What we know about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode

What we know about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode
Alex LaFreniere

Alex LaFreniere

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is almost here. Due to hit consoles on October 12, the game has been generating a lot of buzz. One of the main reasons for all the chatter is the decision to totally omit any kind of single-player campaign to focus on multiplayer modes. It remains to be seen whether this decision will pay off, but it certainly seems like it will.

The multiplayer mode turning the most heads is Blackout, Call of Duty’s take on the ever-popular Battle Royale game type. Check out the trailer below then read on for a look at the Blackout game type and how it compares to Fortnite and PUBG.

The Blackout game type remained shrouded in secrecy until the release of Black Ops 4’s beta mode last month. With players finally able to jump into the much-anticipated mode, it soon became clear that Blackout isn’t just a typical Fortnite clone.

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A Massive Map

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Blackout Gunfight

From the beginning, Treyarch was clear that Blackout’s map would be the biggest ever encountered in a Call of Duty game… and it is. In fact, it might be easier to think of it as a series of smaller maps stitched together. Most of the map’s locations are throwbacks to locations in other games in Black Ops chronology. It’s a super cool feeling to stumble upon these locations for the first time, so we won’t give too much away, but suffice it to say that the Dam from the first Black Ops makes an appearance, as does the Nazi Asylum from World at War.

The map itself is loaded with loot. Like any good Call of Duty game, the arsenal of guns at your disposal is vast, and you’ll also be able to find a variety of attachments that let you customize your guns to your liking. This will certainly be a change for Fortnite players, where guns are found and used as-is. You’ll also be able to find consumable perks, similar to the soda vending machines from the Zombies game type. Loot is plentiful and easy to find, but this doesn’t make the game feel any less challenging.

As with other Battle Royale games, the structure is going to be the same. You and 79 other players will drop into the map and attempt to survive against other players and an ever-encroaching storm. One of the key new HUD features that shakes things up is a map tool that tells you how far on the map you are from safety and how close the storm is to you. It’s a neat feature that’s unique to the Blackout experience.

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Blackout Player Squad

One other major factors that is going to set Blackout apart from other Battle Royale games is the inclusion of zombies. Yes, that’s right, zombies will be roaming around the map, and you’ll have to contend with them as well as the other players that are out to kill you. The inclusion of NPCs is a first in a Battle Royale game, and certainly shakes up how the game is played.

Zombies won’t be appearing all over the map. They’re only found in certain key locations… locations that will make sense to veterans of the Black Ops series. Hence, they can be avoided, but sometimes their appearance can be a surprise that changes the outcome of a firefight. The zombies aren’t just cannon fodder, either. They’re tough opponents in their own right, and can be shockingly lethal. Even just a handful of the undead can be a significant challenge to contend with.

They’re not just a threat, though. Smart players can use zombies to their advantage. If you find yourself in the midst of a firefight with an opposing squad or a skilled opponent, leading them into a horde of zombies is an excellent way to regain the upper hand. You can beat a hasty retreat while they’re distracted with the undead, or pick them off while they’re fighting for survival.

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Revamped Gameplay

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Frank Woods in Blackout

The game itself is also going to play differently than a traditional Call of Duty title. First and foremost, passive healing is gone. Players will have to find and collect healing items if they want to heal while injured. Healing is bound to its own button, and unlike Fortnite, players will be able to heal on the move. The system as a whole will feel very familiar to Far Cry players, a game that has a similar active healing mechanic.

Players themselves are a fair bit tankier than in previous Call of Duty entries, making firefights longer. Deciding when to retreat and heal is going to be a new aspect of battle, and players are going to have to think about encounters a little more strategically. Gunfights won’t necessarily be lethal, meaning you’ll have to think seriously about whether you’re going to stick it out until the kill. To this end, healing items are plentiful and players are able to carry quite a lot of them.

Also new to Blackout is a grapple mechanic. It’s easy to think of this mechanic as a much more fluid version of Fortnite’s new grapple gun. Grappling allows fast traversal of the battlefield and will let players quickly climb large structures to change the game. This fills the gap left by the Exo Suit, popularized in recent franchise entries but absent in Blackout. Adding this element of vertical traversal makes battles feel much more dynamic.

Traversal is also made into an entirely different ballgame with the addition of vehicles. From choppers to ATVs to boats, Blackout has them all. It’s the first CoD multiplayer experience to feature vehicles in a major way, but despite this, the handling and controls feel quite intuitive. Vehicles also don’t feel overpowered. Players on foot will be able to deal with players in vehicles in a way that is balanced and won’t leave players feeling bitter about their inclusion.

As a whole, Blackout is doing quite a bit to make itself stand out in an already crowded Battle Royale arena. The experience feels unique enough that it’ll certainly be making a name for itself come October 12.

Alex LaFreniere

Alex LaFreniere

Alex's first experience with video games came at the tender young age of 12, when his parents gave him and his brothers a PlayStation 2 for Christmas. They’ve probably been regretting that mistake ever since, because as soon he finished his first lap in Gran Turismo 3, Alex was hooked for life. In addition to writing for Softonic, Alex has turned that love of games into a voice acting career, and has voiced everything from grizzled old soldiers to vampire lords. When he's not gaming or getting behind the microphone, Alex can probably be found wandering the woods around Boston or putting together some new culinary delight in his kitchen.

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