It might be one of the most popular video game franchises in the world, but Call of Duty isn’t scared to take some risks.
At a community reveal event in Los Angeles, Activision and developer Treyarch gave gamers their first good look at Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The explosive shooter is going bigger than ever, capturing the zeitgeist with a battle royale mode and eschewing a traditional single-player campaign in favor of a narrative-driven approach to multiplayer.
Here are the five biggest features coming to Black Ops 4.
1. Blackout mode gives fans the royale treatment.
Games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite have ushered in the era of the battle royale. Black Ops 4 hopes to move the trendy genre into the future with the new Blackout mode.
Blackout will let players drop onto a huge map – we’re talking 1,500 times the size of iconic Black Ops map “Nuketown” – and battle it out to be the last person standing. Featuring playable characters from classic Black Ops games, fan-favorite maps, land, sea, and air vehicles, and all the weapons, gadgets and gear you’d expect from a full-fledged Call of Duty experience, Blackout should be a formidable – and fun – new entry in the burgeoning battle royale space.
2. Boots are back on the ground.
Having pushed the sci-fi envelope in Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare, Call of Duty returns to the boots-on-the-ground action that the franchise is famous for. Forget flitting around with jump jets and wallruns – the combat in Black Ops 4 is grittier, more tactical, and decidedly less fantastical. Players can no longer rely on rocket-powered boosts to zip away from danger. In Black Ops 4, the smart, strategic player will succeed.
Black Ops 4 will also reward dedicated players with the introduction of a new “predictive recoil” feature. Each weapon has a distinct recoil pattern; use a gun long enough and you can master its spread for maximum accuracy and damage. This move away from randomized bullet patterns will undoubtedly please hardcore and competitive players anxious to up their game and hone their skills.
3. Specialists are the stars of the show.
Specialists return in Black Ops 4, and they’re the lynchpin of multiplayer. Eight different specialist classes were on display during the reveal event, each with unique equipment and abilities. Taken together, the Specialists bring a hero shooter mentality to Black Ops 4.
Ruin, for instance, wields a Grapple Gun to quickly cover ground or reach higher elevation. He can also trigger a lethal area-of-effect Grav Slam to wipe out enemies huddled together. Firebreak totes a flamethrower and can emit a radiation field to damage nearby enemies. Seraph creates spawn points with her deployable beacon, Recon shoots a sensor dart that reveals enemy positions, and Torque can slow down enemies with a deployable barricade.
Perfecting the interplay between these powers will be crucial to team success in Black Ops 4 multiplayer, but the Specialists also offer a window into the game’s overarching narrative by way of story-driven solo missions and trials.
4. Take control of your health.
If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything. In Black Ops 4, players begin a match with more health than ever before: 150 instead of the 100 found in every prior Call of Duty. That means you can take more punishment before going down, theoretically extending skirmishes by giving players a slightly better chance to escape from danger.
The flipside? Health is no longer restored automatically. Instead, players will have to manage their own health with a new Heal button. Press the left bumper and you’ll inject yourself with a stim pack to regain health, but this potent ability is on cooldown. Should you stay in the fight while trying to heal, or briefly take cover and risk losing a sure kill or two? Remembering to heal – and learning how to use this feature most effectively – will separate the haves from the headshot.
5. Three Zombies for the price of one.
It wouldn’t be Black Ops without a few thousand undead corpses to blast back to the grave, but Black Ops 4 isn’t content with one measly Zombies mode. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Zombies, three distinct maps will be included in the Black Ops 4 package on Day One – and these aren’t your father’s boring old shamblers.
‘Voyage of Despair’ tasks its four sturdy characters with surviving a zombie outbreak on the Titanic; ‘IX’ outfits our crew with swords and shields and before tossing them into a Roman gladiator arena; and ‘Blood of the Dead’ revisits the legendary Mob of the Dead prison level from Black Ops II. With deep customization options, multiple difficulty levels, and an in-game tutorial for newbies, it’s shaping up to be the brainiest Zombies experience to date.
We’ll doubtlessly learn more about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s many modes, features, and innovations in the coming months. It’s due out for Xbox One on October 12.