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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 release date and news: First impressions of the Blackout beta

Daniel Ostanek Pete Clark
20 Sep 2018
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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is arriving next month, but what will it bring?

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is only weeks away. It's the latest entry in the long-running shooter series, which started off in historic settings such as the Vietnam War and World War Two before changing tack to the near-future.

Black Ops 4 will be quite a bit different to previous games in the Black Ops series, with the single-player campaign vanishing, replaced by the trend of the moment - a battle royale mode named Blackout.

In addition to that, there will be a Zombies mode, solo missions and a regular multiplayer mode. A beta for Blackout mode already hit consoles between 14-17 September, providing gamers with a first look at the latest CoD gameplay mode.

As we await more details and the game's official release, you can read on to find out everything else we know about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 below.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4: Everything we know so far

Blackout mode

Blackout is Call of Duty's version of smash-hit battle royale genre, which has exploded in success thanks to games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. According to developer Treyarch, the mode features the largest map they've ever created (1500 times bigger than Nuketown, apparently), and players will be able to use a variety of land, sea and air vehicles to traverse it.

The Blackout beta was made available for PS4, Xbox One and PC at varying times between 10-17 September. Early impressions were positive, with Screen Rant claiming it "raises the bar of the Battle Royale genre" and Eurogamer labelling it "like a polished PUBG".

Given that the franchise is known for its normally intimate, low player count multiplayer formula, it is a pleasant surprise to see that the new game mode is making a positive first impression.

Treyarch have confirmed that there are three different ways to play the battle royale mode: solo, in duos or in four-player groups. According to Game Informer, Blackout mode will feature up to 80 players squaring off against one another. That's 20 fewer than Fortnite and PUBG, but apparently the number isn't set in stone.

The newest trailer released for the game shows off Blackout mode. You can view it above.

Zombies mode

This mode was unveiled back in May at game's big reveal. During that reveal we learned that the mode will feature Callings - seasonal events - and will also feature other events, coming daily, monthly and yearly.

The mode is possibly the most interesting of the three Black Ops 4 modes, and has a bit of a storyline. You'll team up with three other players (or bots) to travel through time and defeat a savage cult of zombies. There are three missions which take place in different locations – The Nine (a Roman arena), Voyage of the Despair (the Titanic) and Blood of the Dead (a mishmash of previous Black Ops locations).

Somewhat surprisingly, Treyarch has confirmed that events in Black Ops 4 Zombies are definitely not connected to those in previous titles. Speaking to Game Informer, Jason Blundell, Treyarch's director of Zombies for Black Ops 4, spoke out about the game's split from the existing story. "They are not connected in any way" he unequivacally states, "they are two separate stories completely."

Blundell stated that the previous Aether storyline was one that fervent Zombies players enjoyed, but "was incredibly complicated and daunting for new players to get into." Treyarch will be hoping that a fresh start for the Zombies timeline will attract a whole new group of players to the format.

Multiplayer mode

A more traditional multiplayer mode will also be present in the game. The mode sees the return of specialists, the playable characters in multiplayer mode. There will be ten specialists, each with unique weapons and abilities...

  • Ajax – breacher, with a ballistic shield and tactical grenades.
  • Battery – demolitions expert, with a grenade launcher and cluster grenades.
  • Crash – healer, with a medical kit and ammo pack.
  • Firebreak – area denial, with a flamethrower and reactor core.
  • Nomad – nature-lover, with a dog and tripwire explosives.
  • Prophet – unknown role and weapons.
  • Recon – intel operator, with a vision pulse and sensor darts.
  • Ruin – rusher, with a slam attack and grapple gun.
  • Seraph – tactician, with a revolver and deployable beacon.
  • Torque – defender, with a barricade and razor wire.

The game will also include solo missions - set in multiplayer maps - that focus on each of the game's Specialist characters, with these missions introducing players to the characters and highlighting their backstories. They're not intended to be campaigns though, rather explainers for the specialists.

Other changes

Automatic healing was done away with in Call of Duty:WW2's campaign mode, and Black Ops 4 will see it ditched in multiplayer too. You'll now have to use a button dedicated to healing in order to refill your health, rather than having to wait for your character to stop taking damage.

That feature looks set to promote more cautious, tactical gameplay, as the ability is on a timer so you won't be able to heal anytime you're hit.

A feature called Fog of War has been added to multiplayer mode. That means you'll only be able to see a short distance from your character on the mini-map, unless you have some ability or specialised equipment to hand.

New guns are available too. They're called Signature Weapons, and offer cosmetic differences rather than stat upgrades. Five multiplayer maps from the series' history will also be included, alongside a selection of brand new maps, of course.

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Nintendo Switch support?

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will definitely be coming to PC, Xbox One and the PS4, but as for Switch support? We’re not sure, but we’re still hopeful.

Activision declined to comment when asked if Black Ops 4 would be coming to the Nintendo Switch by Kotaku, which to some, might suggest that it’s being worked on.

Gaming journalist Marcus Sellers has predicted that the game will indeed be coming out on the Switch, however, saying that it will support Switch DLC, HD and rumble and motion controls. According to his tweet, the Switch version will be ported by a company familiar with the Call of Duty games.

More recently, Treyarch's design director David Vonderhaar was quizzed on the subject by Game Informer, and laughed off the possibility. After a prolonged chuckle, Vonderhaar said only "I just make the shoes", but still seemed to find the idea of Black Ops 4 on Switch incredibly amusing. Clearly developers and publishers don't take the system too seriously, and thus any CoD-based rumours on the platform should be put to bed for the moment.

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