This week, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 sees its very first multiplayer beta. Dubbed the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 personal beta, it’ll run from August 3 to August 6 on PS4 with Xbox One and Windows PC to follow. On the surface it may seem like any usual pre-release trial for the yearly franchise, which has seen multiplayer betas for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Call of Duty: World War 2 in recent memory. However, look a little deeper and you’ll understand that it’s far more.
With Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, designer Treyarch is forsaking the usual single-player project in favour of standard multiplayer modes, an expanded Call of Duty Zombies co-operative experience complete with multiple factions, and obviously battle royale that’s referred to as Blackout. So, if you’re on the fence about buying Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the beta and its subsequent impressions are your only method of knowing if its any good.
But just ‘great’ isn’t really the criteria any longer. We’re in a world where every huge spending plan game intends to be a service, with post-game spots and updates adding content and in some cases changing the video game entirely. We’ve seen this with Fortnite, PUBG, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Final Fantasy XV, and even Activision’s own Overwatch. This culture of game designers altering content way past the initial release date isn’t limited to giants like Epic Games, Bluehole, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Activision either. Independent studios like Hello Games have actually upgraded No Man’s Sky with a massive patch resulting in a game that’s considerably different from exactly what we saw during its 2016 launching.
Exactly what this means is that video games are now being created not simply to keep your attention for a dozen hours or so, but that they’re being developed to be unlimited. Therefore, the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 doesn’t simply have to ready, it needs to suffice to warrant you stopping whatever you’re playing to give it a go. Combined with a high price of entry of Rs. 3,999 ($60 in the United States) versus more cost effective experiences like PUBG and Fortnite guarantee the shooter genre is more crowded than its ever been. And that’s not even counting Battlefield V from Activision competitor EA, which has a campaign and a battle royale mode too.
In fact the success of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 might extremely well form future experiences. Formerly, EA was on the receiving end of consumer reaction for the absence of single-player projects in Star Wars Battlefront and Titanfall. This was rectified with Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Titanfall 2 respectively. And while Battlefront 2 was forgettable at best, Titanfall 2 is among the much better single-player projects this generation. How Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 fares may decide if future video games even consist of a project. Maybe it could affect the instructions taken by 2019’s Call of Duty, rumoured to be titled as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4.
All of this leads to a situation where Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 matters more than you think. It’s not just a game that Activision and Treyarch are bought seeing its success, but one that could plot the course for the games as an entire and the beta might very well be a piece of how we consume them in the future.
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