Treyarch has outlined changes coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 based on feedback to the recent beta - and a lot of them sound promising.
First up we have a nerf to the controversial body armour gear item. As I've reported before, one aspect of Black Ops 4 that was universally criticised by players, many of whom wanted it pulled from the game entirely, was body armour.
The complaint revolved around Black Ops 4's "Time to Kill" being too long. Call of Duty is known for being a blisteringly lethal shooter, with just a few hits enough to kill an enemy. Black Ops 4's TTK feels longer than that of previous Call of Duty games, and with the new health recovery mechanic, players are surviving longer than ever before.
Body armour, which is a gear piece any specialist can use after reaching a certain level, exacerbates this TTK issue to - for some - an unacceptable degree. Body armour in Black Ops 4 does what you'd expect: it protects your body, giving you more health when it comes to body shots. The video below from Call of Duty YouTuber Thunder shows how it worked in the beta.
In response, Treyarch has nerfed body armour. In a post on r/Blackops4, the developer said explosives should shred armour, something that wasn't working in the beta but would be fixed for launch. Damage is now reduced by armour rather than being completely deflected by it. Player feedback from the game when fighting against a player with armour made it feel worse than it actually was, Treyarch said, so it's reducing this to feel less annoying. Treyarch has also added an extra +25 bonus score reward for every kill against players with armour to help feed Scorestreak meter.
"We're also experimenting with a number of ideas to better support its role while also making it less appealing to highly aggressive players," Treyarch added, "for example, impacting certain aspects of movement speed or protection coverage area."
.The changes to body armour have been welcomed by the Black Ops 4 community, although some continue to call on Treyarch to pull it from the game entirely.
Body armour should be optimal "if you're a more cautious player who likes the push and pull of objective play", Treyarch explained.
Balance overall for gear items "wasn't quite dialed in for the beta", Treyarch said, so there will be changes across the board. Stim Shot, it turns out, was the most popular piece of gear (it's the one I used), but body armour was the most controversial.
Meanwhile, Treyarch is making big changes to the way fog of war in the minimap - another talking point among players - works in Black Ops 4. Treyarch admitted the full fog of war reveal circle around each player in the minimap was too powerful as default functionality, so it will be changed for launch.
The biggest change here is the full reveal circle will be removed as default functionality. Instead, the standard reveal area will be a cone that reflects the player's field of view. (This will continue to always be blocked by solid objects in the game, so it can never be used to 'see through walls', Treyarch said.)
The full reveal circle is moved to the Team Link perk, so you'll have to spend a point in Create-a-Class to get it. Team Link, Treyarch said, significantly underperformed in the beta so this should give it a boost.
To compensate, Treyarch is adding an additional HUD indicator that lets you know when you're visible to enemy players in the minimap, which should help you react accordingly. Also, red dots in the minimap that appear when firing your gun will fade faster, so there's more time to evade after engaging in a gunfight.
And finally, Treyarch is making changes to the way spawning works alongside the Tac-Deploy (Seraph's special equipment). This was considered by many to be extremely powerful in the beta, as it let teammates respawn wherever it was placed for a significant length of time.
Treyarch said Tac-Deploy was "a tad too strong" in the beta, and players didn't understand when they spawned on a Tac-Deploy. So, it'll be changed. It's duration has been shortened and its cooldown lengthened. It's also limited to 10 spawns per use. "This will help to fulfill the goal of providing short bursts of strategic positioning shifts," Treyarch said.
Treyarch is also relaxing the radius around which players will spawn on a Tac-Deploy, so there's more room to spread out and enemies trying to destroy it won't suddenly get overwhelmed by a surge of defenders (as they often did in the beta).
And, the death cam will include a notification when a Tac-Deploy is active. Treyarch is also adding another notification in the game HUD after you spawn on a Tac-Deploy. (Loadouts in killcams will make it in for launch.)
All in all, these are some really promising changes to the Black Ops 4 competitive multiplayer that players have responded well to. Treyarch is addressing most of the biggest complaints players had with the beta, so the launch experience should be all the better for it. I've also been impressed by Treyarch's level of communication with Black Ops 4 players. It explained its decision-making in a raft of reddit posts as it updated the beta between weekends, tackling the likes of movement and bunny-hopping.
Up next for Black Ops 4 is the Blackout (battle royale) beta in September and then the full launch in October.