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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 official box art.jpg
Director(s)Jason Blundell
Dan Bunting
Artist(s)Bruce Hall
Writer(s)Dave Anthony
Craig Houston
Composer(s)Jack Wall[1]
SeriesCall of Duty
ReleaseOctober 12, 2018

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (stylized as Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII) is a multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 12, 2018. It is a sequel to the 2015 game Call of Duty: Black Ops III, the fifth entry in the Black Ops sub-series, and the 15th installment in the Call of Duty series overall.

Black Ops 4 is the first Call of Duty title without a traditional single-player campaign mode. Instead, it features the Solo Missions mode, which focuses on the backstories of the game's multiplayer characters, known as "Specialists". The missions take place between Black Ops II and III chronologically. Some of the Specialists also carried over from Black Ops III. The multiplayer mode is the first in the series to not feature automatic health regeneration and introduces both predictive recoil and a new ballistics system. The game includes three Zombies maps on release day, four if a special edition of the game, or the Black Ops Pass, is purchased. The locations of the maps include the RMS Titanic, an arena in Ancient Rome, and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. The game also introduces a battle royale mode called Blackout, which features up to 100 players in each match. Many characters from this and other Black Ops titles can be used as the player's character model in this mode.

Development for the game started shortly after the release of Black Ops III. Treyarch chose not to create a campaign mode for the game at the beginning of development, instead putting all of their focus on the multiplayer aspect. They cited an increased interest for multiplayer and lack of time spent by the playerbase on the campaign mode as reasons why they shifted their focus. Black Ops 4 utilizes Blizzard's platform for the Windows version instead of Steam, the first game in the series to do so. Teasing of the game began in March 2018, with a full reveal taking place later in May. Two betas were held for the game; one for the multiplayer in August and one for Blackout in September. The release date was moved up to October instead of the series' usual November in an attempt to avoid coinciding with the release of other high-profile games.

Pre-release reception of the game was mixed. Fans of the series expressed disappointment at the game's lack of a campaign mode. The Black Ops Pass, a season pass that distributes downloadable content (DLC), also received heavy backlash due to the map packs only being made available through the pass and not separately, which had been an option with the DLCs of previous titles. Nonetheless, upon release, Black Ops 4 received positive reviews, with particular praise towards its Blackout mode. It is the best-selling digital launch in Activision's history, surpassing 2017's Call of Duty: WWII, while physical launch sales for the game were the lowest in the series for a decade.[2]


Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game. Unlike previous titles in the Call of Duty series, Black Ops 4 is the first entry to not feature a traditional single-player campaign, and contains only Multiplayer, Zombies and a new battle royale mode called Blackout.[3][4][5]


Black Ops 4's multiplayer features the return of Specialists, unique soldier characters with special abilities and traits. The game features a total of ten Specialists, six of which (Ruin, Prophet, Battery, Seraph, Nomad, Firebreak) are returning characters from Black Ops III, while the other four (Recon, Ajax, Torque, Crash) are new additions. It will also feature remakes of five fan-favorite maps, Jungle, Slums, Summit, Firing Range and Nuketown.[6] Treyarch stated that the maps will be available to all players at launch except Nuketown which will arrive in November.

Multiplayer has also been reworked with various changes for more tactical and teamwork gameplay. Automatic health regeneration is removed in favor of a manual healing system (with each player having a health bar), weapons are now given predictive recoil patterns, and a mixed ballistics system, using both hitscan and projectile damage, is employed as opposed to just hitscan. Weapon customization is also emphasized, allowing for deeper personalization of players' arsenals; attachments are also given tiers, with tier-2 upgrades providing even bigger improvements to the weapons. Certain weapons also offer Operator Mods, which significantly change how a weapon works, while costing a significant portion of the 10 customization slots per class.

In addition, the game includes Specialist Headquarters, a solo mode featuring skill-based tutorials that contain backstories on various Specialists in the game. The missions are set within the same narrative world of the Black Ops campaigns, between the events of Black Ops II and Black Ops III.[7]


Zombies returns as the cooperative multiplayer mode for Black Ops 4. The game mode features a wider range of customization, allowing for more personalized play styles. Mechanics of the game can be customized via "Custom Mutations", which include over 100 variables, such as overall difficulty, zombie speed, health, damage, and more. Time-limited events known as "Callings" are also promised to be included in the game for long-term engagement. Similar to the Nazi Zombies mode in Call of Duty: WWII, custom loadouts are included to allow players to select different starting weapons, equipment and special upgradable weapons, as well as perk selection to be available in each match. A new game type, Rush, is introduced into Zombies, where the players build up points and multipliers and compete against one another for the highest point possible until death.

Black Ops 4 is also the first game to feature two distinctive, separate storylines for Zombies. At launch, the game features three on-disc maps: "Voyage of Despair", which takes place on the RMS Titanic;[8] "IX", which takes place in an Ancient Rome arena;[9] and "Blood of the Dead", a soft-remake of the Black Ops II map "Mob of the Dead", taking place once more in Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.[10] The former two maps form the new "Chaos" storyline, and star a new cast of characters: Scarlett, Stanton, Diego and Bruno; while "Blood of the Dead" returns to the original "Aether" storyline established in the previous Black Ops games, and stars the four original characters (Dempsey, Nikolai, Takeo, Richtofen; also known collectively as Primis).[11] A fourth map, titled "Classified", is included in the special editions of the game and the "Black Ops Pass" at launch, and is a remake of the Black Ops map "Five", featuring the original incarnation of Primis (known as Ultimis) as the playable characters.


Black Ops 4 features a battle royale game mode called Blackout which will serve as a stand-in for the campaign mode. While utilizing the traditional Black Ops combat style, the mode includes the largest map featured in a Call of Duty title. Players compete against each other through locations appeared in previous Black Ops games. This mode will also feature land, sea, and air vehicles for players to use. The game mode features various playable characters from the entire Black Ops series, such as Alex Mason from the original game, Raul Menendez from Black Ops II, and the Primis crew from Zombies.[12]

In Blackout, up to 100 players, who can choose to play as Solo, Duos, or Quads (squads of 4), drop into the map via helicopters, and must scavenge for loot to survive as the last person(s) standing, while a circle collapses and narrows the map's playable area. In addition to regular weapons, players can equip health kits, armors, ammo types, attachments, as well as perk consumables. AI-controlled zombie enemies also spawn at Zombies-themed locations, such as Asylum or Lighthouse, and upon being killed drop Zombies loot items, such as the Ray Gun or Cymbal Monkey. Several vehicles, such as the ATV and helicopter, are also available for traversal around the map.[13]

Similar to Fortnite Battle Royale and the main multiplayer, Blackout features special modes that change the presence or mechanics of physical items in the Blackout world. Modes such as 'Close Quarters' emphasise a faster and more aggressive playstyle through the exclusion of long-range weapons, while others like 'Fast Collapse' feature a faster narrowing of the circle.



In the year 2043, during a covert mission involving a mercenary group, Jessica Mason-Green (Alexa Kahn), a US Army Specialist is presumably killed while her two squad mates, Donnie "Ruin" Walsh (Christian Rummel) and Erin "Battery" Baker (Morla Gorrondona) escape with critical injuries. Two years later, Savannah Mason-Meyer (Evangeline Lilly), a trillionaire researcher and Jessica's sister, recruits ten of the world's most elite soldiers, including Ruin and Battery, for a top-secret project against an unknown threat. Savannah uses a Combat Immersion program to train the Specialists in a virtual simulation, with Sergeant Frank Woods (James C. Burns) acting as their instructor.

While taking a break from training, Ruin discusses with Battery about their survival two years prior, and that he received a warning message from a mysterious individual. At some point, the individual contacts Ruin at his home, tipping him off to an ambush by mercenaries. Ruin survives the ordeal, and arrives at a warehouse where he confronts the individual, revealed to be Jessica who remained alive and went undercover. It is implied that Savannah intends to eliminate all the Specialists she hired, and that she was somehow responsible for the botched mission in 2043.

Intel files unlocked from completing Specialist tutorial missions reveal additional stories. Savannah is revealed to be running Project Blackout, an experiment that is implied to be about resurrection of the dead through unknown means. The project was successful in reviving four subjects, referred to as "archetypes": Viktor Reznov, Alex Mason (Sam Worthington), Frank Woods and Raul Menendez (Kamar de los Reyes); the latter is tasked with overseeing the project alongside Savannah. Jessica, who disapproves of Savannah's actions, was revealed to have been actually shot by Savannah during a heated argument between the two sisters. Battery is revealed to have been seeing flashes of numbers, an effect of the brainwashing technique that Alex Mason previously experienced during the Cold War, further hinting that the event of the mission in 2043 may not have been real. Woods, who is involved in a relationship with Savannah, is tasked with brainwashing Mason, using the same technique from before, for an unknown purpose.


Chaos Story

Adventurer Scarlett Rhodes (Courtenay Taylor) goes on a hunt for her estranged father, Alistair, after hearing his involvement with the Chaos Order, an ancient cult hell-bent on the destruction of the world. To do so, she enlists the help of three of Alistair's associates: former French Foreign Legion soldier Bruno Delacroix (Andrew Morgado), Mexican spy Diego Necalli (Christian Lanz), and British chemist Stanton Shaw (Nick Boraine). The four board the RMS Titanic in search of the Sentinel Artifact, which is kept locked up. They successfully acquire it, but then encounter a member of the Chaos Order who activates the artifact, releasing a substance known as the Prima Materia. The substance transforms every ship crew member and passenger into zombies. Just as the ship crashes with an iceberg, the four adventurers band together in order to recover the Sentinel Artifact and restore it. In doing so, they activate an ancient trial, which tests them with various puzzles and tasks. Eventually, they summon a gargantuan eye-shaped being and successfully defeat it, completing the trial. In doing so, the Prima Materia's effect is reversed, and all passengers on the Titanic are reverted to their human state. The crew discovers an apparition of a gateway, but before they could interact with it, they are forced to escape as the ship sinks. Shaw points the crew toward their next destination, Delphi, Greece in order to find answers.

Scarlett and the gang are given directions by the Oracle of Delphi (Cissy Jones) to an ancient cave, where after inhaling a mysterious vapor, they are seemingly taken back in time to an ancient arena, where the High Priest of the Chaos Order uses the Prima Materia to turn slaves into zombies and pit them against gladiators for entertainment. The crew is forced to fight for survival, as they complete the challenges of the four Gods: Danu, Ra, Zeus and Odin. Upon completion of the trials, they face off against a combined force of undead warriors in the arena, and emerge victorious. However, their demand for clemency is ignored by the High Priest, and all four are executed by decapitation.

Aether Story

During their mission to secure their own souls, the Primis crew: Edward Richtofen (Nolan North), "Tank" Dempsey (Steven Blum), Takeo Masaki (Tom Kane) and Nikolai Belinski (Fred Tatasciore) takes a detour to Alcatraz Island, where Richtofen plans to acquire blood vials, items he deems necessary for his "insurance policy", to protect his companions. Upon encountering a past version of himself, Richtofen is given the Kronorium book, and learns that the contents of the book have changed, and that his own blood is now demanded by the prison's Warden, working for the ancient Apothicon race via the Shadowman (Robert Picardo). Through their attempt to survive the Warden's wrath, Primis learns that he intends to use Richtofen's blood to power a special machine called the Dark Mechanism, due to it containing a massive amount of Aether energy, a result of his constant interdimensional travels. After gaining the trust of a seagull spirit representing Albert Arlington, an Alcatraz prisoner who died many years prior in this dimension, Primis engages in a final showdown against the Warden and his zombie hordes, aided by Arlington and other spirits of Alcatraz. Richtofen eventually enters the Dark Mechanism and willingly lets it extract his blood, hoping for a chance at defeating the Warden. This in turn releases another Richtofen, who has lived through a previous cycle of the events, and kept himself cryogenically frozen under Alcatraz for years. With the help of the old cycle's Richtofen, the Warden is ultimately defeated, and all souls in Alcatraz are released from their torment. Having broken the new cycle, the old cycle's Richtofen convinces the other Primis to pursue the omnipotent Doctor Monty, while leaving the new cycle's Richtofen to die as his blood is drained.

Back in the original timeline, following their adventures at Shangri-La, the Ultimis crew (original incarnation of Primis) attempts to teleport to the Moon immediately, but instead ends up in The Pentagon in 1963. Meanwhile, at the Ascension Facility in Russia, the scientist Yuri Zavoyski tricks his partner Gersh into activating a black hole device, sucking him in it, per the orders of a corrupted Samantha Maxis (Julie Nathanson). Yuri uses the device to travel to the Pentagon and unleash the zombie horde, experimented on by the US Government, against Ultimis. The four battle against the undead across the Pentagon, as well as the Groom Lake facility of Area 51. Unbeknownst to them, a future version of Ultimis, following the destruction of the Earth in 2025, time-traveled back to Groom Lake months before the arrival of their past selves. Richtofen, whose body was occupied by Samantha's soul from the future, went into a comatose state after she was released from his body by her father, Ludvig Maxis; however, he was revived when a zombified Richtofen arrived some times later and interacted with his comatose self, transferring his consciousness to the new body. As the future Ultimis remains in captive at Groom Lake, Primis arrives and convinces them to leave together in preparation for "the great war".


When discussing why the game won't have a campaign mode, Treyarch studio co-head Dan Bunting revealed that a campaign mode was never planned for Black Ops 4 and that they wanted to try something different and make a game that would be more playable with friends across the board, contradicting reports that the campaign mode was scrapped in the middle of development because there was not enough time to complete it.[14] Treyarch also observed that the majority of Black Ops III players played the game's multiplayer without completing the single-player campaign.[15] An Activision representative later said after the reveal that the decision to drop campaign mode will not be a permanent shift for the series, and that the campaign mode may return in the next Call of Duty game in 2019.[16]


The insignia for Black Ops 4, which unconventionally features Roman numerals in a basic decimal pattern.

On February 6, 2018 Eurogamer indicated that Treyarch's 2018 Call of Duty title would be a new entry in the Black Ops sub-series, following 2015's Call of Duty: Black Ops III.[17] On March 5, Call of Duty news site Charlie Intel received images of gaming retailer GameStop's internal database that showed listings for items that were meant to market Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.[18]

On March 7, 2018, NBA player James Harden was seen prior to playing a basketball game wearing a hat bearing an orange logo. People pointed out the similarities between this logo and previous ones for Black Ops titles, which both featured Roman numerals colored orange.[19] Harden later confirmed that this was indeed advertising for Black Ops 4.[20] On March 8, the game was formally announced by Activision and a teaser trailer released for it; a reveal event was on May 17, 2018.[21][22]

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was released on October 12, 2018, on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.[23][24] It is first Call of Duty title to be released in October since Call of Duty 2; titles since then have all been released in November.[25] The release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 a month earlier was thought to be due to Rockstar Games's much anticipated release of Red Dead Redemption 2 on October 26.[26] Like previous titles, a private beta for the multiplayer mode was offered to players who pre-ordered the game. On July 11, 2018, Activision and Treyarch announced the dates for the multiplayer beta: PlayStation 4 players had an exclusive first beta weekend from August 3 to 6, while a second weekend from August 10 to 13 was offered to all platforms. The Windows platform received an open beta for all players from August 11 to 13, while players who pre-ordered the game could play from August 10. Activision also announced a beta for the Blackout mode, which took place from September 10 for PlayStation 4, September 14 for Xbox One and Windows, and ending September 17 for all platforms. Like the Multiplayer beta, the Windows platforms also had an open beta for Blackout which began September 15.[27]

The Windows version of the game is developed by Treyarch in collaboration with Beenox. It exclusively uses Blizzard Entertainment's platform, and will not use or be available on Steam for the first time since 2005's Call of Duty 2 (which got a Steam release later).[28]

A promotion for the game lasting from September 17 to December 31, 2018 includes 4 Pringles Mega Stack products awarding buyers "Double XP".[29]

Special editions and downloadable contents

On June 11, 2018, Activision and Treyarch announced three special editions available for Black Ops 4: the Digital Deluxe, the Digital Deluxe Enhanced, and the Pro Edition. All three editions contain the Black Ops Pass, a special season pass that grants access to "Classified", a bonus Zombies map available at launch, in addition to four more maps to be released in 2019, as well as twelve multiplayer maps, and four exclusive characters for use in Blackout mode. Rather than distributing new maps via map packs like previous Call of Duty titles, the Black Ops Pass will deliver new content on a more frequent basis throughout the year.[30] Players who pre-order any digital editions of the game on PlayStation 4 also receive the "Back in Black" map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The pack contains four remastered multiplayer maps: Jungle, Summit, Slums, and Firing Range (all of which are included in Black Ops 4 at launch).[31] A collector's edition titled "Mystery Box Edition" was also announced, which contains various Zombies-themed physical items, such as a collectible Mystery Box based on the mechanic of the same name in-game, lithographs based on the three on-disc Zombies maps, and figure pins based on the four main characters of the Zombies Chaos story.[32]

On September 20, 2018, Activision and Sony revealed their partnership for Black Ops 4, which allows the PlayStation 4 version of the game to receive all content updates, including free and paid content, seven days before other platforms, as opposed to the 30-day gap that was present in previous Call of Duty titles.[33]

Comics tie-in

On June 20, 2018, Dark Horse Comics revealed that they would be publishing the second season of the Call of Duty: Zombies comic book series, which was first launched in October 2016. The second season, which is a prequel focusing on the four new characters of the Chaos story, released its first issue on September 5, 2018, with 3 additional issues to follow. Treyarch's Co-Studio Head Jason Blundell and Lead Writer Craig Houston are once again behind the story of the series, and Justin Jordan and Dan Jackson return as writer and colorist, respectively, while Andres Ponce and Mauro Vargas join the series as penciller and inker, respectively. The cover art for each issue is drawn by E. M. Gist.[34]

On September 26, 2018, Activision announced a new 10-issue comic series featuring the Multiplayer Specialist characters, released for free on the official Call of Duty website. The series serves as a prequel to the game, with each issue introducing a Specialist and their background prior to the events of the game.[35]


In its first three days of release, the game grossed $500 million in worldwide retail sales.[36]


Upon rumors emerging that Black Ops 4 would not have a single-player campaign mode, reactions from the Call of Duty community were mixed.[37] The official confirmation by Treyarch of the absence of a campaign led to many fans expressing their disappointment. In response to the criticism, Dan Bunting, studio co-head at Treyarch, stated in an interview with Eurogamer that "We are delivering so much more of what players spend most of their time doing in our games in the series", implying that fewer fans took their time to play the single-player than the multiplayer.[38] In an interview with Polygon in May 2018, Bunting later revealed that a traditional campaign for the game had never been intended, and appeared to refute earlier reports that Treyarch had scrapped work on it due to time constraints.[39]

On June 14, 2018, following the reveal of the game's season pass, Activision received heavy backlash from the community for the downloadable content program as it was confirmed that map packs cannot be bought separately from the pass. Players and critics compared the release model unfavorably to other companies' approach toward free content, such as Electronic Arts with Battlefield V, criticizing Activision for focusing on the monetization of downloadable content and microtransactions, and splitting the game's community.[40][41]

Critical response

Aggregate score
Metacritic(PC) 82/100[42]
(PS4) 84/100[43]
(XONE) 88/100[44]
Review scores
Game Informer9.5/10[46]

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 received "generally favorable" reviews across all platforms according to review aggregator Metacritic.[42][43][44]

In its 9.5/10 review, Game Informer wrote: "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 makes a sacrifice that's sure to be off-putting to some with the lack of a campaign, but the surrender of tradition comes with sweeping and significant benefits. Blackout is the best battle-royale experience available today, zombies offers crazy customizable co-op, and multiplayer keeps things grounded for those looking for the classic core."[46] Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game 8.5/10, writing: "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has made some bold changes to the series, and ultimately, they're for the better. The inclusion of a battle royale mode is a first, and even the more familiar multiplayer and Zombies survival mode are not what they once were. Changes are always risky, but in Black Ops 4's case, it worked out for the better."[45] IGN wrote that "Black Ops 4 has a few rough edges, but any of its three modes make for an enjoyable shooter experience that feel distinct and personalized." It gave separate reviews for each mode with Blackout receiving then highest at 9/10,[49] Zombies with 8.5/10[50] and the Multiplayer with 7.8/10.[51] The whole game was given a score of 8.5/10.[52]

Within opening week of the release of Call Of Duty Black Ops 4 players were extremely unhappy to find that the game servers ran at 20hz. This came as a surprise since both the beta of Black Ops 4 and the previous iteration of the Franchise Call of Duty World War II both ran at 60hz.[53][54] The server quality started to see improvement a few weeks after the launch of the game returning to the expected 60hz refresh rate.[55]

Several weeks after the game's release, a microtransaction system allowing for the purchase of cosmetic items which provided no gameplay advantages was incorporated into Black Ops 4, drawing criticism for being overpriced while offering few benefits or undesirable items for the player in return. Eurogamer also felt that the game presented a "soul-destroying" grind for those looking to unlock desired items through hours of playtime, inciting players to pay for microtransactions instead and have the chance to unlock the items sooner.[56][57]


Year Award Category Result Ref
2018 Game Critics Awards Best Action Game Nominated [58]
Best Online Multiplayer Nominated
Gamescom 2018 Best Social/Online Game Won [59]
Golden Joystick Awards Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated [60][61]
The Game Awards 2018 Best Audio Design Nominated [62][63]
Best Action Game Nominated
Best Multiplayer Game Nominated


  1. ^ Raven Software assisted in the game's development. Beenox co-developed the Microsoft Windows version.


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