The first time I played PUBG was an interesting experience.
I’d always observed the game from afar because I have zero interest in playing shooters, or even video games in general for that matter, on a PC. It wasn’t until the Xbox One version of PUBG finally arrived that I had the chance to go hands-on with the game.
Though I enjoyed the tension of 100-player battle royale matches, roughly the fifth time my character got stuck in a table while spawning led me to begin to question whether or not PUBG was worth my increasingly limited gaming time.
Though the game has become significantly more stable since its 1.0 update on the Xbox and recent launch on PlayStation 4, it still feels like an elaborate, poorly-optimized mod of an ageing PC Game. In fact, this is actually exactly what PUBG is.
While Call of Duty Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode at first seems like a blatant rip-off of the genre created by PUBG, it’s much more than this. That said, there are parts of the game, particularly its bleak, war-torn environment and muted colour pallet, that likely take the ‘inspired by’ direction a little too far.
In many ways, Blackout is effectively a polished PUBG.
The game runs at an impressive framerate for the most part, features roughly the same visual fidelity Call of Duty fans have come to expect from the long-running series and, to my surprise, also still plays like every other entry in the franchise — just on a much larger scale.
Further, weapons still pack a significant punch and aiming down your weapon’s sights retain that Call of Duty feel fans of the series are likely very familiar with. Vehicles, to my surprise, also handle excellently unlike past entries in the Call of Duty series, with controls that throwback to Microsoft’s classic Halo franchise.
There are compelling spins on the typical battle royale formula present in Blackout, too. For instance, the game thankfully retains the series’ fast pace. This means that you’re going to die a lot and frequently — so be prepared.
This is in stark contrast to PUBG, which features a sometimes painfully slow pace and constant lulls in combat, or even Fortnite to a certain extent. While Epic’s battle royale title is faster than PUBG, it still features quiet moments. In my experience with Call of Duty Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, the action is non-stop in almost all matches I’ve played.
There are also areas of Blackout’s sprawling map like the ‘Asylum’ that pit players against hordes of zombies. This adds a new dynamic to the battle royal experience because getting access to the Asylum’s high-level weapons requires teamwork, even when you’re playing solo.
As a result, you might find yourself at least temporarily working side-by-side with players you were taking sniper shots at earlier in the match.
Similar to PUBG, tactical decisions are essential to success in Blackout. Sometimes it will make sense for you to run in guns-blazing in certain situations, while in others, you’ll need to hang back and gauge your options.
You’ll also be able to pick up medkits, body armour, various weapons, attachments and other items, all strewn across Blackout mode’s massive play space.
With this in mind, the game’s weapon management system definitely needs work, particularly when it comes to adding and removing various attachments to guns, though this is an issue that could easily be fixed in an upcoming update.
All things considered, I’ve had a great time with Call of Duty Black Ops 4‘s Blackout mode. It doesn’t replace the game’s lack of a real single-player campaign, which is a decision I’m still not very fond of on Treyarch’s part, but it does go a long way towards filling that void.
However, whether or not Blackout can pull players away from PUBG and, more importantly, Fortnite, remains to be seen.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.