Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout mode doesn't exactly break the battle royale mold, but Treyarch has certainly elevated the genre with a handful of creative twists. Thanks to those clever additions and a healthy amount of polish, Blackout proves there are plenty of ways to keep 100-player battles interesting, and I've got a feeling this new mode is going to steal the show when the full game launches on Oct. 12.
Okay, no, Blackout doesn't actually sport 100 players like most battle royale games, but I'm not going to split hairs when they're currently rocking a roster of 88. The entire mode actually follows a similar path, offering an experience that's similar to what players have grown to expect in games like PUBG and Fortnite, while peppering in just enough new tweaks to set it apart from the pack.
If you look at Blackout from 30,000 feet, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's "just another battle royale mode." Players are dropped onto the map from high altitude and, once they hit the ground, the objective is to find gear and outshoot the competition. Useful items are scattered all over the map, which is itself broken into several biomes and littered with landmarks and structures of varying sizes. Planes occasionally fly overhead and drop crates full of helpful loot and, yep, a deadly circle closes in on the map, forcing remaining players into a smaller battlefield.
But while Blackout nails all of those basics, There are five things that really help distinguish it from the competition.
The Walking Dead
I'm just going to go ahead and start with zombies because it's such an unexpected addition to Blackout. Other battle royale games have featured AI baddies in the past, but I'm pretty sure they've been completely dropped at this point. Treyarch wisely uses the shambling dead sparingly in Blackout, introducing a unique hook that doesn't require their tech to keep track of a hundred extra AI enemies.
In Blackout, the map is marked with a handful of glowing blue lights directing players to specific locations. If you head to one of those locations, you'll notice an item pulled directly from the series' popular Zombies mode, a Mystery Box. Your first problem will be that those boxes are typically guarded by a handful of zombies. You can try to sneak past the undead and grab the gear unnoticed, but they'll overtake you with a quickness if you aren't super careful. Your other option is to take out the zombies first, but your gunfire is likely to serve as an additional beacon to other players.
The zombies themselves drop loot when they get shot down and the Mystery Box typically holds some top-tier gear, including unique weapons like the freaking ray gun. If you can manage to get in and out without being eaten or shot down by other players, you'll be rewarded with a leg up on the remaining competition.
Blackout also features a Monkey grenade that, when thrown, goes off and draws a small horde of zombies toward your enemies. Like most of the items on this list, zombies don't drastically change the battle royale mode, but they certainly introduce some great risk/reward scenarios.