BO4 Beta Impressions: Black Ops 2 but a bit worse
When I booted up the new beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, I was extremely sceptical of how it would pan out. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the experience I got out of the game. Still, there are quirks that need ironing out for this to become one of the best CoD games in years.
I can't speak for everyone, but I have not finished the campaigns of the last three CoD games. They just don't hold up in comparison to the multiplayer. Yes, there used to be a time when CoD games had amazing single player experiences (all ghillied up, anyone?) but as time went on, and the annual release model got in the way of development, the campaigns started to feel like slapped-on modes just for the sake of having single player. So, no, I am not ticked off by the fact that this year's CoD ditched single player mode. I'd rather not have a half-baked experience in a game at all.
With that out of the way, let's talk about the core gameplay experience. What you're getting here is the solid gunplay of Call of Duty coupled with the old specialist abilities present in Black Ops 3. The difference is that, you do not have 3D movement anymore. This makes the entire setup much more enjoyable in my opinion as it puts more emphasis on the marksmanship and reflexes of players rather than how fast they can hit the jump button.
The core gunplay feels more like BO2 than BO3. Recoil is minimal, as expected from a CoD game but you'll still have a tough time engaging hostiles at long ranges with SMGs and shotguns. The damage fall-off distances of each weapon are appropriate according to their classes. So, the lack of “true” recoil doesn't hamper the gameplay experience much. Treyarch even implemented predictive recoil in the game to increase the competitiveness of the shooting. Time-to-kill (TTK) has been adjusted for the better with every player getting 150 HP instead of the usual 100 HP. Where CoD: WWII was a twitch-fest with people dropping in milliseconds, BO4 opts for a more sustained approach. Think Halo's TTK reduced a notch and you have BO4's TTK. This allows for players to get a second chance if they lost the reflex or spotting game and it makes every firefight fairer. Auto-heal is gone, so now you'll have to manually use stim-packs which have a cooldown timer. I am still on the fence about this change because the stim-packs recharge way too quickly for them to be a tactical decision. Also, the heal-rate is abysmal so you can't really stim-bait people, which would've added an extra layer of depth to the strategy.
The maps still follow the classic Treyarch three-laned layout but it's much less noticeable now. I got so sick of the maps in WWII for being bland, unfair, and full of camping chokepoints. BO4's maps are a breath of fresh air and they feel like they're made for a more tactical approach to the game. Speaking of tactics, the game is an absolute blast to play when you're playing Domination, Hardpoint, or Control. The new mode, Control, is a great addition to the already-extensive options. Don't even bother with TDM because that mode is a hot mess at the moment with erratic spawn points.
The specialists have been overhauled a bit. Firstly, they now have two unique abilities. One is a utility ability which has a low cooldown timer. The other is the traditional BO3 ultimate ability which has a large cooldown timer that gets shorter with kills. I vehemently dislike this aspect of the game. Most of the abilities have baseless balancing and some are just way too powerful. It breaks the flow of the game when you encounter a Battery spamming her grenade launcher into a well-fortified control point objective. It's unfair, it's quick, and it's too easy. Treyarch, either give us a No-Specialists mode or make sure you solve these problems at launch. Scorestreaks finally feel worthy of the effort you have to put in to get them but they don't feel unnecessarily overpowered.
All in all, I'd say CoD: BO4 has its fair share of problems but if you've been waiting for a decent fix after BO3, this will be more than what you need. Don't buy the season pass, though.
Shahrukh Ikhtear is a Management Trainee at Grameenphone and former sub-editor of SHOUT magazine. Send him business stuff or good music at fb.com/sr.ikhtear