REVIEW – The CoD saga is back in shape. We have lived years with some deliveries better than others, but in 2018 we have one that recovers the solidity of yesteryear. Battle Royale, many zombies and a competitive as robust as always are the keys to the analysis of Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII.
It was easy to be sceptical at Black Ops IIII. Last year’s episode was not bad, Call of Duty: WWII, but was beginning to show some signs of exhaustion in its formula that could not be reversed even with the adoption of a World War II that it seemed that it would be the solution to all the problems of the Activision war saga. Nothing is further from reality. The game sold very well, like almost all of the franchise, but left an irregular taste in aspects such as the individual campaign: generic and little used. The failure of the story modes of the last episodes of the CoD series can serve to understand the controversial decision that this year’s delivery has taken: to dispense of any narrative part, everything that is here is purely competitive or cooperative.
In the first instance, it comes out complaining, that is obvious, and we join the complaint. Any type of clipping of content from one episode to another in a brand is something to criticize but, if we look at it in detail, maybe we have even won with the change. The downhill history modes of recent years were nothing short of unquestionable. And, despite the fact that Treyarch itself does not agree with itself in statements as to whether they ruled out the Black Ops IIII campaign for the low quality of what they were developing as they assured us or if they never considered doing it as they have told others, the only certain thing is that their reasons would have to do it.
Besides, only on the first day of work preparing the review of the new game had already invested in BlackOut, the new battle royale of Call Of Duty, more time than in the story mode of any previous game. We lose the individual part, yes, but if what we judge is the quality, the value and the duration of all the content that comes with the new Call of Duty the conclusion is the same: We have come out winning.
It is a risky statement, it is clear, and a sentence that will be criticized by those who hate multiplayer. Yes, if campaigns are your only and exclusively and for some reasons or others you do not want / you can enjoy the online game there is no place for you in Black Ops IIII. Of course, if you like to be competitive or live cooperative experiences and you want strong , intense and exciting sensations, this video game is a totally recommendable purchase. Call of Duty finally recovers a state of form that we had not seen for years; and that, guys, is great news.
A Unique Winner – Blackout Mode
With only one winner and a trail of losers along the way. Thus ends the games of any Battle Royale worth its salt and, following its maxims to the letter, Treyarch has presented its new great contribution to the Call of Duty saga after creating the slope of the zombies in 2008 for World at War : A decade later they present Blackout A way that is the great novelty, and in which individually or by teams of two or four players, we must face several dozens of other users and end up surviving all .
This type of experience, popularized by titans such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or Fortnite , is a phenomenon nowadays, and it is difficult to think of a great shooter that has not already adopted them or is not on track to do so. Call of Duty Black Ops IIII itself is a good example, but in a few weeks we will have Battlefield V betting precisely to include also a mode of these characteristics. It is what is fashionable now, not in vain is a hilarious style of play, and Activision wanted to capitalize on the success of a proposal with these characteristics. The doubt was whether they would do it correctly or launching something quickly and in any way to satisfy that demand that is in the market for these modes. The answer is clear, not only have they got a quality product but, probably, we are before the representative of this funnier genre and that better balances the times of his action.
Moreover, is that managing the pace of something of these characteristics in such a large map is always complicated. Some prefer the more tactful and tactical rhythm of PUBG, with many and very long lapses of time between gunfire and gunfire, while others prefer the colourful Frenetism of Fortnite. The Call of Duty of 2018 places Blackout at a midpoint between one and the other. We have the possibility at the start, if we wish and we are lucky, to find a hidden place or we can try to become a strong all-out gun, warrior type player. Either way the game is loaded with spectacular moments and with a tremendously well-balanced sense of tension. The key to the good Battle Royale, yes, but without losing a bit of the COD aroma. A balance that was more difficult to achieve than it seemed, and that Black Ops IIII manages to excel in an outstanding way.
One of the main keys is the maximum mobility of the characters, very fast and with access to several types of vehicles for land, sea or air, but above all the design and the careful dimensions of the mapping. It is not too big for any game to derive in tedium, nor too small for there to be only space for shootings. It has the exact size to guarantee a more tactical experience, or of fast and fleeting scenes of action based on the player’s wishes. It works equally well for either 88 players in the singles or in pairs, or for the 100 users who ends up meeting in groups of four. Whether playing alone or forming the team, we want the game is funny, something that can not boast some titles of these characteristics that played alone end up being boring.
The ideal, as is logical, is to enjoy it accompanied. The more, the better. That allows specialization, and it is necessary. It is true that the Lone Wolf has all the elements regarding gadgets and power-ups to have fun playing without allies, but it is also that there are enough elements in the arsenal and accessories to have four completely different roles and perfectly complementary in a team. The big difference with, for example, PUBG is that here we have many more possibilities when it comes to developing. The title is generous with the arrangement of elements, so it is easy in just three or four minutes to have one or two relatively decent weapons, a certain range of grenades, as well as at least one or two accessories in the form of traps, of remote-controlled cars with camera, bombs, motion detectors or barricades, among many other things.
However, the greatest sense of diversity is provided by the design of the map itself, composed of small parts with much identities and that often pay homage to past instalments of the series. The incredible skyscraper in works provides very tactical gameplay and full of hiding places and shootings where verticality matters a lot and is only a few kilometres from an impenetrable desert that provides the most visceral action scenes. The same goes for super-luxury homes located to the north, and with an excellent design for short-range skirmishes, which are relatively close to a forest where you can set up great ambushes. A marine area, an industrial estate, a commercial port or even the Nuketown map itself, a legend of the series, are also present and offer very different things. The icing? The sympathetic presence of zombies attached to certain places, for example a terrifying psychiatric hospital or a lighthouse on the coast, which guard the best weapons and equipment and that mix PvE and PvP to generate action sequences of true heart attack.
Our only faults? There is rather little to attribute to a formula so refined and so fun, but there are a couple of aspects that make us doubt. On the one hand, the rewards seem quite meagre, especially for winning a game, and the progression is very slow; although that is solved playing more and more and, at the moment, it is a pleasure. The other is rather an unknown. It is still not clear how Treyarch will face his post-launch plans for everything related to Blackout, and if there will be more maps or if updates will be made on what we already know to keep him alive. In this sense, to put the case, Epic Games is an example of how to do things with Fortnite regarding support, changes, additions and regular temporary events that help feed their large community. If the Activision Californian studio follows in their footsteps, we will have a real bombshell and a very long game.
Man vs Man – Competitive Multiplayer
The traditional multiplayer mode is also coming strong this year. Treyarch has taken good note of the things that they liked and those that did not exist in Black Ops 3, so that now we do not have a jetpack and we can not run around the walls, but specialists (some veterans, others new) do come back, between other things. That little extra point that has convinced us in this regard is that it does not seem that its leaders have been content to make a list and say “this like, inside, this does not like, outside” but also have squeezed the brain to give us a few high-value novelties for dynamics in this way.
One of the most striking is that now we have 150 points of life (instead of 100) keeping the damage practically the same as in previous deliveries, so the ‘ time to kill ‘, ie the time and effort you need to kill an enemy, it’s longer than ever. This seems to have generated some controversy among eSports professionals but, if you ask us, we will say that having the opportunity to react to enemy fire and that all encounters generate some tension seems fun and a success. A more strategic and less frantic point for the playable experience. Even more so if we take into account that shotguns, snipers and certain weapons of specialists can still end with us in one single impact, as always.
The recovery of health of our soldier, on the other hand, is no longer carried out automatically – in fact, it is only so in the zombies – but you must activate it manually with a skill. That is to say, that healing or recharging weapons is a tactical decision that you must take according to the situation. Much less generous are the two skills of each specialist: the first is a tool with a moderate cooling, but sufficiently restrictive to make us keep it until the opportune moment; while the other is a definite one with which we will only count once or twice per game, generally … Moreover, with luck! It seems that Treyarch wants the specialists to influence and unbalance the games, but that it does not end up being a factor that destroys the careful balance that the game shows in its competition.
In fact, and as a notice of navigators for those who did not play the previous Black Ops, the idea is that this is still not Overwatch: we are still practically the same as our opponents during the game, and we will use characters of the same size, speed, weapons and possibilities. The only difference is that occasionally we use skills and tools that give some diversity to the proposal and that propose different styles of play. So we have a trapper, a tank or someone who goes very directly to face-to-face action, for example. In this way, and we insist, you do not need to use these skills to win, but you will have more possibilities to do it if you dare to dominate them.
Another change that has seemed great is the incorporation of the system ‘ Guns Still Up ‘, a small general review of the gameplay that compensates for the lack of double jump and race through the walls with the ability to continue shooting in virtually any situation. Running, jumping, sliding, throwing a grenade, activating a streak of points or even being immobile in a trap does not imply any impediment to keeping shooting, so you only “disconnect” from the action to heal or recharge. It is fantastic and is another element of those that we could label as easy to understand but difficult domain that both enrich the gameplay of a title of these characteristics.
The action of this modality is developed throughout 14 maps in total in the game, not counting the ones that will be introduced with Call of Duty’s Black Ops Pass Black Ops IIII. Some are entirely new, while others are reimagined versions of classic maps. They are divided into a small number of prominent game lists, so all “team duel” modes, including Confirmed Low, appear condensed in “DPE Chaos”. The idea is that no list is particularly empty thinking in the long term and, in this way, that there is always some variety of activities to choose from. Although, yes, the game allows us to return to the extreme lists, if that is what we want, or select the mode manually if it is what we like the most. In this regard, we particularly note the tactical addition of Atraco in the 8 main available modes, a kind of interpretation of CS: GOwith rounds, permanent losses and purchase of weapons, and another call Control that is less disruptive but that makes some changes on the already known “territorial” style that has worked so well to the franchise.
As it happened with previous instalments of the Call of Duty series, in the multiplayer of Black Ops IIII, we accumulated experience playing games and we went up in level. In the process, we will unlock new prefabricated classes, as well as basic weapons to customize our own sets. Once we reach level 55, we can restart our progress in a Prestige cycle to get new cosmetic rewards to celebrate our dedication. In BO4 return the Prestige cards, a trendy feature of some previous instalments that allow us to permanently unlock any piece you like for the next Prestige cycle.
Treyarch also makes sure to stay glued to the screen for a long time by introducing the masterpieces . Contrary to what its name might suggest, they are weapons with a behavior identical to that of its standard version, but have unique and special designs. They are only unlocked by completing long challenge missions, and they are a flagship to show your mastery to your friends and rivals. In the end, the idea is to give us more reasons to want to return, and the truth is that at that point do not work badly.
A Story to Tell -Zombies and Specialists
Eliminated at a stroke of the Call of Duty plan: Black Ops IIII any trace of an individual campaign in a traditional sense, everything narrative has been linked to two very specific parts of the game. On the one hand the zombies and, on the other, the General Headquarters of Specialists. One part is frankly fine; the other is noticeably more discreet.
We will start with the positive that is IX, Infernal Crossing and the Blood of the Damned, the three zombie campaigns. Two of them completely new, and the third that pays homage to one of the most beloved by fans, one of the chapters of the fight against the undead of Black Ops 2. The best, as always in these cases, is to have absolutely nothing of all this. Leave surprises for the amateur to discover them, and omit everything relevant.
What I can tell you is that, regarding environments, they are tremendously different from each other. The weapons are very similar, and the types of enemies are identical changing only their appearance, so the challenge of the fight is the same in each of the three campaigns. However, as the veteran will already know, the foundation of the zombies has always been to discover secrets, solve puzzles and try to unravel all the mysteries that are hidden in each scenario. There are puzzles that are more or less simple than go on growing as the adventure progresses, and there is always that feeling of anguish and urgency that comes from having the constant threat of the creatures stalking us in ever more and more numerous waves.
The great thing is that, as in the other facets of the program, Treyarch has also taken note of the complaints of some fans regarding pace. There are people who find the tempo of the games with perfect zombies, but there are those who consider that it could be more agile or change certain things. For all of them, there are endless options to detail regarding frequency, type of challenge presented by the zombies or possibilities of hurting them in one way or another to ensure total control over the experience. All that next to the Stampede model that complements the classic and offers faster and more intense action and progression, with weapons, classes and elixirs and talismans to evolve our characters, guarantee that we will have many hours of fun with this part of the program.
Precisely with the intention of extending your life and providing some background behind the figures of the protagonists of the competition comes Specialist General Headquarters, a place where we can find everything we need to know about them. From their stories, narrated in brief but spectacular cinematics for the 10, to tutorials to learn how to handle their different skills. There is also a skirmish against artificial intelligence for each one of them, in addition that can mean approximately 30-40 minutes per head, counting everything they offer.
As a learning phase, it is not bad, and needless to say, it does not seem that it is the intention to achieve much more. However, only to get an idea of the mechanics, since putting them into operation against bots is not exactly the same as planting human faces. The artificial intelligence of the Call of Duty has never been bad for the maps of the campaign with their very well measured routes and their roadmaps and well-defined tasks, however in the classic maps of Treyarch (with its usual design of the two corridors and the central arena) force them to be versatile, and there they are clueless and little or nothing effective. A mere distraction in case some day you want to put the brain in neutral, but little more than that.
The War of Treyarch – Graphics and Sound
The real workhorse of the Call of Duty saga in recent times has been linked to its graphics section, once a leader in the early stages of the franchise, and already seriously out of date in the year 2018. It is true that some parts such as their zombies are much showier than the rest, and is that without making a technical show look much better than a discreet Blackout and an aesthetically very forgettable competitive. Both with polygonal loads and details of textures very but very poor. The first, however, save a respectable drawn distance. So, if you’ve been looking for graphics advances, this is not your place. For some time now, the franchise has not stood out for that.
Of course, there are also things to highlight. On the one hand, many questioned the capacity of the graphics engine of the IP, already veteran but tremendously modified, to move a multiplayer with up to one hundred people. Well not only does it but it is achieved with finesse and fluidity in PC and Xbox One X and PS4 Pro with the usual 60 frames per second, also incorporating the always extraordinary possibility of having a local cooperative split screen for both off-line and online modes. Of course, in the standard models of PS4 and Xbox One we have seen some problems such as, for example, the delayed loading of textures at certain times such as, for example, the start of Blackout games or even some oscillation in the frame rate.
The version of CoD: Black Ops IIII for PC is signed not only by Treyarch but also by Beenox, a subsidiary of Activision that has been in charge of guaranteeing a correct adaptation for computers, this time exclusive of Blizzard’s Battle.net platform. The result, in our opinion, could hardly be better. Not only has the ‘gunplay’ adapted to this version with great success, but we also have a review of the user interface and abundant configuration options that include graphics, controls, numerous amenities and more.
Remain in memory those years where PC users battled for a bar to adjust the field of vision: for the first time in the series, we felt at home modifying each parameter. For example, we do not have a button to put the shadows in “low, medium, high” and that’s it, but a complete section where you can modify “shadow quality, dynamic shadows, special effects shadows, weapon shadow, lighting quality global “separately and with multiple options. And so with everything.
We insist: the possibilities go far beyond the graphics so that we can configure one by one the behaviour of each grenade and utensil, the key mapping and pointing, smoothing, sensitivity, acceleration and other mouse parameters, by hand or sliding a bar. The ‘port’ is to squeeze , but if you just look for a superficial look, we indicate that it has a maximum resolution of 4K, HDR, unlocked rate per second (with an optional manual stop up to 300 fps) and support for monitors with format 16:10, 16: 9 and the ‘ultrawide’ 21: 9 and 32: 9.
As for the sound. The conclusions are similar to those of other episodes of CoD, although with some improvements. Music loses weight because it is almost exclusively tied to menus and zombies, although the scores are good without having any iconic theme as in some delivery of the past. The sound effects do show much improvement, being very successful to give us the always necessary tracks of the environment in the case of Blackout. Moreover, the game comes translated into our language in voices with a pretty good level.
It was easy to load the inks against the new CoD for having sacrificed the campaign. However we have discovered that there is much and very good inside. Yes, there is no story mode, but in just a couple of days, it is easy for Blackout to keep you stuck to the screen until you invest much more time than in a traditional single mode of the series. If you are only interested in individual experiences, there is no room for you in this video game, but if you are a fan of frenetic action multiplayer, you will not find much better than Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII.
+ The slight changes introduced in the multiplayer significantly improve the formula
+ The gameplay and the shootings are incredible. No jetpacks, no acrobatics. Only shoot
+ The three zombie campaigns are fantastic, full of secrets and action
– Graphically, it is urgent to renew the formula. Only zombie mode keeps the type
– Innovation is lacking Everything very well resolved, but there are hardly new ideas
– Logically, we miss the story. The solution was not to eliminate but to improve
Publisher: Activision, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Tactical, Action, First-Person, Shooter
Release date: October 12, 2018