Another Battle Royale mode. As if the constant presence of Fortnite over our everyday lives wasn’t enough, we now have to deal with the increasing number of clones releasing. Grand Theft Auto V did it, Battlefield V’s doing it, and, of course, so is Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Those exhausted by the proliferation of the genre might be dreading Blackout, Black Ops 4’s contribution to it, but it actually feels refreshing. Though it uses the tried-and-tested Battle Royale formula, the complexities and tweaks that it makes are enough to carve out its own niche while also maintaining a broad appeal.
Blackout is a lot more complex than Fortnite, for starters. All of Call of Duty’s multiplayer hallmarks – perks, attachments, and the like – have been translated into the mode, making it deeply customisable. When looting houses, you’ll find all sorts of scopes, stocks, and other add-ons to enhance your weapons. Perks can also be scavenged and activated for a limited time period, allowing you to, for example, see where all pickups are located. This deep customisation adds an interesting dynamic, encouraging you to optimise your loadout, but still never allowing you to settle.
Movement feels fast and fluid, too. Black Ops 4’s power-sliding means you can zip around the map, flanking enemies or escaping from them, plus there’s the small matter of vehicles. Quad bikes are insanely fun but potentially lethal if you don’t drive them properly, while there’s also the matter of cargo trucks, boats, and helicopters. Again, it switches things up a bit and can make for some pretty tense encounters; hiding from a helicopter as it sweeps overhead, for example.
There’s also quite a bit of charm in the map design. Each location, from Nuketown Island to the Turbine, feels unique, with varied environments that change the dynamics of shootouts. Both of these areas in particular are highlights: the former is a series hallmark packed with personality, while the latter feels open and dangerous. All of the areas in Blackout are taken from Black Ops 4’s multiplayer selection, so practising in both modes when the game comes out means that you’ll be able to learn the nuances of each location.
There are also a few nods to the series’ Zombies mode that are quite fun. Every so often, a Mystery Box spawns in the map, generating random weapons and attachments for players. As well as worrying about other players competing for the goodies, zombies also rise up around the box, swarming you. It adds personality to a genre where personality means everything, and adds yet another element of danger to Blackout.
Other than that, though, Battle Royale players will feel right at home here. Nothing in Blackout is too hard to get to grips with, and, of course, duo and squad play is available for those who want to team up. Hopefully, Treyarch will keep updating the mode post-release to keep things fresh; temporary modes like Fast Collapse, which is essentially a quicker version of bog-standard Blackout, add fun variations to keep players coming back.
All Treyarch had to do was to make a popular Battle Royale mode, different enough to Fortnite that it seems unique but close enough to not be too jarring for new players. For the most part, it seems to have accomplished this goal, though it remains to be seen whether it can make a dent in Fortnite’s market dominance in the long term.
What are your thoughts on Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's new Blackout mode? Do you think it's going to have staying power beyond its initial novelty? Camp out in the comments section below.