Call of Duty Black Ops 4's Black Ops Pass has come in for a lot of stick ever since it was announced. Not only does it split the userbase by containing premium maps at a time when most shooters have ditched such a strategy, but most who've forked out the £40 it costs reckon it hasn't offered value for money.
Fast forward to 21st May, and Black Ops developer Treyarch announced a new update for the game - and a part of the update is designed to make the Black Ops Pass better.
Now, those who own the Black Ops Pass grant access to all the Black Ops Pass multiplayer maps to their squadmates while playing in a party. This is welcome for those who don't own the Black Ops Pass, of course, but it's also good for those who do and want to access the maps while playing with friends who don't.
The update has also given Black Ops Pass owners a one-time bonus of five loot boxes, each of which contains three items. If you're on the hunt for reserve items, this is a nice bonus. But this late into Black Ops 4's life, the gift won't move the needle for most players.
Crucially, the latest update triggers 2X progression for Black Ops Pass holders and their party members. This is particularly welcome, given the infamous Call of Duty grind that's present and correct in Black Ops 4. But, unfortunately, it only lasts until 28th May. That's right, the 2X progression boost is a week-only bonus.
This time limit has, as you'd expect, not gone down well among Black Ops Pass holders, who have long called for a permanent progression boost to help them feel like they're getting more out of the pass.
The announcement sparked a number of posts on the Black Ops 4 subreddit, with the more cynical fans suggesting the time limit has to do with a need to continue to steer players towards spending money on speeding up progression. In Black Ops 4, you can pay to automatically complete tiers of the Contraband progression system, which unlocks items along the way. You also get a reserve case - AKA a loot box with a random item inside - every time you level up.
"Can't have people earning tiers too fast so they are less tempted to buy them with cod points," wrote NotAVerySillySausage on reddit. "And they can't have people earning twice as many reserve cases because they might actually get something good without spending money on crates."
Whether the complaints are justified or not, they're fuelled by a collective disappointment in the Black Ops Pass for Call of Duty this year. This is not a cheap thing, either. At £39.99 you're looking at almost doubling the price of the game itself if you want access what the pass has to offer.
In its reddit post, Treyarch outlined what the Black Ops Pass currently gets you, as if in anticipation of the negative reaction to the update:
- 12 Multiplayer maps
- 5 Zombies experiences
- 4 unique Blackout characters
- 5 Reserve Crates (one-time bonus)
- 1000 COD Points (one-time bonus)
- 300 Nebulium Plasma (one-time bonus)
- Access to all Black Ops Pass MP maps for party members
- 2X Tier Boost for owners and their party members through May 28th
With this year's Call of Duty game, which we understand to be a new Modern Warfare, set to be revealed shortly, it'll be interesting to see whether Activision tweaks its traditional pass. Will it continue to split the userbase with premium DLC maps, or will it bite the bullet and follow in EA's footsteps by going for free maps instead?
We don't have long to find out.