The beta for Call of Duty’s new Blackout Mode has shown the game’s potential to be one of the most lasting, entertaining Battle Royale (BR) games to date. While some may argue that Blackout should not be compared to Fortnite, the two are in the same genre with the same basic premise; it is practical to compare them to one another. With the beta recently concluded, Call of Duty’s Blackout has a number of gameplay issues, but even taking those into account, the following features show that Blackout has the potential to be a much more enjoyable game than Fortnite.
1. Faster Drop Speed
Every Battle Royale player knows that the start is key, and where Fortnite sees players float down to the ground at a leisurely pace, Blackout offers a much faster, more satisfying drop speed. This change enables players to speed toward their intended landing zone and slow down only when they get close to touching down, allowing for a more tactical, accurate drop. No more restlessly staring at the ground for 15 seconds as your character descends at a glacial pace.
The announcer in Blackout will keep players aware of what phase they are in (safe or collapse) and let them know whenever a supply drop is on the way, keeping players more aware of their surroundings, allowing them to survive longer. Unfortunately, Fortnite players will still have to keep an ear out for a small sound that can easily be drowned out or confused with other sounds in a firefight.
3. No Switching Away from Primary Weapon
Once a primary weapon is equipped, the player will not need to holster it in order to use grenades, equipment, or health. Each of these has a different button associated with it, so the player can keep his/her finger on the trigger while using a variety of other skills and abilities to supplement their tactics. This difference in mechanics presents a more realistic way to multitask and stay alive, in contrast with Fortnite’s model, which restricts players from making use of their entire arsenal in a practical way.
The Blackout beta featured 4 vehicles, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. The ATV allows for quick but exposed transportation for only 2 people, while the Cargo Truck provides storage space and increased protection for an entire team but moves at a slower pace. The Light Helicopter is the quickest way for players to get around the map with their team, but it is susceptible to malfunctions as the game progresses, rendering it inert. The Zodiac or Tactical Raft is the most effective way for teams to traverse the water obstacles scattered throughout the map since it was the only boat in the beta. All of these vehicles are a huge step up from the loud, janky golf cart that Fortnite offers.
5. Weapon Customization
Blackout’s in-depth weapon attachment customization enhances the overall combat experience by giving weapons specific situational benefits. Different scopes and sights drastically change a player’s engagement strategy in accordance with what other barrel, nozzle, or magazine attachments are equipped on the weapon. Contrary to Fortnite, players are never locked into a fixed mode of play depending on what weapon they have; they can continually adapt to new situations. Weapon customization is also made extremely simple with the player automatically equipping attachments upon pickup.
6. Heal to Full Health
While Fortnite restricts players from healing more than 75% of their max health without a specific health item, Blackout has no such restrictions. The player can restore 100% of lost health (150) with any health item(s), while a trauma kit (a rare healing item) will give the player 133% normal health (200 instead of 150). While healing is slower and more difficult to do in Fortnite, Blackout offers players a tactical advantage with quicker healing, potentially leading to more engaging battles between players.
Call of Duty was one of the first franchises to introduce perks into their games, and they are pushing the system forward in Blackout. All perks are one-time use and run on a timer (most perks lasting 3-4 minutes), but they grant players extremely handy bonuses from escalated awareness to enemy footsteps to increased damage dealt while in the collapsed zone.
8. More Engaging Maneuverability and Deployables
Rather than Fortnite’s dull movement mechanics and incessant reliance on spam building for cover, Blackout encourages the player to use their character’s enhanced maneuverability (vaulting, climbing, grappling, etc.) and deployable covers and traps to better dispute opposition they might face during gameplay. The numerous options players have at their fingertips mean that a skilled player can always turn the tide of battle by switching from offensive flanking maneuvers, to quick, erratic retreats, to defensive holdout positions in a matter of seconds.
9. Player Inventory and Drops
Unlike Fortnite, players’ inventories are not restricted to 5 items. The default inventory size in Blackout is 5, but with backpacks, a player can increase it to 10, not including the item slots set aside for armor, 2 primary weapons, health, grenades, equipment, and a backpack. When players are killed, instead of all their belongings exploding on the floor, an organized, interactive duffle bag appears with each player’s belongings, allowing for the looter to quickly and effectively pick and choose what they would like to take.
10. Blackout Map and Zombies
The whole point of the Blackout map is to tie together fan favorite experiences from all of Treyarch’s Call of Duty games. Many famous multiplayer maps have been reworked to fit into the giant BR map, and, in an unexpected turn of events, the famous Zombies mode first introduced in Call of Duty World at War makes an appearance as well.
While hordes of zombies will not be roaming the countryside, players who dare to enter specific locations around the map will face a stiff undead challenge with the promise of rare weapons and useful perks for those who emerge triumphant. But be warned: the promise of rare loot will lure many enemy players to the realm of the undead.
I am extremely excited to see what Treyarch will do to improve Blackout after receiving feedback from the beta testing. I, along with countless other Battle Royale players, have high hopes for the further developed product that will be released on October 12th in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.