Hands-on: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 closed beta

The Call of Duty series has lost me throughout their years of annual releases. What was once a fruitful and rather glorious series turned into a yearly routine that was resistant to change. All that really changed throughout all of these iterations was the theme and more stuff being piled on. It all played the same, it felt the same and such repetition makes one grow bored rather quickly. This franchise needed a major shake-up or some shift in the paradigms and to my absolute surprise, Black Ops 4 is exactly that. Trust me, nobody was as surprised as I was.

When I first hopped into an online match that was just your simple team deathmatch, I was expecting to be greeted by all the usual fare of a Call of Duty title, mainly screaming children and being quickscoped in a hallway. However, that was not the case because one, I had everyone on mute and two, it all felt very different. This does not feel like a Call of Duty game which is possibly the highest praise that I can give the game. The movement and general feel of the game were slower, but not in the bad sense of the word. There was more weight to your actions and everything felt more solid. It’s tough to describe the feel of it in words, but when you play it, you notice a difference from your average Call of Duty release.

Operators make a return since they were introduced in Black Ops III. When I experienced them in the game last time, their abilities were more gimmicky than actually useful. In Black Ops 4, these roles now have an elevated sense of importance. For example, one of the operators is called Recon and he has an ability to shoot a sensor dart that displays nearby enemies on the minimap as well as an ultimate ability that allows you and your team to see enemies through walls. When I played as Recon, it was like I assumed a support role which is definitely a new experience in a Call of Duty game.

Some operators have defensive abilities, some provide more ammo and some just have more firepower. There was a definite Overwatch or rather Rainbow Six Siege influence that I noticed and while some might call it derivative, it felt fresh within the context of a Call of Duty game. However, the game still has the hallmarks of the series. The Pick 10 class creator is still there with all of its bells and whistles, there are a lot of familiar features to be found, but something is genuinely different in how it plays.

I’ve had to restrain myself from using the word “feel” too much in this article, but it’s more or less the crux of everything. The game feels very different than what I’m used to from a Call of Duty game. I’m not the best at this and I have not invested time into the franchise’s multiplayer recently, but I felt more essential than in previous games. Even if my shooting may not have been on par with the stick swirling experts out there, I could still support my team in different ways using the operators and nothing felt noticeably unfair. There were no cheesy tactics, quickscoping was surprisingly sparse and the battlefield was equal.

I really enjoyed my time with Black Ops 4 so far. I kept wanting to jump into the next game and time would run away from me very quickly. I haven’t felt this way about a Call of Duty title since the Modern Warfare days and I’m surprisingly very excited for this to come out in all of its glory. I might have been cynical about the upcoming battle royale mode before, but after playing this, that cynicism has turned into curiosity. It hasn’t reinvented the wheel or completely changed the dynamics of the franchise, but it has done enough to make it fun again, at least from my perspective.

I am way too tall, played way too many games and I love to write about what we love about games. In the end, I'm just being #Thabolicious

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