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Our Thoughts on Call of Duty's Blackout Battle Royale Mode

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is finally here and its already proven to be Activision's largest digital launch ever, surpassing even the Destiny titles and last year's Call of Duty: WWII. A big part of that is the inevitable transition to digital-only games as live services and that's what Black Ops 4 is all about. It's entirely multiplayer and always online thanks to this being the first core came in the COD series to drop its story campaign. Replacing it is Blackout, the super popular battle royale mode.

The Screen Rant team has been all over Blackout, playing countless hours on both console versions and most especially on PC, where the Blackout mode seems to be catering to most. After all, its battle royale titles that have dominated Twitch and YouTube for sometime thanks to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite, and publisher Activision and developer Treyarch wanted in on that action.

Related: The Best Places to Land in Call of Duty's Blackout

They've done it with Blackout, so we wanted to share our thoughts, impressions, and hopes for the first ever Call of Duty battle royale.

Rob Keyes' Blackout Thoughts

For a mode as big as Blackout, which supports 100 players (more than Battlefield V's Firestorm battle royale mode, by the way) on the biggest Call of Duty map ever, developed late in during production, it's hard not to be impressed. Although gamers know to expect polish and results from Treyarch, the easy leader among the many Call of Duty studios working for publisher Activision.

Blackout is more fun and addicting than rival PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, especially on consoles, but it's not without similar issues. Blackout lacks a rewarding progression system, the game crashes frequently on all platforms, and the hit markers don't seem to always work or count hits. There are adjustments to be made across the board and the team behind the game is open about this on social media, and want your feedback. That's what's most exciting about Blackout - what it'll be months from now or a year from now when another battle royale ships with 2019's Call of Duty.

With live events, map evolutions (how about some weather options, Treyarch?), new gear and weapons and character skins, there's a lot coming from Blackout and we're curious how this changes the future of Call of Duty.

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Mansoor Mithaiwala's Blackout Thoughts

Blackout is terrific in many ways: it's smooth, it's fun, and it's not too far removed from the core Call of Duty experience. This is truly what a triple-A battle royale mode should be like - with weapons, fluidity, and servers acting the way they're supposed to - but that doesn't mean there aren't some drawbacks. Spotting enemies is difficult for a number of reasons, but that's something that can be improved upon by tweaking the settings. Still, it's also something that should be addressed by the developers, as should various concerning glitches that can be considered game-breaking.

Other things that can be improved are the loot system, variety in drop locations (give people reasons to move outside named areas), and the netcode. But all in all, Blackout is fun, and it requires a certain level of skill to play that is still attainable for more casual players who are just getting into the genre, but it's also very forgiving and relies more on the fun factor to get by. The stress that players would typically feel from running across an open field isn't as dominating as it would be in other battle royale games. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does take away from what makes a battle royale title/mode unique compared to normal shooters.

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Rob Gordon's Blackout Thoughts

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is an interesting game, and that’s a refreshing thing to say about a Call of Duty game. Often, the franchise becomes quite cosy and comfortable, and so drifting back into those routines is easy. With Black Ops 4 though, some interesting risks have been taken.

Obviously Blackout is the biggest change of the lot, and although it follows that battle royale formula closely – airdrop in, loot weaponry, kill everyone – it still manages to do something different by being the first battle royale title to really have quality shooting mechanics. Fortnite is a lot of fun because of its charm and style, but Blackout manages to make combat thrilling. It’s certainly a step up from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, although there are a few issues, an overly large map being one of them.

Aside from that, Zombies has had a big upgrade this year, with lots of variation. IX and Voyage of Despair are great maps that are worth playing, Multiplayer, too, is a whole lot of fun, so there’s plenty to get stuck into. Blackout, though, is going to be the main draw.

Leo Faierman's Blackout Thoughts

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode often feels wondrous in ways incomparable to any of the other battle royale games which inspired it, which puts it into that rare class of game where polish trumps innovation. The broad and diverse map which pits 100 players against each other in various profanity-strewn clusters feels familiar, sure, but somehow responds to player input perfectly – doors instantly arc open or shut, elevations can be quickly vaulted over, and items and weapons are spread in reliable swaths throughout the finely textured architecture. Helicopters are on helipads to be stolen, gunshots echo menacingly from far-off locations, and not a single player action feels cumbersome. Much of this is thanks to PUBG in particular, which threw years of its beta testers on the frontlines to sort out some of these basics but, when combined with Call of Duty’s definitive sheen, it makes the overwhelmed genre feel unmistakably fresh again. The uneven idiosyncrasies of battle royale remain, but its emergent storytelling potential now gets to thrive in its most gorgeous sandbox ever. Treyarch may have jumped on the bandwagon here, but they’ve rigged it with a gas-powered engine and a roll cage."

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Corey Hoffmeyer's Blackout Thoughts

Blackout has a lot going for it: it plays like a faster-paced, more polished PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds that streamlines the battle royale experience. Plus the map is well designed and filled with past multiplayer locations that will likely make any long-time Call of Duty fan feel a sweet sense of nostalgia. There are some minor issues, of course. The shooting mechanics are never quite up to par with other battle royale juggernauts in the genre, the progression system is a little too unforgiving for casual players, and armor is still overpowered. However, as a whole, Blackout has a ton of fun to offer.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Blackout, and more importantly, what you want to see from it in the future!

More: 20 Things Only Experts Know How To Do In Black Ops 4

Blackout is playable now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One as a mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Key Release Dates
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2018 Video Game) release date: Oct 12, 2018
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