Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 joins a growing list of shooters to embrace the battle royale format with its new mode, Blackout. Like other games in the genre, it has a deceptively simple premise: A large group of players drops onto a big island, and only one person or team can win. To increase the chances of survival, everyone must find weapons and equipment like body armor, first aid kits, grenades and more, by searching through various buildings as soon as they land.
Blackout is a lot like other battle royale games, so if you’re a player of games like PUBG, H1Z1 or Fortnite, a lot of your skills and strategies are going to carry over. If you’re new to the genre or to Blackout’s take on it, there are things you’re going to need to know if you want to do well. We’ve put together some solid tips to help you take down other players and make the most out of your early matches, so you can work toward being the last player standing when the Blackout begins.
1. Loot and scoot
One of the key strategies in battle royale games is to stay mobile — something players call “loot and scoot.” The idea is that you get into a building, grab everything you can, and keep moving. It’s true that you’re more vulnerable out in the open and that some players like to hole up in one of the first structures they come across, but high-level battle royale players know that you’re better off constantly improving your gear. The players who continue to loot buildings get better weapons, which makes them much more effective when they finally face against other players. If you want to win, you’re going to need to kill somebody eventually.
2. Close the door behind you
A quick, largely reliable way to get a sense of buildings you should avoid (or maybe approach) is by noting whether their doors are open. All doors are closed at the start of a Blackout match, so if you see a building with a door open it means someone else has already been there — or might still be. By the same token, closing doors on the buildings you’re looting can make it tough for other players to track your movements, and give you a chance to ambush them if you hear them come in. As you get better at the game, you’ll likely worry less about doors and focus more on speed, but as you’re learning the ropes, stealth is a better strategy.
3. Keep an eye on the circle
If you’re new to battle royale games, you’ll want to spend a minute familiarizing yourself with “the circle” and how it works. As a match continues in Blackout, the play area of the map will shrink in order to force players closer together and into battles. The game telegraphs when the circle is about to shrink, displaying where you need to go and when in order to avoid it. As the circle shrinks, the blue perimeter will travel across the map dealing damage to players caught within it. The damage is fairly minimal to start but increases over time, until it’s pretty much a death sentence.
It’s worth letting the circle hurt you a few times at different points during your early matches, so you know what to expect from it. There are going to be times when you get caught in the field or see an opportunity that’s outside the circle — like a vehicle, for example — and you’ll need to know if it’s worth the risk. Finally, note that other players are also trying to escape the circle too, which means you can predict where they might be coming from as it closes in.
4. Be quiet
The sound effects in Blackout aren’t as loud as other battle royale games, but you’ll still find yourself relying on them. In most encounters, you’ll hear people before you see them, and usually because they’re running around or firing their weapons. Listening carefully will give you the upper hand because it will help you narrow down where players are coming from.
Make sure to play with headphones on so you can hear clearly and accurately pinpoint the locations of other players. Try to minimize the amount of noise you make by only sprinting when necessary and firing your gun when you’re positive you can get a kill. Be careful about approaching buildings and giving yourself away to someone who might be inside listening for other players to kill.
5. Manage your inventory
When you pick up a weapon attachment that fits your current gun in Blackout, the game automatically attaches it — a welcomed improvement to the meticulous inventory management found in other battle royale games. Problems start to arise when you rack up on all kinds of scopes, magazines, and barrels for guns you don’t have in hopes of finding the weapon they belong to.
There’s going to be a lot of items you’ll want to hold on to but keep in mind that sorting through all that inventory later will leave you vulnerable. It’s better to figure out exactly which items you want to avoid picking up stuff that will just clog your inventory.
6. Use vehicles sparingly
Getting around the Blackout map fast will keep you alive, especially when the circle starts to close in. Don’t be afraid to use vehicles for escaping to safety, getting the drop on other players, and keeping yourself in the safe zone.
Just keep in mind that vehicles are extremely loud, so every time you jump into one, you’re giving away your position to everyone in the area. Despite being fast and mobile, you’re still vulnerable to gunfire so prepare to avoid incoming shots with speed.
7. Use your perks
The Perks that let players customize their abilities in Call of Duty games still exist in Blackout, but you don’t choose them at the start of a match — you find them in buildings just like weapons and other equipment. Perks do all kinds of things that include allowing you to see an enemy’s planted equipment, helping you move faster while crouched or prone, and cutting the time it takes to use healing items.
Don’t sleep on using perks; once you find them, don’t forget to use them. They last for a set period of time, and you will not want to deploy them in the heat of battle. Plus, if you fire up your perks, other players can’t take them if they defeat you.
8. Use tools and traps
Special equipment is also available in Blackout. These include items such as barricades and mines that you can deploy as traps. These can give you an edge over the competition. The grappling hook gun, for example, can help you zip across short distances and onto rooftops. High ground gives you a significant advantage in firefights, providing an opportunity to ambush players hiding out in buildings since many won’t expect an attack coming from the roof as opposed to the ground floor.
9. Avoid the zombies
Blackout adds Call of Duty flare by adding zombies. You won’t necessarily run into them super often, but they can throw a kink in your attempts to stay alive and come out on top. If you see a zombie in Blackout, avoid shooting it. There’s no benefit to doing it and you’ll more than likely give away your position and risk getting taken out. If you have to deal with zombies to save your own life, that’s one thing, but if you can escape, go with that option instead.
10. Use your wingsuit
When you first enter the battle zone in Blackout, you’ll jump from a helicopter, using a wingsuit and parachute to land at your desired location. But this isn’t the only time you can use the wingsuit — it’s still accessible but only if you’re high enough to deploy it. Spring and jump from a high place, holding the jump button to deploy your wings.
This will allow you to glide a short distance. This can be useful when you need to escape a deadly situation or avoid taking fall damage. It can also provide you with a few seconds of camouflage. Note that you need to be very high to have enough time to deploy the wingsuit, so make sure you’re jumping from a tall building or out of a helicopter.
11. Learn from losing
Blackout includes two really useful elements right out of the gate: Killcams and the ability to spectate other players. Watch both, because the best way to learn and get good at Blackout is to try things, die, and see how other people do things. It’s actually a decent strategy to start your first few games jumping into the most populous areas you can, in order to learn how to contend with players quickly.
Knowing which guns you like and which you don’t will help you prioritize your pickups, and getting experience with how each gun shoots in various situations — close range, long range, from the hip and down the sights — will help you win battles later. Spend some time dying to see how things feel, and watch the people who kill you to learn their tricks.
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