters combat no thanks to these overpowered weapons. More often than not are Fortnite matches being decided by a several bunny-hopping players peppering shotgun pellets – try selling that game to non-believers.
In Blackout, medium to long-ranged weapons receive equal love and attention as players who prefer these sort of weapons, or whose mechanical skill fit them are allowed to shine. This forces the battle royale veterans who prefer lurking around the perimeter, vouching for a close-quarters skirmish at the end of the round to be more direct in their approach paving way for a fun and engaging firefights.
Other various gadgets tied to Black Ops arsenal including the portable shield, razor wire, mesh trap and the remote control car add additional depth to one’s Blackout experience which separates it from other battle royale games currently plaguing the market. There isn’t any building mechanics but the gadgets somehow train players to think like their opponents, especially in setting up traps and playing mind games.
#2. The Battlefield In Question
Secondly, the map itself. We’ve played tons of matches on it and haven’t run out of things to do nor explore the whole map completely. Each new gameplay was a new experience and by inserting classic Black Ops maps along with the zombies element, Blackout offers a novel experience which distances itself from its rivals.
In the beta, players are given four different types of vehicles to get around – a quad bike, a truck, a helicopter and an inflatable speedboat allowing almost unlimited types of approach to the game.
Combine this with the revived emphasis on long-ranged weapons and you have the perfect recipe for unprecedented danger coming from every angle. Locales such as Fracking Tower, Factory and the Train Station are players’ favorites while the more careful ones opt for far-flung areas such as the lighthouse down south or estates up north.
In spite of meeting my demise in-game countless times – mostly due to my lack of awareness rather than mechanical skill, I’m surprised by how I kept returning to the game to try out a different approach each and every time.
Is this the game to break the PUBG and Fortnite duopoly of battle royale games? Not in its current state, where it is a fully-priced game.
Treyarch and Activision have found a great formula that will flip the battle royale scene upside down and if done correctly, claim the throne all for themselves. Come on Activision – you have a goldmine here. Think of the longrun and don’t get greedy. Release Blackout on a F2P model and watch your player base swell alongside your long-term profits.
Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII is set for release on PC, Xbox One and PS4 October 12 2018. Ditching the single-player mode altogether to focus on the multiplayer aspect of the game, those who purchase the game will gain access to the multiplayer, zombies and the battle royale mode ‘Blackout’.