Release platforms: PS4 (Tested), Xbox One, Windows.
Over a month ago I participated in the PC open beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s multiplayer. My PC could barely handle running it and there were lots of crashes, but I did get a few games in and I instantly knew I had to get my hands on the game on a console, my natural habitat.Thankfully me and my friend Sinead got to play a round of Domination on one of the new maps, Hacienda.
Out of all the games we played at EGX, this was the only one where we were in a closed area (I assume due to the 18+ rating).
There was plenty of space but I found the playing area in general to be less than ideal – we were in front of massive TV screens and there was only so much room to move back. It wasn’t a massive issue as we only played a single match but I found it difficult trying to follow everything. The provided headsets were also incredibly loud so we played without wearing them, but had no problems hearing most of the match anyway.
As far as the actual game experience goes though, it was just as good as I expected it to be!
Before the match we had plenty of time to go through our loadouts. Most if not all options seemed to be available, but I chose things I was comfortable with from the beta.
As the match loaded up we got to select our Specialists (classes essentially, each one having an Overwatch style ultimate ability as well as a specific skill if you don’t take other equipment). I picked Crash, a support type, whilst Sinead picked Ruin, a rusher type.
Immediately the differences from past Call of Duty games are noticeable. The game feels a bit slower. Not by much, but easily enough for me to appreciate.
I have never been one for twitchy style multiplayer games in general so I can appreciate the longer engagement times. The game has a more tactical, steady flow to it and I can imagine players who prefer previous years of lightning fast engagements may be put off, but for my tastes it was an improvement. It is still very possible to take down other players very quickly if caught off guard however.
One of the things that adds to this is body armour, an extra piece of equipment that you can take with you that reduces damage you take from bullets until it runs out of health. A controversial addition to be sure, but one I find interesting. Far too early to say for sure if it is a good or bad addition to the game, but time will tell.
As for Hacienda itself, I really enjoyed playing on it. We thought the map layout was very reminiscent of the map Raid from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (to the point that we thought it really was until we checked after!). Overall it seemed to be well designed and was generally very bright and colourful, much more so than what I would normally expect from games in this series.
In terms of controls the game handles just as you would expect it to – if you’ve ever played a Call of Duty game before you’ll feel right at home here!
One feature that is noticeable immediately is the predictable recoil on every weapon. All weapons in the game will always recoil the same way to help them stand apart from each other and give the player the chance to get comfortable with using their favourites and their quirks. This really helps remove some of the randomness from engagements and I can see it being very satisfying as players learn to adapt to this system.
The ultimate abilities didn’t seem to have anywhere near as much of a presence as I thought they would. Both of us only got our ultimate abilities ready close to the end of the second round and if anyone else used their own I didn’t witness it. They do appear to be quite powerful but if you are expecting to see them being used frequently like in Overwatch, be prepared to lower your expectations slightly.
Being able to play the game again before launch was a great experience and I can’t wait to play it when it finally comes out in a couple of weeks time.
I don’t expect the launch to be smooth sailing however. As good as the game feels to play, it is also arguably one of the most controversial titles the series has had in years and I think it needs to be discussed. Hold that thought, I’ll be back with some more opinions soon!
Finally, have you had a chance to play the multiplayer either at an event or the beta? What did you think?