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Call of Duty Black Ops 4 - MojoPlays Review

VO: Andrew Labelle
Call of Duty Black Ops IIII said 'to hell with single-player and also roman numerals'. Does the latest Call of Duty earn the right to make such drastic and controversial decisions? Find out right here on MojoPlays.
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Once again it’s that time of the year when the usual suspects of video game development release the 15th installment of everybody’s favorite franchises without a single person asking, “Why?” But I guess we’ve all grown accustomed to that at this point, so when Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII suddenly started glowing on my Battle.net launcher, I ended up getting it. Because “Why not?”


When the first Black Ops game came out, it was an edgy Cold War thriller, with a passably intriguing single player campaign. Over the course of the next 8 years, Treyarch developed two more games that built up on that story, until this year when Black Ops 4 (or quadruple I) was released explicitly as a “multiplayer” first-person shooter.


The fact that there’s no single-player campaign is kind of a big deal. No one really claimed that Call of Duty was the epitome of storytelling, but at least we had some crazy setpieces that made us feel less like random soldiers are more like proper action heroes. (We can count at least 10 Crazy Moments if you’d like)


However, that doesn’t mean BlOps4 comes without a story. There is… What’s the most delicate way to put this? There’s an attempt at a story. After you launch the game and are able to decipher how the user interface works and what buttons mean what, you can go into the Specialist HQ. Here you get to meet the games 10 Specialists -- kinda like the Operators from Rainbow Six: Siege or the Heroes from that other multiplayer shooter game in the Battle.net launcher.


The Specialists each come with their own unique abilities that make them all very useful in different circumstances. For instance, Crash’s special issue weaponry (let’s just call it an ultimate) allows him to heal the entire team , while Nomad can summon a goddamn K-9 that can one-hit-kill literally anything .


The single-player mode in the Specialist HQ serves as a tutorial mode, where what’s probably an AI version of Sergeant Woods from the previous Black Ops games teaches you how to use your specialists. As you go through the training, you unlock short snippets of videos, which consist mostly of this woman named Savannah (who’s apparently the world’s first trillionnaire having nightmares. She’s also related to Mason? (A protagonist from the previous games)


Honestly, this is actually a pretty good way to frame a tutorial level. Everybody needs to learn how to play these different characters and it’s definitely a good idea to do this in a throwaway single-player mode, instead of throwing people straight into the wolves in multiplayer.

Speaking of multiplayer, Black Ops 4 is actually 3 games pretending to be 1. You have your standard CoD style multiplayer modes, where classics such as Team Deathmatch and Free for All return, but we also get new modes like Control and Heist. Then you have the Zombies mode, which is - as always - Left 4 Dead on steroids. And lastly, you have Blackout, which is the dreaded or beloved (depends on who you ask) Battle Royale mode.


Let’s talk about Blackout first. As a battle royale, the gameplay is either really fun or really boring, depending on your skill level, which is to be expected. In technical terms, however, it feels very polished. You can equip weapons and armor you find as fast as you can tap the F key, or you can simply put stuff in your inventory by pressing the G key.


Except, if you come from the school of thought where “E” is the action key, then you might have some issues where you throw one of your grenades instead of opening a door, thereby completely alerting everyone else in a 100 mile radius that you are there.

I also had a few issues where the game completely forgot about my mouse sensitivity setting, which drastically hurt my reaction time and got me killed.


The map is rather huge. It has that “multiple biomes” aesthetic going on, as you would expect from any self-respecting battle royale. You got your rich people houses in the Estates, your half-finished building at the Construction Site, and zombie-filled jumpscares galore over at the Asylum.


Oh yes, there are zombies on this battle royale map. Some people might think that’s a pretty cool idea! After all, zombies right? Who doesn’t LOVE shooting zombies?Except, do you know what happens if you shoot your gun in a map where there are 90 other people looking to hunt you down and murder you? You could be saying, “oh, well you should’ve just melee killed that zombie.” Well you don’t have a WHOLE LOT OF THINKING TIME when a zombie suddenly JUMPS out of nowhere in your face.


Speaking of zombies, let’s talk about the Zombies mode! We have two new campaigns (IX and Voyage of Despair), which follow the “story” of Scarlett Rhodes and her three allies, Diego, Stanton, and Bruno. In addition to guns, they’re armed with four mystical weapons: Chakram of Vengeance, Hammer of Valhalla, Scepter of Ra, and Viper and Dragon. Hard to believe this is still Call of Duty.



As a sort of PvE co-op experience, Zombies mode is definitely more fun if you can’t handle all the 360 no-scopes happening over at Blackout or regular multiplayer.


As for standard multiplayer, it’s still basically the good old Call of Duty formula that wasn’t broken in the first place. The biggest difference is the new Specialist system. The class you pick certainly matters and it makes you feel important in a way the older CoDs don’t. Each specialist has its own niche, which adds a level of strategy to the game.


Then again, the main guns of all Specialists are pretty murderous, so if you’re a good enough player than it probably won’t matter too much what class you end up picking. If anything, your overkills will be more enjoyable. And if that’s something you’re looking for, then yeah Black Ops 4 is your game.


We already made a list of 5 reasons why you’ll actually like Black Ops 4 elsewhere, and I’m pleased to report that the list holds up. If you want a “more mature” Battle Royale that’s not PUBG, if you want CoD to go back to its roots but not TOO far back so we don’t end up back in World War 2, and if you want ZOMBIES then this game probably will be one of your favorites of 2018.


If however you’re one of the 7 people out there who were playing the annual CoD games for the story, then I’m sorry to announce that that chapter of CoD is closed. For you, there’s still the Zombies, I guess. Nevertheless, this might be as good a time as any to start gitting good. If this is what the future of first-person shooters is like, might as well jump on the bandwagon. (Otherwise just leave an angry comment down below.)
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