The Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta kicked off last night on PlayStation 4, and I spent a few hours getting to grips with its fast and frantic close quarters first-person shooter action.
Black Ops 4 plays like a more grounded Black Ops 3, which is very much a good thing in my book. The beta includes a decent number of maps, which are all on the small to medium size, and a raft of modes, including the new Control.
Play revolves around picking a specialist before a match begins (in Control, which is 5v5, you can't have more than one specialist of the same type on the same team). So, teamplay and making the most of the specialist's unique abilities is the name of the game.
This being a beta, the experience is a little rough around the edges. It can take quite a while for a match to load, the spawns aren't great and already there's a sense that certain weapon types, such as the SMGs, and certain tactics, such as bunny-hopping, are overpowered. This is all fine. This is what betas are for.
But there's one aspect of Black Ops 4 that has been universally criticised by players, many of whom want it pulled from the game entirely: body armour.
The complaint revolves 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. There's even a medic specialist who can heal their entire team.
And then we have body armour. 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 works.
Now, some Black Ops 4 beta players say body armour offers too much protection and are pleading with developer Treyarch to pull it from the game. Redditor AidanMcGregor1's thread Remove armour from BO4 on r/Blackops4 was upvoted 983 times. "It ruins the game and makes the gun fights unbalanced. Please no one wants it," AidanMcGregor1 said.
There are similar threads all over r/Blackops4. Another post to build traction and visibility: Treyarch Take out Armour from the game! is one from KingOfTheNorth13. Body Armour is way too OP is another from cardsfan5970. I've even seen some players say when they see an opponent wearing body armour (a small body armour symbol displays when you target an opponent with the gear equipped), they turn around and run away in a bid to avoid an engagement they can't win.
It's worth noting that some players have pointed out hard counters to body armour, such as going for headshots and using the AP (Armour Piercing) Rounds attachment, which deals more damage to enemy armour. But critics of the gear counter this by saying the AP Rounds don't do enough damage and they're limited to certain weapons.
Posting in r/Blackops4, Treyarch acknowledged the reaction to body armour, but said it wanted to get more data from the beta when most players have other types of gear and weapons unlocked before committing to any changes.
"We hear what you're saying about armour," Treyarch said.
"We want to proceed thoughtfully and carefully here. We're less than 24 hours into the beta at this point, and not all content has been earned or had enough time to settle into the meta of the game.
"We know that the gear category is new and has a lot of content that sits above the normal power band of perks. Because of that, it's really important that we see the full range of Create-a-Class content in play with a lot of data about player performance with this content before we rush into any changes with it.
"From our stats so far, other pieces of gear are showing up as more effective than armour. That said, we know that it can feel frustrating to fight against, and that feel is where we want to start. But let's give this one a few more days to breathe."
So that's where Black Ops 4 players are at. While it's currently frustrating to go up against so many players wearing body armour, it's great that the issue has been flagged now, at private beta stage, so Treyarch has the chance to react before the game launches in October.