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Black Ops 4: a lengthy retrospective

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I was bored and decided to write down my thoughts about this game. This will be a few parts, as I’m not a short writer.


This first section is going to be focused just on general gameplay features/additions in BO4, next we’ll go through each individual map (that section will probably be much lengthier). Strap in, this might be a bit long.




Black Ops 4’s gameplay certainly innovated a lot, arguably more than any other entry. I think a lot of it was good, but it definitely had its bad parts.




The perk system- Okay, I really like the new perk system. I constantly feel challenged by the decisions it presents, which has never really happened to me before in Zombies. I’m glad that this system allows so many new perks (10 so far by my count), when if they all had to have individual machines that would be impossible.  I also think it’s a really good idea to remove the ‘crutch perks’ and add them as standard features. There’s no reason why normal health and extra lives on solo should take up a perk slot. The perk meta is pretty balanced and healthy, if you go into a public match you’ll see all kinds of perks used. I find that a lot of people think that there are still crutch perks. Whether it’s stamin-up, quick revive, or whatever. But those people  generally have different perks as their crutches, meaning the system works almost exactly as intended. Personally, I never play anymore without Winter’s Wail modifier, and almost always have Dying Wish, but everything else is up for grabs depending on how I want to play that specific match.


Equipment-  The new equipment system has its positives and negatives. But I like that it actually makes equipment useful, compared to most zombies where grenades are useful only on insta-kill and to make crawlers. 


Special Weapons- While in general I’m not a huge fan of this feature and I think this has some flaws, I like its implementation much more than BO3. Mainly because you don’t need to do an annoying quest in order to get it, making it accessible to casual players as well as people who just don’t feel like it. I still have flashbacks of sitting there waiting for the rocket to launch so that I could get the DG-4 part. And the variety of the weapons as well as the way they upgrade as the game goes on is awesome.


Zombie Rush- This mode never really got traction in the community, but I was a massive fan. To me, this is a near perfect bonus mode, and I had an absolute blast with it in Public Matches on launch before the player count really dried up. It’s a great, surprisingly competitive mode, complete with traps to screw the other players over. It also makes for some fascinating perk choices- for instance, Winter’s Wail is absolutely worthless in this mode, because one hit really hurts you a lot, and WW only activates after the 2nd hit. Victorious Tortoise is easily the best perk as you can avoid those stray hits ruining your score. There’s a great snowball effect in Rush because your special weapon progress is tied to your multiplier- so once you get a high enough multiplier, you get your special weapon back nearly immediately, making you nearly unstoppable and allowing you to get an even higher multiplier. 


Elixirs- In general, I wish there were no Microtransactions in CoD zombies. However, I do like Elixirs more than Gobblegums. I think the fact that elixirs can be activated at any time really helps make certain elixirs useful. For instance, temporal is god-tier in BO4, but I didn’t use it once in BO3 because I’d have to go to the machine, hope for RNG, then hope again for a good power-up to drop. The elixir system just makes more sense. Also, I’m really glad they patched dashboarding, because that made BO3 public matches absolute cancer.


Weapon Selection- I think the weapons have a lot of issues, but one thing I like is that there are a few bad weapons again, which gives needed variety to the box. Black Ops 3 really lacked that and pretty much every weapon was good.


QOL/small additions - This is probably the best section for BO4. There’s a crazy amount of awesome QOL additions that I hate to not have when going back to older games. I’ll just list a few:


 A short delay before power ups, max ammo refills magazine, carpenters repair shield, giving weapons from the box to friends, an EE timer to track progress and number of completions, firing weapons while drinking perks, keeping guns when you bleed out, losing perks overtime while down instead of instantly, subtitles, named locations to make guides easier, seeing health, seeing teammates health, losing perks overtime when downed.


4 difficulty levels- They tried to add an easy difficulty in Black Ops 2, but it was pretty bad and just made the game more annoying. These difficulty modes, however, are absolutely great. Casual mode is perfect for, well, a casual time. Hardcore is fun when trying to sweat. And for the truly skilled at zombies, I’ve never seen anything in zombies as hard as realistic EE runs, that shit is absolutely insane. I think it's great to have these options to vary the experience.


Custom Mutations- Mutations is a really good and highly requested feature. The options are amazing to screw around with and if you want to tweak your experience you definitely can. However, it definitely has not reached its full potential due to Treyarch’s stubbornness regarding the EEs. I think if they let you replay EEs with mutations that would open up a massive audience for mutations. Pistol only EE, boss zombie only EE, etc. Only somewhat related but massive shame to not have some kind of boss fight replay mode.


Fast travels- While generally this would be a map specific thing, every single map in Black Ops 4 has multiple fast travels- and I think this is a great thing. A map like Origins can feel horribly dated due to its lack of easy, abundant fast travel and its map flow. The map flow of most maps in BO4 is really good, partially due to fast travels.


Wonder weapons- Every map in BO4 has essentially adopted the Mob Of The Dead style of wonder weapons- it’s in the box, but it’s also attainable through a quest. I think that’s perfect, and the best of both worlds. However, this is hurt a lot by the DLC weapons packing the box with too many weapons (more on that later).



Equipment- The new equipment system has its negatives. For starters, Wraith Fire is way too OP. And I think they wanted to cultivate a similar equipment meta to the perk meta- where you may switch between equipment depending on playstyle. The problem with this is that Wraith Fire sucked all the air out of the room for other equipment. IMO you should only get one Wraith Fire rather than 2, and my optimal nerf for it is making you stand still when using it like the Pegasus Strike, to make it more specialized and to make Acid Bombs much more viable for training players, and Sentries/Claymores to be more useful for camping players, compared to now where the Wraith Fire outshines all other equipment at any task.


Special weapons- In general, I don’t really like special weapons and don't think they should be in the game. They feel like a crutch for when I make a mistake, when I really should be punished for that. Special Weapons also come back way too fast, it should be around 5 times slower so that it can’t just be abused. I get that they wanted a power fantasy with this and it certainly works, but I think it goes a bit far.


Zombie A.I- The Zombie A.I in this game is pretty ridiculous. I think they intended this as the drawback to having special weapons and useful equipment, but damn are they very aggressive and fast. I still don’t really have troubles training but I get why a lot of people have a problem with the A.I.


Weapon selection- I don’t think the weapon selection is actually bad, but it has some major issues.The box has WAY too many weapons. After all the DLC guns, the box is absolutely stacked with weapons. I just played a Tag EE run where I didn’t feel like doing the EE for the free Wunderwaffe Sharfschutze, and equipped the Fire Sale Elixir. I went through 7 fire sales with timeslip activated and about 30 regular box hits, so probably around 80 box hits before I got it. The box is just ridiculously stacked, making WWs incredibly hard to get.


The Hellion Salvo is also a big issue. This is kind of an elephant in the room for high round players. The hellion kills in one shot infinitely, at any round. I’m really not sure why this hasn’t been patched yet. I think it’s fine for it to kill into the 50s, but infinite is ridiculous.


Gauntlets- I think this mode has a lot of potential but really is ruined by its focus on Easter egg quests. I think the challenges should only be gameplay oriented, not something like do a certain quest by this round. Firstly, I hate being forced to do quests, and secondly, I often feel cheated when playing gauntlet and then a quest comes up and I felt like I needed to know beforehand in order to actually do it. I don’t think you should have to look up the challenges before playing. That one problem absolutely kills gauntlets for me. If not for that, I’d probably dive into them but I haven’t even fully completed one yet. 


Next section will be map-focused, I’ll probably do IX/VoD first as I have the least to say about those.

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          Voyage of Despair


I have certainly played this map the least out of all BO4 maps, so there may be a lot I’m missing here, but this one just never really grabbed me on any level.




The good of the gameplay: 


Kraken- The kraken is a great and very fun to use WW


Side quests- VoD has a lot of awesome and cool side quests. From the low gravity to the flying car, they really put a lot of effort into these and it shows.


Boss fight- The boss fight of VoD is very tough but fun and rewarding, I really like it. 


The bad of the gameplay: 


Map flow-  This map has pretty bad map flow, probably one of the worst ever maps in terms of flow. I can never tell where I am or how to get to a certain place due to everything looking the same, and there are constantly cut off points where you need to go around and take a weird route just to get to an area, which is annoying,


Main quest- I don’t think I’ve ever finished this main quest, it just has a lot of bad design and irritating steps. Not a fan.




The story of this map also never really caught my attention. I know there’s some radios that give backstory to the cult so that’s at least pretty interesting. 



The atmosphere of this map never felt particularly well executed or immersive to me. It’s the titanic, I get it. But that is very poorly integrated into the gameplay- where IX rewards you for playing to the crowd, VoD is quite disconnected from its environment. It would’ve been amazing if part of the ship sank during a certain point in the game, that would really help out the atmosphere, but as it stands the atmosphere of VoD is extremely weak.




IMO, VoD is easily the worst Black Ops 4 map- it just doesn’t really execute anything well.






The good of the gameplay:   


Challenges- The challenge system on this map is very good. It’s not as good as AE’s and a bit better than Tag’s. But it’s still very good, fun, and rewarding outside of a couple annoying challenges. You get PaPed weapons, power ups, and a free perk.


Boss zombies- I’m certainly in the minority as someone who likes fighting tons of boss zombies, I think it’s a great change-up of the gameplay. I enjoy the variety that IX presents.


Map layout/flow- The map layout and flow is very good in IX. It’s very easy to get from one place to the other due to the circular shape of the map, with the ability to make a shortcut through the middle. I never really feel too far away from the next place that I need to go, which is a great feature in a Zombies map.


Boss fight- The boss fight in this map is just great. Fighting a giant elephant, imagine showing that to a person playing Black Ops 1 Zombies.


The bad of the gameplay:


Side quests: This map is in general lacking in side quests, with very few compared to most maps. Of the side quests that are in IX, I’m not a big fan. You have the free perk side quest which is somewhat rewarding but annoying, the shield upgrade is pretty tedious and has very little reward. Due to these very few and weak side quests, I often find myself bored on this map when done with the challenges.


Death Of Orion- This WW would be fine, except for the fact that it takes forever for the zombies to die- an absolute achilles heel which just makes the weapon anti-fun.


Main Quest- The IX main quest is not very good. There are some good parts, but they’re outnumbered by needlessly annoying steps. The first step constantly makes you wait rounds and rounds for no good reason whatsoever, and the Catalyst step where you’re forced to kill specific types of zombies in a row after looking up the correct symbols are the worst. The infinite special weapon lockdown was an absolutely brilliant idea, and the boss fight isn’t bad- but it doesn’t make up for some of the annoying and tedious steps.



This is IX’s crown jewel, in my book. The atmosphere in this map is extremely well done. The feeling of being outside with the sun beating down on you is pretty unique in Zombies, we have been outside before but I feel it’s never been done as well in IX. The roaring crowd adds a great level of immersion. The moment when you walk out of one of the god towers into the arena, the crowd starts roaring, and the sun hits you is one of the best moments of atmosphere in the history of zombies. The booming voice of the priest is also a great addition to the immersion of IX. This is IX’s greatest strength.




I’m admittedly not nearly as knowledgeable in Chaos compared to Aether, but I’ll do my best here. The IX story is probably my favorite out of all the Chaos maps. IX begins with our crew coming from Voyage Of Despair in search of answers, so they go back in time to prove their worth. The radios on this map are very good. They tell the story of an explorer and a mercenary that he hired making the same trek as our crew- and they seek to figure out the Main Quest just like our crew has to. They eventually go insane, and the explorer kills the mercenary to try to appease the gods of IX. This was a perfect little short story, which provided some much needed background for the Chaos Story. The main story of the map features our crew proving their worth by appeasing each god and then waking up to go to Ancient Evil. The characters in this map are a lot better than they are in VoD imo.


Overall, I’m not as big a fan of IX as most people, who seem to think it’s the best Black Ops 4 map. To me, it’s one of the weakest. But it’s certainly not a bad map. Its gameplay is its weakest part, the atmosphere and story of IX are both very good.


Next up is BotD/Classified, which will probably have a lot more to talk about story-wise.

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About the map flow, for Voyage, you really gotta learn it and then it is not as bad anymore. I'd even make the case that this unconventional map layout is one of the most interesting out of the whole franchise. It is something very different and I can appreciate that.


Just like I appreciate this thread. Very curious to read your next post. :)

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