Just when we thought the battle royale genre was growing stale and that the competition had no chance of encroaching upon the genre’s biggest names, along comes Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Blackout mode.
Blackout is a lot like every other battle royale game. It sees you and 87 or 99 other players (depending on the mode) occupy a single map. That map is filled with weapons, supplies, and vehicles that you will need as you compete to become the last man (or squad) standing.
Blackout will be especially familiar to those who played the genre innovator, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. That is to say that it favors a more militaristic approach, emphasizes weapon modifications, utilizes vehicles, and is more about tactical combat. However, because this is Call of Duty, the mode also features quite a few ridiculous weapons, roaming zombies, and a much greater emphasis on fast combat.
The result is something quite special. Blackout is one of the smoothest, deepest, and most engaging battle royale experiences out there. It’s easy to learn, tough to master, and consistently provides exciting matchups. It may not have the widespread appeal of Fortnite, but it figures to become a phenomenon in and of itself.
Well…at least until next year.
For quite some time, Call of Duty games have been “replaced” by next year’s game. They may not all share the same name, game modes, settings, or developers, but the name “Call of Duty” has typically been enough to inspire fans to pick up the latest game on the market.
It’s an approach that has made publisher Activision quite a bit of money over the years, but it’s an approach that creates a fascinating predicament. See, Blackout shouldn’t go anywhere but up. It certainly shouldn’t be replaced or ignored when the next Call of Duty game comes out.
However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be replaced or ignored. The popular fear is that Activision will simply put a new Blackout mode in the next Call of Duty game and ask everyone to just buy that one to keep playing.
That makes a little sense – and many people may do just that – but titles like Fortnite have become the money machines they are because they are constantly updated experiences that require little (or even no) money from the players. Instead, they encourage people to spend money by virtue of being great games with hundreds of hours of gameplay.
In theory, Activision could just ask developer Treyarch to keep updating the current Blackout mode. However, we don’t know if they will. At present, there’s not much incentive to spend additional money on Blackout. Even if there was, we wonder if enough people who already purchased a $60 game are going to feel like spending more and more money on the mode. Besides, Activision is going to want them to work on Black Ops V at some point.
Worst of all, Activision might simply ignore Blackout by the time the next Call of Duty game roles around. That’s not a very likely option, but it wouldn’t be entirely unheard of either.
No matter how you look at it, Activision has to make a tough decision when it comes to Blackout. If they make the wrong one, they risk ruining one of the best things to come out of the Call of Duty franchise in years. The problem is that nobody can seem to agree what the right decision is.