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Why Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 deserves attention despite early negativity

The relationship between Call of Duty's fanbase and the franchise's developers has been rocky ever since 2013's Call of Duty: Ghosts, and the response to the reveal event for Black Ops 4 indicates that isn't going to change any time soon.

However, while it's true that the game won't be what most fans were asking for, I still think people should give it a fair chance. Here's why.

Avoiding the beaten path

Treyarch is doubling down on the specialist system implemented in Black Ops 3, which will result in Black Ops 4 having a distinct class-based feel. This direction has been received poorly overall, but I think people are writing off the potential of this new style too quickly.

For one thing, Treyarch didn't ignore fans. In response to the blowback from Black Ops 3, advanced mobility was taken out of Black Ops 4 completely, achieving the famous "boots on the ground" gameplay the franchise was built on. It's also worth noting that there was a time when Call of Duty's biggest issue was the fact that it never changed at all. Now, developers introduce something new, and it's instantly called out for being too much of a change.

Of course, something being new doesn't always mean it will be good, but there's no reason to assume it won't be, either. Advanced mobility may have failed to impress, but that doesn't mean developers should stop trying. If innovative ideas weren't able to flourish in Call of Duty, the fan-favorite Zombies mode wouldn't even exist. We need to get hands-on with the game before trying to judge how good or bad this new style is.

Non-traditional storytelling can work

The removal of the campaign from Black Ops 4 is a bold move from Treyarch and Activision, but I think its important to remember that stories can be told in many ways, and that rings true for every medium, gaming included. The specialist missions that introduce you to the characters you play in multiplayer and explore their backstories have the potential to be excellent, especially if they all tie in to the Black Ops setting.

Nobody cares about stories in gaming more than I do — it's a major factor when I do reviews — but I think people hear "no campaign" and assume that there aren't other ways to weave a narrative into a game. That's not true.

Blackout sounds unique

Though we haven't seen any gameplay, the introduction video to Blackout, Black Ops 4's battle royale mode, makes it sound unlike any other experience available. Between the inclusion of military vehicles, the emphasis on fast-paced action, and all of the specialist abilities and equipment, this variant of the industry-leading genre looks to be very unique.

Many critics of this mode being in the game have said that Treyarch is wrong for jumping in on the battle royale trend, but I don't think you can blame it. Games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) are more popular than ever, and it's clear that battle royale is still something a crazy amount of players love. The fact Black Ops 4 has its own creative version is a good thing.

Your thoughts

Do you think Black Ops 4 is being discarded by fans unfairly? Let us know.

Black Ops 4 should be released on October 12, 2018, on both Xbox One and PC. It's expected to cost $59.99. You can preorder the game now for access to the Multiplayer Beta.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

16 Comments
  • Problem with CoD for me is the MP just feels like an arena game rather than a warfare game. I still love playing it but the short matches, the prolific hacking... I'm one of those guys that jumps in, does well for a couple of matches, then for some reason it all goes south. Maybe play it for an hour a week at most. Especially with Black ops, it seems the better you do in a round, the stronger you become, with kill streaks etc... It should be the weaker players that get the boosts... Battlefield is more the game for me. The longer rounds, the vehicles, the big maps. And the 64 man servers. Just make it so much more epic. Your team pushing forward, real battles taking place, knowing where the spawn points are. CoD with it's switching spawns just baffles me. In games like destiny, those things make sense. In CoD, not so much. The campaigns however are pretty solid for the most part. Reasonably interesting, pretty good acting, feels good.
  • I'm just really burned out on cod. Seems like same ole every year, with a few changes. IMO its time for a real refresh. For me that's Pubg and any other game. I will play cod once a month for 30 minutes. Its really new maps but the same ole sh..! For what they're doing they could just charge $10 for map packs...…. for infinity!
  • at this point any Call of Duty deserves what it deserves, the good or all the negativity. COD has been around long enough and Fans of COD responding in a certain way for a reason with every right to do so, in the case for blops4 its mostly negative. no reason to try and correct why players should give the game a chance. it wont help. in the end Blops4 will be completely about its Battle royale mode since majority never finishes the story aspect of the games right? and that is what Blops4 will end up being... just another Battle royale game.
  • I don't think it's fair to write a game off this early.
  • Remember When Fortnite had the Coop version first where u need to build a defense and fight off the enemies in the storm? Also following some story. EPIC totally did a 180 on that and left the fans behind cause of Fortnite battle royale and its continues new things to buy. Give it time and Treyarch will do the same. As soon as Blackout becomes a hit. The story aspect that is spread among modes they talked about will be left behind and they will bank on Blackout completely. That is where the money is to be made.
  • I liked how Return to Castle Wolfenstein had different classes that, depending on the level, required certain players to play as those classes (Soldier, Medic, Lieutenant and Engineer). People playing as soldier class would actually support your engineers as bombs were planted. Medics would heroically revive the front line soldiers (instead of trying to get frags like everybody else). Current multiplayer games are mostly a free for all where you only fight half the players on the field, there is really no team-baser game play.
  • That's why I like Overwatch. Assuming everyone plays as a team, of course.
  • Wolf ET is still hands down the best multiplayer game of all time.
  • This sounds like the best CoD in a long time. When playing BO3, it was clear Campaign and Nightmare mode were sub par relative to the rest of the game and I wished Treyarch hadn't spread themselves thin focusing on the areas they didn't excel in. I'd hate to see a BO4 campaign with even less passion than BO3. Treyarch is burnt out of Black Ops campaigns. Hearing there is mad Zombies and mad Multiplayer in BO4 and no distractions with Campaign, best CoD news in a long time. I love single player but when I want single player gameplay, there are just so much better games than CoD. Coming up we have CyberPunk, the new Bethesda Game Studios game, and on PS4 Spiderman and Last of Us 2. Let CoD do what it does best. We could use more MP focus in gaming. There are plenty of epic single player only games and very few epic multiplayer only games. Multiplayer gamers deserve the same focus single player gamers get.
  • I don't play cod mp. But I've played every cod campaign since the series began. Not having a campaign means its not a true cod game.
  • I have bought every single COD game since CoD2 on the 360. I hate the multiplayer... I buy them for the campaign. This year I will be skipping.
  • I don't think I agree with any of your key points. People complained CoD never changed, but it wasn't true. Modern Warfare didn't change much, but it was released between some pretty big-changing games. The peak of the franchise had it going World at War (which added Zombies), Black Ops (with the "jumping to the past" elements and a unique setting with Vietnam), then Black Ops 2 went into the future and had a pretty big difference in content. People DID complain about a lack of change, but I didn't think it was a fair argument. The removal of a campaign certainly isn't bold though. The campaigns last 5-8 hours. They're generally shallow, meaningless tech demoes (though I liked the toys the BO2 campaign let you play with). However, they're not known for being the selling point of the series, they're probably more expensive than is reasonable for short-term content with low replay value (especially when you enlist someone like Kevin Spacey for a leading role), and it means they can focus on the modes that have more of a chance to bring in microtransaction purchases (like if this Zombie mode has characters and skins you can get from paid unlocks). The campaign might as well have just died forever ago because it was probably a waste of money. I don't know about the BR mode to comment much on it. However, it seems like another place where CoD is diving into the 'me too" realm and failing to innovate.
  • Getting rid of campaign is bold in the sense that it's become expected that a shooter game has one. To move against that is bold.
  • Without split screen local coop play, I have no interest. Not buying second Xbox so me and my son can play together. Plus buying the game twice!
  • I said that once upon a time... now I have three. The boys and I have so much fun playing together in Division, State of Decay, Sea of Thieves, Dying Light, Battlefield, etc. We're not COD players but the sentiment is the same. Together is better.
  • I'm another who has never played COD multi, but have really enjoyed the campaigns. No campaign means that I won't be buying this one.