Blackops is a different story. Sure, the best of the best will always be able to aim better, move faster, and out-maneuver their enemies. But the playing field feels more level, and not just because the game mode just came out. By its very nature, combat in a COD game is more flattened — it’s easier to kill and get killed in almost every situation. That gives less skilled players an opportunity to beat opponents and even secure victories by playing smart and getting lucky.
BLACKOUT HAS A MUCH MORE ACCOMMODATING LEARNING CURVE THAN PUBG & FORTNITE
PUBG matches are long, arduous, and can end in a flash if someone gets off a couple lucky shots from half a mile away. You can often die without ever seeing it coming, and in situations where you simply couldn’t have done much of anything about it. Many newcomers to the game, even when it first launched last year, found it hard to secure just one kill per game, let alone make it to the final circle and win. And because the matches are so long, practicing is hard and improving your play takes serious time and effort.
Fortnite, on the other hand, now relies almost entirely on your ability to build structures and sharpen your aim until it’s lightning-fast and accurate. Epic continues to add zany new items like a structure-destroying ATV, deployable fortresses, and invisibility stones to mix it up. Yet unless you master the core skills of building, quick aiming, and maneuverability, you’re unlikely to ever win a Fortnite game as the average player is much more skilled than they were six or even three months ago.
THE GAME SETUP
Fans of battle royale games will instantly recognize the basic setup. There is a damage-dealing circle that shrinks to dictate the intensity and direction of the fighting, and you still parachute — or in Blackout’s case wingsuit — down to the surface of an abandoned island full of supplies and firearms. But the way it’s played and how it feels is unique, letting Treyarch carve out its own space in the market. For one, Blackout is much faster paced. You die quicker, run faster, and fight in much more intense and quickened bursts of action. You can also heal and revive in just seconds, making these battles much more frenzied and long-lasting if you’re strategic and crafty enough.
There are ground vehicles, like trucks and quad bikes, that let you get inside the next circle faster. There’s also a helicopter that allows you to circumvent the entire map in mere minutes to find the best position. You can even wingsuit from tall structures down to the surface, making long-distance fighting atop skyscrapers and bridges more appealing. Blackout also adds quite a few features from the main multiplayer mode, including mechanical grappling hooks, deployable shields, and RC cars for remote scouting.
DOES THE COD BLACKOPS 4 WORTH IT?
This is the game that is likely to be played for many months to come. Blackout is Treyarch’s take on battle royale, and while the comparisons to Fortnite are obvious, the mode is much more like PUBG in tone and feel. Immediately, you’ll see it looks like PUBG, but with better graphics and performance. Even the solitary Blackout map cribs liberally from PUBG’s introductory Erangel sandbox, with its rolling green hills, abandoned manufacturing plants, and seaside towns.
The mode feels vibrant and dynamic, and just playing a handful of hours this past weekend was enough to hook me in a way that feels reminiscent of my first few Fortnite and PUBG sessions. The big difference I’m seeing with Blackout — and what I think will help it stay relevant to a uniquely large audience that doesn’t typically like battle royale games — is the skill gap and the necessary tools it takes to win.