Under the Radar

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - Change is Hard

Call of Duty Black Ops 4 (Activision)

Last year Call of Duty finally back to old-school military gamer values with "CoD: WW2." In 2018, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4" debuts with futuristic weaponry and adds a Fortnite-style Battle Royale mode. The game is due on October 12th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

Here's the Multiplayer Reveal Trailer:

So, if you thought last fall's release meant a commitment to traditional first-person shooter values, you're going to have to come to terms with the fact that "CoD: WW2" was an awesome nod to the past and that slightly futuristic weaponry has returned. Just be glad we're spared the sci-fi nonsense that plagued "CoD: Infinite Warfare" in 2016.

The biggest controversy here will be that Activision and game studio Treyarch have abandoned the core element of shooter gaming: "Black Ops 4" eliminates the single-player campaign version.

"We never had set out to make a traditional campaign. We always started from the place of we're going to make something different with this game that was going to be inspired by how our community was interacting with 'Black Ops 3' and the games over the years,"  Treyarch's co-studio head Dan Bunting said in an interview with Eurogamer. "We see more and more players spending more time with multiplayer and zombies, not just in the game, but out of the game, streaming and talking about it in forums. It's generated a really huge crowd response. The decision was, we wanted to make a different style of game this time."

This raises a couple of questions: how much data does Activision get on its players? Is their game tracking so advanced that they know exactly how much time everyone (collectively) spends in various parts of the game? Do they know that you haven't actually finished a campaign in years before you start complaining in the forums?

Campaign is replaced by Blackout, a new Battle Royale mode. There's no detail about how many players will compete at the same time and few details beyond the fact that the map will be "1500 times the size of Nuketown map." (If that reference confuses you, you might want to ask yourself why you're still reading about a game you've never played.) Are Activision and Treyarch reacting to the rise of PUBG and Fortnite or did they anticipate this when they decided not to develop a campaign for "Black Ops 4"? We won't get an answer anytime soon, but feel free to speculate/complain/defend in the comments.

"Call of Duty" players love their Zombie mode even if (SPOILER) zombies don't exactly exist and killing zombies sort of undercuts the whole military realism aspect of the franchise. Activision has released a lot of early information about Zombies, perhaps to distract from the end of campaign mode and the limited details about Battle Royale.

You can play online with friends or alongside bots. There's a Roman arena map (The Nine), a Titanic map (Voyage of Despair) and a map that includes throwback references to earlier CoD games (Blood of the Dead). Check out the trailer.

And, because nobody likes to wait for anything anymore, players who pre-order "Black Ops 4" can get access to a Private Beta and get their game chops up before the game's October release.

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