Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Features

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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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 Battle.net 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.

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?