Alright, guys, I got my hands on a Beta Key for Black Ops 4. Just thought I'd share how it has been so far (there is another Beta weekend starting in a few days, and the Blackout in September)
I'd like to start by humbly requesting that you bear with me. I'll give my opinions later, but would like to start by showing how this game differs from other Call of Duty entries rather than insulting or complimenting it.
Side note: I don't mean to shill, and I don't mean to disparage those who will buy this. Just wanted to share info. I'm not going to give some link to buy it or some garbage and in fact would suggest that if you have any interest in buying this, please find a way to try it before buying it. This one's... weird.
Aight, for anyone still interested, let's get into it.
So I played the Multiplayer Beta, so this will be, believe it or not, about the Multiplayer. Aside from what's been said by the devs Treyarch themselves, I have no idea what the "Non-traditional campaign", Battle Royale Blackout, or Zombies modes are like. If you want to know about that, just ask in comments or whatever,
I am going to analyze this game from the three most important aspects of a game: VIsuals, Sound Design, and most of all, Gameplay. I'd analyze story, too, but that's 1: Subjective, and 2; Not available at the moment if ever.
The game takes place between Black Ops 2 (BO2) and 3 (BO3), however, seems to have a grittier style similar to Black Ops with a futuristic theme. The guns are bulkier than in BO3, but are more realistic looking as well. Instead of a bunch of moving parts and pretty lights, they seem to move like actual guns.
Maps are somewhat cluttered with debris in some areas, and it's rare to see a perfectly smooth surface. Even on the beach of the map Contraband, the sand was littered with stones, broken bricks, rusted pieces of shrapnel, and even little crabs crawling around. Textures and models are very detailed.
Players play as the Specialists from BO3 along with a few new ones. The returning Specialists, now known as Operators, look younger, as they should. They also, for some reason, seem to be designed like they are from the 80s and 90s, with some having colored hair, or a mohawk, or dreadlocks, or a durag. The character designs are also grittier and more complex, with some, such as Recon, being covered in gear. This is a far cry from the very distinct Specialists in BO3, each with their own default shape and color, allowing for identification from a distance.
Medal designs, like the "Kingslayer" one pictured above, are also more intricate than the digital emblematic ones of BO3. This seems small, but considering how often you see them, is actually pretty relevant.
Loading Screens now show prerendered "cutscenes" of the maps rather than a flat image.
I also noticed no gibs, that is, players being splattered into red chunks. However, the "Graphic Content" section of the settings was completely inaccessible, so it's possible it's just disabled for the Beta.
I was playing on a PS4, so it was fps capped at 30 most likely and my TV can only display 1080p, so I can't really say if this was incredible looking compared to the best looking titles on PC.
Something that is unfortunately overlooked in many reviews is sound design. I suppose it's a result of how many players will play with low or no audio and listen to music or a podcast or just chat while playing a game. However, I feel that it is important to talk about.
Music seems to be more to BO2's style, a majority, anyways. Though there is some orchestral to be found, it's mostly a mix of techno and metal. Haven't heard any Niño Precioso nor any Malukah, but we still have 3 gamemodes to be revealed.
Guns all sound different. The more damage a gun deals, the "heavier" it sounds. They sound more like guns rather than toys, with bassy booms rather than toylike ticks. Suppressors sound like they usually do, a muffled "pew", reloads seem to differ between guns as well. Guns can actually be heard from a distance, now, and could not very well in the past few entries. Explosions pack a punch, now, and can be heard quite loudly from anywhere as actual explosions as opposed to a pop or electric sounding pulse.
Bullets make distinct sounds when hitting different surfaces, shots into bricks sound different than into wood, sand, metal, or glass.
The Operators now actually speak pretty often to each other, rather than to themselves. "Enemy: Scalped" from an ally lets you know they got a headshot. "Support pack deployed. First come, first serve" alerts allies that there's some ammo to grab. "This won't hurt a bit", a brief heads-up to incoming healing.
Some sounds are not mapped properly to audio channels, such as armor breaking. What this means is that every time I broke armor or had armor broken while playing with the in-game sounds lowered, the sound of breaking glass would be incredibly loud. Hopefully will be fixes before the game's release.
Another audio glitch occurred on the map Contraband. Every time some weapon reloaded, all players would hear it regardless of proximity. No clue what gun specifically, something that reloaded quickly with a magazine.
The meat of the game, what makes it a game.
For starters, load times. Loading is the first thing a game does, so it will be the first thing I talk about. The moment a map is selected in the lobby, it will begin loading, rather than once the game "starts". This means that there are times when you will see a loading screen (on PS4, mind you PC players) for only a second or two.
Operators, as mentioned before, act similarly to Specialists from BO3. The primary difference from a solo player perspective is the new Operator Equipment. If a class has no lethal equipped (such as a frag grenade), you will instead have some other tool. These vary from support items like an Ammo Pack, to area control items like Barbed Wire, to offensive equipment like a cluster grenade. These regenerate over time at around 4 times the speed of Operator Abilities. Segue! Operator Abilities are similar to Ultimates in MOBAs. They can be activated rarely, but allow the use of some potentially game changing action, such as a flamethrower, or healing all teammates at once, or placing a sturdy barricade. These can be used to interact with allies, enemies, or the environment. Show all enemies through walls for your team to hunt, block incoming fire with a powerful shield, just ******* kill the three guys in front of you with a grenade launcher. There are 10 operators as of now each with their own perks.
Create A Class sees the return of the "pick 10 system", where a player when making a loadout may pick from a combination of 10 weapons, attachments, equipment, perks, and wildcards to allow more of these (more attachments on a single gun, more perks from the same category, etc.)
Weapon classes, from the Beta, have changed. Usually, primaries consist of SMGs, LMGs, Assault Rifles, Shotguns, and Snipers. Assault Rifles are now split into the medium range Assault ones, and long range Tactical ones. Shotguns are now secondaries, and I'll touch more on that later with my opinions. Launchers can now have attachments like increased Lock-On speed or stronger explosives.
Primary attachments can now have 2 levels. For example, equipping High Calliber increases headshot damage, but equipping High Caliber and High Caliber II (you need both) will allow for increased headshot AND chest damage.
Weapons may have Operator Mods, which require the Operator Mod wildcard and consume 2 of the 10 picks that I discussed earlier, for a total of 3. These can drastically change how a weapon works and/or be a straight upgrade. It might change a semi-auto into a burst fire, or it could make all headshots lethal. Stuff like that.
You can now equip 2 secondaries if you wish, rather than one primary or two primaries. This also needs a wildcard, but can allow for the use of something like a handgun as a mainhand and a launcher for taking out streaks or equipment.
Gunplay has been altered. Bullets actually have physics now. A bullet's penetration ability is reliant on the class of weapon rather than the damage it deals and its range now. Projectiles all have a vapor trail, leading to suppressing fire actually being a thing now. Bullets have a velocity, however, this is barely noticeable in most cases with how small maps are. This may be more significant in the battle royale mode. Guns can be used while using equipment and some abilities, which was previously impossible. I didn't notice being too slowed by most guns. Due to things like armor, high fire rate guns are more effective than others, but that's for later.
Movement is NOT "Advanced movement". There are no jetpacks, no wallruns, no multijumps, nothing more "advanced" than sliding. Guns can be aimed down sights while crawling, which is pretty significant, especially for snipers. One of the Operators is equipped with a grapple gun, allowing for quick movement into windows or across the battlefield.
Information wins wars, or at least videogames. The objective focused gameplay of Black Ops 4 relies heavily on knowing who is where. If you spot an enemy, that enemy will appear on all allies' minimaps, meaning you don't need a full team of microphones to know what your allies are seeing. There is an operator, Recon, focused on revealing enemy locations.
Speaking of Objectives, that's what this game is mostly about. Kills are not tracked on the scoreboard outside of Team Deathmatch, only points and "objectives", be they captures, defends, or time spent on objectives. A lot of the equipment is focused on area control and keeping enemies out. Walls, mines, barbed wires, those things.
Lastly, map design. Maps are still 3 lane, however, these are more connected than separate. Each map has its own little shortcuts and corners to weave through, allowing for all weapon ranges to be somewhat viable, instead of having sniper focused maps and shotgun focused maps. Somewhat ironically, the maps have some more verticality to them. Lots of balconies, catwalks, and tunnels to weave and shoot through
If you just wanted info, that's it, from here on out, it's getting subjective.
Okay, so let's start with my opinions on the franchise. Call of Duty stagnated aside from shoehorned mechanics. You had Call of Duty, Call of Duty with bigger maps, Call of Duty with wallrunning and double jumps, Call of Duty with linked perks, Call of Duty with weapon variants. Here's what I think: Below are two lists. If you played a game from List A, and List B, you have experienced a majority of what Call of Duty has to offer.
List A: Modern Warfare, MW2, MW3, World At War, Black Ops, BO2, Ghosts
List B: Advanced Warfare, BO3, Infinite Warfare, World War 2.
What's worst about the gameplay stagnation is the implementation of the most profitable modern profit practices while keeping the antiquated stuff. Games sold for full price with similar gameplay and DLC prices+content to older games with new Lootboxes, Secondary Currencies, Microtransactions, CONTENT BEHIND RNG PAYWALLS. So you aren't just getting the same game, you are getting, for the most part, progressively worse ones. Thankfully, I haven't had to spend a cent on any of them since Ghosts, but have played all of them to a good extent, except Advanced, which I only played a bit of, but those who do are getting shafted.
Now, BO4, from what I played, plays differently, and I like that. From the sounds of it, the pricing issue and DLC **** will still be present, however, to me, the game itself feels different. I'd actually be fine with buying the base game. That's something I have rarely been able to say about CoD. It's 100% subjective, so if you disagree, please convince me otherwise; I could do with saving dosh. Let's get into what i think about each aforementioned section. With an arbitrary score system because I'm weird like that.
Visuals: Too complex in my opinion. Simplicity can do wonders. I'm not saying make Call of Duty: Absolver, but it's just a visual overload. maps are cluttered, character designs are hard to distinguish from far away, even medals are overly intricate. I should only have to see a glimpse of a medal to know what I did. Mushroom cloud? Radiation Symbol? That's a Nuclear. Skull with lightning and a snake dragon with feathery wings? What the **** does that mean? Guns look too bulky in most cases. It shoots bullets, not mini rockets! That said, I do like the colors. It's not too colorful like a lot of Black Ops 3, but not a load grays and browns like Modern Warfare 2.
1/2 Corrective Eye Surgeries
Sound Design: Love it. Even WWII's sound design sounded like trash at times. How do you screw up what's been done before? I liked being able to hear gunfire from far away, liked the sound of splashing into water and then the crunch of boots on the sand, liked hearing the bullets whizz past into walls of concrete. Music was a bit quiet, but had an actual tune instead of a wall of electric noise or very generic orchestra. Techno's not to my taste, but wasn't too aggravating. Audio glitches were annoying, but fixable. Oh, and the Toggle Mute All button is back! WWII had it but you had to enable it on each startup instead of once. IW did not have it.
2/3 Screaming Kids.
Gameplay: Really enjoyed it. No confusing jumping, no bunny hopping to dodge bullets, but sliding allows for more interesting strategies than dolphin diving. I will say that the minor BO3 exploit with sliding off a ledge is still in. This allows you, despite not having any of those thrusters, to fly off a ledge at mach 10 if you slide as soon as you hit it going over. That's a pretty big oversight and I don't know if it can be fixed.
Bullets surrounding you in smoke and vapor is really cool, but real distracting with high fire rate weapons. You could probably, with a team of 6, make a smokewall of SMGs. Tone down the opacity, perhaps?
Speaking of high fire rate, they are really OP. My biggest problem in the Beta. So, you can heal manually now, but this can be interrupted. The introduction of Armor, an item that blocks damage from the first hit, really makes full auto the most viable. While a pump action shotgun (which I was unable to get a one shot kill with before getting ALL attachments, making it weaker than fists) fires one shot per second just about, and SMG can fire 8-15. An armored enemy needs to be shot for at LEAST a full second from a pump action shotgun to die at close range, but maybe a fourth of that from an SMG, meaning that they are better at short range despite shotguns supposed to be best. This overlap between weapon class utility is a problem, as it means some will be far better than others, reducing balance. Look at TF2, and imagine if the Scout could burn things better than Pyro. It would make Pyro far less useful. Optimally in a game, all weapons should be used relatively equally and work well against each other.
Bullet penetration changes were cool. It meant that a tactical Rifle with semi-auto could compete with both Assault Rifles
and Sniper Rifles. It meant an LMG was better than an Assault Rifle at something other than Ammo, while keeping Assault Rifles useful.
Healing changes... I'm not sure, to be honest. Healing in the open while being fired at will get you killed anyways, so you're still only healing away from enemies. I think it does change behavior, though. Players don't seem to just run in and out of cover constantly shooting anymore, instead firing and then hiding for a few seconds to heal.
Speaking of behavior changes, not tracking kills really helps spur players into pushing the objective. I did not play a single game of Hardpoint where a player had less than 30 seconds on the point. Somneone actually asked me for my Win/Loss ratio, not my K/D.
XP gain felt really grindy. Double Weapon XP was enabled, but it still took a long time to level up guns. Usually, you can get an attachment at least every other game, but it was 3-4 for this. Regular levels were also slow. I played for hours this weekend, but only reached level 27. In any other game, I should have at least prestiged.
Scorestreaks aren't as cancerous. You get a lot of points for trying to push the objective, kill assists, scorestreak and equipment destructions. everyone was getting scorestreaks, not just one or two really good players.
Teamwork was a greater focus, finally! Pinging enemies, giving ammo, healing, slowing foes, holding an area, the game was much more than "Go here, shoot ****, hope your team does the same" like it usually is. This is probably the most major of factors in my enjoyment. I even had microphones unmuted, and people were giving callouts. Holy ****, people were WORKING TOGETHER, That is a concept alien to casual Call of Duty!
Gameplay score: 4/5 cramping fingers
This ain't an American School Grade, 7/10 is real good. 5/10 is average, for reference. 10/10 is a subjectively perfect game, like Yoshi's Island or something.
I'm rambling, if you have questions, feel free to ask. I know what was in the Beta and have been keeping an eye on Developer announcements, so I know quite a bit.
TLR I like it because I think it's different. If you don't like it, I understand, and am not asking you to spend your money, just informing.