Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 First Impressions

Posted on October 15, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox One with 12 Comments

I only had about 24 hours to tool around in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 before I had to head back to the road. But I like what I’ve seen so far.

Granted, it didn’t get off to a good start. For some reason, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4requires a 49.31 GB (!) day one update, at least on Xbox One. So I had to endure that process despite the fact that I had preordered, and pre-installed, the game.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is an odd game on a number of levels.

First, it is the first COD game to not include a single player campaign. This is disconcerting to some, but as I’ve noted in the past, it was the right decision: Few people actually play through the campaign. And, more important, it does little to contribute to a game’s long-term value to customers. Even those who do complete it—and I haven’t done so since Ghosts, I believe—rarely repeat the experience.

Second, Activision replaced the campaign with a new “battle royale” game mode called Blackout. Modeled after similar titles like Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battleground (PUBG), Blackout is being hailed by some game reviewers as the best-yet rendition of this game style, and it will play a key role in BO4’s longevity. I only played Blackout briefly during the beta, but I’ll jump in again when I stop traveling.

Third, BO4 sits in a weird place in the COD lineup. After trying and failing to jumpstart a new trilogy of games post-Modern Warfare and Black Ops (both of which spawned three titles initially), Activision experienced several tough years (at least within the context of COD). Last year’s World War II title (WWII) was a blast from the past, so to speak. But BO4 is even weirder because its predecessor, Black Ops III, was the sole successful COD game to feature jetpacks and wall running.

So for BO3, Activision—really, game maker Treyarch—had to thread a carefully-crafted middle ground between the classic “boots on the ground” gameplay from most other COD titles (including WWII) and the frenetic, fast-paced style of BO3.

And this effort is incredibly successful. BO4 is fast-moving—very fast moving—and while it doesn’t offer jetpacks or wall-running, it substitutes with a nice ability to scale obstacles nearly automatically, which is something I’ve always felt that the super soldiers of COD should be able to handle.

Graphically, BO4 pushes COD into a richly-colored, HDR-style that is unlike any other COD title. I love it, though I was a bit confused by the bright, colorful palette at first. And it’s possible that the graphics were chosen specifically to be faster than before, and to accommodate the Battle Royale-style gameplay of Blackout.

The other thing I really like about BO4 is the nicely-rendered updated versions of classic Black Ops maps like Firing Range, Slums, and Jungle, each of which triggered a cry of joy: They’re just beautifully done. And Nuketown, of the best-ever COD maps, is coming in November.

Firing Range is back!

The other maps are mostly very good, though some are far too big for the Hardline Deathmatch game-type I prefer. You’d think by now, and with 43+ GB of day one updates to play with, that Activision could figure out a simple way to scale maps to match the needs of different game types and/or player totals. But no.

Overall, I’m impressed. I can’t wait to get back so I can explore further.


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Comments (12)

12 responses to “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 First Impressions”

  1. Stooks

    "Few people actually play through the campaign"

    The reason I bought the games to be honest. After version 4 the game went down the drain in terms of multiplayer.

    The graphics just look dated compared to BF games and basically everything else. Maybe is its battle royal users wont mind because Fortnite is a cartoon and PUBG is a broken POS still after two plus years.

    If the Battle Royale mode turns out to be good, I might pick it up on some crazy sale. By that time the bugs will be worked out anyhow.

  2. FalseAgent

    I think the COD games from Treyarch are going to stand out as distinctly their own. IW and Sledgehammer have really lost their way.

    The decision to scrap the campaign and to make a battle royale mode makes it blatantly clear - COD is a game that thrives on trends, it's a game designed to be marketed like crazy, and to make money like crazy. The campaign had no part in it for at least 5 years now.

  3. Illusive_Man

    I'm okay with no SP...but not okay with the price. If you're removing content then the price should come down. Maybe $40...hell make it FTP...they'd make a killing.

  4. Madden70

    It is too bad with the decision to take out the campaign. Bought every COD until this one. Sounds like we will never have a Ice Cube or a Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, or a Gary Oldman in a single player experience again...

  5. martinusv2

    It's fun to see that Activision likes to piss of players with that kind of patch on day 1. I know I would be pissed to have to wait a few hours even for some few days because of data limits.

    Are you sure it's not because you had the beta? If not, Activision will have to rethink this patch delivery thing. They sould use the new game delivery Microsoft is talking about.

  6. 2ilent8cho

    I've never once bought a COD game to play single player. To me its a multiplayer game so not surprised they dropped single player in Black Ops 4.

  7. RonH

    I only play single user, so I guess I have to skip this one