KEVETT: Call of Duty Blackout will be battle royale we have waited for
Opinions Column: Gamer Next Door
This past weekend I had the privilege of being able to try out the open beta test for Call of Duty Blackout on PC. In case you do not know, Call of Duty Blackout is a new battle-royale-style game mode releasing with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in October. The concepts and tactics for the game mode mirror those used for Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Eighty-five players in the beta (100 players in the full version of the game) parachute out of a helicopter while it is flying over a large map. Once you have landed, you have to collect equipment to use for survival, such as ammunition, medical-kits and weapons. The map shrinks over time, and the goal of the game is to be the final one alive. Call of Duty Blackout has identical gunplay to all of the other Call of Duty games and modes that have been released. Tight, accurate and smooth gameplay are the hallmarks of any Call of Duty game, and the new Blackout mode is no exception. This comes as a breath of fresh air, as no other battle-royale-style game to date has had balanced, quality gameplay out of the gate.
For comparison, PUBG feels clunky and sluggish to play at best, and while Fortnite has quick and fun gameplay, it has poor gunplay. Bullets in Fortnite spray out of weapons in a bloom pattern, so trajectories are essentially randomized. In Call of Duty Blackout, guns have the accuracy of a laser weapon, assuming you can control your weapon’s recoil adequately. In terms of how the mode works, Blackout feels just like PUBG. Non-destructive environments, driveable vehicles and traditional shooter gameplay serve as the main highlights of Blackout. Because the game is developed by renowned AAA game developer Treyarch, it feels polished and refined. During the Blackout beta there were minor connection and balancing issues, but for a beta test the game held up very well. One major gripe I had in terms of balancing was with the armor. Just like in PUBG, armor sets of varying strength can be found in the map, but the most potent armor set in Blackout was extremely overpowered. Without any armor, you are likely to be killed fast in Blackout. Luckily, Treyarch is paying attention to user feedback and has already stated that it is going to stop spawning the advanced armor around the map, and instead make it an item which can only be obtained from supply drops.
Call of Duty Blackout ran smoothly out of the box unlike many of its competitors which have sometimes had performance issues that will make your head spin. Upon full release I could easily see Call of Duty Blackout taking out a big chunk of the market share that Fortnite and PUBG dominate as of now. Simply put, Blackout does everything right that its competitors have not. Even the map itself is entertaining, it serves as a microcosm of Call of Duty lore. Different traditional Call of Duty maps, like the zombies map, Asylum, or the mainstay, Nuketown, have actually been embedded as visitable places within the Blackout mode map proper. Finally, a completely balanced and smooth battle royale game will be released soon in Blackout, and I am sure the rest of the gaming community has been buzzing about it too.
I really enjoy Call of Duty Blackout so far, it feels like the battle royale game I have always craved but never quite had. A 100-player-Hunger-Games-style game mode with Call of Duty gunplay has been like a dream. Competitors to Call of Duty in the battle royale genre are going to have to step up their production quality if they are going to compete for a user base. This Call of Duty will be one of the first to have a well-made PC port as well. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which contains the Blackout mode, releases on Oct. 12 in the United States.
Mitchell Kevett is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history and minoring in political science. His column, "Gamer Next Door," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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