A tacky main menu, soldiers sliding all over the place, and someone in the text chat shockingly told me I was doing a good job. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s beta felt a lot more connected than Black Ops 3 in terms of teamwork, but the pacing of the matches still felt too manic for me.
I expected Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to let me down despite hoping that I’d finally be good at a Call of Duty title for once. I’m usually met with teammates bellowing curse words at me through the microphone because of how bad I am. Additionally, I’ve never really enjoyed Call of Duty titles because of how it seems to feel like a “one man army” situation, and it never feels like I’m working with a team.
Yet I still find myself owning the most recent title regardless. They just feel like a series of games that I have to try, and each title comes new hopes that the game will finally grab my attention. So I jumped into the early access beta and saw it through to the PC open beta closing day.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 felt different. As if Treyarch had almost nailed the multiplayer warfare experience by encouraging teamwork. But while the developer has worked wonders on the Specialists roles’ War Machines it didn’t seem to slow the pace down in the matches I played.
It was in this video that Treyarch’s David Vonderhaar talks about Specialists playing styles and how the pace of the game can be slowed as a result. Although the gameplay in the Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, and Capture matches seemed to all still be incredibly fast paced like Black ops 3. In fact, a match of Capture was over within a few minutes in one round. It was a blur and we got destroyed, let’s leave it there.
It felt more grounded with no silly flying soldiers, and it made me feel like part of a team instead of a moron amongst elites.
The fast pace matches still seem to be driven by the small map sizes, and I think that if Treyarch wanted to slow the pace down considerably, then bigger maps would work best. Although I think that’s one of Call of Duty’s appeals in that players can get right into the fight. It just doesn’t suit my playing style and veers me away from enjoying the games.
The talk about pacing during E3 2018 made me realise that perhaps the pace change only affects the new Heist mode? Essentially, Heist is a glorified version of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s competitive modes in which players begin the round with little cash. win the round and get more cash to buy weapons and gear then repeat until the last round.
Heist is a bit different in that when a player gets downed they can be revived providing they don’t bleed out —or get massacred— otherwise they’ll have to wait until the next round. The knowledge that it’s only one life per round certainly changes the pace with players being less likely to rush in and spend more time tinkering with tactical approaches.
I think that if Treyarch wanted to slow the pace down considerably, then bigger maps would work best.
I did enjoy the Heist mode and the new focus on appreciating my one life in a Call of Duty title, but then came the arrival of the skilled players that can get a headshot nearly every time. I ended up getting annihilated more times than I care to remember and resorted to sitting on my mobile phone until the next round. So if you’re good at Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Heist is a great mode. If you’re bad at it, stick with the other modes.
I don’t want to make out like the other game modes pacing isn’t affected by the Specialists because they are. It’s just that in Heist the skills are required for tactical play and staying alive, whereas in other modes they seem to be more disposable. The offensive equipment feels like perks that can ramp up the kill counter and help the frantic feeling of a match. The more tactical equipment seems to be overlooked in any mode other than Heist because of the speed of the matches.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is on the way to being the best in the Black Ops series, but it still feels like it’s an exclusive game for players who are very good at it.
I particularly enjoyed Specialists “Battery” and “Recon” more than the others. Battery had a Cluster Grenade that exploded into several other tinier grenades, and ended up being my best friend when I felt overwhelmed. Recon had a sensor that could be fired over a long distance and would pick up nearby enemies in that radius for the whole team. It was a nice mix of choosing between a more tactical Specialist, or a more offensive one depending on the game mode.
The equipment and unique Specialist War Machine’s become useable by earning points, such as killing and destroying devices and structures. In my case, it took me a while to use them again, especially the War Machine which I usually only got to use once per match. It’s a good system in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 that stops spamming of special equipment on the battlefield.
The create-a-class system appears similar to previous titles, although the introduction of weapon specific attachments was interesting. I ended up falling in love with a particular assault rifle’s tri-optic —I think that’s what it was called?— after seeing it in action through a kill cam. I grinded up the ranks to unlock the assault rifle, then played tirelessly to unlock the optic. It felt rewarding that’s for sure.
The community on the PC seemed less volatile than my previous experiences as well. Players were congratulating each other, complimenting kills, and even discussing possible improvements the game should introduce. It was nice to see teammates dropping ammo crates for others and actually working as a squad.
I really do think that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is on the way to being the best in the Black Ops series, but it still feels like it’s an exclusive game for players who are very good at it. Watching kill cams back of people with almost immaculate timing and incredibly fast reactions solidifies that feeling for me.
I admit, I sucked at the game, like I suck at every Call of Duty game, but at least Black Ops 4 made me feel like I was finally getting there. It felt more grounded with no silly flying soldiers, and it made me feel like part of a team instead of a moron amongst elites.
An early access PC code was provided, after that the PC Open Beta was used.