CoD: Black Ops 4

Black Ops Cold War looks disappointing as a fan of BO4

black ops 4 4 - Black Ops Cold War looks disappointing as a fan of BO4
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This is a long post, so bear with me. Full disclaimer: I'm a die hard BO4 multiplayer fan and I very much dislike MW's multiplayer (albeit I do enjoy Warzone). So read this knowing that bias.

I was very afraid coming into the reveal of this game. I enjoyed BO4 so much, and hated pretty much all of what MW brought to the table. I thought BO4 kinda stumbled into one of the best formulas of gameplay the series has ever seen. Don't get me wrong, I think specialists are annoying and improperly balanced and implemented. You could totally remove them and I'd be fine.

I just think the core gunplay of BO4 is able to really shine thanks to few key features. Above all else, these features seem to enable and encourage aggression. Those features are (listed in what I think is order of importance):

  1. Larger healthpool, prioritizing tracking aiming instead of raw twitchiness (which on console just lends itself more to aim assist), and giving players enough health to get around corners, or to rush someone down by moving cover to cover without getting killed in ~3 shots by a head glitcher.
  2. Manual healing, especially with stim. Unlike past CODs where you have to just wait it out, you can keep the momentum going and keep rushing, pressing your advantage. It increases the pace of play so much on both teams.
  3. The pick 10 system. Weird right? But I think this does a lot to the gameplay that people don't realize. I think most players will gravitate towards that extra attachment on their gun or an extra perk before they waste a slot on a frag or a tactical, especially since BO4 has a free slot for a mostly non-grenade based equipment via the specialist. I think the lack of grenades, tactical or lethal, does a lot for the game. There's less area denial, and random explosion deaths (obviously the specialists add that back in, but keep in mind I'd like to see these features with NO specialist). Not getting flashbanged/stunned while moving up a map helps the flow.
  4. The Gung Ho perk. This perk enables aiming immediately out of sprint and is SO effective for pushing.
  5. Visibility. This seems kinda minor but once you've played MW you realize how nice it is. All of the enemies in BO4 have these red LED lights on them. It may seem silly or game-y, but I think it really helps the flow of combat. There's no second guessing and it helps diminish the effectiveness of camping.
  6. Generally fast movement. There is unlimited sprint and the characters feel fast. Add in a quick vaulting system and a player can get around the maps at will.
  7. Another feature that in terms of importance is at the top, but its uniqueness to this game is rather low is good map design. Treyarch is typically good with this. Small to medium, lane based maps have always facilitated gameplay better in my eyes.

Now before you break this down and decide I'm a mindless rusher whose too ADD to have map awareness and sit still long enough to play anything else, it isn't JUST pushing on one's own end that results here. By having all of these features that makes players feel like they have options to go out without getting immediately punished means the enemy team ends up pushing more often too. This results in less restrictive feeling matches where both teams are just picking sight lines to stare down and denying areas. The key word here is options. Playing slower and headglitching is still really viable in BO4. The tactical rifles are some of the strongest guns. The swordfish can one burst people. I just think it is LESS of an advantage than previous CODs, and demands more aim out of the camper in order to succeed since they have more health to damage.

With these features in mind, I played MW and was very disappointed. I played little traditional multiplayer in comparison to other CoDs. All of the features that game brought to the table seemed to do the opposite of what I described above. Instead of enabling and encouraging aggression, it enabled and encouraged camping and passivity. I'm aware the statistics say MW's TTK is rather high in comparison to other CoDs, but something about the netcode or movement definitely doesn't make it feel like I have a large enough healthpool to have options. Mounting and doors don't need much of an explanation. No dead silence. No red dots on minimap. Since everyone now has grenades every single life again, that's typically 6x whatever grenade or equipment of choice per life that you would typically see in BO4. That means more flashes around corners, more explosion deaths, and worst of all more (really strong for some reason) claymores. All of this means less incentive to move around the map. So both teams end up in a head-glitching stalemate. Even things that I kind of liked that MW did, like the gunsmith, end up feeling negative because for all of the attachments you COULD potentially add, most of them reduce ADS or movement speed, making it increasingly difficult to take advantage of that feature without slowing the gameplay down even further. It just seems like a game tailor made to be slower. A lot of people's alleged biggest problem with that game's MP is skill based matchmaking, but to be honest, knowing those features, I couldn't tell you if I didn't have fun because of that, or because the game just wasn't designed well imo. There's plenty of people that praise it for its animations and such, and while I agree it looks and sounds great, that's all it can ever be to me. Those animations are aesthetics. They only improve the atmosphere to me. They can't improve the way I feel when I engage with the game's actual mechanics, which were lackluster. The gun sounds and animations in MW hold about the same weight as Treyarch's color palette to me. Not sure why so many in the community seem to hold these animations with such high priority.

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Needless to say, I was really hoping Treyarch would come in with something great so I could look forward to a new CoD MP, instead of just playing more BO4. Looking at the Cold War reveal, and it's clear they aren't interested in keeping any of the core features I just laid out. I expect some addition by subtraction since theres no mounting or doors, etc. I also think the maps will likely improve. However, the health pool is smaller and I didn't see any kind of manual healing. In fact, they even made it a point to announce that it was automatic as if it was a saving grace. At least MW had a stim pack. It wasn't as good, but it did improve the gameplay when I used it. They also broke down that create a class MUST have a lethal and tactical, so yay more grenade spam. There's no LEDs on the player models now, and while that isn't a must have, their inclination for this to be more immersive (and for its general atmosphere to be more like MW) has me worried for visiblity. Treyarch usually doesn't have a problem with this, as their color palette usually makes things more distinct, but with some of these maps being so big and these new graphics being a big focus, I worry the visibility could take a hit. I expect the map design to be better than MW (for my money it couldn't be worse in regards to 6v6 maps), but the reveal only seemed to showcase these large scale modes and maps, which isn't something I'm super keen on. It could be good, but it's not really improving the core gameplay of CoD MP, rather just doing something different entirely. That boat map didn't seem like it had good flow. There were times that it seemed dead, as if 12v12 wasn't big enough. And vehicles are usually a nuisance. If this was their big focus, I expect map design to deteriorate as well, because I believe their smaller maps are usually better.

So maybe I'm over-reacting and if I played it, it would feel great. From what I saw, it seems like they made a game that stripped all of the features that helped BO4 really shine. BO4 had its problems, but I think you could remove some of the baggage from that game and make an even better one by sticking to its strengths, instead they went a route that seems more…generic? At least to me. Like, in terms of core gameplay, the only new things I really noticed were that a lot of the modes and maps were for larger scale, and as I mentioned, that isn't so much innovation for CoD as it is changing CoD to a whole different style of game. The other major change is the scorestreak carry over after death. I know people have said that matches don't feel spammy, but I can't help but assume this is going to be a negative change. I'm going to get a bit cynical here, but this feels like a change that resulted from some data collection, like somebody from activision noticed only X% of players ever even got to use higher tier killstreaks even once, and had the bright idea that they would get more player engagement if killstreaks were more accessible. It is probably true, but it also caters to the lowest common denominator, which rarely works in the favor of making the gameplay better or the skill ceiling higher. It might make it more popular and improve their bottom line, which since MW's Warzone boom, seems to be something they increasingly focus on.

The last major issue I have with it is what I mentioned about it feeling generic. Not only does it feel generic, it feels safe. Like, what I spelled out was essentially a cleaner, more balanced version of BO4. The best parts of the gunplay without the specialists giving people a headache. That would have been the bare minimum for a good sequel though. I still would have expected more. Some new twist or wrinkle to experiment with the formula. BOCW just kind of looks like a prettier BO2 with a lot of Battlefield mechanics. It's a little simple. Contrast that with Advanced Warfare, Black Ops 3, or Black Ops 4, which all felt much more experimental and innovative. Not all of those games' design choices worked out for the better, but they felt new enough to justify their existence as a sequel, and gave me a reason to come back for more. Like, there were things to crave in those games that only those games had. It made them distinct entries in the series. This looks basic in a way that, if it is even just a little bit worse than BO2 or even MW, then I don't see why someone would crave to play it. It doesn't separate itself from the pack.

If you read all of this way, thanks for listening to this somewhat organized ramble. I hope you feel the same. If you have any other key ideas that you think are important to the game, let me know.

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