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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review

Get. Your. Gun.

Hello, Anthony Divers here, gaming addict and horror super fan. I’ve been an avid gamer since being a small child and still consider my consoles my favorite possessions. I like a variety of games but first person shooters, action and horror games are my go to games. Top games for me would be the Bioshock series, online multiplayers such as Dead by Daylight and Battlefield, and a good old fashioned Resident Evil or Silent Hill. Catch me online for a game Anff-St-Anff on PS4 or Anff St Anff on Xbox One. Be warned, I suck.

As a long time Call of Duty fan, I consider myself a bit of a pro, despite what my in-game stats may say. I first joined the fight back in 2012 when I bought Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on a whim. I’ve never looked back. The gameplay was fun and intense, levelling up seemed easy and I was thrilled by the online competitiveness almost immediately. I’ve enjoyed pretty much every COD game that’s been released since then, my favorite still being Ghosts. Controversial, I know. But after Ghosts, I think Black Ops 3 would be the game I spent most time on.

So when Black Ops 4 was announced, I was excited to see what more they had to offer for our favorite Black Ops recruits. I wasn’t expecting anything too ground breaking as the COD games do tend to be pretty similar to their predecessors, but I was still looking forward to new maps, updated graphics, the usual upgrades we expect. The trailers promised a battle royale game, similar to the already popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, so I was also excited to see the COD take on that. So join me as I jump back into the world of high speed online multiplayer and review Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on Xbox One.

A detailed shot of Ruin in a new imagining of a classic map

Graphics

So first up I need to talk about the graphics. Black Ops 4 looks gorgeous, even more so than its predecessor which already looked pretty slick. Character models are highly detailed which is something I’ve come to expect in a Call of Duty game. Old favourite characters from Black Ops 3 have returned and look better than ever. My personal favorite, Ruin looks even more badass this time around. Hair and facial graphics are well rendered and believable, making for a more personal gaming experience.

The maps are also looking more polished than ever, with realistic lighting and colour palettes. Running around these gorgeous locations as you hunt your prey feels good, and I haven’t encountered any annoying texture wrapping unlike previous instalments. The graphics in Black Ops 4 feel modern and shiny, so the gameplay feels more fluid. I hate being distracted by bad graphics or slow detail rendering. Luckily this doesn’t seem to be an issue with this game. I think the lack of a campaign mode this time around has given the developers longer to focus on graphics.

Zombies is looking particularly good also this time around. The maps and lighting are gorgeous, and the zombies themselves are rendered beautifully. Gun models are also looking better than ever, especially once you start unlocking the more elegant camos and accessories. So far I haven’t found any issues graphically. Menus look modern and slick, character models do sometimes take a moment to load during the loading screens but that could be down to my internet speed and it’s not an issue really. Overall Black Ops 4 is the best looking COD game to date.

Looking down the sights of the gun that got the final kill

Maps

Call of Duty has received some backlash in the past for rehashing old maps again and again. Nuketown springs to mind. If you’re the kind of person that is not a fan of this, Black Ops 4 may disappoint you. If, like me, you actually love remakes of classic maps, Black Ops 4 has a treat in store for you. We are given numerous old maps, reimagined and upgraded for the current gen consoles. Some of my all-time favorite Black Ops maps are here, Black Ops 1’s Firing Range, which had a movie set makeover in Black Ops 2, the Slums also from Black Ops 2 and the Jungle map from Black Ops 1. I can’t tell you how fun it is to run around maps that feel so familiar.

There are of course new maps thrown into the mix too, covering a range of settings and locations. I’ve already spent quite some time exploring these new additions, looking for the best view points and uncovering hidden passages. They all play really well so far, and they all fit the classic COD mould as far as style and playability go. I haven’t yet bought a season pass for Black Ops 4 so I haven’t managed to try out all of the extra maps available. The pass is currently available on the Xbox and PS4 Store for £39.99, so I think I’ll wait for it to decrease before I get it.

Ruin shot in profile surrounded by flames with his trusty gun in hand

Game Modes

Black Ops 4 offers up a selection of old and new game modes to compensate for the lack of campaign mode. All of your favorites are back, from Team Death Match and Domination for the casual gamer, to the more hard-core modes for the pros. There’s a large selection to choose from and something here for everyone. I do personally love a bit of Domination as it’s fast paced and intense, but not too challenging to rack up XP. I do enjoy playing random modes as well just to keep it interesting, so the variety available is a welcome.

Zombies is pretty similar to the standard set by previous games. I’ve never been a major fan of this mode, but I do see the attraction. It’s creepy and dark, and fun to play with allies against the dark forces, it’s just never been something that interested me for longer than one or two games. This time around feels no different, with the gameplay being similar as well as the level progression and power ups. There may be more waiting to be discovered but it’s not really for me.

A player sky dives into the map below with a wing suit

Blackout

Blackout however is a very welcome change of pace, feeling more like a game of Battlefield than COD. The map is huge in comparison to any other COD map, and the gameplay is very similar to PUBG. You jump from the plane and skydive into a suitable spot on the map. Then the race is on to find guns, health kits and equipment before either hunting down everyone else or finding a good spot to wait out the fight. My personal approach is to run into the fray, but I never come close to winning so maybe I should adopt a stealthier attack plan. Blackout is a lot of fun to play, and a great addition to the COD catalogue of games.

The first time you leap from the plane, skydiving towards the map below leaving a coloured trail of smoke behind you is exhilarating. The graphics shine here and really boosts the way the game feels to the gamer. PUBG graphics often felt dull and slow to load in my experience, but Blackout feels smooth and vibrant. Once you land, the scramble to find a weapon quickly before someone gets you is also thrilling. Running into an abandoned building, diving into the woods for cover, or finding a vehicle to speed around in. There’s a lot of fun to be had here no matter what your play style is.

If you’ve never played PUBG, the gameplay may be a little confusing to start with. Jumping into a fight with no guns can be intimidating at first. But once you figure out the rules it becomes fun and challenging in equal measures. Think The Hunger Games but more intense. Is it better than PUBG? Probably not. Is it more fun than Zombies? Yes. If you’re a fan of COD already and are looking for a new challenge, give it a go, I think you’ll be surprised.

A zombie Hitler lurches toward the camera as other zombies follow behind

Levelling up

As has become custom with the COD games, levelling up feels pretty easy when you first start out. Once you’re familiar with the controls and the maps, you can easily rack up XP pretty quickly just by playing well. Levelling up leads to new guns, perks and load outs to help improve your overall character. One of my favorite things about starting a new COD game is finding the gun that best fits my play style. Black Ops 4 offers enough variety and styles to keep this interesting. Personally I’m an assault rifle man, but everything is on offer as always. And the more you play with a particular type of gun, the stronger variations you unlock.

Also making a regular return is the black market. Playing the game unlocks credits you can redeem in the black market for reserve cases containing a random gift. These vary from character clothes and war paints, to gestures and weapon modifications. I’ve always felt a little hit and miss with the black market element of the COD games, but at the start of the game at least, it can be a fun way to unlock cool upgrades for your guns and characters.

Ruin takes the win as best play of the match

The Verdict

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is an excellent addition to the family. It has enough of the old familiar gameplay we all love to keep it feeling like a true COD game, and it has enough fresh ideas to keep it current too. The Black Ops games have always been favorites of mine and this one is no exception. It’s the kind of game I see myself playing for years to come and it has enough levelling up and unlockable content to keep me going. They haven’t reinvented the wheel with this game but they have upgraded it and given it a fresh paint job.

With a new Call of Duty game being showcased at the moment, Black Ops 4 may be left behind by the hard-core gamers. But for me, it’s a welcomed replacement to Black Ops 3 which I was still playing up until I got this game recently. I never really got into PUBG myself, it felt too glitchy, so Blackout will no doubt become one of my favorite game modes. If you were a fan of the previous Black Ops games, and enjoy exploring reimagining’s of classic maps, Black Ops 4 is the game for you. Now come fight me. Ruin out.


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Written by Anthony Divers

Anthony Divers is a writer and social media manager for 25YL, and works as a team leader for a group of staff in a service centre. He loves gaming, horror movies and music. Living in the North East of England, he is surrounded by family, cats and his partner, who also works for 25YL. He believes he is the funniest man in England, and collects the souls of his defeated enemies in cute little jars. He has won first prize for the annual Valentine's poetry competition at his work place 3 years in a row, and also took the trophy for Best Wig in 2014*

*no one else was judged, or indeed asked to wear a wig, but a trophy's a trophy.

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