Black Ops 4 Beta in review

Now that the Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Beta has wrapped up, now seems like as good a time as ever to consider whether or not Treyarch’s Call of Duty title is worth a buy.

This entry in the series has already had its fair share of being called “the worst Call of Duty ever”, but I don’t think that is the case here.

Black Ops 4 is extremely different than any other Call of Duty. It doesn’t feel like a classic, boots on the ground CoD, and it doesn’t come close to the jet pack party of the recent titles. The game easily feels like the genre mash-up fans have been dubbing it as. It feels like Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Seige, and Overwatch had some weird baby, and not to say that its a bad baby either.

The game has a distinct feeling because of its Call of Duty Roots, and that’s what keeps this game afloat for me. Even though it has many of the characteristics taken from other popular games (which we know Activision has a bad habit of doing), it feels like a CoD game first and foremost.

This weird feeling of being a CoD game at heart, but also being so different, I think, is what has been polarizing the community around it for the length of the beta. And while the rumors may be true about this being Treyarch’s rushed salvage of a game because Activision made them scrap their original concept, it still holds its own as a fairly interesting title.

Graphically the game is a huge disappointment. It looks better, worse, and/or on par with Black Ops 3 at points. The Black Ops style of graphics may not look that bad, but the datedness of the graphics is further exaggerated by slow texture load in times on PS4. Explosions also had an issue where if they were triggered right as a round ended the sound would play, and sometimes the characters would even react, but no actual explosion would take place. It may be a minor issue, but it was just always a head-scratcher when it happened.

On the performance side of things it holds up pretty well. On a PS4 Pro it held a solid 60 fps almost consistently throughout with the only real noticeable drops happening in the center section of a map called Gridlock.

The PC side of things held up quite nice, most of the time. On both a system running a Ryzen 1600 and GTX 1060, and a system running an Intel 6600k and GTX 1070 the game ran at a perfect 60 at max settings. However, at points there was noticeable stutter. This became frustrating at a couple points as it resulted in a couple deaths over the beta weekend.

Map design was fairly solid, but there wasn’t much in the way of memorable maps. They were all fun to play and never really felt cheap or confusing, but they were overall pretty forgettable. The map added in the second weekend of the beta was the best map in the entire beta. It felt exciting, it was vibrant, and it was well designed, It’s a shame that this map wasn’t implemented earlier in the beat because it may have swayed some more people to enjoy the game a little bit more.

Some people are very adamant about the maps being too large for the new 5 person player count on objective modes. In my opinion it felt just right. Things never got boring, but there were nice breaks in action if you went away from B objective instead of constant gun fighting.

The spawn system in objective modes felt like it encouraged the type of play specific to each mode.

Control spawn points spawned players further away from the objective, but Domination spawned players just outside the combat zone.

Black Ops 4’s gun balance and movement system felt solid during the second weekend’s beta. Treyarch did a good job of listening to community feedback, and their record with Black Ops 3 hints towards a good community-driven future for the game.

Guns felt well matched, they sounded great, they felt powerful, and they just felt overall fun to use. There wasn’t a single weapon that I hated using after a little getting used to. Not only that, but this is the first Call of Duty in a while that I’ve had a ton of fun using LMGs in.

Time to kill in Black Ops 4 has been a hot topic in and around the community during the beta, but I think the complaints about the time to kill are far beyond overblown. The time to kill feels fair, rewarding, and allows for great counter-play. I understand the criticism at first because its different than the norm set by over a decade of CoD, but the hate the game is getting for this aspect of the game is false at this point. The game requires players to use their heads more than ever, and the non run’n’gun style seems to be just not be the right fit for some people.

The new health system is a great addition to the game. I’ve heard tons of complaints about the system saying things like, “no one asked for this to be changed,” and that’s not a good reason for someone not to change something. I think what Treyarch did here feels like a really smart balancing trick. Not only does it (along with the 150 health) allow for more tactical decision making, but it also allows Treyarch to do some smart balancing with controversial mechanics in the game.

Knifing is always a hot button issue, and what they’ve done here is a smart move. Melee does 145 damage to a character meaning if a player has taken any damage at all without healing, it’s a one shot melee.

Specialists have also been a hot topic, but they seem well done so far. This time around they feel like they have an actual impact on the game. Equipment for each specialist is diverse, and its all pretty fun to use. I have my favorites, but none of them felt underpowered or not fun to play.

Overall the game felt fun to play, both on PC and PS4. The issue with this CoD is that if you hate the base of Call of Duty play, then you won’t like it. If all you like is base Call of Duty gameplay, then you won’t like it. It’s definitely a game that won’t make everyone happy, but it plays like a solid entry in the series.

It will be interesting to see if the Battle Royale mode and Zombies bring this game to be worth the 60 dollar price point.