When PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds launched, it was a smash hit. It felt like everyone in the gaming community and their next of kin were prepping to drop into Erangel. It was a little rough around the edges, but the future was bright and full of promises – until that future finally arrived.
To say that PUBG Corp. and Bluehole Studios have mismanaged the operations of their once-dominant battle-royale would be as massive of an understatement as your teammates’ claims that “this will be the round”.
PUBG has not only taken severe hits from competitors such as Fortnite, but the game has been shot in the foot so many times by its own developers that it’s a miracle it’s still hobbling about.
The killshot, however, may be imminent.
With the last open beta for the upcoming entry in the COD series – Black Ops 4 – developer Treyarch has some new tricks up their sleeve. Chief among them is the removal of the stock campaign mode that has shipped with every annual Call of Duty game since time immemorial, and the inclusion of a Battle Royale mode the likes of which the franchise has never seen.
This last weekend, players from all over the globe were given a chance to try out the COD battle royale variant dubbed Blackout – and the reception has been a resounding one.
While the folks over at Treyarch were undoubtedly tempted to throw in a battle-royale mode that’s an outright copy of the likes of PUBG or Fortnite, the studio has cleverly trod a middle path – steal the best, and tweak the rest.
The first drop into a Blackout match will be highly familiar to any who’ve dropped out of a plane (or bus) into a wide-open map to come out as the top dog. The moment that your boots hit the ground and you’ve stowed your wingsuit behind you, one thing is immediately clear: things operate on a much faster timetable here.
Over the past decade, Activision has established Call of Duty as the go-to FPS for players seeking fast-in-fast-out matches that can operate on breakneck speeds. From neck-snapping pivots on a dime to clearing out an enemy team several times over all within the same life, COD has long dominated the attention of those who are inclined to make crucial tactical decisions on the fly – and Blackout is no different.
Even without enabling the “Close Quarters” modifier which accelerates the rate at which the play area shrinks, games of Blackout are noticeably lacking in downtime between firefights.
When firefights do break out, they’re of the COD flavour that we’ve all grown to love – or hate.
Make no mistake about it: if the core gameplay of the Call of Duty franchise doesn’t appeal to you: move on, because the addition of a battle royale mode is unlikely to win you over. Despite this, Blackout is wielding an ungodly amount of potential to put PUBG out of commission.
As Fortnite continues to establish its dominance in the BR arena, and PUBG frantically scramblers to finally resolve issues that have been plaguing the game since it’s “official” release, the window for Bluehole and PlayerUnknown is rapidly closing.
Treyarch is far from a new player on the bloc, and the COD formula has been distilled to such a pure formula that it’s enabled the developer to add their own unique flair to the BR matchup.
Do you want franchise perks usable like inventory consumables? You got it. How about usable helicopters, trucks, ATVs, and boats? In at launch. Feeling like there should be some rare weapons scattered around the map? Yup. They’re in. And somehow, among all this, they’ve managed to pepper in zombies to add a bit of a spicy kick to the mix.
While we haven’t seen all that Treyarch plans to do with the Blackout mode variant, we have seen enough to know that a tough new challenger is about to hit the field – and with such a strong lineup out of the gate, it’s bound to only gain momentum as time goes by.
The future is unwritten, but this open beta has been nothing short of prophetic