Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in the test - Our story instead of a single-player script

Author: Stefan Köhler
Date: 2018-10-19 19:25:00
With Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Activision is for the first time not using a single player campaign. In the test, the extensive and excellent multiplayer easily compensates for this.

Smells like a rip off, doesn't it? Not at all, because the free resources were put into the multiplayer. Zombie co-op, classic multiplayer and the new Battle Royale mode Blackout offer the most extensive CoD multiplayer package to date. In the test we explain why it has also become the best multiplayer in a long, long time.

Better than the competition

However, the full-bodied promise of the developers was not to reinvent Battle Royale, but to make it better than everyone else. Did it work? Yes! Because Blackout takes the best parts of the competition, but does not repeat their problems. Playerunknown's Battlegrounds is still considered a cumbersome and unoptimized battle royale experience with imprecise controls. While we only got climbing animations in PUBG long after the release, in Black Ops 4 we run and slide quickly over the terrain and take obstacles without problems.

Fortnite also relies on arcade controls and less realism, but can be frustrating when it comes to weapon behavior. Because instead of using recoil, the shooters in Fortnite are balanced over Bloom. Behind the term is a growing crosshair, the shot will land somewhere in the area. Unlike a recoil, the random effect of Bloom cannot be controlled and compensated with enough experience.

Clean chaos for your own stories

For us, Blackout strikes the perfect balance between simulation and arcade in a clean, polished gaming experience. Oh, the core of Battle Royale also meets Blackout of course. We always experience different, sometimes chaotic matches, the outcome of which we could never have imagined when the game started.

An example: In a match we hardly have any equipment, but we have a joker in our luggage: iron lung, a perk that makes us hold our breath for a long time under water. And of course the big showdown takes place around the river in the middle of the map. We become a horror from the depths and get six kills, most of the opponents did not even see us appear. With the loot of our opponents we finally go ashore and two kills later we have victory.

Another time we are well equipped and find a helicopter in a section of the forest with which we immediately take to the air. We circle in relative safety while the fight rages between us between 30 remaining players. Anyone who is stupid enough to fire at the helicopter only reveals their position and is shortly afterwards surrounded by opponents. While we watch the spectacle and at the same time ensure maximum chaos on the ground with our noisy rotor, the field of participants thins itself out. In the end we land and take out the last opponents relatively effortlessly because we saved our equipment until the last minute.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 may not have a story campaign, but in Blackout we tell our stories. And they are partly crazy, partly funny, but above all always exciting when it comes to victory.

Story without a real campaign

Whereby wait: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 does have a single player with a story, at least a little. We're talking about the so-called Specialist HQ, a better tutorial. Here we are introduced to the classic CoD multiplayer and get to know all the specialists.

They were taken over from Black Ops 3, but slightly revised: Battery and Firebreak, for example, return and have their signature weapons with them, but now also a second piece of equipment. So Battery once again carries her grenade launcher, but also fragmentation grenades, which distribute smaller explosive devices in the room after an initial explosion. Firebreak pulls out the flamethrower once more, using the reactor core it can damage walls in a radius.

The best CoD multiplayer

The Specialist HQ might not work as a campaign replacement, but it does introduce the multiplayer characters properly. In addition to the aforementioned specialists Battery and Firebreak, this time there are also heroes who definitely allow team play in the otherwise arcane multiplayer. For example, Crash heals all team members in one fell swoop and even gives them 50 bonus life points for the next shootout, and he also has an ammunition box with him. With this, team members not only fill up their otherwise quite limited supply, but also get additional points for each shot down with the bonus ammunition and thus faster score breaks.

Recon, on the other hand, clears up the map with a sensor arrow, because a fog of war now covers it like in strategy games. As if this information wasn't powerful enough already! Recon's strongest ability goes one better: He can mark opponents through walls for a few seconds, for his entire team. A firefight can be decided immediately .

These skills charge slowly, but also promote interaction. And the new modes also encourage pulling together: Both teams only have 30 re-entries under control. An attack team has to slowly occupy two zones, the defense team wants to prevent that of course. After the end of the round, the sides change, with three round wins the overall victory beckons.

Education through Recon, healing through Crash or clearing up the zones through Firebreak are of course particularly helpful here and underline the gameplay of the specialists. If there are only two or three players left and there is no reinforcement without getting back in, then we are really excited for the last few seconds.

You can already tell: The multiplayer does not attempt incredible innovations, but takes ideas from the competition and revises existing systems. Not a single new element stands out negatively.

Otherwise we get the usual CoD action: We fight on small cards, with an arsenal of submachine guns, assault rifles and the like, use scorestreaks and gradually unlock more and more equipment. The innovations fit in well with the well-known overall picture and ensure fun to play, but without completely turning the well-known formula of 15 Call of Dutys on its head.

Is there nothing to criticize? Yes, the balance could be slightly better. For a freshly released game, Black Ops 4 offers very balanced battles. While console players despair of Nomad's mighty fighting dog, PC players currently have nothing to laugh about at the SAUG submachine gun. Whoever wields two of the things with both hands saws every opponent in a heartbeat. Really good mouse acrobats don't have to expect any resistance thanks to the rate of fire of two SAUGs.

In addition, the matchmaking team occasionally puts together teams of which we already know before the match starts that one will completely dominate the game. Fast patches should straighten the balance and matchmaking quickly.

Insider tip zombies

Zombies has always had particularly loyal fans, but some players didn't exactly warm to the co-op mode. This was particularly evident in Black Ops 3, where the zombie episode for beginners was completely overloaded with features. The bad news first: Black Ops 4 goes a step further.

The good news: Finally there is a tutorial that introduces you to the zombie world. So if you don't know the game elements from buying weapons, mystery box random items, Pack-A-Punch weapon upgrades and the like, you will finally get an explanation. There is also a simpler mode for beginners and an extremely extensive scenario editor in which all imaginable game settings can be changed, including the life points of mini bosses. And also great: if you don't have three players or don't want to at all because they only distract you from the story, you can take bots with you for the first time. The AI partners buy weapons independently, open doors and pick up the player if he was overrun.

and instead of just one map full of puzzles and Easter eggs, this time there are three completely different maps. In IX, the protagonists are thrown into an ancient arena, Voyage of Despair lets the zombie apocalypse break out on the sinking Titanic and Blood of the Dead is a remake of the fan-favorite Alcatraz map Mob of the Dead from Black Ops 2 But fans do not get bored with the tasks, the puzzles and card layout have been partially changed and partially completely redesigned. The zombie story is also continued in the remake.

And one more innovation should be mentioned: the rush mode. If you don't feel like zombie stories and puzzles and just want to shoot down hordes of undead with friends or alone, you choose this variant. No unlocks, no in-game currency, no tasks: In Horde mode, it's all about pushing the high score up when eliminating the undead.

Anyone who has avoided the zombie mode of Black Ops so far has no more excuses with Black Ops 4. Like the rest of the game, this year the co-op mode has a huge scope and lots of improvements that beginners and veterans alike will appreciate.

And with zombies, blackout and classic multiplayer, there is a lot of game in Black Ops 4, even if the campaign is missing this year. But we want to be honest: with this package we don't miss it.