Call of Duty is trying something different this year; they’re adding a spiffy battle royale game mode known as Blackout, joining the hot “new” trend of BR games. This maybe C.O.D‘s most ambitious addition, but how does it stack up to it’s competitors Fortnite and PUBG?
Treyarch released the Blackout beta first to PS4 on September 10th, then allowing Xbox and PC users to join in later on until the 17th. Although I was pretty busy during the majority of it’s run time, I managed to pick up the sticks and get some time with the beta Sunday morning.
I would explain what the game mode is, but it’s pretty much exactly what you would expect. Blackout is a battle royale with a Call of Duty twist to it, which I’ll explain later. The beta ran with 80 players max to start with, but through surprising updates, that number increased to 88 (which is what I played) and then to 100 players when Treyarch extended the beta for 3 hours on the 17th. You can hop in Solo, play with a friend in Duos, or grab your 3 other friends and duke it out in Quads (clever right). Pretty straightforward.
There’s so much more to it that it’s pretty crazy. Players drop into the biggest Call of Duty map probably ever created. Treyarch put together every popular locale from the Black Ops series such as Array from Black Ops 1, Estates from Black Ops 2, and fan favorite Nuketown. Asylum from World at War makes an appearance as well.
So you chose where you want to land? Time to jump. Players drop out of helicopters, wing suit into the map and then parachute to their destination. It’s a cool concept. As soon as you land, the scramble to get the best load out begins. While only a beta, there were a bevy of weapons to choose from. You pick up a gun and can find attachments that range from 4x scopes to silencers to extended barrels. There are also a bevy of lethal and nonlethal equipment such as the 9-Bang, Grappling Gun, Barricade, and Cluster Grenade. It’s really a lot.
While you’re scavenging, you will eventually run out of inventory space. Pick up a backpack and more space will open up. You need healing items right? First aid meds are the equivalent of bandages from Fortnite with the exception they can heal you to max health (which is 150). There are medkits which provide bigger heals, and trauma kits, which boost your health to 200. Get on a vehicle soldier as the map is pretty big. Available to drive are ATVs, helicopters, boats and cargo trucks.
There is armor, and it’s been just as controversial in Blackout beta as it’s been in the multiplayer beta. Armor comes in tier levels from 1-3. Basically what makes everybody upset is how strong it’s been, although Treyarch has been on the ball looking for ways to change it. Supply drops come in during the game, and players can also find stationary chest that hold some of the better loot.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Perks are in Blackout, and they provide some good benefits. These were the perks available in the beta:
- Paranoia – This provides an audio cue when you’re being targeted by another player on the map
- Skulker – Pop this Perk and you’ll be able to move a lot faster while you’re prone or crouching
- Stimulant – This boosts your maximum health by 100 points in total
- Outlander – While this is active you’ll take less damage while outside the playable circle. You’ll also move faster while taking the damage that is nevertheless inflicted on you
- Looter – This provides an additional feature to the UI which reveals the location of nearby equipment and stashes
- Iron Lung – When activated, Iron Lung allows you to hold your breath for longer periods of time while sniping, or while swimming underwater
- Consumer – This handily reduces the time that it takes to make use of healing and other items. The time taken to revive a teammate will also be reduced by 20%
Perks can be picked up and used whenever, but only last up to 2 minutes. Oh and there’s zombies.
Pretty much everything from the Zombies mode has carried over into Blackout. You can pick up the Monkey Bomb, Ray Gun, and find the Mystery Box. Zombies are found in spots around the map and will attack you and/or your opponents. Pretty good diversion am I right?
Whew that was a lot. I think I covered everything important.
I’m going to be honest with you; I had no idea what to expect from this. I knew it would be in good hands because Treyarch is, in my opinion, the better developer of C.O.D. games. However, everybody’s jumping on the BR bandwagon this year, so if it came out bad or half baked, I wouldn’t have been surprised. What I will say is that I was pleasantly surprised by what I played for a few hours.
One thing to note is I did not participate in the multiplayer beta, so I went into the Blackout beta with only knowledge of what I’ve seen from videos and read. While playing Blackout, I can’t help but imagine this is what PUBG feels like except with staple gameplay elements from the series such as perks and zombies.
The map is awesome. It’s pretty weird to think about how Array and Asylum could all be in the space, but if you don’t think about it, it’s amazing how well they managed to blend all these locales together, while adding new locations such as Construction Site. Hopefully, Treyarch will expand the map and add more locations. Maybe Hijacked in the water?
The game felt smooth. I also jumped in at the tail end of the beta so I got the benefit of all the patches Treyarch released to smooth it out. Picking up items and attaching attachments was seamless. I did miss the opportunity to find the Mystery Box and use all the cool stuff, but it looks good from what I’ve seen. Like I mentioned earlier, jumping into the map was pretty darn cool, and the fact that you wing suit whenever is awesome. I remember I jumped off a building to flank and an opponent, and I was surprised you when I opened my wing suit.
On the flip side, I did have a few grievances with the beta. As seamless as it is to equip attachments, trying to remove them is a capital offense. You have to go through the options to do it, and it’s an ugly process. In his review of the PC version of the beta, Jackfrags mentioned that he felt the inventory system was made specifically for consoles. I just don’t see it that way because to me it felt weird. I didn’t see a clear indicator of how much space I had in the inventory and picking up a backpack even confused me more. I’m a noob peeps.
There seems to be a thing where if you’re driving an ATV or Cargo Truck at high speeds and jump out, you take damage. I know that’s realistic, but kind of lame. When you kill an enemy, you have to pick up their ammo. Again, that’s kind of lame because scrolling through their bag to find ammo takes awhile and could be the difference between life and death. Maybe letting us auto pick up ammo upon walking over a body would be nicer? Armor didn’t bother me as much as I thought, since I just aim for the head because I assume all opponents have armor. Also allowing us to bust through doors Battlefield style would be pretty cool especially if you’re in the middle of a fight.
I did pick up a victory a few matches into the beta (not that I’m bragging.) I will say I had a blast playing this. While I only played solos, it felt good and I can only imagine how much fun it is with friends. David Vonderhaar has opened up and given more information about Blackout such as there being no prestige levels and how they have more than 175 different events planned. One thing I hope to see is that they give us camo options for our guns.
What were your thoughts? Let me know, and if you’re on the PS4 we can squad up! Expect to see me grind solo wins when Black Ops 4 releases October 12, 2018.