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Call of Duty Black Ops 4 UK Review: Hardcore play of Multiplayer on PS4 Pro

Written by  May 20, 2018
Plenty was revealed during the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Community Event in Los Angeles. Developer Treyarch unveiled its additional modes, in the form of Zombies and Blackout - the all-new Battle Royale game mode to take on the likes of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
However, the main focus of the event was on the central element to this year's COD: Multiplayer.

Yep, there is no single-player - not in a conventional, campaign sense anyway. You will be able to play solo across the board, but the game is primarily a multiplayer combat and co-op experience. There will be a narrative, we were told, but not a story as such.

And it is this latter mode that we got to go hands-on with at the shindig.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is set between the events of Black Ops 2 and 3, which explains the decision to ditch one of the latter's biggest and most controversial features: verticality.

Gone are thrust jumps and wall running, replaced by good, old fashioned "boots on the ground" gameplay and tight, strategic maps.

We worked out way through several game modes - the much-loved Domination, Hardpoint and Team Deathmatch, plus the new Control - in 5v5 matches. And, while we had to mainly suffer the indignity of being shot in the face a lot, the action - while speedier than we remember - feels more COD than, say, Black Ops 3 or Infinite Warfare did.

Black-Ops-4-Zombies-9

Compact maps

The tighter maps definitely help. The majority of our session with an alpha build of the game was in a location called Seaside and while there were buildings with stairs and vantage points, plus a couple of central squares, it felt claustrophobic - in a good way.

It is easier to encounter the enemy and matches feel faster. Not being the best COD players, we had to respawn often, but we never found ourself too far from the battle.

Hardpoint is especially fun in a map that is delightfully compact. Considering the points you must capture and keep control of jump from location to location throughout the game, you want to be able to get there quickly. And there are plenty of nooks and crannies to skulk in waiting for foes to arrive too.

Although it is new, Control mode actually feels a lot like Domination, albeit instead of capturing and controlling zones from each other, one team attacks while the other defends two specific areas. Then it swaps for the next round.

It's all very old school Call of Duty, although loadouts and characterisation do make a difference.

Call of Duty Black Ops 4

Choose your own style

Black Ops 4 offers a lot of customisation for the player. For a start, there is a list of eight different characters you can play as, each with their own special weapon or ability. One is a medic, another an explosives expert. It gives matches a more team feel, especially if you want to win.

We particularly liked playing as Battery, who has a cluster grenade as her special weapon. But it was also good to rotate through characters each round.

As well as the characters, you can change your class to suit your style. This is effectively your load out, so it will afford you different styles of weapons. Plus, each weapon can be adapted with accessories. In short, no match will feel the same as the options to change-up your character are mighty.

Our only worry is that it can favour the better players even more. Once they find a play style they like, it'd be very hard for someone of a lesser skill set to touch them. But that will be what player matching will be for - something sadly absent at the Community Event.

We were thrust into action with far better players on the opposite team and left the demo area with our tails between our legs, but given enough practice we'll soon be able to hold our own. Probably.

First Thoughts

We did get to play several game modes, which helped give us some idea of what to expect when the final game arrives, but it's still far too early to really have a definitive opinion on Black Ops 4.

With such focus on Mutliplayer and no idea of a flowing narrative at present, it's hard to say whether the game will suffer from ditching the single-player campaign or benefit by being so focused.

However, considering how free-flowing and fast the gameplay was even in alpha stage, we cannot wait to see how the Blackout Battle Royale mode will work. That could make a massive difference for us.

As for Multiplayer itself, it'll certainly feed the eSports crowd exactly what they want. Of that we're sure.

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