Bring your friends

Every year we end up here. Another Call of Duty game is dropped and the gaming world steps aside for this juggernaut. Black Ops IIII finally does what I had feared it was coming to; there is no single player campaign. The latest Call of Duty focuses solely on multiplayer, offering up three tiers of game types with the only offline modes consisting of local competitive and a series of tutorial missions to acclimate players with the different operatives in the main mode. So for those that came to these games for the four hour popcorn campaign, this game is not for you. For everyone else who plays CoD, this is a suite of excellent game modes that really showcase what the series is known for.

When I first booted up the game it was evident this is a game for CoD fans. The main menu showcases three large boxes with featured hoppers for each mode. It can be confusing as hitting one of those throws me right into a game of that type. If I wanted to learn the ins and outs of each mode I needed to jump into the specialist section tucked away on the side of the screen. It is not intuitive. I was confused on how to create custom games. Again, this is all moot to regular CoD players, but for newcomers this is the least inviting version of the game to date.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99

The specialist mode is a series of missions that seems to replace the single player campaign. There are cut scenes here that are of such high-quality that they seem like they were created for the campaign that was removed from the game. Then instead of missions, this mode features bite-sized tutorials that introduce players to each of the operatives, their abilities, and bot matches of each mode that will appear in the game. This mode does a nice job of introducing new players to the mechanics of the game, but it is never focused on when booting up the game. This is where newcomers should start. Finish them all. It is infinitely helpful before diving into the meat grinder that is CoD multiplayer.

Once I was comfortable with what the game had to offer I jumped into online mode. By this time I was already left behind. My first few games were literally spawn-to-death within seconds. There are plenty of modes to choose from, including traditional deathmatch modes, Kill Confirmed, objective modes such as Control and Heist, and more. The operatives work sort of like Overwatch characters, complete with ultimate abilities. There is a lot to soak in here, but this is still CoD. Time to kill is very fast. For veteran players it is a smorgasboard of newbies to mow down (myself included.) Much like its presentation, Black Ops IIII online is not friendly to players of lesser skill. It is intimidating and I died for hours.

This feels like the theme of Black Ops IIII. This is the game for CoD veterans. Once I decided to create some custom games and just toy around with the mechanics, there is a lot here to take in. Treyarch has done a fantastic job of catering to the hardcore players. The mechanics are fun, the map selection is excellent, and everything people love about CoD is present. Just know that if, like me, you haven’t been to this rodeo in a dedicated fashion in a while, this game is not going to be friendly to you. This is a game for the CoD players and it never apologizes for that.

The suite continues with the return of Zombies. This time Treyarch has expanded it to three different maps, each with their own theme. This was the mode I was most excited for because it is something I am not dying every other second. The themes are interesting and the upgrades from previous games return. What I found while playing though is that it seems tailored to last far too long. Each map would last well over 30 mins per match. I would eventually grow bored after wave 15 or so as things just amped up and never really broke the mold. The characters have great banter and plenty of eye-roll moments, but I chuckled more often than I expected.

Finally we have Blackout, which was inevitable with the popularity of the Battle Royale genre. Blackout feels very similar to PUBG, except of course only from first-person. There are solo, duel, and quad matches and the map is impressive. The biggest difference is that Treyarch has refined all the issues PUBG seems to come with. Equipping items and attachments is so streamlined and simplified. Blackout feels a lot like a very polished PUBG. There are not a lot of chances or advancements made here, it feels safe. However, it feels extremely well made and is a ton of fun. I enjoyed PUBG for what it was, it just ran its course and eventually I grew bored. Where Black Ops IIII excels is that it is just one mode. I can hop back over to Zombies or traditional multiplayer to cleanse my palette.

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII is exactly what is advertised. It is the most complete multiplayer package the series has ever seen. The three modes complement each other well. The Battle Royale mode is fantastic. Multiplayer feels great for veteran players. Zombies is neat if not a bit mundane before it ends. Still, there is a lot here, and for those wanting that online CoD experience will find plenty bang for their buck. I miss the campaign, but they have definitely made up for it for those interested in killing other players online.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Blackout is a blast
  • Looks fantastic
  • Great map selection
  • Zombies is still a bore at times
  • "Single-player
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.