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The ‘Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4’ Blackout Beta Shows That Treyarch Knows How To Battle Royale


Treyarch has shown that it knows how to run an excellent battle royale game with ‘Blackout.’Credit: Treyarch/ Activision

The Blackout beta on PS4, Xbox One and PC has been a smash success so far. Better yet, the game’s lead developer, Treyarch, has been incredibly good at both communicating with the community and responding to player feedback.

Some of that feedback has been addressed in updates. For instance, it was really clunky to pick stuff up in the first day of the beta. Just grabbing a gun or bullets or a medpack off the ground was a chore. You had to hold square down for too long and you had to look directly at the item. That problem was solved the next day, making the game feel much more smooth overnight.

Beyond this, Treyarch has posted daily updates on the Black Ops 4 subreddit. These updates have included both fixes that are coming to the beta in the short-term, as well as issues that Treyarch is keeping an eye on for launch. For instance, the developer responded to gamers who said the sound felt off with this:

We discovered and are fixing a critical bug where a player’s environment does not properly impact in-game sounds. This is why, for example, someone directly above or below the player can sound so much louder than expected. When the game is released, footsteps will be properly impacted by walls, floors, ceilings, and other objects in the world.

Blackout is great fun.Credit: Treyarch/ Activision

Another big issue the community is upset with is team killing. Friendly fire is always on in Duos and Quads (I so wish they’d said Squads instead of using a muscle, but oh well) and this means players can kill teammates and steal their loot. This is a cowardly, unforgivably lame thing to do but it happens and players will do it despite the risk of being reported and banned. So players suggested that team looting should be off the table if a player is downed by friendly fire, to which Treyarch responded:

One of the most upvoted requests concerns preventing teamkillers from looting the bodies of teammates they’ve killed. In addition to reporting bad behavior through the “Report Player” function in the Social menu (and continuing to ban players for intentional teamkilling), we agree with this approach and are adding this, or something similar, to our “To Do” list. We have a zero-tolerance policy for intentional teamkillers. Be sure to report them so we can bring the banhammer down.

Treyarch has been so good at communicating every little detail that I can’t possibly sum it up here. The fixes/future fixes include everything from the speed of the outer circle’s collapse; wingsuit vs helicopter speed; bullet penetration; the Merits/leveling system and much more.

Perhaps most importantly, Treyarch is listening to feedback about Armor. They’re adding an Armor health bar at launch, but they’re also listening to feedback about how over-powered Armor is. We’ll see if they make changes, though I generally agree with the vast majority of Blackout players that Armor—especially Level 3 Armor—is way too OP.

I like the concept of Armor, but I’d make the current Level 1 Armor the strongest and have that be Level 3, then have two levels of armor below that. I understand that we don’t want TTK to be as low as a normal match, but it can be insanely high. Too high when you’re shooting at someone with Level 3 Armor on and they just won’t die.

Die already!Credit: Treyarch/ Activision

In any case, all this stellar communication and all these rapid fixes really give me faith in Treyarch’s ability to run a great battle royale game years into the future. The community has been suggesting additions to the map—the Hijacked cargo carrier off the coast; the snowy Summit map up in the mountains; the beloved zombies map, Nacht der Untoten—and I would not be at all surprised to see these in future updates. The Blackout map is very large and could easily use more landmarks and named locations.

Beyond fixes and communication, Treyarch has already added two different temporary modes to Blackout. Fast Collapse was a squad-based mode that did exactly that: Made the circle collapse much faster, speeding up matches and making everything just a bit more hectic. Close Quarters was a solo mode that ditched all long-range weapons, leaving shotguns, SMGs and other close range arsenal as your only option. This kind of limited-time mode implementation is one thing that makes Fortnite so appealing, and it’s a smart idea for Blackout.

Oh, and one more thing. A complaint that I think needs to be addressed. The edge of the map has an arbitrary boundary. Yesterday when I was playing, the circle collapsed to a region off in the hills near Asylum and the dam but nearly half that circle was outside of gameplay area. If you ran into that portion of the circle, the screen turned red and warned you to return to the designated area. There was no visual indicator beyond this that I was out-of-bounds. This needs to go away. If you can reach it on the map, it should be in-bounds. If you want a boundary, put some cliffs or a gorge or some other obstacle there rather than flash a warning at players.

Blackout is going to be a huge hit.Credit: Treyarch/ Activision

These complaints aside, I can happily report that the Blackout beta is great fun. It’s a really smooth, exciting battle royale that all but makes PUBG obsolete. I think it will do very well on consoles and PC and while I’m still sad about a lack of single-player campaign in Black Ops 4 (please add this down the road, Treyarch!) I think there will be plenty to keep us busy in the full game between Blackout, MP and zombies.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches on October 12th on PC, Xbox One and PS4.

What do you think of the beta so far? Let me know on on Twitter and Facebook.

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