Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (stylized as Black Ops IIII) is the 15th entry in the long running Call of Duty series, and the 5th entry in the Treyarch-developed sub-series that began with Call of Duty: World at War. It is set in-between Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Black Ops III.
In a first for the series, there is no formal Campaign mode. However, the story is interwoven with Multiplayer via the Specialist Missions. As the game is a prequel to III, this allows for expanding on the lore of that game's Specialists, such as Seraph, Firebreak and Ruin, as well as new Specialists such as Torque, Crash and Ajax.
The Multiplayer gameplay has been revamped; first off, there is no automatic health regeneration, rather the players get to use adrenaline shots to heal damage. Damage in turn has been amped up, players have 150 health, and weapons use a mix of hitscan and projectiles for bullets. Specialists now have two abilities to use on a cooldown, which can be selected via the Create a Class system. Classic multiplayer modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination and Search and Destroy return, but are also joined by two new game modes: Control, which revolves around one team trying to capture two separate objectives while the other team tries to stop them, and Heist, where two teams fight to steal bags of cash from each other, and the cash inside can be used to buy equipment for the next round a la Counter-Strike. As for maps, the base game features 10 brand-new maps built around the new gameplay style alongside four classic maps from the first two Black Ops games, with a fifth, Nuketown, coming as part of a free update in November.
Treyarch's Zombies mode returns, with three launch maps: Voyage of Despair, IX and Blood of the Dead. In Voyage, a new team of characters - Scarlett, Diego, Bruno and Stanton - aim to stop a zombie outbreak on the Titanic, right as it begins its fateful trip into the North Atlantic; while in IX, they are transported into Ancient Rome, to fight as gladiators against the undead, while also trying to discover the evil magic at work. Blood of the Dead revisits the Primis crew - Dempsey, Nikolai, Takeo and Richtofen - as they enact their 'insurance policy' at Alcatraz, only to be caught in a battle against the undead following a revelation from a parallel Richtofen. Lastly, the Season Pass exclusive map Classified brings us back to the Ultimis incarnations of Dempsey and company just after they finished their business in Shangri-La. The team is sent to the Pentagon, just before the events of Five.
Lastly, Black Ops 4 introduces a new gamemode - "Blackout", a battle royale mode in the vein of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. While the core gameplay is the same as other Battle Royale games, Blackout boasts variety of vehicles including flying vehicles, alongside the largest map in Call of Duty history. Said map incorporates several iconic multiplayer maps from past Black Ops games including Nuketown, Array and Express, and even a handful of Zombies maps like Verruckt.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 includes the following tropes:
- Adaptational Wimp: Mason, Woods, and Reznov all played like typical Call of Duty protagonists when you controlled them back in the day, but Menendez was a deliberately overpowered Lightning Bruiser in the short half of a mission in which you played as him in combat. For obvious balance reasons, Menendez in Black Ops IIII no longer has his various Charles Atlas Superpower abilities and plays like any other player character.
- Adult Fear:
- Savannah Mason feared losing her sister in combat, and had an argument before she left on her final mission before she became M.I.A. Jessica survived, but ends up in hiding instead
- Lucy, Jessica's daughter and Savannah's niece, being abducted right in front of Savannah by thugs.
- Back from the Dead: The Archetypes from Blackout appear to be some sort of clones (biological or otherwise), which has allowed Savannah to resurrect figures from the past, namely Alex Mason, Frank Woods, Viktor Reznov, and Raul Menendez, which is used to explain their presence in the Blackout game mode. Because Clones Are People, Too, the Archetypes are not 100% true to the originals. The clone Frank Woods is apparently a bad guy and The Dragon to Savannah. Menendez is still a strong-willed and ambitious mastermind who pulls an Eviler Than Thou on Savannah, but he doesn't seem to be a politically-motivated Anarchist like the original was.
- Battle Royale Game: The "Blackout" mode. In what is easily the largest map in all of COD history, players find themselves traveling through familar locations like Nuketown and Verruckt. On top of finding weapons and armor to defend themselves, players have access to numerous military vehicles like helicopters. Some areas even feature zombies that can drop equipment when killed.
- Cain and Abel: Savannah Mason is apparently up to something nefarious and even (reluctantly) allowed her own sister to be assassinated, and Jessica Mason survives and ends up uniting the Specialists against her and her massive organization.
- Call-Back: The short story-based tutorial mode features a character called Savannah Mason. She and her sister Jessica are the daughters of David "Section" Mason, and granddaughters of Alex Mason, who also makes a cameo voiceover in the final cutscene. Also, the training program the Specialists partake in is guided by an AI version of Frank Woods, who describes himself as a 'friend of the family'.
- Blackout contains a lot of them, mainly that the major areas of the map are modeled after multiplayer and zombie maps from previous games.
- Zombies spawn at random points in Blackout and drop weapons from their respective mode on death. Zombie weapons can also be found as pickups in the Asylum.
- There are unlockable skins for Blackout based on characters from Black Ops I and II (and Reznov, who debuted in Call of Duty: World at War).
- The Ascension Brainwashing numbers feature in Blackout once players enter the storm, and are how Frank and Savannah are brainwashing Alex Mason into becoming their assassin. Frank also alludes to his time in the box, in Angola, only he says that he rescued Mason instead of the other way around.
- Excuse Plot: The "plot" is told through a series of unlockable audio logs, and ends as a set-up for the multiplayer without actually resolving any of the plot threads it brings up.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Savannah quickly comes to realize that resurrecting Raul Menendez, The Dreaded Hero Killer Arch-Enemy of her grandfather, might not have been the brightest idea in the world.
- Genre Shift: The multiplayer now features more emphasis on teamwork and special abilities (which was introduced in Black Ops III) à la Overwatch. The series' trademark Regenerating Health is also removed, as in the very first game and WWII's single player. Specialists lack the cybernetics that, among other things, enabled them to double jump and hover, keeping the gameplay more grounded compared to entries just prior to WWII.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: Ruin's default equipment and a pick-up in Blackout.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Raul Menendez seems to become this after pulling an Eviler Than Thou on Savannah, but in the final audio log Savannah reveals that the entire scheme was actually masterminded by someone else entirely, causing Menendez to become confused and worried.
- Interquel: As mentioned the game takes place between Black Ops II and Black Ops III. The Specialists are depicted before cybernetics became the norm as in the third game but still use advanced tech seen in the futuristic segments in the second.
- Mythology Gag: A particularly nasty one in the Blackout trailer. Woods shoots Mason in the head, calling back to Black Ops II in which he is duped by Menendez through Hudson into shooting Mason.
- Nostalgia Level: Aside from multiplayer featuring some in the map rotation, Blackout's major areas consist of these:
- Nuketown Island is obviously modeled after Nuketown, but now includes a fallout shelter underneath.
- Firing Range and Array are, well, Firing Range and Array.
- The latter also features a diner similar to the one on TranZit, and zombies can spawn there.
- Train Station is loosely modeled after Express from Black Ops II.
- Estates is quite clearly a recreation of Raid.
- Fracking Tower bears resemblance to Radiation, and also features an underground area.
- Cargo Docks and Hydro Dam are obviously Cargo and Hydro from Black Ops II.
- Zombies maps were also adapted into Blackout, with the obvious added danger of zombies spawning at them. Alongside the aforementioned TranZit diner, Verruckt also makes an appearance, with a graveyard south of it that zombies can also spawn from, Floyd's gym from Shadows of Evil, alongside the lighthouse from Call of the Dead. In several zombie infested locations, eradicating all the zombies can open the Mystery Box, allowing players to access powerful gear, but the downside is the racket you make from killing the zombies in the first place alerting other players to your presence.
- Power-Up: Blackout allows players to pick up Create-A-Class perks as temporary buffs. These range from multiplayer perks like increased speed while crouching or prone to Blackout exclusive ones like gaining a warning sound for being aimed at.
- Put on a Bus: Outrider, Reaper and Spectre aren't in the game after debuting in Black Ops III, which makes sense considering this game comes before it chronologically. Reaper is more than likely in an R&D phase at this point, and Spectre is probably out taking contracts. At least until...
- The Bus Came Back: Content updates brought back all three; Outrider appearing in Grand Heist, Spectre in Spectre Rising and a prototype Reaper in Apocalypse Z. Reaper also appears as a Season Pass exclusive skin in Blackout, modelled after his original appearance, while the current game's version looks more rugged and prototype-y.
- Regenerating Health: Now averted in all gameplay modes other than Zombies. Health is now regenerated manually using adrenaline shots, which have a cooldown applied after each use. In Blackout, health is recovered using medical supplies such as Trauma Kits and Bandages.
- Samus Is a Girl: Spectre is heavily implied to be Jessica Mason, after surviving having her jaw shot off in the opening movie and replacing her damaged body parts with cybernetics.
- Short-Range Shotgun: Exaggerated due to the nature of the weapon's designation as a secondary. To prevent them from being overpowered compared to their primary counterparts, the shotguns were heavily nerfed from prior games, having a very short one hit kill range (the SG12 in particular suffering as not having one-shot kill potential), and comparatively very small magazines.