Call
of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases October 12, and will not feature a traditional
single-player campaign. However, players will be able to engage with some other
modes that have traditionally been limited to multiplayer as solo players, as
well as embrace a story that takes place between Black Ops 2 and 3 via
single-player missions that focus on multiplayer specialist training. At a Call
of Duty community event in Los Angeles today, many aspects of Call of Duty:
Black Ops 4 have been unveiled.


Multiplayer Tweaks

Black Ops 4 features grounded
combat, “boots on the ground” for those familiar with the franchise.
This means (with some exceptions due to special abilities on the
“specialists” or classes) that there won’t be any boosting around or
wall running. Instead, weapons get some additional time in the spotlight – each
weapon will have unique attachments (instead of broad attachments for a family
of guns), including an operator mod. Operator mods add a good deal of
differentiation to a weapon. For example, one operator mod might enable
suppressing fire that could inhibit enemy vision as the gun lays down a salvo.

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Predictive
recoil is in – meaning, you can sit and learn exactly how a gun is going to
respond and master a weapon’s kick. Healing is NOT automatic as it is in most
other Call of Duty titles, and must be manually initiated, leaving you
vulnerable to attack as your heal ticks up. Some specialists, like the medic,
can assist with healing on the fly. Fog of war plays a role on the minimap – things
like surpressed weapons are even more valuable since they won’t break the fog,
and another specialist, the recon, can help disperse the fog for the whole
team. Another specialist can lay down invaluable cover and razor wire to thwart
enemy movement into an area. Still other specialist abilities include the
reactor core ability which lets you punish any enemies in an area, allowing you
to effectively practice area denial. All of these specialist skills look to
help competitive multiplayer CoD become more of a team effort and less of a
killfest. Don’t worry, scorestreaks are still there! Learning to play a specialist?
Single-player missions server as both tutorials and story vessels for those
looking for a bit more narrative before digging into multiplayer mayhem.


Zombies, Zombies, and more Zombies

Call
of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches with three distinctly different zombie modes. This is
a brand new zombie storyline with new characters that draws upon both real and
mythological history. Zombie modes feature a 4-player cast as is the standard,
but now there are a slew of customization options and a difficulty selection option.
Don’t want to play online? No problem, you can now play with bot pals and make
your way through the mysteries. If the default difficulty of zombie modes
turned you off in the past, you can now select a range of difficulty options to
make the undead massacre a touch more friendly. Looking to compete? Zombie
players can now use sharable codes (similar to seeds) that let them handle the
same challenge and compete for the best scores. In addition, constant updates
are scheduled to roll out to zombie mode over time, including seasonal events known
as callings.

In
one mode, we see our protagonists battling in a gladiatorial arena with melee
weapons against a swarm of zombies that seem to have been summoned by an ancient
sun-worshipping Egyptian cult. The protagonists use maces, swords, and more as a giant boss zombie
bursts into the fray. Treyarch didn’t comment on any details on this mode but
as is the standard for Treyarch zombies, it looks massively bizarre and quite
interesting.

We
get a slightly better look at another mode called the Voyage of Despair, which
takes place on the Titanic. Things go a slightly different than the historical
iceberg tragedy as a heist turns into an insane barrage of the undead on the ship
as the crew are turning into abominations. Showcased are various player abilities
that lead me to think that in this mode each character may have its own special
skills instead of just being a voice and an avatar.

The
last zombie mode is called Blood of the Dead, and we don’t really know anything
about this one yet.


Battle
Royale Time

Call
of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode (current player support count unknown)
is Blackout. This mode features a map 1,500 times larger than your typical Call
of Duty multiplayer map alongside characters from the entire Black Ops franchise
(including zombies). Even more interesting is that this mode includes vehicles
of all kinds – ground, air, and sea. In an extremely short teaser trailer, we do see some helicopters dishing out some firepower – but it was more conceptual than anything, and we’ll likely have to wait for any footage or details for this mode.


PC
Power

Call
of Duty: Black Ops 4 is releasing on PC on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform, the
first for the series and the only game other than Destiny to currently share the
hallowed halls of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and more. This has exciting
prospects for social support and systems, and even more exciting is that PC
players can expect uncapped framerate. Aww yeah.

Call
of Duty: Black Ops 4 may not have a traditional single-player campaign, but I’m
incredibly excited about the prospect of a CoD serving up a wealth of
multiplayer modes that have tons of depth. We’ll see what happens as we head toward
release on October 12.

Looks like fans of the high seas will have to wait a little longer to get their hands on Skull & Bones, Ubisoft’s ambitious pirate game. Today the publisher revealed that the game was going to be pushed out of a 2018 release window to the next fiscal year:

Skull and Bones will launch on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox One X and PC during Ubisoft’s next fiscal year (from April 1st 2019 to March 31st, 2020).
 
The extra time will allow the team at Ubisoft Singapore to deliver on their ambition to create the ultimate pirate game.

Ubisoft notes that they’ll be sharing more about the game at E3 this year.

For more on Skull & Bones, check out our preview on the game here.

 

Our Take
This one kind of stings. I’ve been hankering to get back to Black Flag’s brand of fantastic naval battles and swashbuckling but if it results in a better game, I’m happy for the delay too.

This week is a
surprising one, bringing us ruminations on some games I haven’t thought about in a while.
Enjoy!

Community Blogs
For May 10 – May 16:

Journal
of a Mechwarrior

Uesugi-dono is chronicling his trek through Mechwarrior. He ends the blog with
the hope to offer updates on the hulking mech-on-mech action often. And guess what? We’re
up to part
five
already!

My
Journey Through Star Fox

TrentDF saddens me by not really getting into Star Fox until Adventures (which
I enjoyed at the time, by the way). But to be fair, a lot of Star Fox games aren’t
all that great. TrentDF did enjoy Starfox 64, my favorite, so I’m happy he
found a game in the series that he likes.

A
Gaming Life: Pt. 2 – My Dream F-Zero Sequel

F-Zero is a crazy hard series, so I wasn’t always too keen on it. I do love the
game’s world, however, and reading through Dominic Cichocki’s hopes and dreams
for a sequel makes me excited about what it could be on the Switch. The hybrid
racing and side-scroller game does sound interesting.

Good,
Bad, and Ugly Predictions for EA’s E3 Conference

JillG makes a list of what we might see, what will be good, a bad
microtransaction speech, and maybe even a live sporting event.

Zang
Recommends: Captain American: Super Soldier

I had forgotten about this game until Zangmaster’s blog. While it sounds good,
I’m unsure. X-Men Origins: Wolverine did surprise, and Deadpool was solid, so
this might be worth a go to help the wait for Infinity War 2. Maybe I’ll
collect old Marvel Movie games like this and Thor as if I were collecting
Infinity Stones.

Community
Reviews:

The Alliance Alive
Dominic Cichocki breaks down this 3DS JRPG. Likening it to a summer popcorn flick,
apparently the game is pretty upbeat and light fare. Characters – the pieces of
a story that make a narrative shine, former BioWare legend David Gaider once
told me – are interesting in Alliance Alive. I’m
unsure about the duck mech, however. Regardless, the game is written
by Yoshitaka Murayama, the director and writer of the first three Suikoden
games, and creator of the series.

Final Fantasy XIII
Two writers had Final Fantasy on the brain recently. GerardoExber reviews Final
Fantasy XIII, a very divisive game. Here he explains that he enjoys some parts, but not all of
them. I played this a lot but ended up getting bored and never picking it up
again. 

Final Fantasy VII
Zack Burrows gives us another Final Fantasy review, this time on the one that
changed JRPGs forever, and how the West perceived them. Unlike Zack, I played
VII when it was released, and have not played it in a long while. And while I
haven’t played the PC or PS4 versions, it is interesting to see there are
cheats and a triple-speed setting for those who don’t have time to replay this
glorious game. Side note: Final Fantasy Tactics is the best Final Fantasy game.

I hope you enjoy
the blogs! Please contact me via my Game Informer page or on Twitter at @LouisGarcia12 with
any blog news or playdate suggestions.

Saber Interactive has announced that it is delaying NBA Playgrounds 2 from its May 22 release date to an unspecified time. All the developer is saying on that timing is that it will have more details soon.

As for the reason for the delay, the developer cryptically says that the delay is due to “exciting things brewing with the NBA Playgrounds franchise that we think will take arcade basketball to new levels.”

For more on the game, check out its debut trailer.

[Source: Saber Interactive via Pastapadre] 

 

Our Take 
The sequel was set to thankfully amp up the first game’s lack of mode depth, so if Saber wants to add more bang for players’ bucks as the Facebook post implies, then that’s great too.

If, for some reason, you’re an Xbox One owner and haven’t already played Bethesda’s excellent Fallout 4, this weekend it’s free to download and play on the system.

The bonanza starts on Thursday, May 17 (midnight PST) and ends on midnight PST on Monday, May 21, and if you decide to purchase the game during that time your save carries over.

During the event weekend there are discounts for the game’s Season Pass content and add-ons, as well as the core game and Game of the Year Edition.

Finally, from May 21 the game and its extra content will be discounted for Xbox Live Deals with Gold members.

[Source: Bethesda] 

You know what’s out next week? Why, it’s Dark Souls Remastered! Series superfan Dan Tack took Leo and me on a quick tour of Blighttown – a zone notorious as much for for its atmosphere as its performance issues. Does it hold up well in this version? What? You think we’d just say it here? Sheesh!

OK, fine. It runs nicely in the remaster. Are you happy? Don’t worry, there’s plenty more to this video than that bit of info. There are… ladders. And zombie things? Also a really big, gross monster! Through it all, Tack stays cool under pressure. And that’s in spite of him falling prey to the greatest prank of all time! You’ll have to see this one to believe it, folks.

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Dark Souls Remastered is coming to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on May 25. The Switch version will follow sometime this summer.

The review embargo for State of Decay 2 is up, but I’m not quite ready to provide my final evaluation of the game. It’s a huge game, with three playable maps and a complex web of interconnected systems to work through. I’m not going to give a score at this time, but I can share some of my overall impressions. Much like its predecessor, it’s an ambitious game hamstrung by technical issues.

The game’s biggest addition is the introduction of co-op, with up to four players working together online. One player acts as a host, while the others join the cause and help battle zombies and ransack buildings for supplies. It’s a lot of fun, though glitches abound – even after downloading a sizable patch. Characters skitter around the screen as though the game can’t keep track of everyone, items disappear, flashlights are basically broken in multiplayer, and zombies materialize out of thin air. State of Decay fans may be used to shrugging off these kinds of technical issues, but I’ve run into situations where my characters have found themselves teleported into danger through no fault of my own. Considering the permadeath penalties that are at stake, it’s rough.

Single-player is much more stable overall, though the Xbox One X isn’t able to leap beyond a consistent 30 FPS. I’ve been taking advantage of the game’s Play Anywhere support and have been spending most of my time on PC. There, I’m able to achieve a consistent 60 FPS framerate with all of the graphics settings on ultra. 

In spite of those problems, it’s an awful lot of fun. There’s even less of an emphasis of a critical path in the sequel, and I’ve been exploring as much as I can. I’ve managed to take control of one of the largest home bases that I’ve encountered – a minor-league ball park – and am preparing for a final assault against a few remaining infestation zones. Or maybe I’ll claim that power station and make life a little easier, first. As soon as I get a sense of how this story ends, I’ll be posting my review. Until then, I’ve got zombies to kill.

For more on the game, check out two hours of multiplayer from our recent episode of New Gameplay Today Live. 

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State of Decay 2: Ultimate Edition is available on Xbox One and PC on May 18, while the standard edition is available on May 22.

In the past quarter, Grand Theft Auto V has sold five million copies, according to Take Two’s latest financial report. That puts the Rockstar (in multiple meanings of the word) game up to 95 million copies sold.

The game handily cleared the bar of best selling game in U.S. history last November and has just been adding on since then. The new number makes it a virtual guarantee that the game will sell 100 million copies before the end of 2018. Take Two is also leveraging the success of GTA Online with the recently released Grand Theft Auto V: Premium Edition, which is the game plus some extra in-game cash.

To hop up one more place on the best selling game list, GTAV would have to sell just under 50 million more copies and surmount Minecraft.

[Source: Take-Two]

 

Our Take
At some point I wonder how many more people that are that could reasonably buy the game.

Bungie has once again updated its Destiny 2 roadmap after the release of Warmind, and the major updates include a testing ground for new PvP changes, as well as a new seasonal mode.

“Crucible Labs” will act as a way for dedicated players to offer Bungie feedback on “experimental PvP content” in the Crucible before they’re finalized, similar to public test servers in games like Overwatch. Whether they’ll be a separate server or accessible in the game directly, or what platforms Crucible Labs will be available on were not announced. Crucible Labs will hit on May 29.

Other changes between the release of Warmind and the arrival of the big Fall expansion include the Solstice of Heroes seasonal event, which game director Christopher Barrett says will let players “celebrate their accomplishments and, of course, earn sweet new rewards.” This sounds similar to Destiny’s Age of Triumph, which had players earn rewards for things they’d already done and work to complete a book of accomplishments to earn new honors.

Fans can also expect bounties, harder versions of the Raid Lairs, and changes to Exotic armor pieces in July.

[Source: Bungie]

 

Our Take
Crucible Labs sounds like a great way to solicit more active player feedback and respond to changes more quickly. I hope it’s successful enough that Bungie ends up applying this new method across the board, with major changes to strikes, weapons, and more getting fielded by players before they become final.

For Overwatch’s two year anniversary, Blizzard has promised new skins for the entire case especially for the anniversary. Today, the developer released two of the skins, Lightning Tracer and Venom Soldier 76.

Both costumes are Epic Drops and part of the seasonal anniversary event. Tracer’s Lightning skin gives her blonde hair and a mohawk, along with the word Lightning emblazoned on her left leg. Soldier 76’s Venom costume makes him look like a Saturday morning cartoon villain, complete with a cobra on his leather jacket’s back and comic book-style metal mask.

 

 

The Overwatch anniversary event begins on May 22 and brings back past brawls and cosmetics from the previous two years of the game for players to earn or purchase with in-game currency. Logging in any time between May 22 and June 11 will get you a lootbox that guarantees you one Legendary item.

 

Our Take
I dig that Tracer skin, hopefully they get creative and don’t play it safe with the rest of the skins.