Black Ops 4: What we know so far

Black Ops 4 is about to head into the second weekend of its closed multiplayer beta. The event kicks off on August 10th, and you can obtain access codes by entering a GameSpot giveaway or pre-ordering the game. If you don’t have time to play this weekend or if you aren’t sure if you want to commit to pre-ordering the game yet, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Call of Duty title.

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There’s no campaign

That’s right. In a franchise long known for its tight campaign modes loaded with celebrity guest stars, Black Ops 4 will be taking a different route. Activision has made the decision to do away with the campaign mode entirely to focus on the game’s multiplayer modes.

So, where does Black Ops 4 fit in the Call of Duty timeline? The game’s multiplayer is set between Black Ops 2 and 3. We’ll see a lot of elements returning from the multiplayer modes of both games, including the unique Operator characters introduced in Black Ops 3.

There is one notable exception, though: no more exo-suits. The controversial jetpacks of Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3 are gone, replaced with a more fluid movement system. Though you won’t be taking to the skies in this entry, there are still ways to get around quickly. The combat slide makes a return, and a new grappling hook gadget has been added that allows for quick traversal of the battlefield (with predictably deadly results).

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This new focus on multiplayer shows, and it feels like a crisper, more polished experience than other recent entries in the franchise. There’s more emphasis on team play this time around, with Activision seeming to take a page from successful team-based FPS games such as Overwatch. Call of Duty’s trademark health regeneration has also been removed and replaced with a manual healing mechanic; you’ll have to pay much closer attention to your health bar if you hope to survive. Weapon customization is also far more in-depth than in any previous title, allowing you to make the experience uniquely your own.

Fans of the single player experience need not worry, however: Activision has stated that this new multiplayer-only approach isn’t a permanent decision, and single player modes will be returning in future titles. They’ve also included a Solo Missions mode for the game’s multiplayer that will delve into the backstories of the game’s operators, many of which are returning characters from Black Ops 2 and 3. Fans of a more story-driven experience can also find one in the game’s Zombies mode.

Zombies are back

That’s right: the fan favorite mode is back and better than ever. Black Ops 4’s increased focus on multiplayer has also been applied to the Zombies mode, and is offering a much more polished and in-depth experience than ever before.

Like multiplayer, this iteration of zombies has far more room for customization. Just like in the regular multiplayer, players can customize their starting loadouts, upgrade their weapons and equipment, and select starting perks. “Custom Mutations” are also being introduced, which will allow players to tweak gameplay in a whole host of different ways: zombie speed, health, and overall difficulty can all be totally controlled by the player, as well as other options we have yet to see. Finally, we’ll see the introduction of “Callings,” the name that Black Ops is giving limited-time Zombie mode events. This means we’ll likely see unique rewards and other seasonal events.

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On the more story-focused side of things, Black Ops 4 will be offering two different Zombie mode storylines this time out. Dempsey, Richtofen, Nikolai, and Takeo are back in “Blood of the Dead,” a map set in the infamous Alcatraz prison. Their storyline will be picking up where it left off in previous titles.

A new cast of characters is also being introduced: Scarlett, Shaw, Diego and Bruno are a crew of time travelers searching for an artifact that will put a stop to the zombie outbreaks. They’ll be featured in two maps included at launch. “IX” takes place in the gladiatorial arenas of Ancient Rome, and “Voyage of Despair” will have you fending off zombie hordes aboard the infamous Titanic. This new time-traveling mechanic promises infinite possibilities for cool maps and settings, and we’re excited to see what else is in store.

Battle Royale is here

Perhaps the biggest change coming to Black Ops is the new Battle Royale mode. Yes, that’s right, Call of Duty is joining in on the Battle Royale trend with a new mode titled Blackout. Details have been sparse, but we do know a few key aspects about Blackout. The mode will be set in the largest map ever featured in a Call of Duty game, and Activision has also confirmed that iconic locations from previous titles will be returning. Does this mean that there will be multiple maps, or does it mean that the larger map will include these multiple locations? The short answer is: we don’t know yet.

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What we do know is that players will be competing as characters from previous titles in the Black Ops series. So far, Alex Mason (Black Ops), Raul Menendez, (Black Ops II) and the original Zombies crew have all been confirmed for playable characters. With such an iconic cast of characters, the possibilities are endless. We’ve got our fingers crossed for Reznov and Agent Hudson.

The final and perhaps most important detail about Blackout: there will be vehicles. In a first for the Call of Duty series, players will be able to take vehicles into combat on land, sea, and air. This seems to hint at a Battle Royale experience more akin to PUBG than Fortnite, but we’ve yet to see any more details as to what these vehicles are and whether or not they’ll include mounted weaponry. If the map is as big as Activision indicates, they’ll certainly be needed to get around.

Black Ops 4 promises to offer a fresh take on the Call of Duty franchise, and so far, we’re impressed. The beta will be going on for a while longer, so if you feel like experiencing it for yourself, you’ve still got time to do so. If you miss it, don’t worry: Black Ops 4 is slated for release on October 12th, so you won’t have long to wait.

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