The beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 battle royale - aka Blackout - went live yesterday, and a lot of fun it is indeed. But there's one aspect of Blackout that is not fun: picking up items.
Picking up items in Blackout is a tad slow and often infuriatingly fiddly. You have to press and hold a button to pick up anything - even ammo - and it takes about half a second. This doesn't sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but when you're picking up items all of the time, it adds up.
Exacerbating the issue, picking up items is fiddly. You have to aim at the thing you want to pick up, and when that thing is among other things, it can be frustrating to nail your target.
Other battle royale games such as Fortnite and PUBG do not require you to press and hold to pick up items. In fact, in Fortnite you automatically hoover up ammo, and in both games picking up a weapon is instantaneous.
In short, forget other players, zombies, fall damage and choppers - Blackout's true toughest challenge is picking up items.
Thankfully, developer Treyarch is on the case. In a post on r/BlackOps4, the studio signalled it had noticed feedback to picking up items in Blackout wasn't particularly positive, and promised to improve matters.
"We've seen several comments suggesting that the item pickup time is slower than expected," Treyarch said.
"We'll be updating the game to make pickup speeds as fast as possible without interfering with reloading, and make it easier to pick up items without looking directly at them. PC players will also be able to map keys to instantly pick up items when the Blackout Beta goes live on PC later this week."
That sounds like a lot of good news for Blackout players who have sore thumbs this morning from the battle royale item pickup grind.
I've seen some players suggest Treyarch make it so you simply tap a button to pick up an item, but Treyarch design chief David Vonderhaar countered this suggestion in a tweet:
I hear you. But, let?s get this out of the way early.— Vahn (@DavidVonderhaar) September 10, 2018
No need to hold on PC. You have dozens of mappable buttons.
Trust me when I say you don?t want to be in a gunfight and need to reload and can?t because you straffed right over something you don?t even want to pick up. https://t.co/0mdZV68mP2
So why not make it so you automatically pick up ammo? Here's Vonderhaar again with a response:
We evaluated auto-Ammo pickup. I wasn?t a fan. We had to put so ammo in the world to compensate that it effectively made Ammo a non-viable Item resource. Everyone running with max ammo wasn?t very interesting. https://t.co/VUnrBwkQXH— Vahn (@DavidVonderhaar) September 10, 2018
Elsewhere, Treyarch is making a quick fix to the quick equip menu to make it automatically close if you don't do anything in it for five seconds, and auto-close and prevent from opening when you're using the Recon Car item. It's worth bearing in mind you can close this menu manually by pressing down on the d-pad.
Armour, as it was with the standard Black Ops 4 competitive multiplayer beta, is controversial in Blackout, with many players saying it's overpowered. When you're up against an opponent with level three armour, it can be extremely difficult to take them down - so difficult you may as well run away.
Treyarch said it's keeping an eye on the data around armour in Blackout. With the MP beta, it wanted to wait and see how things went after a few days before deciding on a change, and I suspect it'll do the same here with Blackout.
And finally, Treyarch said it had noticed the debate about friendly fire in Blackout. In the game you can suffer damage from your squadmates, unlike in Fortnite, for example. Some players have said this promotes toxic behaviour in Blackout as well as griefing.
Treyarch responded by saying it's considering its options when it comes to teamkilling - and it's watching. Always watching.
"We're aware that friendly fire allows your teammates to take you out - by mistake, or in some unfortunate circumstances, on purpose. While we always recommend choosing your Duo and Quad partners wisely, we'll keep an eye on teamkilling throughout the Beta and consider other options.
"We're also collecting stats on players who damage their teammates with friendly fire and have a security team monitoring those players for offenses that are outside the bounds of the occasional accident. Play nice out there."
We'll have some impressions of the Blackout beta tomorrow after I've had the chance to play it some more.