Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Call of Duty nails battle royale with a blistering, jank-free experience.

Key events

Six months after launch, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 finally gets a Combat Record

Treyarch has finally released the Black Ops 4 Combat Record feature - but not in the game itself.

Combat Record is now live in the Call of Duty companion app and on the Call of Duty website. The level of detail on offer is impressive - not only can you check general stats for things like weapons, you can go as deep as checking your stats for individual pieces of equipment and weapon attachments.

But while Black Ops 4's Combat Record offers the kind of deep stats dive the hardcore Call of Duty community has called for for months, the revelation the Combat Record is on mobile and web only was criticised by players who had hoped to access the feature in the game.

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The narrative around Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is starting to sound like a broken record - but the live service lever-pullers have once again introduced a microtransaction roundly criticised by pretty much everyone who plays Treyarch's shooter. Although the word microtransaction may not be the right word for what's happened with Black Ops 4's latest update, which went live yesterday.

Treyarch makes earning Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 loot boxes via gameplay a lot better

Treyarch has made key improvements to the way Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 players earn loot boxes simply through playing the game following a vociferous community backlash.

The developer has tweaked the game so players earn Reserve Cases (the name given to loot boxes you earn through gameplay as opposed to Reserve Crates, which you buy with real world money) at every tier after 100 in the Contraband system.

This is the way Black Ops 4 had worked with previous operations, but with the recently-released Grand Heist operation, Reserve Cases were not earnable after tier 100 - much to the anger and confusion of players.

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Four months after launch, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 gets loot boxes - and they're awful

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has loot boxes now - and they're awful.

The arrival of loot boxes to the full-price shooter comes four months after the game launched, and adds another layer of microtransactions on top of what was already a game drenched in various ways for players to spend money.

Black Ops 4's loot boxes are called Reserve Crates, and cost 200 COD Points (1.79) each. You can also gain reserve items through time played (you get one item every two hours spent in multiplayer or Blackout). A Reserve Crate includes three different cosmetic items, such as outfits, weapon camos and warpaint. However, you can also get new signature weapons in Reserve Crates. These are a "MKII" version of a gun that provides a 25 per cent experience point boost per kill.

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This week's shaping up to be a great one for those hoping to try Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Today marks the start of Blackout's first 7-day free trial - and along with this, the advent of the battle royale mode's first limited time mode with respawning. This should certainly help if you're new.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's latest update is superb

FeatureCall of Duty: Black Ops 4's latest update is superb

But it's a shame Activision still splits the community with premium DLC maps.

Yesterday, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 received a substantial update to all platforms, the latest season started on the PlayStation 4 version, and Activision released the game's first premium DLC after it leaked the day before.

I've been playing Black Ops 4 with all of this enabled, and it's a superb update. The patch makes meaningful balance changes, and the new season, dubbed Operation Absolute Zero, makes the previously soul-destroying grind through the Black Market progression tiers more achievable and gives it better rewards.

But, problems remain. I'm still scratching my head over Activision's decision to continue to split Call of Duty's audience down the middle, the haves and the have nots on either side of a seemingly impenetrable publisher-drawn line. Multiplayer Map Pack 1, which is a part of the premium Black Ops Pass, came out yesterday in something of a stealth launch after an early version was pushed live in Australia the day before. It adds two new multiplayer maps and a new zombies experience starring Kiefer Sutherland, Charles Dance, Helena Bonham Carter and Brian Blessed. Brian Blessed! These maps and the new zombies experience are all really good - any Black Ops 4 player would want to play them. It's a shame then that Activision is charging for them at a time when most publishers and developers offer new multiplayer maps for free. Oh, and while adding Black Ops 3's popular robot Reaper to Blackout is great fan-service, locking him behind the Black Ops Pass is disappointing.

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Big Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 update sounds promising

Big Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 update sounds promising

No supply drops to unlock new guns! Free new specialist! Blackout changes! More!

Treyarch has revealed a big update coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - and it sounds pretty promising.

Operation Absolute Zero launches next week on PlayStation 4 (other platforms will get it later), and it makes a raft of key changes to the game.

As outlined on Treyarch's blog, the update adds Black Ops 4's first post-launch specialist, called Zero. She's a hacker who can be used in multiplayer and Blackout, and is described as someone who can "disrupt and distract" her enemies, bringing countermeasures to the game.

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9.4GB Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 update nerfs multiplayer's most annoying specialist

Treyarch has issued a significant update for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to coincide with the launch of Nuketown on the PlayStation 4 version - and it nerfs the game's most annoying specialist.

The update, which weighs in at 9.4GB on PS4 and brings the client up to version 1.05, makes a raft of key changes to the first-person shooter. Technical improvements have been made to Zombies, which had suffered from crash problems, welcome balance changes have hit the specialists and weapons, there's map spawn improvements and, crucially, sped up progression for the much-maligned Black Market.

On multiplayer specifically, Ajax has been hit by a nerf, with a shortened 9-Bang flash effect and reduced accuracy when his annoying Ballistic Shield is up. There are also some useful counters to both Ajax's 9-Bang and shield (Tactical Mask now effectively counters the 9-Bang). Here's the relevant note:

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 update removes 9-Bang from Blackout, adds Blightfather event

Maybe Treyarch got wind of the ever-increasing spread of 9-Bang memes on Reddit, or simply realised being blind in the middle of a gunfight isn't much fun, but the troublesome flash grenade has now been completely pulled from Blackout.

According to the patch notes for the latest update, Treyarch has removed the item so it can "evaluate [the 9-Bang's] place in the gameplay loop". Players had complained the 9-Bang was too effective at blinding people for a considerable amount of time - particularly in the later stages of battle royale matches. A previous update had actually nerfed the item by reducing its carry amount to one, but this seemingly wasn't enough to stop the tyranny of the 9-Bang. Good riddance (for now).

The changes to Blackout don't end there, however, as the update brings a raft of fine-tuning tweaks to the mode, as well as a new limited-time event.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's first major balance patch nerfs armour

Treyarch has issued Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's first major multiplayer balance patch, and armour has taken a big hit.

Armour in both Blackout and multiplayer has been nerfed. In multiplayer, armour was protecting from more damage than intended when hitting areas of the body that have damage multipliers, such as the head or upper chest. This mainly affected weapons with chest modifiers, such as sniper rifles or high caliber II weapons. This issue is now fixed.

It's a similar situation In Blackout. There, armour now lets more damage pass through to areas of the body that have damage multipliers, such as the head or upper chest. Treyarch said headshots, for example, now do more damage against level three armour, which is welcome. I've had many situations where I've unloaded into an enemy's head only to see them absorb the bullets like a sponge.

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Following complaints that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 server rates were a third of what they were in the beta, developer Treyarch admitted that while it had prioritised game stability over other factors such as network performance at launch, it promised it was working to "fine-tune" network performance in the week after Black Ops 4's release.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 update finally nerfs 9-Bang in Blackout

It's early days for Call of Duty's battle royale mode, but it didn't take long for players to figure out 9-Bangs were pretty powerful in the late game stages of Blackout. Incredibly quick to throw and devastating for those affected, the concussion devices had become something of a meta for proficient players. Or so I've heard.

But the days of 9-Bang tyranny may now be over, as the latest Call of Duty update has taken the pesky flash grenades down a peg.

In the update notes shared by Treyarch on Reddit, the 9-Bang has been made significantly more cumbersome. Along with the Cluster Grenade, it now cannot stack in your inventory (so choose your moment wisely), while the 9-Bang's charge time and fuse time have both been increased. No more spur of the moment throws, as I learnt the hard way last night.

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Report: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 server rates are a third of what they were in the beta

Report: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 server rates are a third of what they were in the beta

UPDATE: Treyarch responds, says it prioritised game stability for launch.

UPDATE 22nd Oct 2018: Treyarch has responded to the recent discussion about the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 server send rate.

As detailed below, players found the multiplayer server send rate had dropped from the 60hz available in the beta to 20hz in the current version of the game.

In a post on r/Blackops 4, Treyarch admitted it had prioritised game stability over other factors such as network performance at launch.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review: a polished, pulsating battle royale

One of my favourite things to do in Blackout, Call of Duty's take on battle royale, is to crash through windows. I know it makes a lot of noise, I know it alerts nearby enemies to my position and I know there's a door right next to the window. But I just can't help myself. Sprint, vault, smash! I'm inside, glass on the floor, loot to pick up or - hopefully - an enemy player who dies at my hand while marvelling at the grandeur of my entrance.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Developer: Treyarch

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Black Ops 4 physical launch sales lowest Call of Duty has seen for a decade

Black Ops 4 physical launch sales lowest Call of Duty has seen for a decade

But digital sales improve on last year, and double on PC.

Picking apart Call of Duty's launch sales is an annual activity - as physical sales are tallied up for the official UK chart, while publisher Activision brings out a press release designed to trumpet its own take.

Boxed sales of the publisher's flagship franchise - the metric counted by UK numbers company Chart-Track - have been flagging for years. COD's physical sales peak came with Modern Warfare 3, back in 2011. Every release since then, with the exception of COD WW2, has been part of a notable downward trend.

This year, for example, physical copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 were down 50 per cent on last year's WW2, and down 59 per cent compared to Black Ops 3.

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We're mere days away from the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - a game that takes the series in brand new directions, removing the campaign element completely and introducing us to Treyarch's take on battle royale. But there's more - including a concentrated focus on making the PC version of the game the best it can possibly be, while simultaneously moving the title to Blizzard's for the first time. What we're looking at here is the biggest fundamental shift to the COD proposition since Modern Warfare - and in fact, depending on the success of the new game, the make-up of a COD series entry may never be the same again.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 requires a 50GB day one update to work

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 requires a 50GB day one update to work

UPDATE: GAME selling a day early so people can download the update.

If you have the physical version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, expect to download a mammoth day one update.

Disc users have to download and install the day one update for Treyarch's first-person shooter, Activision warned. The day one update is roughly 50GB.

This day one update must be installed completely to play multiplayer, zombies and specialist headquarters. But Blackout, the battle royale mode, is playable once installation is about 30 per cent complete (16-20GB).

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout on PC capped at 120fps at launch

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout on PC capped at 120fps at launch

But uncapped framerate due within the first few days.

The PC version of Blackout, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's battle royale mode, will be capped at 120fps at launch.

This capped framerate will help reduce the load on servers, developer Treyarch explained, the idea being the moment the game launches it has a high stability for every player.

"Since the framerate affects the load on the servers, we want to ensure that the game delivers a great playable experience for everyone who dives in those first moments," the developer said in a post on r/Blackops4.

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Is battle royale a good fit for Treyarch's iteration of the Call of Duty engine? Black Ops 4's latest beta provides answers. An early demo of the new Blackout mode rolled out last week, revealing that the developer is aiming to deliver a very similar style of game, but targeting a 60fps update in a world where Xbox One has struggled to achieve smooth performance in PUBG. At its core, Blackout follows the same beats of play; up to 100 combatants fly across the map, skydive down, scavenge for weapons and armour, and then duke it out to be the last man standing as the field of play narrows. We're in familiar territory then - but what makes Treyarch's effort stand out?

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's battle royale Blackout mode gets its first gameplay trailer

Activision has unveiled its first proper gameplay trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's new battle royale mode, Blackout. Fair dos, it looks a right lark.

Treyarch's early talk of Blackout hinted at something akin to a greatest-hits-style battle royale experience, and that definitely seems to be the case in its new gameplay trailer - which packs in all manner of elements from Call of Duty's close and distant past, including wing suits, grapple hooks, monkey bombs, and even zombies. There're also a few familiar faces, some familiar places - oh, and there's obviously plenty of action too.

In fact, Blackout's currently-80-person battle royale looks to deliver an impressively distinct form of anything-goes chaos - with its wide array of guns, gadgets, tools, and vehicles seemingly offering enormous scope when it comes to intense land, air, and sea combat.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout mode will support 80 players per match during beta

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's battle royale mode, Blackout, will support 80 players per match during its upcoming beta, developer Treyarch has revealed.

That's according to co-studio head Dan Bunting and studio design director David Vonderhaar, who, speaking to Game Informer, explained that the studio was prioritising gameplay - making sure its "as refined as it can be, that's it the ideal perfect format for what players are going to play" - over player count for the time being.

However, it doesn't sound like 80 players per Blackout match is necessarily set in stone. During internal testing, Treyarch has apparently experimented with 100 players per battle royale game - the same figure seen in genre leaders Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - and the studio says that the beta's current feature list is merely "the beginning of something."

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is getting some promising changes based on beta feedback

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.

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Call of Duty Black Ops 4's battle royale Blackout beta gets a September start date

Activision has announced that Blackout, Call of Duty Black Ops 4's so far only briefly seen battle royale mode, will begin its private beta testing schedule on September 10th.

The caveat here is that the Blackout beta start date only applies to PlayStation 4 users at present; it looks like interested parties on Xbox One and PC will once again be forced to sit it out until Sony's exclusivity window expires.

News of the Blackout beta, if you're wondering, comes via a brief video on the official Call of Duty Twitter feed (see below), which also teases solo, duos, and quad modes for Black Ops 4's battle royale experience - so nothing particularly revelatory there.

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Call of Duty Black Ops 4's second beta includes new cash-snatching multiplayer mode Heist

Developer Treyarch has unveiled Heist, a brand-new mode for Call of Duty Black Ops 4, which will be making its debut as part of the game's latest beta on Xbox One, PC, and PS4.

As it happens, there's very little time to wait until Black Ops 4's latest beta gets underway. This, the second beta weekend for PS4 players, and the first on Xbox One and PC, kicks off today, August 10th, at 6pm BST/10am PT on all platforms. It comes to an end on August 13th at 6pm BST/10am PT. On consoles, you'll need a pre-order to play.

Do note, however, that things are operating a bit differently on PC; those that have pre-ordered the game get a 24-hour head start and can play from today, while absolutely anyone can participate from tomorrow, August 11th at 6pm BST/10am PT, as part of the open beta. More details on how to get involved can be found on Activision's blog.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta trailer appears to confirm big battle royale leak

Call of Duty fans have picked apart the recent Black Ops 4 beta trailer and found what looks like confirmation of a two-week old battle royale leak.

The beta trailer offers a whopping 13 seconds of footage from Blackout, Call of Duty's upcoming battle royale mode. The footage is spliced with short transition clips that are hard to spot unless you slow the video down, which is exactly what fans have done.

There are a handful of transitions in the Blackout footage. The first shows the tower first seen during the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 reveal event in May.

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Activision details Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's multiplayer and Blackout betas

Activision has detailed its upcoming Xbox One, PC, and PS4 betas for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, starting with a multiplayer mode beta next month, then a beta for the series' new Battle-Royale-style Blackout mode in September.

First on the calendar is a PlayStation 4 exclusive three-day beta event for Black Ops 4's multiplayer component, which begins on August 3rd at 6pm BST/10am PDT, and ends on August 6th at 6pm BST/10am PDT.

This and all other multiplayer sessions will feature six maps (two of which will make their first public appearance, according to developer Treyarch), and these are playable in Team Deathmatch, Domination, Hardpoint, Search & Destroy, and Control modes. Specialists Nomad and Prophet will be playable, alongside new, but still-secret specialists.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 announced, out before Red Dead Redemption 2

Activision has announced Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, confirming a Eurogamer report published in February.

Interestingly, the Treyarch-developed Black Ops 4 comes out on 12th October, which is ahead of Call of Duty's normal November release slot and ahead of Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2, which comes out on 26th October.

There's no detail so far on the game, save it's due out on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and a community event is planned for 17th May. It looks like the PC version will be available on Blizzard's The logo, though, is confirmed and yes, it really does look like that.

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