The latest instalment in the long-running Call of Duty franchise is finally here. And while there are plenty of familiar mechanics and systems at play, developer Treyarch has done its best to shake up the formula a little this time around. Multiplayer no longer has regenerative health, while some modes have an Overwatch-style emphasis on using Specialists to support one another.
Zombies is the biggest and most elaborate undead-slaying romp it’s ever been, and the new Blackout mode – a 100-player Battle Royale experience on a huge map – could be the mode to finally topple the mighty Fortnite from its zeitgeist-conquering throne. So grab this guide, pack your best guns, and let’s get ready to join the fight!
Play to your Specialist’s role
Even if you’re not jumping into more team-focused modes (such as Control, with its limited number of respawns), it pays to play to the specific role your Specialist has been designed to provide. If you’re playing as Crash, drop your Assault Pack near a friendly spawn point to maximize the number of people who use it to restock (thus netting you a higher score).
If you’re playing as Seraph, use her Tac-Deploy to create a bespoke spawn point once you’ve claimed a position near the center of the map. You can even use Torque’s Barricade to block a corridor and turn it into a kill box.
Withdraw briefly when using your Stim Shot
For the first time ever in modern Call of Duty, health in multiplayer no longer regenerates automatically. Now you have a Far Cry-esque Stim Shot mapped to ‘L1’/’LB’ that refills all five chunks of your health gauge. It takes a few seconds for this to take full effect (including the animation itself, and a brief second while said bar actually refills), so move behind cover or seek refuge away from the current gunfight.
You also can’t fire your weapon (so you can’t reload either) when restoring your health, so don’t sprint around a corner into the unknown while you’re in this vulnerable state.
Only play for kills on TDM
Unless you’re only planning to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 for Team Deathmatch (TDM), it pays to play to the objective rather than actively seeking kills. That’s because the metric has been changed to favor the acquisition of points rather than the number of kills you’ve made.
Since holding Control Points in Control, collecting dog tags in Kill Confirmed and claiming flags in Domination will always net you substantially larger amounts of points, then simply let kills flow as a natural part of these objectives. Using your Specialist's key skills (such as Crash’s Assault Pack and Recon’s Sensor Dart) will also maximize your score overall.
It takes longer to kill opponents, so be sure of a kill
TTK (also known as Time to Kill) has been substantially increased for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, meaning that it takes a lot more damage to eliminate an opponent. The change has been made to reflect the game’s move towards a more objective-focused experience, so more than ever you’ll need to work improving your aim overall.
Avoid sprinting around corners, as this will reduce your ability to aim, and take note of your enemy’s health bar, as it will show you how much life they have left. Using gun attachments such as an FMJ (for increased armor piercing) or High Caliber (for deadlier headshots) will also help negate this.
Aim for smaller houses and buildings
Much like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), only the most experienced (and gung-ho) players land in the biggest urban locations at the start of a match. The bigger the setting, the more weapons and gear there will be – but that means more players vying for said loot, so a greater chance of meeting your end.
So if you’re new to the mode – or Battle Royale games in general – press ‘Square’/’X’ to leap from the helicopter at the start and freefall/wingsuit towards a smaller group of buildings. You’re much less likely to meet enemy players, so you’ll have a greater chance of finding a gun and some armor with which to protect yourself.
Beware of closed doors (so always close them yourself)
If there’s a door in a building/house in Blackout, then that door will always be shut when a match begins. So if you enter a new area and find a structure with an open door, chances are someone has already been there and looted everything (and could well still be in the process of doing so).
However, since BR games have been around, players often close doors behind them in order to draw players into entering the building and springing an ambush. So even if a house looks like it hasn't been touched, check every corner as you open it and move slowly. You only have one life, so better to be cautious and keep it then rush in and get shotgunned by a waiting foe.
Manage your inventory effectively
Unlike Multiplayer – where you pick and customize your loadout prior to a match – Blackout throws you into the action with nothing but your fists. This means you’ll need to actively search houses for gear. Since weapons, armor, perks and consumables are randomly placed, you’re likely going to pick up attachments and ammo for guns you don’t yet possess.
This is fine for the first few minutes of a match, but once you’ve found a weapon or two it’ll soon become a burden. Since attachments automatically assign themselves to a given gun, periodically drop things you don’t need so you have inventory slots free for when you find something you actually need.
Don’t forget to use Perks when you find them
Much like Multiplayer and Zombies, Blackout also features the series’ long-running Perks, but these special abilities work a little differently than the game’s other modes. Just like weapons and gear, you’ll need to find these randomly placed items out on the map.
Once you’ve found one, remember to activate it, or another player will be able to loot it from your corpse should you lose a gunfight. In order to activate a Perk, enter your inventory and hold down ‘Square’/’X’ to use it. Some Perks have a limited time, while most others run for the duration of your life in each Blackout match.
Choose the best Perks
Zombies returns, as always, for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, but this year the mode is divided into two separate storylines – Aether and Chaos – with the former following the form and style of the previous Zombie modes, while the latter takes a slightly different approach. You can now customize a class with Perks, so it pays dividends to choose the right ones.
You won’t start out with these Perks, but you will be able to buy them as you progress at Perk Machines (Aether) and Perk Altars (Chaos). If you’re the kind of player that likes to roam, then Deadshot Dealer or PHD Soldier are ideal. If you’re more of a camper, then fortify your position by pre-selecting Dying Wish or Victorious Tortoise.
Ensure you’re covered before you attempt a revive
Every player gets one self-revive per match, so you can bring yourself back into the game if you’re downed by a zombie. However, in later rounds, where you’ve likely already used this feature, you’ll need to rely on your teammates to help you.
If you’re looking to help another player, then play smart and ensure that one of your squad is covering you while you help the downed member of your team to their feet. Revive times have been increased for this year’s CoD, so trying to help someone while you’re swarmed with the undead is suicide. Remember, the more players left in the game, the longer you’ll survive.
Don’t just buy any old weapon
Whether you’re playing through the labyrinthine corridors of the arena in XI, or the huge districts of Voyage of Despair and Blood of the Dead, you’ll encounter points on the wall where you can spend the points you’ve acquired (for slaying the undead) on new guns. However, some of these weapons are far less forgiving – so avoid just buying every gun you see.
You’ll want to opt for guns with the highest damage output and the fastest rate of fire – these will kill zombies much quicker (which means more points for you with less danger). In this year’s Zombies mode, try the VAPR, the Spitfire and the KN S7. Shotguns can also be helpful, especially for crowd control, but they’re useless unless you’re up close and personal.