Another year, another Call of Duty. 2018 sees Treyarch back at the helm with the fourth entry in their extremely popular Black Ops series. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 brings back typical Call of Duty features, such as the competitive multiplayer, Pick 10 customization system and Zombies. Treyarch, however, are taking significant risks this year. There’s no campaign, Specialists have been reworked for team play, and the PlayStation timed-exclusivity deal has been altered.
Here’s everything you need to know about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 before you buy:
There is no Campaign, but there is a story
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the first game in the franchise to not feature a single player campaign. It’s a multiplayer-only game, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a story to parse through. Located in the Specialist HQ, players can unlock cutscenes that formulate a story that ties together the events of Black Ops 2 and Black Ops 3.
Black Ops 4 tells the story of Mason’s granddaughter as she strives to build a safer world following the death of her sister. The story covers the formation of the Specialists and doles out pertinent information about their lives. It also serves as a tutorial by breaking down each of the Specialist’s gear and special weapons. The one downside is that to continue the story you’ll have to partake in multiplayer matches against AI bots, which can be dull.
Black Ops 4 can be broken down into a trifecta of modes: multiplayer, Zombies and Blackout. These are the core pillars of this year’s Call of Duty experience and each offers something different for players to enjoy.
Multiplayer is classic competitive matches across a wide range of modes. Players can engage each other in traditional modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination or Kill Confirmed, or opt to try one of the new team-focused modes like Control or Heist. The Pick 10 system returns, giving players ten points to spend on their perfect class.
A first in the franchise, Zombies launches with three playable maps. IX and Voyage of Despair focus on the new Chaos storyline. Meanwhile, Blood of the Dead, a remake of Mob of the Dead, focuses on the original Aether characters. The mode features enhanced customization, including custom games and new game modes that allow players to play Zombies how they want.
Finally, there’s Blackout, the new battle royale mode. Drop onto Call of Duty’s largest map ever solo, with a friend, or as part of a squad as you fight for survival. With 88-100 players vying for resources in an ever-shrinking map, you’ll need all your wits, reflexes, and survival skills to be the last man standing.
Specialists return in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, though this time around they’ve been designed to be more team-focused. In addition to a ‘super,’ each Specialist comes with unique equipment that’ll help the team in some way. For example, Crash can place down supply crates filled with additional ammo, Battery’s cluster grenade can help flush out enemies and Ajax’s flash grenade disorients them.
The ‘supers’ range from powerful weapons to health boosts to impenetrable barriers. Ruin’s gravity smash is perfect for clearing out rooms of enemies, and Crash’s healing is excellent for giving allies an extra boost. Meanwhile, Torque’s barrier is perfect for some extra cover and Ajax’s ballistic shield can hold any point in Headquarters.
Returning Specialists: Battery, Ruin, Seraph, Nomad, Prophet, Firebreak
New Specialists: Crash, Torque, Recon, Ajax
Didn’t make it: Reaper, Outrider, Spectre
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 reverses a growing Call of Duty trend. Since Call of Duty: Ghosts, the number of launch maps for each game has steadily declined. It all came to a head last year when Call of Duty: WWII launched with only nine maps (a tenth was locked behind the Season Pass). Black Ops 4 launches with 14 maps with a fifteenth, Nuketown, coming for free in November.
Squint though, and you’ll realize some number fudging by Activision. While it is an undeniable fact that there are fourteen playable maps, only ten of them are brand new. The remaining four are remasters from previous Black Ops titles. It’s still a good number of maps, though each player has to decide how they feel about the remastered maps. Considering the four are some of the best of the franchise, it can be seen as a big win.
New Maps: Seaside, Contraband, Frequency, Payload, Hacienda, Gridlock, Arsenal, Icebreaker, Morocco, Militia
Remastered Maps: Firing Range, Summit, Slums, Jungle
A fourth Zombies map is available at launch but locked behind a hefty Paywall
Every single owner of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 gets three Zombies maps at launch: IX, Voyage of Despair and Blood of the Dead. There is a fourth map, however, that launches alongside the game. ‘Classified’ is a remake of ‘Five,’ a Zombies launch map in Call of Duty: Black Ops. The map stars the original Aether characters as they survive a zombie outbreak inside the Pentagon. The original ‘Five’ characters (John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara and Fidel Castro) do not appear.
Unfortunately, if you want this map, you’re going to have to pay a hefty toll. To get the map, you need to buy the Black Ops Pass, which is this year’s version of the Season Pass. To make matters worse, at launch, the Black Ops Pass can only be acquired through expensive special editions, including the Digital Deluxe Edition ($99.99), Pro Edition ($119.99) and the Digital Deluxe Enhanced edition ($129.99). Activision has said the Black Ops Pass will be made available for standalone purchase at some point, though they have yet to disclose when and how much it’ll be.
Activision has a long history of locking content behind Call of Duty’s Season Passes. Nuketown Zombies from Black Ops II, the Atlas Gorge multiplayer map from Advanced Warfare, The Giant Zombies map from Black Ops III and the Carentan multiplayer map were all locked behind Season Passes.
Hopping into Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 at launch yields a big surprise as there are no Supply Drops or Black Market in sight. While it’s exciting to experience Call of Duty without any form of microtransactions after all these years, don’t get too excited. The Black Market and Supply Drops are coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, they aren’t ready yet.
Speaking with Treyarch head Dan Bunting, he confirmed that the Black Market is returning, but will be remarkably different from Black Ops 3. The new system reportedly allows for more player progression to unlock new items over the RNG system of the previous game. Until Treyarch releases more news about it, however, it’s impossible to say if this new Black Market is fair or not.
Despite fan outcry over the practice, timed-exclusivity remains a core part of the Call of Duty franchise. The deal first sprung up back during Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and stayed with Xbox up till Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Starting with Call of Duty: Black Ops III, the deal has remained with PlayStation.
While disappointing it’s back, it has at least improved a bit. During previous years, Xbox One and PC owners had to wait thirty days before they could play the content. Under the new arrangement, they only have to wait seven days. It’s still not ideal, but seven days sure beats thirty.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.