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‘Black Ops 4’ will have battle royale, but ditches the single-player campaign

Official Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4 — Multiplayer Reveal Trailer

Today, Activision and Treyarch revealed Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, a multiplayer-focused shooter that features bits and pieces of previous Black Ops games. Along with traditional multiplayer and zombies, the game will include its own take on the battle royale mode popularized by Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. It will also be the first Call of Duty game to ditch the campaign.

Competitive multi-player

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is set in a “narrative world” between the events of Black Ops II and Black Ops III, and Treyarch aims to tell its story throughout all three main modes. Rather than include a traditional linear campaign, you’ll be able to play as the game’s various “specialists” — each with their own unique abilities — in solo missions, where you’ll be introduced to their tools and learn their backstory. Their tools can set enemy players ablaze, protect an area with razor wire, or give health to nearby teammates.

The meat of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 remains its multiplayer, and it has undergone several changes. No longer will there be automatically recharging health — instead, you must use a dedicated button, taking yourself briefly out of the fight.

The “guns still up” concept from past Black Ops titles returns in Black Ops 4, with your character able to keep shooting while mantling over ledges, throwing grenades, or using score-streaks, and a return to “boots on the ground” combat means there will be no more thrust-jumping or wall running. A new feature called “fog of war” also limits your ability to see too far around your own position on the mini-map, though certain abilities can still extend the radius.

Hints were made about how the game will evolve over time, but the main competitive multi-player mode is a familiar one. It includes most of the trapping you’d expect from Black Ops including tight maps, quick kills, insane gadgets, and gun customization. That latter point seems one of particular pride, as the developers highlighted the wide variety of functional and cosmetic changes players will be able to make.

Zombies crawl back, with more story

For more direct storytelling, you’ll have to check out the zombies mode. It’s among the most robust the series has ever seen, with three drastically different experiences available at launch. The first, “Nine,” appears to take place in the distant past, and sees a group of heroes forced to use archaic melee weapons to deal with a zombie threat set loose by a malicious and mysterious organization.

“Voyage of Despair,” meanwhile, takes place on the Titanic and appears to feature the same playable characters, and “Blood of the Dead” references the “Aether” from Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

All these experiences are loosely connected. The four characters are the same in each map, traveling through time through a ritual depicted in the Zombies mode introduction trailer. It appears that each episode will have its own objectives and primary threat, and weapons will vary based on the time period. There’s no sign of the gun customization shown in the primary multi-player mode. Character customization will be offered instead, though few details about that were given on-stage.

Treyarch is hoping to get newer players on board with its zombies mode this year, and the new “zombie rush” mode is designed to offer a simpler experience that anyone can enjoy. A tutorial will also be included. The game experience will have multiple difficulties and customization options, with the developer intending to offer challenge to players of every skill level.

Blackout is Call of Duty’s battle royale

Last, but not least, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 does include a battle royale mode. Dubbed “Blackout,” the mode is played on a map made up of key segments from past Black Ops games. You’ll be able to play as your favorite characters and use your favorite weapons from the campaign and zombie modes. The map is over 1,500 times larger than “Nuketown” from the first Black Ops, and the mode will feature vehicular action on land, in the sea, and in the air.

That’s about all we know, though. No gameplay trailer was shown, so the specifics of how Blackout works are a mystery.

And it’s coming to

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is out October 12 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The PC version is receiving special treatment this year from Beenox, with support for ultra-wide monitors and an uncapped framerate. And, for the first time ever, it will be available on Blizzard’s service, following in the footsteps of Destiny 2.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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