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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 introduces a massive new mode that completely changes the feel of Call of Duty’s long-running multiplayer component. More than just a new map, Blackout rebuilds Call of Duty from the ground-up and offers a longer, more deliberate gameplay experience. Let’s not beat around the bush — Blackout is Battle Royale through-and-through, and doesn’t change the set-in-stone dynamics too much. But, there are plenty of wrinkles to the formula.
I’ve put in hours of private beta gameplay, and it’s time to share 16 things I’ve learned about Blackout mode — whether they’re tips or general gameplay information, I want to give you a good overview of the game, and explain what makes it different than Fortnite or PUBG. From the first few hours, I can say this — it is a ton of fun, and this isn’t a lazy Battle Royale mode slapped together to capitalize on the popular craze. It almost feels natural.
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#1: Your Character Isn’t Random — You Can Customize Your Look Or Select A Skin
Instead of being stuck with a random character, you can select the skin you want to use in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Currently, there are only four “custom” selections for the generic character — four for each gender. You can also select several Legendary Skins representing characters from the series past. You can play as Reznov, Woods, and others.
If those don’t do it for you, you can also use Zombies Mode character models, or one of the Multiplayer characters. They don’t retain their unique abilities, but they do look slightly different as you upgrade and enhance their armor.
#2: There Are 13 Named Areas, And They’re Incredibly Detailed
When you break it down, 13 areas doesn’t sound like a lot. Well, it is and it isn’t — there are many more locations you can explore that aren’t named, such as abandoned cemeteries, seaside towns, or farms with crops in bloom. But, the named locations are the premier zones that might as well be multiplayer maps of their own.
These areas are huge, and they’re deceptively complex. They might look bigger than your standard Call of Duty map, but they’re just as intricately designed when you get inside. Asylum is full of winding, unique corridors while the Construction Site is split between the lower floors and the top floors, complete with a helipad on the rooftop. There are even hidden areas you’ll want to lookout for, like a bunker complex underneath Nuketown.
#3: Land, Sea & Air — There Are Four Vehicles, Including A Chopper
There are four vehicles in Blackout, and they’re a hoot to drive. On console, they’re controlled like Halo vehicles — you face the camera, then hold the left-stick forward. The ATV is light and fast, with a second seat and no protection for the driver. The Truck is large, with a driver seat and four seats so you can transport a full team. It’s well-armed, and nothing short of a rocket can destroy it.
There’s also the boat, with two seats and very little protection, but it gets you over the water fast.
The chopper is the true standout. This rare vehicle comes with a driver’s seat and four extra slots. Tap [O] to swap sides, and you can rapidly travel anywhere on the map. The chopper doesn’t appear in any other Battle Royale game, making this feel really unique — loading into a chopper and blasting everyone from the sky is incredible.
#4: You Can Play Solo, Duos, Or Quads To Suit Your Style
As of the Beta, there are three modes in Blackout — Solo, Duo or Quad. Solo is the most paranoia-inducing of all the modes. You can easily be shot in the back while you’re exploring, and situational awareness is paramount above all else. If you want to live for long, you’ll need to listen for movement, scan the horizon, and move from cover-to-cover.
Duos or Quads drops you into teams of two or four. If you’re a beginner, I recommend running in a team of four. It helps to have people watching your back, and weapons are surprisingly plentiful. Depending on your style, you can either jump right into the action, or play a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse with every single opponent. Playing with a team (and fighting other teams) is exhilarating, and it happens pretty fast.
#5: The Circle Of Death Is Back, And Everything Is Randomized
The Circle of Death returns. Just like PUBG and Fortnite, you’ll have to stay inside an ever-shrinking circle to survive. The storm will shrink every two minutes, giving you a preview where you need to run next. If you’re caught in the storm, you’ll slowly take damage until you’re dead. Helpfully, you don’t take that much damage early on.
- Like every other Battle Royale, loot is completely randomized. Weapons, armor, health items, equipment, grenades — everything is random. You’ll want to keep searching, and don’t bother picking up everything. Right now, Blackout almost gives you too many items if you search thoroughly.
If you’re stuck in a fight against an opponent and the blue circle of death closes in, don’t be the first to run out of cover! Wait, heal, and be patient. If your opponent makes a run for it, that makes them easy pickings. Blast them in the back, or find an alternate escape path.
#6: There Is A Grapple Gun, And That’s Awesome
There is some cool, unique equipment items you can find in Blackout. There are shields you can setup for cover, anti-grenade turrets, barbed-wire walls, and exploding monkeys. You can even get a Recon RC car that can enter dangerous areas before you do.
But, for my mine, the Grapple Gun is the best weapon I’ve found so far. This tool gives you five disposable grapple shots when equipped — you can zip up onto a rooftop, or cross a dangerous gap. It’s a great little weapon that gives you more options in gunfights. Your enemy is on the second floor of a house? Grapple up onto the roof and blast him from behind.
#7: It’s Like Playing PUBG In First-Person Only, Making For Intense Exploration
Yes, Blackout is only in first-person. I’ve stated it before, and I’ll state it again — that makes this one of the most tense Battle Royale modes I’ve played yet. Scanning the area and watching your corners is incredibly important. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re trying to loot everything.
Exploring areas, you’ll want to listen for signs. Not just gunshots, but also footsteps. Doors opening or glass breaking is a good signifier. Whenever you enter a new area, it helps to reach an interior room or the second floor, where there’s less easy access. Close the front door of houses if you enter, and avoid breaking windows. You don’t want to tip off everyone while you’re busy exploring.
#8: Guns Are Powerful (But Not Too Powerful) — And You Can Upgrade Them
There are guns everywhere, and actually managing your weaponry can be tough. The world is full of upgrades, and not every weapon can use them. Some upgrades won’t attach to certain weapons, while others are life-changing. The trick is juggling which upgrades you want equipped, and how many you can carry in your inventory.
Guns are also very powerful. A headshot will doom any opponent unless you’re wearing the heaviest Level 3 armor set. Armor doesn’t increase your health, but it does limit the impact of bullet damage, protecting you just slightly in a gunfight. One thing I’ve noticed is that guns don’t kill quite as quickly in Blackout — probably a good thing. But, they still feel like Call of Duty guns.
Your most common weapons are pistols, revolvers, shotguns, auto-shotguns, SMGs, assault rifles, and machine guns. Most areas will feature these weapons, and the named areas will almost always have better gear to find. If you want to survive for long, it helps to stack upgrades on your weapons and grab the heaviest armor you can.
Get the rest of our Black Ops 4 beta info on the next page.