As spring rolls around each year, leaves are budding, snow is melting, and Call of Duty announces the newest addition to their franchise.
It is an exciting time for Call of Duty fans, who instantly find a number of reasons to complain, criticize, and offer up better game ideas that the devs will definitely want to call them up about for next year.
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not exempt from this blanket generalization of Call of Duty players. I can be quoted saying things (with the likely addition of expletives) along the lines of “what kind of a name is Infinite Warfare?” and “enough with the stupid boost jumping already”. Despite the occasional grumbling, I’m always going to buy the new Call of Duty. There’s never any doubt. Further to that point, I have never watch a Call of Duty trailer for the first time without feeling unbelievably excited. This year is certainly no different. I managed to watch the stream of the reveal event, hopeful that I was about to see a game I could spend the next several months getting pumped about the release of. I was definitely not disappointed with what I was given. Here are a few highlights, from my perspective, of Treyarch’s Black Ops 4:
- Boots on the ground – From the audible cheers, a significant amount of people feel the same way I do about boots on the ground COD. I’ve already got enough to worry about, I don’t need melee attacks from above. It proved a popular move in WWII, and they made the right choice to leave out boost jumping and wall running this time around as well. It was fun the first time, and then it stopped being fun. We all said it, they listened, everybody is happy.
2. Healing – This is something that will take getting used to, but it’s an interesting new dynamic. It complicates the game a bit, and I’m sure there will be those that think the formula that works shouldn’t be messed with, but every once in a while it’s a good idea to try something new. Having to take a minute to heal slows down the typical running and shooting approach and will hopefully add a new challenge to what has essentially been years of the same play style.
3. Specialist solo missions – I know a lot of people are going to be upset that there is no traditional campaign. I get that, because they have always been really well written and well executed. Call of Duty WWII had an amazing campaign with an excellent story. That being said, I haven’t actually finished an entire Call of Duty campaign since Ghosts. I won’t be missing much here. The specialist missions are an easily digestible solo gameplay style, that gives the multiplayer characters a backstory for a change, while still connecting directly into the multiplayer experience.
4, Zombie difficulty levels – With the absence of a campaign this time around, this feels like a move to make zombies a more single player friendly experience. I rarely played any of the other zombie maps solo, but if the trailers’ look into what seems like more of a story oriented zombie mode is accurate, and I have the option to switch the difficulty based on what kind of play experience I’m looking for, there is a lot of potential for a zombie game that has solo players in mind.
5. Blackout – They did it. I didn’t believe it would happen, but they actually made a Battle Royale, and it sounds like it is going to be fantastic. From the little we have seen so far, this game mode looks crazy. Treyarch probably couldn’t wait to confirm those rumours. Everyone was going insane during the reveal, and for good reason. A conglomeration of all the best bits of Black Ops games into one massive fight is exactly what I want to see. Let me play as Richtofen, and I will never need another game in my life. If you can find Perk-a-cola in the map, even better.
There has been a significant focus on Blacks Ops as a series with this reveal, highlighting the moments and features that have made the previous three games so well loved. It’s a message that hits home with me, as I have a very personal connection to it. Black Ops was the very first game I ever owned for Xbox, and is one of my all time favourite games. I received my 360, and the game, as a Christmas gift so that I could play online with the squad. I didn’t play many shooters at the time, or many games at all. Black Ops set me on a path that I’m still traveling, 8 years later.
To see this focus on the Black Ops journey, and the aspects that made the previous games great, feels like a love letter to my Call of Duty experience. An experience that is currently on a high. Partly because of how much I am enjoying WWII, which really knocked it out of the park for me in terms of a fun and engaging multiplayer, and partly because my Call of Duty hype cycle is at its yearly starting point once again.
The cycle of a new Call of Duty release is an important annual event in my household. A game is announced, and we devour everything we can about gameplay, modes, and special editions. The release date goes on my calendar as soon as it’s pre-ordered, and there’s usually a countdown set up on my phone.
Finally, we show up at our game store a couple hours before midnight release, coffee in hand, and begin the usual conversation.
“Why are we still doing this? We are getting too old.”
“It’s not like midnight releases are cool anymore.”
“We should just download it like everyone else.”
All valid points, but midnight releases are part of a very nostalgic experience. I’ve been to every Call of Duty midnight release for a decade now. Some years (looking at you, Ghosts) were more exciting than others, but despite my complaining, I still enjoy waiting for that first moment when I physically get my hands on it. October 12th can’t come fast enough.
The entire experience is what continues to get me hyped up about Call of Duty games, from that first teaser until the game is installed on my console. Call of Duty knows how to do it well, and they know how to keep their games relevant. New and exciting enough that we don’t quite know what to expect, but always delivering something that is a unique Call of Duty experience.
By this time next year, I will be just as excited to do it all over again.