A few months ago, I was invited out to Los Angeles to check out an early, pre-alpha build of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 at a press preview event: while I was there, I got to play two hours of the game uninterrupted, and I enjoyed what I saw for the most part. In the original preview, I wrote that it combines the semi-futuristic/boots-on-the-ground gameplay from Black Ops II and the fast-paced gameplay from Black Ops III, but I wasn’t sure if there was anything there to grab new players’ attention due to its similarities with the previous entries. Now that the beta build of the game is here for those that pre-ordered, I must say: boy, was I wrong.
Since the beta went live last weekend (with the next round to begin later this week), I’ve been playing the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 multiplayer beta pretty much nonstop, only taking a break to sleep and to write (I’m currently sitting at level 15). While there hasn’t been a large number of changes since the pre-alpha build of the game that I played last time, there are some pretty noticeable differences and additions in the beta, to say the least.
Right off the bat, the new build of the game includes a number of different weapons, gear, and even a couple of new Specialists for fans to sink their teeth into. For starters, players now have access to the Body Armor gear, which essentially means it will take one to two more shots to kill you when compared to everybody else. While it may be considered meta because everyone is using it right now, this gear, combined with players’ health being set to 150 by default, will appeal to players who prefer the time to kill (TTK) to be much slower, while still keeping up with Black Ops 4‘s fast-paced gameplay.
In addition to the new gear, players also had access to new weapons and specialists that weren’t available in the pre-alpha. While the game is still dominated by the MX9 submachine gun, the new KN-57 assault rifle, Spitfire SMG, and ABR 223 Tactical rifles, amongst others, allow users to play the game they want to play: this quality is something that was missing from Call of Duty: WWII, which was dominated by players using SMGs and shotguns.
Two new Specialists also make their debut here, giving people even more ways to play. Nomad allows players to send a dog as their Specialist ability which, while powerful, is pretty balanced. Prophet, on the other hand–who returns from Black Ops III–needs to be tweaked a bit. While his Tempest rifle feels balanced, his Seeker Shock Mine can be pretty overpowered. When players release it, it’ll automatically find the nearest enemy and stun them for a decent amount of time. While you do have a chance to get out of it right when it hits you by pressing a button prompt, the chance that you’ll be able to hit it in time is pretty low. This can lead to some flat out unfair gunfights, and I hope that Treyarch fixes this in time for the full release.
As mentioned in the original preview, the maps are once again great. The beta sees the return of Seaside, Contraband, and Payload from the May event, will also adding Frequency, Gridlock, and Hacienda (although the latter map is not currently playable). The new maps allow for a variety of engagements and feature great designs unlike Black Ops III, which featured what I would consider boring maps. There are spots to jump to, hidden alleys to take, and a slew of sightlines that even let snipers have their moment in the sun.
Of course, not everything’s all peaches and cream: somehow, the spawn system is worse than what I encountered during the May reveal event. I found myself CONSTANTLY spawning right next to enemies, which can obviously lead to some very annoying deaths. This is just the beta, so Treyarch does have time to work on the spawns and get them up to snuff in time for release, but this is something that I think is still worth mentioning.
All in all, my original assessment that this won’t do anything for new fans was wrong; one of my friends, who hates Call of Duty because of its lack of variety and gameplay, was having genuine fun during the initial launch last night. When I asked him how he liked it, he gave a thumbs up, and frankly, I agree with them. While we are still waiting on gameplay from the Zombies and Blackout modes (the latter of which will have its beta in September), the multiplayer seems to be shaping up to be a great time.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12th, 2018. If you want to check out a match of Team Deathmatch or if you want to pre-order the game for yourself on Amazon and nab a beta code, click here and here, respectively.
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