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Feature Article

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Revamps Multiplayer For A Far More Tactical Experience

Going back to its boots.

Treyarch has big plans for the next entry in the Black Ops series. Along with revamped multiplayer, an expanded Zombies mode, and a series of solo missions centered around the Specialist characters, the developer plans to bring the battle royale craze to Call of Duty. During yesterday's Black Ops 4 reveal event, we got to play over an hour of multiplayer. We also spoke with studio design director David Vonderhaar about Treyarch's influence on the Call of Duty series and how the team is looking to make big changes with the next game.

Set between Black Ops 2 and 3, this fourth entry in the series re-examines the pace of combat, rebalancing many of the more established perks and weapons, while also slowing things down to offer a team-oriented and consistent combat loop. One of the biggest changes in Black Ops 4 is the move back to more traditional infantry-based multiplayer gameplay. Gone are the thruster-packs and wall-running antics of the future soldiers, and in their place is a more tactical take on engagement.

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However, many of the more established features from the previous Black Ops games are still present. Along with the Pick 10 system, which allows you to customize your build with weapons, perks, and attachments, the Specialists from Black Ops 3 also make a return. In Black Ops 4, the Specialists--who include Ruin, Seraph, and Battery--and their dynamic with the other members of the team are far more important to winning matches, and there are many cases where the team will use their unique skills in tandem. My team used Recon's Vision Pulse ability to highlight all the enemies in a room, for example, and then relied on Ajax's riot shield to clear it out. This emphasis on teamwork and how to balance it with Call of Duty's gameplay took time to figure out, Vonderhaar said.

"It's really hard to make a tactical game if your character's not [on the ground], so that was the main motivation for us when looking at Black Ops 4. We looked at the thrust-packing and wall-running from the last game... but for the experience we wanted to make, it made the most sense to make things a little bit slower--and slower by Black Ops standards is not slow at all! To give it a more tactical experience, it was really about the [removal of] health regeneration and keeping you on the ground."

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The general flow and movement of Black Ops 4 feels far more in line with Black Ops 2.

One thing I appreciated about playing Black Ops 4 is that the Specialists have a much stronger presence in-game. Compared to Black Ops 3, the unique characters were mostly about their special abilities, which were only activated every so often during a fight. But with each character having access to a particular set of gear in BO4, their place in the general flow of battle is much more identifiable. This goes great with the more tactical approach the game is going for, with players having to be a bit more reliant on their squad while also being more aware of which Specialists are on the other team. During our few games, I was more cognisant of which characters were in use by the enemy squad and how to best counter their skills. This was a nice change of pace from most other COD multiplayer games, where both sides just spam the same tactics ad nauseam.

While skilled players are still capable of taking on multiple enemies at once, there are a few changes in Black Ops 4 that they'll have to get used to first. Though players actually have more health than in previous COD games, Black Ops 4 also removes health regeneration in favor of a new healing button. This makes healing a conscious decision, as opposed to running for cover and waiting for the damage to pass over, that can also lead to some hairy moments where you have to pick a good time to heal. Also, the mini-map will only show a set distance ahead of you--meaning you're largely blind when navigating much of the map.

The more tactical flow of matches took some time for me to get used to, which meant a few failed games of multiplayer. Despite these changes, Black Ops 4's multiplayer still runs at an extremely brisk pace. The general flow and movement of Black Ops 4 feels far more in line with Black Ops 2, which was a favorite among fans. There were a number of thrilling moments during my matches in Hardpoint, Domination, and the new game type Control, which forces the teams to fight for specific territory with only a limited number of lives. Seeing the team gel together, as opposed to just running off and trying to be the hero, was exciting to be a part of.

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One of the new game types in Black Ops 4 is the long-rumored battle royale mode called Blackout. Set on a large map, where players can take control of characters and use any weapon from the Black Ops games, Treyarch aims to make a battle royale mode that is consistent with the style and tone of the series. While the team hasn't shared any more info regarding the specifics of player count--which according to Vonderhaar is still being decided--they're confident they're introducing a new take on the game mode that will feel unique to Call of Duty and to other games of the sub-genre.

"We love those types of games internally, and our fans love those types of games as well," said Vonderhaar. "I think there's a strong opportunity to create something special for the series, and specifically for Black Ops fans. There's a unique way to do that for Treyarch, and for Call of Duty. If we didn't believe that, then we wouldn't do it. This is a unique battle royale-experience for the Black Ops series... All we really want with [Blackout] is for Black Ops fans to have an experience to call their own. We're going to do it the Black Ops way."'

The new pace of combat felt fresh, and I'm already looking forward to getting into a few more matches with the Specialists, along with diving into the new battle royale mode.

Treyarch plans to launch Black Ops 4 on October 12 for PC as a Battle.net exclusive alongside a simultaneous console release on PS4 and Xbox One. Going hands-on with it took some adjustment--who knew that we'd be so used to using jetpacks and exo-suits--but these changes felt welcome after few matches. The new pace of combat felt fresh, and I'm already looking forward to getting into a few more matches with the Specialists, along with diving into the new battle royale mode.

For more info on Black Ops 4, check out our full list of written and video coverage, which includes the Zombies footage and the new Blackout mode trailer.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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45 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for se7en1989
se7en1989

Looks like a reskin of black ops 3 without boost jumping. They're also still charging 60 bucks for far less content. I'll pass.

Avatar image for playstationzone
PlaystationZone

Worst month for reasleing this junk because same game every year . RDR2 going sale more than this and RDR2 got single player and romur that RDR2 might have Battle Royale RIP Cod and BF.

Avatar image for nefphlegm
nefphlegm

I read that only 10% of player base actually complete campaign let alone even play it. From a business perspective why spend the extra funds on something most people don't even participate in? Hopefully this very drastic move will pay off for Treyarch. The black ops series has been a personal favorite aside from bo3 with the introduction to loot crates. I'll be waiting to see more information on this.

Avatar image for se7en1989
se7en1989

@nefphlegm: You're delusional if you think that's the reason Activision scrapped the campaign. They did it so they could profit more while delivering far less because that's what greedy 100% anti consumer Activision does. Notice how they're still selling it for 60 bucks lmao.

Avatar image for epic_g_ame08
Epic_G_ame08

It is not worth the full price.

love the multiplayer but without a campaign the game does not feel complete
Modern Warfare 1 and 2 remains the best game
Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

"Revamp"

I'll believe it when I see it.

Avatar image for dr_vancouver
Dr_Vancouver

Tactical?!? Activision is merely trying to shoehorn in the grappling hook to steal some of that Spider-Man appeal, to capitalize on the same launch window of the upcoming PS4 exclusive.

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

I'd be pretty pissed off for no single player, but being honest: the campaigns just follow a blueprint that just makes it impossible to be wowed again after playing the MW trilogy. This lack of surprises has made me give the saga a rest, and while this is bad news, I'm not sure I'll miss it. Still, I'm not gullible enough to think the rest of the game will improve greatly because they now have more resources diverged and some time after shelving the campaign.

This is a shooter that follows a production scheme of a FIFA or a PES game, it has no heart anymore. If it had, it's been consumed by the greed of the publisher.

Avatar image for R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

I've had it with these article titles !

Last year COD was revamping its multiplayer to be more in line with its 'roots'

This year COD is revamping its multiplayer 'for a more tactical experience'

and yet it's the SAME exact game ever year.

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Avatar image for redhedjack
redhedjack

Who keeps buying these?

Avatar image for Xero_Kaiser
Xero_Kaiser

"Call of Duty"

"Tactical"

Pick one.

Avatar image for redhedjack
redhedjack

@Xero_Kaiser: I know. Even the good CoD games a decade ago had very little tactics involved.

Avatar image for Xylymphydyte
Xylymphydyte

They've also revamped their sales for a less profitable experience if the player response to this is any indicator.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

This is just a load of BS! You know it's gonna be the same game again and again and again.

Avatar image for goku_black96666
Goku_Black96666

@jayskoon93: exactly my friend

Avatar image for bobbo888
bobbo888

Wow, this might be the first call of duty where actual changes were implemented.

Avatar image for R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

@bobbo888: Said nobody ever

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Avatar image for PETERAKO
PETERAKO

Oh, I thought that the players of CoD are the opposite of tactical

Avatar image for openmind23
OpenMind23

I would say that they started to make a campaign mode at the beginning of development, but then were asked by Activision to halt that and instead make a battle-royal mode. It wouldn't surprise me if they added the full campaign as DLC at a later date; maybe even as part of the season pass. If that were the case, I can see uproar lol.

All that being said, I think that with PUBG being so ridden with cheaters and Fortnight being so different and not for all adults, Black Ops 4 might be just what some people want. It has ME more interested than what I initially had imagined a new COD bringing to the table.

With all of THAT said, Battlefield V is still at the top of my most anticipated games of the year. We will have more clear knowledge hopefully on Wednesday :)

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

@confusedpigeon: Iphones are that popular now? Costly trend.

Avatar image for dr_vancouver
Dr_Vancouver

The kind of gameplay in the trailer was why I stopped playing COD. Then, WW2 brought me back! Now, people are flying around like Spider-Man with grappling hooks... they lost me again.

Avatar image for bobbo888
bobbo888

@dr_vancouver: bye

Avatar image for alucardswrath
alucardswrath

"Tactical experience"

Adds Battle Royale

Avatar image for PETERAKO
PETERAKO

@alucardswrath: which in all honesty sounds more like battlefield

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

Despite the paid-for advertising in the form of this article, Activision and their underling studios have done a great job of progressively decreasing the reasons anyone should give a shit about CoD anymore.

Avatar image for HonorandDuty
HonorandDuty

Call of Duty Black Ops IV is nothing but pure greed by the Treyarch and Activision. Treyarch screwed up big time on the 3 year cycle of making this game by not finishing the Single Player Campaign in a timely fashion. They spent two and half years worlking on the Single Player Campaign and decided to drop the Campaign because Activison decided to have the game come out in October instead of November which screw up the time schedule for finishing this game.

This is definitely a cash grab by Activision which is a disgrace to the Call of Duty name. Call of Duty Black Ops IV should not even have the Call of Duty name attached to it since is so different from all of the other Call of Duty games that came out before it. Shame on Treyarch and Activision for even trying to put this out for $60.00. They must think the public is really stupid to pay $60.00 for this game.

There are two YouTube videos that pretty well sums up the lies and deception by Activision and Treyarch to the public about why they are making this game the way it is now. One is on the Angry Joe YouTube channel and the other on YongYea YouTube channel and it pretty well sums up everything going on right now with the making of Call of Duty Black Ops IV. It is not right what Activision and Treyarch are doing right now to deceive the public. To tell you the truth, I think it is pretty embarrassing what they are doing. It is really shameful.

Avatar image for hero-will-win
hero-will-win

@HonorandDuty: One of the dumbest comments I've ever read.

Avatar image for MALEVOLENT312
MALEVOLENT312

No campaign and a blackout battle royale mode and everyone is crying "NOT MY CALL OF DUTY!"

Avatar image for spectrexr1
spectreXr1

So they copying rainbow 6 basically, and pubg with the "black out " mode aka pubg mode . And we don't have a story for this ? Black ops had the best campaign

Avatar image for Gammit10
Gammit10

Higher TTK means I might actually try this. Haven't liked the other CoD multiplayers.

Avatar image for naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

Literally every single time it gets hyped up,

and literally every single time it's wildly disappointing.

Maybe one day, we'll even learn.

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

@naryanrobinson: too bad you're not activision sayin' that :D

Avatar image for Ohaidere
Ohaidere

No it doesn't.

Avatar image for fkguy300
fkguy300

They wont be getting my money... RipOff!!!!! Lazy developers.

Avatar image for MALEVOLENT312
MALEVOLENT312

@fkguy300: Maybe since there is no campaign they will spend more time making the multiplayer maps bigger and better? I always found if the maps suck, the game sucks. BO 1 & 2 had the best maps. Last couple COD games the maps have been so lame.

Avatar image for fbplayer1064
fbplayer1064

The little teaser for the game looks exactly like rainbow 6 siege, to the point where I can name what character they are. They literally have Ops wearing the same outfits with the same unique weapons.

Avatar image for jagdedge124
jagdedge124

A once iconic franchise, now a shell of it's former self, and a joke to the gaming community. Tough to watch.

Avatar image for spectrexr1
spectreXr1

@jagdedge124: this is a joke .u know if it's still $60?

Avatar image for nikolistary
nikolistary

TLDR: There is NO single player campaign in this game. Multiplayer only.

No buy.

Avatar image for firedrakes
firedrakes

their tatic we want more money!!!!!

Avatar image for R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

"including a unique take on battle royale."

Pfffffft, hahaha

Couldn't even make it past the title without laughing

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Avatar image for siarhei
siarhei

So no PVE?

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

@siarhei: they said zombies will be there.