Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (out now for PS4, Xbox One and PC) represents an important step forward for the lagging Call of Duty franchise.
It’s the first in the series to ditch the single-player campaign, focusing instead on competitive multiplayer, the co-operative Zombies mode, and an all-new battle royale experience called Blackout.
The early verdicts on Black Ops 4 are in, and while many reviews are still in-progress, it looks like Activision and Treyarch's big bet on multiplayer paid off. Read on to learn more about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and find out what the critics have to say about the latest release in the famed franchise.
Game Informer reviewer Daniel Tack acknowledged that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s departure from a single-player campaign might prove controversial to some. But when it’s all said and done, he argues that the game is so well done, most folks won’t even miss it.
“While the other modes are great and could easily carry the title on their own, the unquestionable star of the show is Blackout, Call of Duty’s first foray into the battle-royale space. The pacing of the experience is almost perfect, with a lot less foraging and a lot more action thanks to a map size that facilitates a focus on fighting.”
“Epic encounters are constant, from intense helicopter assaults that often end in fiery wrecks to cargo-truck supply-drop steals.”
“Blackout is the best battle-royale experience available today, zombies offers crazy customizable co-op, and multiplayer keeps things grounded for those looking for the classic core.”
Kallie Plagge at Gamespot hasn’t completed her review of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 yet, but she clearly believes the game shines and does a great job of delivering compelling online gaming experiences while not losing sight of what made the Black Ops brand interesting in the first place.
“Matches overall have a slightly slower, more cautious pace, but time-to-kill is still low and respawning still near-instant.”
“Black Ops 4's Zombies is as broad as it is deep, with two separate storylines across three maps--four if you have the Black Ops pass included in the game's special editions.”
“Blackout undoubtedly captures the intense, shaky excitement that makes battle royale so popular, with Call of Duty's tight shooting and movement mechanics as a strong foundation.”
“This isn't a hero shooter, and your success is more dependent on the gun you choose and how good you are at shooting it than your skill with a particular Specialist or your team's composition. As a result, the more tactical aspects feel robbed of their impact, and committing to them isn't any more rewarding than a normal kill.”
“With standard multiplayer and Zombies, it struggles to fully commit to moving forward, and the mix of old content and new ideas doesn't always gel.”
Score: No Score Given
Venturebeat’s Dean Takahashi is still working on his Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review, but he said that it offers a “fresh experience” for gamers to try out. That said, he cautioned folks would need to keep “an open mind” while playing the game.
“I played all of the pieces of the game, and I love it. I thought I would hate it, as I have been a dedicated player of all of Call of Duty’s single-player campaigns over the last 15 years. And while I still miss the campaign, I can see the fun of Blackout, which does battle royale in Call of Duty’s unique style.”
“Treyarch’s team has captured the thrill of battle royale and made it easy to play for those who are familiar with the action, weapons, and gameplay of Call of Duty.”
“Treyarch has pulled off a hat trick, finding a space for Blackout squarely in between the free-to-play craziness of Fortnite and the military sim experience of PUBG.”
“I really hope the absence of a single-player campaign is an aberration, because I still believe that six or eight hours of single-player provides you with the backstory and motivation to play 100 hours of multiplayer.”
“But you have to remember you may not finish Zombies. You have to team up with three other players of sufficient skill to fight through each round. If you all die, you have to start over.”
“This is a kind of warning to Treyarch and Activision. They need to follow up with more variety.”
Score: No Score Given
Jordan Forward at PCGamesN spent time with the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and was supremely impressed. He enjoyed the game’s Zombies mode and solid multiplayer performance and didn’t seem to miss the single-player campaign at all.
“Blackout uses the searing pace of Black Ops 4 multiplayer to empower players in every skirmish. You can chain together a few knee-slides and jumps to escape a hail of bullets, or rapidly close the gap on a weakened enemy and finish them off. Blackout is packed with subtle tweaks to the genre that encourage fast and aggressive play.”
“Treyarch’s greatest achievement is the Blackout map – a massive patchwork quilt of biomes, towns, and industrial facilities that makes deciding where to drop a challenge in and of itself.”
In a sprawling review, Chandler Wood at PlayStation Lifestyle asid that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will appeal most to the “dedicated” gamers that want the true, online fun experience you get from Call of Duty and don’t need all the extra, offline content that doesn’t excite them.
“Refinement of this series staple has been Treyarch’s main mission throughout their time developing Call of Duty games. Black Ops 4 takes numerous lessons learned and gives players some of the tightest multiplayer action.”
“Compared to other battle royale experiences that I have played (minus Fortnite, which is in a category all its own), Blackout feels the most complete and finished.”
“Blackout is basically a “Greatest Hits of Call of Duty: Black Ops” smashed into one huge mode, and if Treyarch can keep supporting it past the novelty, it has a real opportunity to be the dominating force within the battle royale genre.”
“I’d like to see some kind of battle pass or similar functionality, giving players challenges, objectives, and rewards to be earned. If you give them something to chase, they’ll come running. Blackout is easily the best battle royale game of its particular style, but it needs something to incentivize players to stick around long term.”
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.