The Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta for PS4 is underway. Officially, the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta start time is 10:30pm IST on August 3 and ends at 10:30pm IST on August 6, though Treyarch has made servers for the game live 16 hours ahead of their scheduled rollout, allowing us to try it out on the PS4 Pro prior to the announced start time. If you're planning to do the same, keep in mind that the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta download size is around 30GB.
This year, Call of Duty forsakes a single-player campaign in favour of multiplayer deathmatches, a co-operative Zombies mode, and of course, Call of Duty's take on PUBG and Fortnite with Blackout. The beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 features the multiplayer modes with a beta for Blackout in September.
Much has been said about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's move to a multiplayer, always-online format with its developer claiming that those working on its campaign have been tasked with making its guns better. And this definitely seems to be the case.
Usually in Call of Duty games you'll aim down the sights, lob grenades, and make use of cover all while trying to exploit fast-paced traversal if you're pinned down. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 forgoes this twitchy, reflex-driven loop for strategic options.
Shooting in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta feels deliberate. Recoil and fire rates seem tweaked for a more tactical style of play. It doesn't have the same arcade-like sense of pace that characterised Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, and even if you're caught off guards by an opponent, you still have a fighting chance to get out alive. Firing from the hip is as valid a strategy as aiming down the sights, even at medium distances.
This is backed up by movement that's pared down versus past Call of Duty games. You can't run on walls or hover in the air like prior games, although sliding is still possible. This ensures that your focus is on your Specialist's abilities to get you out of stick situations. Specialists are characters you play as in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 much like heroes in Overwatch albeit with far less flair and personality.
That said, their abilities do add a different dimension to the game. Take Ruin for example, this Specialist has a grapple gun that allows you to zip to nearby locations akin to Widowmaker in Overwatch. Given the close nature of combat, we found ourselves leveraging this skill to hoist ourselves away from enemy fire or to get a drop on a foe. Others like Ajax have access to flash grenades that stuns and disables opponents, allowing you to line them up for an easy shot.
These classes work well in tandem. In Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's new Control mode, which has you capturing key areas on the map, you can have Torque to set up Razor Wire traps to slow down foes while using Ruin's Grav Slam, which delivers a lethal blast radius to set up a chain of kills. It may not be obvious to newcomers from the outset, but teamwork is as important as its ever been in a Call of Duty game and Control does a great job of showcasing this.
Other parts of the game are tougher to judge. Netcode and matchmaking seemed to be flawless, but that's not indicative of the experience when the game is finally out on October 12.
Plus, we have no idea how Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 battle royale aka Blackout will fare until next month. Visually, there's enough colour and variety to make it standout from your stereotypical military shooter with smart use of reds and yellows. It's not a graphics showcase for the PS4 Pro by any means, but the trade-off means a steady 60fps allowing for fluid, smooth gameplay.
Labelling it a grittier, calculated take on Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege with its Specialists and slower pace of play is awfully reductive thanks to the stellar gunplay. Pulling off a headshot has been more satisfying than its ever been in a Call of Duty game in recent years while the additions of special abilities, while derivative, layer it well enough to warrant checking it out.
The gameplay mechanics of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 seem to be in the right place. How Treyarch and Activision support this at launch and beyond will be a point of interest. Right now though, we're cautiously optimistic of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Look out for it on October 12.
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