Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Review: A Peculiar “Pandora Box”?

One of the hottest games of this year: Call of Duty Black Ops 4 has already come out and it has been… a rather interesting case. Many critics are quite happy about the game, while the gamer community has been split. Some say the game is just bad, it is not worth the price; while others consider it to be a great multiplayer experience. After our personal experience and listening to a variety of other people’s feedbacks, for us Black Ops 4 is like a “Pandora Box” in a bizarre way. There are lots of multiplayer contents, but not all players will feel good with them. So what Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is actually about? How good is it exactly? Let’s try to talk about it in this Call of Duty Black Ops 4 review!

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Table of Content:
1. Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Overview
2. Visual & Graphics
3. Gameplay
4. Final Verdict

1. Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Overview

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Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is here! (Source: Internet)

Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is the fourth sequel to the Call of Duty Black Ops series and also, the 15th major installment of Call of Duty franchise. The game was first “leaked” on February 2018 and later on, it had a number of showcases throughout the year, including E3 2018 and Gamescom 2018. It also launched a CoD Black Ops 4 Beta around September 2018. And now, it is officially released starting on October 12, 2018.

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Welcome to Blackout! (Source: Internet)

Right after its official reveal, the game already faced tons of controversial opinions due to its lack of campaign mode. Despite it being a sequel to the Black Ops series, Black Ops 4 does not include single-player campaign mode and instead, it only focuses on the main multiplayer modes including new additions like Heist and Control, Zombie modes with more tweaks and changes, and of course the “infamous” battle-royale mode: Blackout.

Basically, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is a $60 multiplayer game; therefore, it is understandable when lots of players are extremely disappointed with the game’s lack of single-player campaign, which was one of the prominent elements of Black Ops series and also Call of Duty in general. But in any case, the game has already released, and so only one question remains: Can Black Ops 4 multiplayer can keep up with players’ expectations?

2. Visual & Graphics

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New sequel, same old engine (Source: Internet)

Visual-wise, CoD Black Ops 4 basically uses the same old engine. Everything looks similar to the Black Ops 3 and this can either be a good thing… or a bad thing. The good thing is: Black Ops 4 generally looks smooth and it feels smooth throughout all game modes, including main multiplayer modes, Blackout, and Zombies mode. But at the same time, this old graphic can be a down side for certain players who have grown so tired of the current CoD state. Sometimes, Black Ops 4 may give out a strange vibe of a Black Ops 3 expansion, rather than a full-blown Black Ops sequel.

3. Gameplay

This year’s CoD Black Ops 4 really feels more like a package of multiple games. Here’s the game modes included in Black Ops 4:

3.1. Specialists HQ Mode

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Black Ops 4 “story campaign” (Source: Internet)

It includes “story campaign” for each Specialist character in multiplayer. However, these stories are simply Tutorial to teach players how to play different Specialist, rather than a proper campaign. It is weird though because they do include cutscenes, voice-acting, and they do feel like of having a story there. Maybe there is supposedly a story-mode during development but Treyarch decided to drop it?

Anyway, the lack of single-player campaign is arguably biggest deal-breaker for tons of players. Many others express that single-player campaign is rather useless since it tends to last around 6 hours with no replay-ability value. However, we have to put this in a context that this is a Black Ops sequel. And for those who have experienced the first Black Ops trilogy, this trilogy actually has great single-player campaign in overall, especially the first CoD Black Ops. Not to mention, there is also influence of the glorious Call of Duty Modern Warfare trilogy which has fantastic single-player campaign. With those two reasons, again it is understandable while certain player-base gets mad when Black Ops 4 is revealed to have no single-player campaign, story, whatsoever.

So to put it simply, if you only seek enjoyable single-player experience with good story, we recommend passing Black Ops 4 because you will be disappointed.

3.2. Main Multiplayer Modes

Specialists

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Let’s burn everything! (Source: Internet)

Black Ops 4 brings back the Specialist system from Black Ops 3, introducing 10 Specialists in total. These Specialists are like hero characters in hero-based shooters like Overwatch or Team Fortress. The 10 Specialists are:

  • Ruin: features Grapple Gun allowing player to quickly grapple and zip to nearby locations; and Grav Slam which causes an AOE lethal blast around the point of impact.
  • Seraph: features Tac Deploy which places beacon, allowing teammates to redeploy to the surrounding area; and Annihilator which is a high-caliber revolver capable of firing devastating rounds with increased bullet penetration.
  • Firebreak: features Reactor Core which emits a radiation field damaging enemies, reducing their maximum health for a period, and prevents healing; and Purifier which is a flamethrower capable of shooting a stream of flame, burning enemies upclose.
  • Battery: features Cluster Grenade – an explosive grenade which can stick to surfaces and releases sub-munitions upon detonation; and War Machine which is a high explosive grenade launcher.
  • Recon: features Sensor Dart which can reveal enemies within its radius; and Vision Pulse which can scan the map and reveal all the enemies for yourself and teammates.
  • Torque: features Razor Wire which damages and slows enemies attempting to cross it; and Barricade which is a reinforced cover for protection and also it releases microwave field to slow and damage enemies.
  • Crash: features Assault Pack which supplies ammo packs which give bonus score for killing enemies; and TAK-5 which heals and boosts max health for the user and their team.
  • Ajax: features 9-Bang – a tactical grenade which flashes and stuns, it can also be cooked for multiple detonations; and Ballistic Shield which is a durable transforming defensive shield featuring a built-in machine pistol.
  • Nomad: features Mesh Mine – the lethal tripwires; and K9-Unit – an attack dog which can be commanded to follow you or patrol a selected area.
  • Prophet: features Seeker Shock Mine – a deployable tactical mine which hunts down enemies and temporarily paralyzes them; and Tempest – a tactical rifle which shoots electrically charged rounds to incapacitate enemies and any squad mate within their radius.

Game Modes

Just like usual, Black Ops 4 also includes standard game modes namely Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Kill Confirmed, Search and Destroy, Domination, and Hardpoint. Their mechanics mostly stay the same like previous Call of Duty games. But for this new title, Treyarch also added 2 new modes: Control and Heist.

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Control mode (Source: Internet)

Control mode is similar to Overwatch’s Control mode in which 2 teams will assume the role of Attackers and Defenders to compete over two pre-determined area. The team which wins three rounds wins the match. But unlike Overwatch, there is an additional twist: each team will only have 25 collective lives per round. And so, your team can either win by taking control of the area (just like the game mode intended), or, killing enemy team so that they will lose all 25 lives.

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Grab the cash! (Source: Internet)

The other new mode is Heist which feels strikingly similar to Rainbow Six Siege in which, two teams will compete each other to steal the money bag and retreat to the extraction point. There will be no respawn in each round and of course, if your entire team dies, your team will lose. And then there is a difference: At the beginning of the game, each player will only have $500 and a pistol. Players will only gain more money after each round by killing or winning the round. This means if you want to unlock something, you have to earn money to have it. Luckily, unlocked stuffs from each round will persist until the match concludes.

There is also Hardcore mode which is available for Free For All, Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Domination, and Search and Destroy. In Hardcore, everything will be more extreme, including even more limited health, no HUD, no navigation.

Overall experience

Call of Duty Black Ops 4 multiplayer modes are quite… surprisingly pleasant to play, at least in the first impression.

Black Ops 4 no longer includes the futuristic stuffs like jet-pack and instead, this is still a “boots-on-the-ground” experience. The only “new movement addition” is that players can slide in a short range. The movement feels smooth in overall with all sliding, running around, and shooting.

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No more Wolverine-like generation (Source: Internet)

One big difference for the game is the return of Health Bar. Each player now has 150 Max Health, and all players now no longer have self-regeneration. Instead, players have to use Stimpack in order to gradually heal back to full. Each player has unlimited amount of Stimpack (imagine it more like a Skill), but there is a small cooldown after each usage and also, player can’t do anything while using it. This gives the game slightly more strategic element as players cannot just rush in shooting like “Rambo” without planning. Combining with the Specialists system, Black Ops 4 does feel more strategic than before, especially when you play with a team.

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Overwatch-vibe any one? (Source: Internet)

So is Black Ops 4 multiplayer excellent?… Well, not exactly. Here’s the thing: despite new changes like the Specialists system, Health Bar, and new modes like Heist and Control, Black Ops 4  still does not feel that new or refreshing. Those changes may be new in CoD franchise; however, it just feels like borrowing from Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege. And while Heist and Control may be fun initially, we are not sure how the game can keep up with its popularity later on.

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3-lane map layout… as always (Source: Internet)

Another big letdown is the maps. Although Black Ops 4 features 14 different maps at release, honestly speaking all of them do not feel unique at all. Those 14 maps may look different in terms of visual, but they still feel the same with generic three lanes and a few twists like the freezing water in Icebreaker or the swimmable area in Seaside. They extremely lack diversity; they don’t have any major twists, paths, or major environmental differences. And as the time goes on, high chance that these maps will grow more and more boring since every match will tend to feel the same.

Of course there will be updates in the future, but at the current moment, these sorts of generic map can be a big downfall in the long-run.

3.2. Blackout

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CoD’s battle royale mode (Source: Internet)

In short, Blackout is basically Call of Duty’s answer to the popular Fortnite Battle Royale. Just like Fortnite and PUBG, Black Ops 4 Blackout throws 100 players into a huge battleground and they have to fight each other until one person left. As the match progresses, the map will gradually close in, forcing players to constantly on the move to the safe place. Players can join in Blackout in Solo, Duo (2-person team), or Quad (4-person party) mode. At the beginning of the game, players will jump off from helicopters and dive to their desired locations. Through the game, players will find various weapons and equipment like Grenade, First Aid kit, or Perks.

Overall, Blackout mode is surprisingly solid. So far this game mode feels extremely smooth and it is pretty accessible. Blackout map comprises of multiple CoD iconic maps like Cargo, Array, Nuke Town, and Estate. And seeing all of them in one big map is pretty fascinating. For those who are so used to Call of Duty franchise, these familiar maps can actually make lots of fun and intense moments since they are so familiar with those maps.

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There are zombies, surprise! (Source: Internet)

Interesting enough, Treyarch even adds locations from CoD Zombies mode like Asylum. Areas like Asylum features zombies and killing them will drop some sweet loots like Ray Gun and Zweihander. And to even more surprise, it includes Mystery Box which works rather similar to the usual CoD Zombies mode.

3.3. Zombies Mode

Now we come to the final and also, probably the most surprising game mode in Black Ops 4. Different from previous CoD titles, Black Ops 4 zombies mode is much more polished than before with various interesting changes.

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Welcome to ancient Rome mates! (Source: Internet)

There are 2 main storyline this time around; the first one is Chaos featuring 4 new main characters: Scarlett – a daring adventurer who seeks her father’s past; Diego – a spy, a seducer, and a cutthroat; Stanton – a master chemist; and Burno – a… brute. Together, they go on a journey to discover Scarlett’s father story and also, uncover a secret power which threatens humanity throughout 2 new maps: Voyage of Despair which brings them to the infamous RMS Titanic during its last moment; and IX which brings the team to the… ancient Roman coliseum?

The second storyline – Aether – is related to the last map which is the Blood of the Dead. It brings players back to the good ol’ day in Alcatraz Penitentiary with the four characters Richtofen, Dempsey, Takeo, and Nikolai.

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Zombies mode’s Elixirs (Source: Internet)

This year Zombies mode does feel lots of fun, more so than ever. Both new Zombies map IX and Voyage of Despair do feel fresh with surprisingly new environment and fascinating Easter Eggs (and so complicated too!). Create-A-Class in Zombies mode this year also has several changes, specifically:

  • Elixirs: Players can equip up to 4 Elixirs, which are basically magical potions which provide certain short-term buffs. Classic Elixirs will have infinite supply, while Rare ones have limited amount.
  • Talisman: It provides permanent buff for the rest of the match. Only 1 Talisman can be equipped.
  • Perks: Perks are more interesting this time. Players can now choose 4 Perks they want to have in each map via the 4 perk statues (Chaos story) or 4 vending machines (Aether story). There are 14 Perks in total so choosing the right ones are necessary. The way Perks are set up are also pretty cool in Chaos storyline as they are tied to the 4 gods: Danu, Ra, Zues, and Odin.
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Wield the weapons of the ancient gods! (Source: Internet)

Aside from 1 Starting Weapon and 1 Starting Gear slot, players can now select an additional Special Weapon (probably the coolest change in Black Ops 4 Zombies mode). These weapons are extremely powerful and can be upgraded multiple times to unlock more abilities; however, they also have cooldown. There are 4 Special Weapons for Chaos storyline and other 4 for Aether storyline.

Chaos storyline includes:

  • Chakrams of Vengeance: A pair of chakrams, one for melee and another for ranged attack. The throwing chakram can slice through multiple zombies before returning to you.
  • Hammer of Valhalla: An extremely powerful hammer which can send zombies flying with each swing. It can also stagger bosses.
  • Scepter of Ra: It can fire a powerful beam, or, thrust at zombies to disperse nearby crowds. The beam can also slow zombies as it melts them.
  • Viper and Dragon: The Dragon is a powerful pistol which can eliminate targets at range, while the Viper can deal massive slash attacks to groups of zombies.

Aether storyline includes:

  • Hellfire: A flamethrower which is capable of dealing massive damage to the crowd; however, it does not have any crowd-control effect.
  • Overkill: A powerful minigun similar to the one back in Black Ops 1.
  • Path of Sorrows: A katana capable of cutting zombies down in close range.
  • Ragnarok DG-5: Features ground-slam attacks which deal stacks of electrical damage and send zombies away. It is pretty similar to the Hammer of Valhalla.

And of course, more zombies map will be updated in the future with story updates.

4. Final Verdict

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Literally a “Pandora Box” (Source: Internet)

Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is an… interesting, yet confusing package. It can be a great fun for many CoD fans, yet, a forgettable “Pandora Box” for many others. Once again, the reason why we use the term “Pandora Box” to describe Black Ops 4 is because Black Ops 4 offers a variety of fun games, but it lacks certain elements which many players want to see, namely the single-player campaign and new innovation for the CoD main multiplayer gameplay.

Black Ops 4 main multiplayer is a bit more fun thanks to the Specialists system and 2 new modes Heist and Control; however, those “new additions” are basically borrowed from other games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege. And unfortunately, one of CoD problems still remains: uninspiring maps. Despite the having about 14 maps in total, all of them still feel bland after a couple of matches due to the same 3-lane design with only slight tweaks.

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Will you get Black Ops 4? (Source: Internet)

The Blackout is surprisingly fun, smooth, and solid. Honestly this Blackout mode can definitely beat Fortnite. However, this mode alone can’t justify the $60 price tag (while Fortnite is free), especially if you are only interested in this battle royale mode. And then we have Zombies mode which is also really fun. Yet again, if you are only interested in this Zombies mode, paying $60 is really a stretch. And even if you are interested in Blackout and Zombies mode only, we can’t say getting CoD Black Ops 4 at $60 is a good deal.

For those who enjoy everything Black Ops 4 offers, the final verdict for Call of Duty Black Ops 4 can be an 8/10. But for the others, it is more like a 7/10; or even 6/10 if you really hate the facts that there is no single-player campaigin, nor new innovation for CoD main multiplayer.

And what about you? What do you think of Call of Duty Black Ops 4? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!

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