Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4"

With a well-placed metaphorical headshot, Treyarch uses "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4" to shoot down any reservations that gamers had. The thinking went that a large portion of its fan base would feel excluded because of the elimination of a single-player campaign, as well as the supposition that the Battle Royale-style "Blackout" mode would be a disingenuous imitation of "Fortnite" and "PUBG."

Within minutes you see that the reality is that Treyarch doesn't follow -- it reinvents. "Black Ops 4" is a daring, wildly successful redefinition of what a modern shooter can and should be. The three multiplayer pillars are so robust, well-rounded and enthralling that the wonder becomes not that the single-player campaign has been jettisoned this year, but how surprising it was that it took so long to get here.

Recognizing that the bulk of the "Call of Duty" draw comes from its armies of multiplayer competitors, Treyarch made a savvy gamble that paid off by plunging all its resources into innovation, refinement and polish of its standard multiplayer, "Blackout" and zombie modes.

Those yearning for story and lore points should spend time in zombies. Narration and visual cues fill out the backstory as you and your squadmates fend off wave after wave of hypractive conjurings of the undead, making you feel like a tight-knit team who bands together to fend off the evil hordes.

That squad-based storytelling mechanic flows into the base multiplayer, which does away with traditional classes in favor of archetypical, 'The A-Team"-style heroes. Choosing your player -- each who packs a distinctive look, sense of charisma and special weapon set is like falling into positions in a pickup basketball game. The symbiotic relationships the team assumes emphasize communication, coordination and on-the-fly teamwork to succeed.

Treyarch truly shifts into full throttle in "Blackout" mode, which makes previous Battle Royale efforts seem like little more than cobblestones along the path to this evolutionary destination. Decked out with gorgeous backgrounds, complete with rolling hills, flowing rivers and staggering outposts, the map works as a character unto itself. As players engage in the mad scramble to avoid the shrinking maps while gearing up and battling it out for supply drops, you can't help but marvel at the colossal playground that sets the stage for the carnage.

With each mode equipped with its own slate of progression, unlockables and weapon economies, "Call of Duty" Black Ops 4" forges the bridge to the new normal of online-only shooters with overwhelming skill and bravado. The future is bright, bold and thrilling.
Publisher provided review code.

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