Battle Royale games are a weird genre of video games that you either despise or find ridiculously addictive. For the latter, the battle royale market is one of the most lucrative money makers currently in the video gaming industry with fans sinking hundreds of hours into games like PUBG or Fortnite, all for that slim chance of outliving your other 99 competitors to become champion.
Yet it’s not just playing these games ourselves that brings us such enjoyment, Twitch streamers like Shroud, Ninja and DrDisrespect are reportedly making millions of dollars from exclusively playing these battle royale games for their viewers. According to a survey conducted by LendEDU, eSports fans are happy to pay hundreds of dollars to watch their favourites play so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. But while Ninja seems to be content making more than $500,000 a month playing Fortnite, other streamers and casual gamers alike have been begging for a more polished battle royale experience than those currently available.
And it looks like one just dropped…
Call of Duty Blackout beta goes live
Call of Duty is one of those games, like Fifa or Madden, that drops every year with limited updates, yet we still clamber to buy them on release day and play them endlessly until we get bored after a month or two.
Yet this year, Activision and Treyarch have shaken up the tried and tested Call of Duty experience by adding in a battle royale mode – something that could just increase the longevity of Black Ops 4 – after-all, PUBG and Fortnite have been hugely popular for nearly a year now with huge profits. All the developers had to do was create an experience that was smoother and more fun than what else is out there.
A notion that had many of us sceptical – could Treyarch really pull of such a large map with equally large numbers of players? Well, the cat was let out the bag yesterday, when Activision released free beta tokens to allow PS4 users the chance to play Blackout for the first time and experience first-hand whether Call of Duty could compete in the world of battle royales.
What is Blackout like?
Unlike PUBG and Fortnite, Blackout is currently running on 80 players per match but this is still rumoured to go up to 100 when the actual game is released.
Starting the game, players are contained within a helicopter that, like other BR games, is set over a random route across the large map. From here players can choose when to leave said helicopter and aim themselves towards an area of the map using their wingsuit. In comparison to PUBG, this flight sequence feels far more controllable for players, allowing them to easily navigate to where they want to go and feels like a much quicker experience overall. PUBG always has that parachute-lull where you dangle watching others land in the loot spot you were aiming for. Blackout’s parachute is quick, accurate and far less frustrating so far.
The map itself is a world of nostalgia for those who have played Call of Duty: Black Ops over the years. It includes favourite map locations such as Turbine, Cargo Docks, Array and even Nuketown (if it really had been nuked). There are even specific areas that are home to the famous COD zombies, where you are in danger of death by the undead, not just your competitors. You can only imagine the fun of a circle landing on one of these spots.
Like other BR games, you’re dropped into a map without a gun or perks – to survive you need to loot for everything you need. Of course, for some diehard COD fans, this will seem like a horrific experience as you might not find your favourite gun or attachments in the first two minutes.
However, for seasoned-BR players, the loot level and chances of finding a gun and meds seem to be far better than PUBG. There are also perks to be picked up, that will give you a certain boost for a limited time. These include Dead Silence, which will make your footsteps quieter and Skulker, which allows you to move faster while prone or crouching – both incredibly useful perks for a BR.
How is the pacing?
No BR game would be complete without a shrinking circle, Blackout’s circle is caused by poisonous Nova Gas that moves in on players, forcing them towards a safe zone that is increasingly smaller with every wave. Here, COD has created a sequence of circles with a decent pace.
This matched with the lucrative amounts of loot available means that every match is fast-paced and if you do get killed, you can easily pick yourself into the next match ready to do better. PUBG always seems like a battle to find the perfect loot, dying and then not finding any good loot for the next ten games.
Vehicles also seem decent, with the addition of a small helicopter that is absurdly fun to fly around the map, either to escape the gas, spot enemies or generally just have a spot of fun.
How does the game play?
There have been very few frame rate or overall gameplay complaints from players so far, with many commending just how good Blackout feels. There have been mild complaints about graphics for those without a PS4 Pro, but even these have been far and few.
From just a beta, Blackout looks more than capable of offering a better, realistic BR experience to fans of PUBG and it will be interesting to see if Battlefield can offer the same experience when they too release their own BR map.
The Xbox beta opens on September 14th, PC closed beta on 14th and open beta on the 15th and all beta trials will end on September 17th, with the game being released fully on October 12th.